Drones are now becoming essential tools in the fight against the new Coronavirus outbreak in China. People are using drones to carry out tasks like spraying disinfectant over villages, dispersing public gatherings and facilitating construction.
Drones could dramatically improve how China attempts to kill the virus in public areas. They can cover far more ground than traditional methods, while reducing risk to workers who would otherwise spend more time potentially exposed to both the virus and the disinfectant.
Monitoring Public Gatherings and Keep Public Informed
Local governments are mounting speakers on small drones to disperse public gatherings. They have also been used to warn people regarding quarantine curfews or if they are seen out in public without wearing a mask. Drones have also flew banners to educate people on how to take the necessary precautions.
Thermal cameras on drones were also used to monitor body temperatures so medical staff can identify new potential cases. In Shanghai, drones have been deployed on city roads for monitoring while officials check travellers’ temperatures.
To contain the spread of the virus, drones are also used to monitor activities such as traffic and waste disposal. In Zhongshan, drones are used to oversee the disposal of medical waste coming out of hospitals.
People across China are mounting disinfectant tools on their crop-spraying drones. Drones are being used in Chinese villages also to spray disinfectant throughout their villages to help fight the spread of the virus.
Lighting drones were used in Wuhan when two large temporary hospitals had to be built in a matter of days as the city ran out of beds in the hospitals. Without the street lamps and construction lights at the site, six large lighting drones hovered above the ground so that the construction workers could work 24 hours a day to get it completed in record time.
Another use for drones is Drone delivery. The outbreak has kept millions of families in their homes to avoid contact with others. Contactless delivery would be a huge help to these households that have been quarantined. Organisations can send food, supplies and medicine to anyone in need. At the same time, avoiding face-to-face contact will cut the risk of infection.
This crisis has created an opportunity to discover new ways of using drones to curb the spread of Covid-19 not only in China but globally.
Australia Post is building a digital twin of its entire delivery network as part of continued efforts to use advanced analytics to detect and intervene on mail and parcel delivery problems.
The delivery network digital twin was revealed by Australia Post’s general manager of data science and strategy on a podcast earlier this month. Much of the work of the data science team that General Manager leads is well-documented.
The team, which was formed under finance but now sits in Post’s transformation and enablement function, is responsible for standing up several advanced analytics assets, including a data lake of sorts called Zoltar, named after the fortune-telling machine in the 1988 film Big.
More recently, it is responsible for Dexter, an “AI data bot” fed real-time data on mail movements that alert facility managers to potential issues.
The General Manager stated, “If your parcel is moving through the network and it’s due to be delivered today but we don’t see it get scanned onto a van by 6 am, the facility manager will start to receive emails from Dexter saying, ‘these are parcels we’re supposed to get out today, they’re somewhere in your network, go look for them’.”
However, it is the General Manager’s work on a multi-layered digital twin of the entire Post delivery network that is likely to be of substantial interest. Digital twins are digital copies of physical assets that are often used to plan and test future scenarios without impacting normal operations. The GM stated in the podcast that the big thing that the team is working on is a digital twin of the entire Australia Post network. That is huge.
The team is approaching it holistically. When people think of digital twins, they think of more scenario-based modelling but the team is thinking about it more like a grid, so three layers – an intervention layer, a forecasting layer and a simulation layer, and then interaction zones – an interaction with retailers, an interaction with ourselves in the network, and then an interaction with Australia Post customers.
AP’s data models have to fit within one of those grids, and then every model they develop now has to be part of what they are calling the digital twin ecosystem. “It has to have a life that contributes to that ecosystem, and then over time we will have eventually built a digital twin of the network,” the GM said.
The delivery network digital twin appears to be the second digital twin project at Australia Post. Having hinted at producing a virtual reality tool that could help posties complete difficult or unfamiliar delivery rounds back in 2018, a proof-of-concept emerged in October last year.
A professional services organisation said on its website that ‘Parcelbot’, as the proof-of-concept is called, also counted as a digital twin environment. It said it worked “in partnership with Australia Post” and used a mix of virtual reality technology, a virtual assistant AI technology an American multinational technology company and the Unreal gaming engine to create the tool.
The PoC: create a digital twin environment for posties to capture and surface important information along their delivery routes, including customer preferences like safe to leave a parcel unattended, locked gate, and protective dog.
