Researchers of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have developed a novel geofencing technology, offering a smart core solution that helps save the government’s manpower in monitoring those under compulsory home quarantine amid novel pneumonia (COVID-19) outbreak.
With the pandemic spreading quickly across the globe, the Hong Kong government has issued quarantine order on people entering the city from all overseas countries and territories.
As a compliance measure, people under quarantine have been required to regularly report their current real-time locations via instant messaging applications or answer surprise video calls from communication centres.
This approach incurs high monitoring cost to the government and brings much inconvenience to the home confinees.
In order to achieve significantly higher cost-effectiveness, a team of researchers and engineers led by a Professor of the Department of the Computer Science and Engineering and Director of Entrepreneurship Center at HKUST, has innovated and designed an automated geofencing technology called Signature Home.
The core technology has since been licensed to and deployed by Compathnion Technology Limited as a new mobile app called StayHomeSafe.
The app has been used by the public since last week 14 March 2020 as a more resource-efficient and friendly way to monitor people under home quarantine.
Paired with an electronic Bluetooth wristband worn on the quarantined person, the app can accurately detect whether the home confinee is complying with the quarantine order and alerts the relevant authorities if not.
The key idea of Signature Home geo-fencing technology is that the collective signal variations within a certain location are unique to that location, forming its “signature”.
The technology hence collects multifarious environmental signals such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular in the dwelling place as its signature.
If the newly collected signal variation deviates from the signature, it is very likely that the person has left the designated location. By continuously collecting and understanding the change of the basket of signals collected in a place using machine learning and data analytics techniques, Signature Home can intelligently adapt to evolving home environment to achieve accurate monitoring.
The professor who invented another indoor positioning technology which has been widely deployed in shopping malls and hospitals in the Greater Bay Area through Compathnion stated that through such technology innovation, transfer and deployment, research value can be exposed to make an actual social impact.
He found it immensely fulfilling to contribute his home-grown technology back to the community, especially in this critical and challenging time.
The Director and CEO of Compathnion as well as an HKUST graduate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, with the geofencing technology, the app can more effectively safeguard public health.
The company is pleased that the HK government is adopting the solution so that the firm can reciprocate to society in the most meaningful way possible.
Founded in 2015, Compathnion has become a leading company in its field of indoor positioning. It has received numerous awards and was funded by HKUST through the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities (TSSSU) during its incubation period.
As the Indonesian government begins to boost health tech services and the market becomes more established, the entry of international health tech firms into the market is expected to drive demand even higher.
Product development is becoming more important for health tech service providers as market awareness develops. Digital health is helping Indonesia’s healthcare system in overcoming challenges. E-pharmacies and online consultations are two examples of digital health technologies that help Indonesians in rural and remote areas get excellent health care service
Furthermore, the demand for general practitioners, specialised doctors, and other healthcare practitioners has increased tremendously on these platforms over time. Supporting this trend, domestic platforms are partnering with an increasing number of doctors to provide end-users with access to doctors via platforms.
As the spending budget of hospitals and clinics increases, it is expected that more healthcare IT solutions providers will enter the market, driving the demand. This will also ensure an increase in revenues in the industry.
Digital health is growing quickly in Indonesia, as it is globally. In the last 4-5 years, a range of digital health companies and digital health solutions have emerged in Indonesia. The large and geographically distributed population of Indonesia provides a strong user base for the country’s developing digital health applications. Indonesia’s technologically engaged youth population provides a large customer base for digital businesses.
The pharmaceutical sector will also be experiencing a spike in growth as demand for treatments to treat lifestyle and chronic disease increases. As demand shifts from generic drugs and toward specialised items like dietary supplements and other aspects of biopharmaceuticals, companies will need to identify new drug delivery areas.
Demand for medical devices will be driven by the expansion of private and government hospitals and clinics as well as improvements in existing facilities. Another factor behind this expected demand is the rise of non-communicable diseases and the diagnosing of which require advanced and high-tech equipment.
