Geographic information systems, or more commonly known as GIS, is a technology that combines location with real-time or static data.
This technology collects, manages, analyses, and shares data to achieve location intelligence. Rooted in the science of geography, GIS integrates many types of data.
It can use large data sets from different sources and represent them as meaningful real-time apps, dashboards and analytical tools.
Immediate visualisations can be produced, which give critical insights into fast-moving situations. By using this technology many situations or problems can be handled more efficiently by how it reduces the complexity of the situation. It’s purpose is to enable smarter decision making.
Governments and Public Health Agencies using GIS to Solve COVID-19 issues
Today GIS technology is being extensively used in the fight against Covid-19. Governments, public health agencies and other organisations are using this technology in their defence against the pandemic.
On the global scale, it is being used to show how, over time, the virus is spreading across the world. It is also being deployed for contact tracking and tracing.
GIS also helps predict health needs and spikes, supports the delivery of vital PPE and facilitates the delivery of medicines to vulnerable citizens.
Mapping data is also being used to provide local authorities with key information. It helps tailor data reports about local demographic, economic and health statistics which can help plan community response to COVID-19.
Maps and visualisations are an excellent way to present large amounts of information so it can be quickly and easily interpreted. As such, mapping is being used to collect, collate, integrate and share critical information with frontline healthcare staff, doctors and health authorities.
Transport organisations are using it to ensure appropriate services running for key workers.
GIS is critical to answering many Coronavirus related questions: Where are current cases in the community? Where is the virus likely spread? Where are the closest testing sites? Are there specific demographics that are at greater risk? Which areas or sectors are being most exposed? The numbers of hospital supplies and hospital beds on a regional or national basis. How quickly local and regional hospital resources are being depleted?
Government use GIS technology to Communication Purposes
Governments are using mapping technology for communication purposes through maps, apps, and dashboards. Examples include sharing a situation assessment with the media and the public to help the public locate healthcare facilities.
Many local governments are producing story maps to keep citizens informed on what’s happening in their area.
They also use GIS maps to communicate emergency information regarding school closures, public notices and other Coronavirus containment measures.
Accurate public information is critical for risk communication and behaviour changes such as appropriate hygiene measures and social distancing recommendations.
GIS technology has become part of mass notification systems, allowing leaders to send out messages to staff, partners, or the public based on geographic location.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin attended an event in Bangkok, focusing on the collaboration between a tech giant and the Thai government to advance the nation’s digital economy. The Premier highlighted the company’s technological prowess in AI and Cloud services, which aligns with the government’s commitment to inclusive digital development under the theme “Leave No Thai Behind.”
The Prime Minister also mentioned the government’s Cloud-First policy to foster a robust AI-based economy, integrating Public and Private Clouds with high data management standards. The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has been tasked with spearheading these efforts through practical applications and improving public services through technologies such as Generative AI.
The Prime Minister conveyed his positive views on the enduring collaboration between Thailand and the tech giant, which cultivates a favourable setting for the growth of AI and Cloud technologies, aiming to guarantee that every Thai reaps the benefits of these digital evolutions.
The Prime Minister pointed out the government’s proactive digital-first policies and Thailand’s position as an attractive destination for global business investment. A notable outcome of this collaboration is the MoU announced at the APEC meeting in San Francisco, covering the expansion of digital infrastructure, responsible Cloud and AI use in government services, a Cloud-First Policy, and the enhancement of digital skills in Thailand.
With the signing of the MoU, the Thai government are poised to collaborate, charting the course for the nation’s digital transformation through comprehensive efforts focused on workforce empowerment, sustainability, and cutting-edge digital infrastructure. This agreement solidifies the vision of an AI-driven Thailand at the forefront of digital innovation.
The MoU seeks to bolster Thailand’s economic edge while fostering a digitally advanced ecosystem. Emphasising the creation of high-value jobs and sharpening the nation’s competitive edge, the partnership aims to position Thailand as a regional leader in digital prowess and sustainability.
Prime Minister Thavisin, while participating in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in San Francisco, held discussions with the company, outlining the strategic objectives embedded within this collaborative venture.
The Prime Minister reiterated Thailand’s commitment to sustainable progress and renewable energy and aligned these ambitions with the company’s overarching vision, “This collaboration will strengthen our country’s economy while enhancing our digital capability.”
A wide spectrum of topics emerged during their discussions, including the blueprint for a digital-first Thailand, steering the nation towards an AI-empowered future, equipping Thai citizens for the evolving landscape of work and life, and propelling Thailand towards a leadership role in green growth initiatives.
Aligned with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society’s digital government and cloud-first strategies, the company commits to close collaboration with Thai government bodies to propel smart digital infrastructure development across critical sectors like agriculture, healthcare, tourism, and education.