The unlisted video accompanying the PoC shows how a postie can ‘look’ at an address and immediately see an overlay of information, such as recorded notes about the residents, how many parcels they receive, and how often missed delivery cards need to be left at that address.
The Northern Territory Government has awarded a $64.4 million tender for the Client Management Systems Alignment program, known as the Care System, to improve the care and protection of children in the state.
The Care System will enable different and necessary government agencies such as Police, Territory Families, Housing and Communities, Health, Education and Attorney General to access the same information, create the one case file and share critical information to best manage each child’s specific case.
The region’s Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing said the new Care System will give frontline staff in child protection and youth justice the necessary tools to better protect vulnerable children.
The Minister stated, “We want to make sure all Northern Territory children have the best start in life. A total of 72% of Territory Families, Housing and Communities’ core business is recorded outside of our approved computer system which is more than 25 years old.”
A UK-based tech firm and local a Territory business IT company have been selected for the project, which will provide a modern digital tool to assist frontline workers in child protection, youth justice and service provision for the Northern Territory’s most vulnerable children. A local Territory digital company has been selected to undertake work on this project with a dedicated local team.
The Minister for Corporate and Digital Development said the IT overhaul is one of the biggest the NT has ever undertaken and will be supported by specialist IT practitioners from a range of local Territory digital businesses.
He noted that the IT firm has more than 25 years’ experience delivering information technology solutions and services in the Northern Territory, with a local team dedicated to this project.
The Care System will provide child protection and youth justice case management solution to equip the Northern Territory Government with a holistic view of the child and increase opportunities for early intervention.
The Care System will also enable frontline staff to access important information anytime and will improve the connection between non-government, private service providers, the community and the government to access and update information related to child wellbeing.
The project came about after the Royal Commission into the Detention and Protection of Children in the Northern Territory highlighted the limitations in current processes that support child protection and youth justice. In response, the Territory Government invested $64.4 million into the Care System to facilitate better information sharing and coordination.
The Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing also noted that the creation of the Care System and the delivery of the program is all about it being based on the child. The NT government wants to make sure they are keeping up-to-date information on vulnerable families, so they can assist quickly and proactively.
The program is scheduled for completion in late 2022 and will improve the way Territory Families, Housing and Communities approaches child protection and youth justice, through a child-centric approach to systems and service delivery.
According to another article, The Department of Corporate and Digital Development (DCDD) is leading the project, formally known as the client management system alignment (CMSA) program, on behalf of Territory Families.
DCDD (then the Department of Corporate and Information Services) went looking for a new system in 2018 in response to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT. The Royal Commission identified systemic problems with the territory’s approach to child protection and youth justice, including limitations with several underpinning systems of record.
Systems of concern included the CCIS and the integrated offender management system (IOMS), neither of which ‘talked’ each other, as well as the police real-time online management system (PROMIS). The government said it expects the new Care system to improve “information sharing and coordination to ensure we are better protecting vulnerable children”.
An anticipated change in food consumption patterns during the post-pandemic recovery period is pushing the Indonesian government to try innovations in ramping up existing food and beverage production methods.
The Indonesian government in a statement encouraged agencies and key figures in the food and beverage industry to prepare for an increase in public demand by developing more technologies. The announcement comes as this strategic sector is expected to recover and bolster growth in the coming months.
Abdul Rochim, Director General of Agro-Industry of the Ministry of Industry, explained that the health crisis has made a huge dent in the economy and also stirred a substantial change in people’s consumption patterns. For one, fewer people are lining up to shop and shift towards getting their needs through online delivery services. He added, “meanwhile, people who are used to eating food in restaurants prefer to pack food or order food online.”
Because of these changes in consumer behaviour, the food and beverage sector needs to be more proactive in utilising innovation to cater to consumer demands in a modern way. The adoption of innovative tools also allows consumers to pay more attention to health and safety protocols during the new normal. The Director General noted that this sector which is closest to society should be able to take advantage of the benefits of tech to provide ease and convenience to customers.
Some of the proposed changes are not mainly in the delivery phase but are found also in the marketing, logistics and production systems of the industry. He mentioned that in marketing, digitalisation tools are key in reaching out to both producers and consumers. Hence, new digital tools must be implemented in this sector.
The vision of the Ministry of Industry is in keeping with efforts set forth under the Industry 4.0 concept in online marketing. The logistics sector can also be able to reap the benefits of using modern systems. To explain, the Director General noted that, “marketing that was previously carried out conventionally has shifted to using online marketing innovations. Meanwhile, the logistics sector also needs to be introduced to contactless logistics or a system that reduces human interaction so that consumers feel safe.”