Portable CTG will be the new and forthcoming technology in Indonesia that will be offered by major health tech platforms in the coming years. The CTG device is made up of specially built hardware and software that is cost-effective, portable, and capable of capturing real-time data for monitoring foetal well-being. Portable CTG that can be used by midwives and doctors in both rural as well as urban areas to provide a high quality of maternal health services.
According to a report by OpenGov Asia, throughout this pandemic, the healthcare sector has been in urgent need of healthcare management systems to manage hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities; the demand for healthcare tech has been soaring. Artificial intelligence is progressively being seen as an excellent technology to leverage for healthcare, even as it becomes more prevalent in modern business and everyday life.
Artificial intelligence in healthcare has the potential to assist healthcare providers in a range of patient care areas and administrative processes. Nonetheless, utilising artificial intelligence in healthcare for diagnostic and treatment plans – rule-based or algorithmic – can be difficult to integrate with clinical processes and EHR systems. When compared to the accuracy of recommendations, integration issues have been a higher barrier to mainstream use of AI in healthcare.
A report titled “Indonesia Health Tech Market Outlook to 2025-Lack of Medical Staff and Protective Gear to Lean on Healthcare Start-ups in Indonesia” suggested that the health tech market is expected to grow in double-digits. The health tech market in Indonesia is being driven by technological improvements and the availability of various services on these platforms.
Due to the entry of new foreign competitors and an increase in product awareness among the country’s growing population, Indonesia’s health tech sales revenue is predicted to grow over the next few years.
In the long-term, the healthcare sector will see tremendous growth as the Indonesian middle class expands and demand for products to cure common and even rare diseases rises. In this sense, foreign investors should stay updated on Indonesia’s digital healthcare sector, as the use of healthcare apps is revolutionising the local market.
As the world has entered an age of digitalisation, digital government, data governance, and strengthening of national development momentum have become the trend of governments of all countries, including Taiwan.
The concept of digital government refers to improving the government’s service to the people and enterprises by data and digital technology. Taiwan’s government uses data as the basis, makes good use of digital technology, strengthens government efficiency and national security, and combines government services with people’s needs to optimise the quality of governance decision-making.
Looking at the development trend of digital governments in advanced countries, the role of information and communication technology in Taiwan’s public governance has evolved from the early management of public affairs to the current innovative governance efficiency, and will gradually change to the development goal of creating public service value in the future. The use of emerging technologies to optimise the government service process, innovate the service style for the people, and meet the needs of the people has become the direction of continuous promotion of digital government.
Taiwan plans a state-level transformation strategy for the development of Taiwan’s government, industry, talent, and society. The National Development Council (NDC) has formulated the “Digital Government Program 2.0 of Taiwan (2020-2025)” to accelerate various response measures to promote the government’s digital transformation.
NDC will follow the strategy of the plan to coordinate the implementation of various ministries, strengthen the transformation of cross-domain service processes from the needs of the people, and use a safe and reliable data transmission platform to share data across agencies. The government will continue to offer its efforts in the following tasks:
- Enhance digital infrastructure around all government agency: With the maturity of Internet technology and the popularisation and application of 5G wireless broadband communications, we will continue to inject resources to strengthen the digital infrastructure and support the government’s innovative service operations.
- Strengthen the release and application of data: NDC will actively promote the data management measures of public agencies, give priority to strengthening data standards, data interface standards, etc., and attach importance to the release of high-value data, such as map information, transportation and other data sets. It is necessary to establish a management mechanism for the public to apply to use and specify the rights and obligations of the use of data.
- Implement evidence-based governance decisions: The digital transformation of the government is demonstrated in the policy decision-making of using data to improve the efficiency of government governance. In the future, the applications of big data analysis in governance issues will be made to quickly respond to external challenges.