In the production industry, the Ministry admitted that this industry needs new digital solutions, particularly in processed food technology and product diversification. Innovations in the production of frozen food and packaging methods to ensure item durability should receive an upgrade from tech. Food manufacturers also have a lot on their plate in ensuring that they improve finished products that are readily processed at home.
To support manufacturers, the Ministry announced that it has teamed up with the Association of Indonesian Food and Beverage Entrepreneurs (GAPMMI), Under the partnership, the Ministry shall help in compiling a book called ‘Guidebook for the Adaptation of New Habits in the Food Industry’. The project is expected to help manufacturers and other players in the food industry as they embrace their digital transformation.
These developments are all part of government efforts to boost economic growth on the back of significant contributions from the food sector. This is in line with directives laid out under the Making Indonesia 4.0 roadmap, where, In addition to the food and beverage sector, the government aims to foster economic growth by strengthening the electronics and manufacturing industries.
The results of such efforts were seen in the third quarter of 2020 when the food industry was recorded to be the biggest contributor to Indonesia’s gross domestic product, locking in an increase of 7.02%. Food and beverage also had the highest export value in manufacturing, as it reached US$ 27.59 billion in the January-November period last year.
To further ramp up food production techniques, the government has earlier said in a statement that the Agricultural Research and Development Agency is on the lookout for technological advances in agricultural methods to drive an increase in food production.
The pandemic has been seriously affected Vietnam’s economy in general and the tourism industry in particular. Data at the end of last year shows that COVID-19 has had a negative US$1 trillion to tourism worldwide and a reduction of 61% to Vietnam’s tourism revenues compared to 2019.
Clearly, traditional management and business methods cannot adequately cope, globally and in Vietnam as well. The pandemic has required the tourism industry to implement digital transformation solutions and establish a smart tourism data integration and sharing system. Various cities and provinces of Vietnam plan to leverage technology to boost their tourism sectors. This is in line with the governments overall emphasis on digital transformation across the board.
Vietnam’s northern province of Ha Giang is looking to promote the local tourism industry through digital transformation and smart services in partnership with the National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and a mobile carrier. Under the agreement, VNAT and the mobile carrier will assist Ha Giang to use the carrier’s Smart Travel system to ramp up promotion of tourism as well as to provide useful information to potential travellers.
Ha Giang authorities will provide relevant data about local destinations, scenic spots, historical sites, culture and food to be incorporated in the Smart Travel system. The provincial authorities will also facilitate connection with local organisations and businesses to develop tourism through digital transformation.
The platform features advanced technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, big data and e-commerce. The portal has been designed to meet the needs of tourists, businesses, service providers and regulators alike. The data collection and analytic tools will give tourism authorities an overview of their local tourism’s advantages and challenges, allowing them to formulate and introduce policies and provisions.
VNAT has also signed an agreement with Ha Giang to assist the province create and develop tourism products, promote the brand of Ha Giang tourism and develop the workforce for tourism. VNAT Director Nguyen Trung Khanh said the cooperation will open new opportunities to boost the tourism of Ha Giang and Vietnam at large in a more effective manner. He added that digital transformation and smart travel development are the inevitable processes, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of life. Ha Giang Vice Chairman Tran Duc Quy was confident that the agreement would significantly drive the growth of the local tourism industry and harness its full potential.
Vietnam has been eager to boost its tourism sector after it was hit by the pandemic. In November 2020, Việt Nam International Travel Mart (VITM) finally took place after being postponed three times. Thousands joined the annual Việt Nam International Travel Mart, one of the tourism industry’s most anticipated annual events.
Vũ Thế Bình, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said that while the event was smaller, the content is more profound and discusses how we overcome the consequences of the pandemic and also other kinds of crises. Bình stressed that the theme for the event was digital transformation for tourism development, “All of our economic sectors will gradually transform with digital technology. But tourism is one of the first economic sectors to have a chance to transform with digital technology.”
The platform featured over 300 stalls of tourism enterprises, airlines and tourism service providers from 47 cities and provinces throughout the country and six foreign countries and territories, namely Thailand, Peru, Japan, South Korea, Colombia and Taiwan. The exhibition had a separate zone for digital transformation exhibition, where companies could introduce new products at a hall for four days – the very first time the tourism sector got close to technology.