- Construct data-based public governance: Through data analysis to see the needs of the people, and integrate government resources to support the people in solving problems of life, and take the initiative to propose measures for the people. In the future, digital applications will use data to drive service transformation, making data the core of services.
Apart from formulating a digital government programme, NDC has also formulated the Action Plan for Enhancing Taiwan’s Startup Ecosystem. As reported by OpenGov Asia, Taiwan’s startup ecosystem has blossomed over the last few years, with good performance in the international arena. The good performance is partly because of the Taiwan government’s effort in pushing forward policies of innovation and entrepreneurship in recent years.
NDC proposes 5 major policies:
- Providing ample early-stage funding for startups
- Developing talent and adjusting regulations
- Building partnership between startups and the government
- Providing startups with various exit channels
- Helping startups tap into global markets
By putting this plan into action, they can effectively create an environment favourable to startups. To do this effectively, all agencies involved need to take initiative to implement this plan to demonstrate the government’s commitment and capability.
The most efficient approach to process data in digital business is to bring computing power closer to the object or person generating it. The need for localised processing power is addressed by edge computing systems. Leaders in IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) who are in control of these solutions should be aware of the associated business value and risks.
A new edge solution developed has a scalable and flexible solution for managing hardware nodes and the edge applications that operate on them. It was built on a foundation of innovative open technologies and created by edge and OT experts to deal with the unique aspects of edge management. During the development phase of the product, the edge software company claims to have worked with a number of key partners and potential customers to ensure the solution satisfies the market opportunity.
The challenge of maintaining these edge infrastructures becomes more crucial as the number of industrial IoT devices and the data produced develops at a rapid rate. Edge scale, intermittent connectivity, device/sensor connections, legacy platforms, and resource constraints can cause problems for traditional cloud or IT-based management solutions.
According to the edge software company, the problem is multi-dimensional in scope and includes both the provisioning and management of the edge nodes and also the application workloads deployed on the nodes. While other key issues include dealing with aged and heterogeneous infrastructure (legacy equipment, brownfield nodes, and devices), and the fact that the OT lifecycle is often measured in decades, not years.
The controller, which can be hosted on-premise or in the cloud, is used to administer the edge systems. Users benefit from platform independence for both managed nodes and the cloud environment in which the controller is deployed. Designed to meet the specific needs of edge systems, it provides light-touch provisioning and complete lifecycle management for both edge nodes and their applications. It currently enables the deployment and management of containerised applications at the edge, and it will support native binary apps in the future.
Edge systems are managed from a centralised controller that can be hosted either on-premise or in the cloud. Platform independence for both the managed nodes and the cloud environment on which the controller is deployed ensures flexibility and choice for users. The real question here is, how will edge computing add value to help companies keep pace with emerging technologies and digital transformation?
Industry 4.0 and digital transformation is certainly driving the revolution at the edge. A recent report stated that by 2025, 75% of the data will be created and processed at the edge outside of the data centre and in the cloud. This is a massive growth from just 10% in 2018 — a huge turnaround in processing data outside the data centres and cloud and moving it to the edge.
Edge computing can assist companies with tasks that aren’t able to achieve in the cloud software. When it comes to low latency, connectivity, security or privacy, and transmitted data volume challenges, there are some apparent benefits, and neither companies nor consumers want to deal with the consequences of interrupted services.
In our new, somewhat distant, connected world, distributed cloud and edge architectures will increase data processing speed, reduce time lag, enable technologies and support the exponential growth of IoT and Autonomous Things such as mobile robots or self-driving vehicles.
The opportunities for edge computing to enhance operations and services are vast. Consequently, it is currently at the forefront of IT decision making and fast becoming a growing market.
Under an initial 12-month pilot, Singapore’s 3rd largest bank confirmed that they had launched a programme allowing customers to sign electronic documents using the Singpass app. The bank said it will first test the use of electronic signature services with a set of its retail and corporate customers.
Some of the transactions the pilot will cover include forms for individual wealth planning services and other corporate applications. After the pilot ends, the service will extend to more of its products and services for retail and wholesale segments in Singapore.