Recently, Vietnam’s tourism industry launched the online tourism mobile app “Du Lich Viet Nam An Toan” (Safe travel in Vietnam) that integrates electronic payment and the monitoring of public health in just one card. The app is aimed at more than 43 million smartphone users. This is a useful tool for travellers in recommending safe destinations and advertising destinations to tourists, as well as effectively serving the second domestic tourism stimulus programme. The app is also considered to be one of the practical digital transformation activities of state management agencies in the tourism industry.
As banking becomes more increasingly online, and with the data touchpoints on the rise, AI and ML have become an integral part of a bank’s DNA. It is a natural outcome that the more the data touchpoints, and the wider the data exposure, the greater the chances of things going wrong. Understanding this vulnerability, banks and financial institutions are keen on deploying AI/ML to keep a check on fraud incidents.
To get a better insight into how banks are adopting and adapting new technology and what is the future looking like for them, OpenGov Asia had a conversation with Dr David Hardoon, Senior Advisor for Data and Artificial Intelligence, Union Bank of Philippines.
David acknowledged that the rise in digital data points, as a result of increased online banking, has necessitated leveraging technologies like AI and ML to derive actionable insights. Additionally, more financial institutions see the benefits of adopting technology to keep fraud in check. The headway in security has encouraged them to scale it to other core functions like floor management, compliance, and regulation.
This is an almost-radical departure as historically there has been a reluctance in adopting technology among financial institutions due to unfamiliarity and the stern regulations around it. The pandemic has driven this paradigm shift, forcing organizations to think beyond their existing boundaries and comfort zones.
David noted that even the support office is catching up with the front office in terms of robustness, scalability, and capability to know when something is wrong. This is driven by the need to ensure a smooth and secure online experience for the customer.
On being asked about the notion that online malls and shopping sites are leading the way in customer experience and engagement over online banks and financial institutions, David agreed the banking industry is lagging but highlighted an important issue. The pandemic has driven people online but there is a fundamental lack of trust among customers engaging with such e-commerce sites.
“Trust is an equity financial institutions have, he opined. But it needs to be leveraged appropriately to build customer engagement online.”
Speaking about fraud and risk management in financial institutions in the post-COVID-19 era David shared that there has been a tremendous increase in the adoption of technology among banks. The strategy has been to use existing systems and adopt/adapt more sophisticated data techniques to achieve operational efficiency.
Banks are also focusing on taking the marketing mantra of hyper-personalization to compliance. David shared that data is the tool that equips banks with the ability and capacity of seeing and engaging individuals as individuals. Adding to this, he believes that such technologies can only be deployed in an institution when the top management believes in its power.
Elaborating on the future of AI/ML in fraud, David believes that the conversation is going to shift from digitizing the front office to bringing in the latest technology in the middle and back office in financial institutions. Apart from focusing on driving top-line growth, companies will need to get a better handle to know if anything wrong or irregular is happening.
David is confident that discussions around using AI/ML to manage fraud and risk will convert into action. The implementation might not be uniform across all institutions, but will it will move forward. Bigger institutions who have focused teams and resources will look to develop in-house fraud and risk management systems initially. A major reason behind it is the need to understand the complexities and difficulties associated with this process. Once they have familiarized themselves with it, they might partner with experts who champion the field.
All in all, David is an optimist who believes in the power of AI/ML, in risk and fraud management, and believes that conversations around it will get more operational.
A Malaysia-based tech firm has developed a highway monitoring system that integrates artificial intelligence (AI) and smart technology in its Smart Surveillance System (S3). Its group chief executive officer stated that the move complements the company’s ongoing effort to increase the safety rate and satisfaction level of highway users. He noted that, in line with Industrial Revolution 4.0, the company is prioritising efficient ways of working by utilising technology.
Through the implementation of S3, the level of highway efficiency will be upgraded and the safety of drivers improved. S3 enables the monitoring and detection of accidents, foreign objects, wild animals, potholes, surface cracks and ponding. The system also covers problems such as water spots, guard rail and slope failure, liquid spillage and road signage damage.
It combines technologies like AI and machine learning to provide notification to the relevant parties for further action. Since the launch of S3 on 19 August 2020, 1,303 incidents were detected in the first month alone. So far, the S3 has helped operations in carrying out immediate rectification with the real-time notifications. Fifty per cent of surface damage and highway asset damage were detected by the system and repairs were made immediately.