The bank also plans to expand its electronic signature capability to the ASEAN region from 2022. Once rolled out across all markets, electronic signatures will cut down the use of more than 2 million paper forms a year, said the bank. This is in line with the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s green fintech push in recent months. For markets without a national digital identity platform, the bank will use electronic signatures and authenticate the customer through two-factor authentication.
The bank said it is the first in Singapore to pilot the use of the Government Technology Agency’s “Sign with Singpass” to confirm transactions or product applications using a customer’s digital signature. The digital signature is identifiable and uniquely linked to the person who signs. During the digital signing process, only a cryptographically random, indecipherable code will be shared with the bank’s document management platform to confirm that the customer has signed the document, thus ensuring the confidentiality of personal data, the bank added.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, since November last year, SingPass users can use the new “Sign with SingPass” feature to electronically sign contracts, agreements and other legal documentation. This feature will be progressively rolled out by GovTech’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Assurity Trusted Solutions Pte Ltd (ATS), in collaboration with eight digital signing application providers.
The signed document is platform agnostic, such that the validated signature can be viewed with the user’s preferred system. Digital signatures made with “Sign with SingPass” use certificates issued by ATS, the National Certification Authority. Upon ATS’ accreditation under Singapore’s Electronic Transactions Act, signatures made using “Sign with SingPass” will be regarded as secure electronic signatures.
The bank’s head of group technology and operations said that as more customers take to the convenience of managing their banking needs online, banks must ensure that they offer them a seamless and safe digital experience. She added that in 2018, they were the first bank in Singapore to digitalise all consumer banking product applications. Today, they are aiming to build on earlier efforts with their digital signature initiative. The initiative will not only increase the convenience for the customers but also remove one of the roadblocks – the need for physical signatures – in fully digitalising the documentation process.
The Senior Director for National Digital Identity of GovTech said that they are delighted that a bank will be piloting “Sign with Singpass” for its suite of digital services. The bank’s integration of “Sign with Singpass” is a significant step towards offering a more secure and efficient process for customers. The agency affirmed that it would continue to work with industry partners to build more beneficial services and establish new digitally enabled ways of doing business.
Today, SingPass has evolved to provide seamless and convenient access to over 1,000 digital services offered by some 250 government agencies and private organisations. There are now over 2.1 million users of the SingPass Mobile app since its launch.
U.S. programmers further developed their ai enabled housing solution, an application to help automate Dallas-Fort Worth’s Section 8 voucher program. The app uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), and automation to help voucher holders find rental units, property owners complete contracting and housing authorities conduct inspections. The software and mobile app were released in partnership with the Dallas Housing Authority, which gave access to data from some 16,000 Section 8 voucher holders.
AI has been used in a host of algorithms in medicine, banking and other major industries. But as it has proliferated, studies have shown that AI can be biased against minorities. In housing, AI has helped perpetuate segregation and discrimination. The creators of the app were worried that the AI would promote bias, so they tweaked it so that tenants could search for apartments using their voucher number alone, without providing any other identifying information.
As AI is adopted by more industries and government agencies, U.S. lawmakers want to strengthen and update laws to guard against racially discriminatory algorithms – especially in the absence of federal rules. Since 2019, more than 100 bills related to AI and automated decision systems have been introduced in nearly two dozen states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This year, lawmakers in at least 16 states proposed creating panels to review AI’s impact, promote public and private investment in AI, or address transparency and fairness in AI development.
A bill in California would be the first to require developers to evaluate the privacy and security risks of their software, as well as assess their products’ potential to generate inaccurate, unfair, biased or discriminatory decisions. Under the proposed law, the California Department of Technology would have to approve software before it could be used in the public sector.