To improve security and safety, the company uses the Artificial Intelligence System Analytics (Aisya). By leveraging dashboard cameras and computers installed in every highway patrol car, it is able to obtain images of damage and accidents immediately.
The input is then sent over a 4G network to a cloud server to classify, identify and determine the next move. Aisya will then process, classify, analyse and come out with a digital report before notifying on-duty officers through their mobile application or websites.
Additionally, another system was developed by the firm alongside its industry partners for the purpose of highway management operation. It is called Prime and assisted the company in maintenance scheduling and digitisation.
With innovative technologies such as these, the company will escalate highway surveillance operations to ensure highway safety and user satisfaction. With the opening of new highways this year, including Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Highway and Damansara-Shah Alam Elevated Highway, such digital applications can only mean a better and safer drive for highway users.
Tech to improve transport
Malaysia is working to push better traffic systems via technology. OpenGov Asia previously reported that the Malaysian government partnered a US-based GPS navigation software app to implement Bluetooth beacons across the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) highway and basement roads leading to car parks in the area.
The company will provide Bluetooth signals to improve navigation where GPS signals are limited, increase driver safety, and better visibility of real-time traffic events. Malaysia was the first in Southeast Asia to put Waze Beacons to the test.
The nation’s underground roads are an ideal test ground as they lead out to key exits, and it is expected the technology will enhance TRX’s level of services. Ensuring seamless connectivity is critical to support TRX’s status as an international financial hub.
Meanwhile, the Head of the Waze Beacons Program stated that the firm’s team is pleased to bring the Waze Beacons Program to Malaysia, the first Southeast Asian country to adopt the technology. Seamless navigation can be enjoyed in TRX when its underground roads are open to the public, but this is just the beginning and the aim is to expand into more areas nationwide across Malaysia soon.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has announced it will establish a Quantum Computing Applications Lab, in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), to accelerate quantum computing-led research and development and enable new scientific discoveries.
The MeitY Quantum Computing Applications Lab will provide quantum computing as a service to government ministries and departments, researchers, scientists, academia, and developers. It will enable advances in manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and aerospace engineering.
According to a press release, AWS will provide hosting with technical and programmatic support for the ab. The initiative aims to provide scientific, academic, and developer communities access to a quantum computing development environment aligned with the government’s science and technology priorities.
Quantum computing is an emerging field that harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics to build powerful tools to process information. It has the potential to solve computational problems that are beyond the reach of classical computers and lead to breakthroughs that can transform chemical engineering, material science, drug discovery, financial portfolio optimisation, machine learning, and much more.
The lab will identify quantum computing problem statements for experimentation from among central and state governments, research institutions, and academia. It will work with subject matter experts from the government sector to define the problem statements, and make them public, inviting applications from researchers, academia, and organisations to address them. The lab will then provide select applicants with free access to quantum computing hardware, simulators, and programming tools, on-demand. This will help scientists and developers to build algorithms, conduct advanced simulations, and run experiments.
Amazon Braket provides a development environment to enable users to explore and design quantum algorithms, test and troubleshoot them on simulated quantum computers, and run them on different quantum hardware technologies.
The Secretary of Meity, Ajay Sawhney, said that India has a rich legacy in science, technology, and innovation. The government believes that India’s path forward will be driven by achieving world-class scientific solutions. Enabling the scientific community with advanced technologies plays a key role in scientific advancements and learning.
An early and successful foundation in quantum computing is important to achieve leadership in this emerging field. The MeitY Quantum Computing Applications Lab is the first of its kind initiative in the world and aims to enable India’s talented researchers to explore the unchartered applications of quantum computing, and pave the way for discoveries and disruptions, another government official noted.
A core mission of MeitY is to identify and deploy technologies to promote innovation and discovery to help India advance and achieve a more sustainable future. Quantum computing has the potential to help countries leapfrog technology generations, achieve scientific leadership, and deliver answers to complex economic and social challenges. This initiative will augment India’s ongoing efforts in developing quantum computing applications, the President and CEO of the National e-Governance Division (NeGD), Abhishek Singh, explained.
The MeitY Quantum Computing Applications Lab will help government bodies and the scientific community identify problems and opportunities rapidly and test real-world challenges through experiments and prototypes in a low-risk environment. Outcomes from these experiments will help researchers evolve problem statements, proofs-of-concept, and prototypes that will lead to the development of new applications, models, and frameworks in quantum computing.