A lawyer described algorithms such as the ai app as a gatekeeper to an opportunity that can either perpetuate segregation and redlining or help to end them. He also praised the developers for their decision to omit a person’s name. However, the government cannot rely on small groups of people making decisions that can essentially affect thousands. The government needs to audit these systems to ensure they are integrating equity metrics in ways that do not unfairly disadvantage people.
The app’s developers are sure it would pass any state-mandated test for algorithmic discrimination and it has already been a huge success in Dallas and beyond. The Dallas Housing Authority has used the app to cut the average wait time for an apartment inspection from 15 days to one. Since its launch, Dallas and more than a dozen other housing agencies have added some 20,000 Section 8 units from landlords who were not participating in the program because of the long inspection wait times.
Dallas Housing Authority partnered with the developers to come up with some technology advancements to their workflows and automation so that they could respond in a more timely manner to business partners. The housing authority wanted to ensure that their partners the dealy as a lost lead in terms of working with the voucher program.
The real promise of AI in the housing space is that it may eventually produce greater fairness and equity in ways that we may not have possible before. Lawmakers are keen to make sure that the biases of the analogue world are not repeated in the AI and machine-learning world.
U.S. researchers have been creating AI for a multitude of purposes, such as an AI that can have free-flowing conversations. As reported by OpenGov Asia, the newest conversational artificial intelligence (AI) model, called Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) aims to replace artificial, robotic conversations with AI, with more natural dialogues. LaMDA can engage a conversation in a free-flowing way about a seemingly endless number of topics. It is an ability that could unlock more natural ways of interacting with technology and entirely new categories of helpful applications.
The researchers are developing several qualities in LaMDA, including sensibleness, specificity, “interestingness” by assessing whether responses are insightful, unexpected or witty. They also want LaMDA to stick to facts and are investigating ways to ensure LaMDA’s responses are not just compelling but correct.
A wastewater treatment plant being built to service a smart city development in western Sydney will use digital twin systems that monitor temperature and moisture to produce recycled water on demand for greening, cooling and household uses.
Construction of the Sydney Science Park recycling plant started last week at Luddenham within the planned Western Sydney Aerotropolis. The plant will eventually be able to produce 2.4 million litres of recycled water a day, enough for 40,000 people, but that has the capacity to be scaled up, according to Sydney Water’s growth planning and community frameworks manager.
The official stated that while water recycling is traditionally done at large centralised plants, the SSP plant will be located in the community it will service and sit within the urban form of the Science Park. The plant will use a membrane bioreactor system, which the official makes for a smaller footprint and less noise and smell.
Sydney Science Park’s smart systems include digital twins which will allow the plant will interact with the environment via moisture and temperature sensors to inform the amount of recycled water that will be produced and deployed. “So if you’re coming up for a heatwave on Sunday, you’re not sitting there storing the tanks in the water for Sunday, you’re getting it into the ground now,” the official said.
The system’s computer modelling coupled with real-life environment predicting what’s going to happen to determine the operation of the plant and how it’s producing its water. Excess wastewater that isn’t used for the Science Park will be piped to Sydney Water’s St Marys treatment facility.
Urban living lab
The Science Park, being delivered by a private firm on 287 hectares of land as a mixed-use smart city, has been designated as an urban living lab by the CSIRO. The Urban Living Lab concept is based on using local community knowledge coupled with scientific expertise to try new ways of doing things and measure outcomes in a real place. As a designated CSIRO Urban Living Lab, Sydney Science Park aims to create a more liveable, sustainable and resilient city, and water is at the forefront of this.
To partner with Sydney Water and have recycled water being used not only in homes but in public spaces is a first for greenfield development and will create a much greener and cooler environment at Sydney Science Park.
Sydney Water’s Managing Director noted that the partnership meant Sydney Water would be able to provide sustainable and resilient water services as well as trialling new smart technologies for future use.
Sydney Water currently has 14 water recycling sites and is investing $1.3 billion on infrastructure projects in the Western Sydney Aerotropolis Growth Area between 2020 and 2022. It and will have invested about $3 billion in infrastructure across Western Sydney Parkland City by 2026.
The Smart city strategic framework of Sydney identifies the 5 outcomes to be achieved with smart, ethical and secure use of data and technology, underpinned by smart infrastructure:
- Supporting connected and empowered communities. The city government co-creates the design and provision of city services and facilities with local communities. And empowers them to make more effective decisions by using open data and having the skills and tools to innovate and thrive.
- Fuelling global competitiveness and attracting and retaining global talent. Digital disruption is embraced to foster an innovation ecosystem, cultivate a culture of experimentation and sustain Sydney’s position as a global magnet for talent.
- Futureproofing environment and bolstering resilience. Data is used purposefully to monitor, predict and manage city conditions and the impacts of shocks and stresses on our city and community. New technologies that accelerate the city’s progress to a carbon-neutral future are embraced.
- Cultivating vibrant, liveable places. Data and technology are used to help optimise street space allocation and prioritise active transport, improve the planning, building and maintenance of infrastructure, assets and systems, and enhance the experience of the physical city.
- Providing customer-centric efficient services. Data is used to understand the community’s needs and preferences to enable the provision of joined-up, personalised and responsive services. Smart technology and operating models are embraced to provide the efficient services local communities expect.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) plans to use Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technologies to limit road accidents and improve passenger safety in buses. According to a report, the corporation recently floated a tender for the implementation of an AI-powered Collision Warning System (CWS) and Driver Drowsiness System (DDS) for 1,044 buses. CWS will provide features like forward-looking collision warnings (FLCW), lane departure warnings (LDW), and virtual bumper. It will also generate real-time alerts. This is probably for the first time in the country a state-run bus corporation is using technology on a large scale to reduce accidents. Other state-run bus corporations are also waiting to adopt this system.
The tender is likely to be finalised by the end of June 2021, the report said. KSRTC officials said the FLCW system will identify an impending collision and inform the driver that they have entered an unsafe distance zone. An official noted that this would help the driver prepare to take the necessary action to avoid a collision. The system will provide real-time alerts to warn the driver against impending collisions. AI-based camera sensors will provide the detection of a vehicle from a sufficient range of at least 150m at any speed so that it can effectively warn the driver.
When minimum safe distance is not maintained, an alert will be generated. This minimum safe distance is based on a calculation of the time-to-collision (TTC) with the vehicle ahead including 2/3 wheelers, pedestrians, and cyclists. The officials added that the alarm will be initiated at a TTC of up to 2.5 to 3 seconds, be operational at a vehicle speed range of up to at least 120kmph, and generate both visual and audible alarms. It will also notify the driver when lane marks are not available.
DDS will check its drivers from dozing off at the wheel. It will monitor the driver’s eye movements and sound a warning alarm in case they appear sleepy. AI-based CCTVs will watch the facial behaviour of the driver. It will also alert the KSRTC central control room if the driver ignored the alert. This will be helpful for night services, said an official.
In April, OpenGov Asia reported that the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar (IIT-Ropar) had developed an algorithm for driver drowsiness detection using machine learning and computer vision. The researchers said they used computer vision algorithms to extract facial features such as eye closure and yawning as well as machine learning techniques to effectively detect driver’s alertness. It is an industrial and academic challenge to develop drowsiness detection technologies.
Multiple techniques have been developed in recent years. One method is where the driver’s operation and vehicle behaviour can be monitored by the steering wheel movement, accelerator or brake patterns, vehicle speed, lateral acceleration, and lateral displacement. Another set of techniques focuses on monitoring the physiological characteristics of the driver such as heart rate, pulse rate, and electroencephalography. The third set is based on computer vision systems, which can recognise the facial changes occurring during drowsiness.
The first method is limited by the type and model of the car. The second method though with more accurate results has widely been downplayed due to the impracticality in deploying it on a large scale, as well as its intrusive nature. The third method is a very promising one, which the researchers have followed and developed a model on the same.