The collaboration seeks to pave the way for data centre investments to amplify cloud and AI utilisation in Thailand, while concurrently enhancing the nation’s cybersecurity posture with the company’s global best practices and expertise.
Furthermore, the partnership intends to integrate AI into government projects and public services, paving the path for establishing an AI Centre of Excellence to expedite ongoing public-sector AI initiatives, define comprehensive AI implementation plans, and foster innovation across multiple industries.
Policy and regulatory frameworks for responsible AI use in Thailand are also on the agenda, coupled with the company’s commitment to upskilling 10 million Thais, ensuring they are equipped with crucial skills for the future.
Noteworthy environmental initiatives are also part of the plan, with the creation of a sustainability sandbox aimed at expediting Thailand’s journey towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2065. This endeavour encompasses scalable initiatives catering to the public sector, large enterprises, and small businesses.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) intends to gradually substitute Closed Loop Delhi Metro Smart Cards with Open Loop National Common Mobility Cards (NCMC). The move allows customers to use the same card for both metro and bus journeys nationwide within the NCMC-compliant system. The transport card enables users to make payments for various services, including transit fares, tolls (toll tax), cash withdrawals, and more.
Customers will benefit from the convenience of using their bank-issued NCMC card for making fare payments, ensuring a seamless and efficient transaction process. The NCMC system actively encourages a cashless environment, aligning with modern payment trends and contributing to a more secure and streamlined travel experience. Additionally, users can easily recharge their NCMC online or at designated recharge points, providing a hassle-free and straightforward approach to managing their cards. This integrated set of features enhances the overall ease and efficiency of utilising the NCMC system for transportation needs.
DMRC has communicated that it is not encountering any delays or challenges in implementing NCMC, citing compliance with guidelines from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Additionally, other metro rail systems are gradually transitioning from the Closed Loop Card System to NCMC.
NCMC, issued by banks, is a prepaid and secure dual EMV card that ensures a high level of security and reliability in transactions. It is linked to the Paytm Payments Bank wallet, offering versatile utility for various purposes such as travel, in-store payments, and online shopping, among others.
NCMC is universally accepted for all retail point-of-sale (POS) devices, providing a broader scope of usability. In contrast, closed-loop cards are limited to acceptance only within their specific operating environments.
Launched in 2015, the Digital India programme is a comprehensive initiative aimed at ensuring digital access, inclusion, and empowerment, fostering a knowledge-based economy and a digitally empowered society by uniting a myriad of ideas for widespread development and efficient service delivery to all citizens.
In line with the Digital India vision, the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), introduced in 2019 as part of the “Make in India” initiative by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), seeks to address cash payment challenges in transportation, establishing an affordable and reliable system spanning all modes of transit.
The project’s ultimate objective is to introduce the “One Nation One Card” for seamless transit transactions while extending the utility of NCMC for low-value offline retail transactions, furthering the objectives of the Digital India initiative.
Countries across the world are integrating technology into public transportation systems, enhancing travel experiences by making them more convenient and efficient. Earlier this year, the Viet-Smart Travel Card was launched by the Tourism Information Technology Centre (TITC) under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
Developed under the “Vietnamese Card – One National Card” initiative led by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Smart Travel Card provides users with the convenience of one-touch and online payment capabilities. Apart from transportation and tourism, it seamlessly integrates into healthcare, banking, trade, and education services.
The Smart Travel Card is incorporated into the “Vietnam Travel” application. By downloading the app, tourists not only acquire smart travel cards but also unlock a wide array of technological features. These include the capability to book airline tickets and hotels, purchase e-tickets, access digital tourist maps, and search for businesses offering travel-related services.
In August, the Nelson City Council in New Zealand unveiled the Ebus OnDemand application, providing passengers with a convenient and efficient means to request bus rides through a mobile app or by calling a dedicated number.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the OnDemand service aims to broaden access, serving a larger population through flexible operations tailored to passengers’ preferred travel destinations rather than adhering to a fixed route that may only cater to certain areas of the community. The service expands travel possibilities, reaching destinations as far as Marsden Valley Road and Monaco. Passengers benefit from precise arrival information, significantly reducing waiting times and enhancing overall travel experience.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong officially unveiled the National AI Strategy 2.0 (NAIS 2.0) at the inaugural Singapore Conference on AI (SCAI). This comprehensive strategy is designed not only to address contemporary challenges but also to uplift the collective economic and social potential of Singapore over the next three to five years.
Singapore’s journey into AI began in 2019 with the inception of the first National AI Strategy. This initial strategy laid out plans to deepen the integration of AI into various sectors, from Education to Healthcare and Safety & Security. Notably, the nation invested in critical enablers to fortify its AI ecosystem. Since then, Singapore has witnessed remarkable breakthroughs, leading to new products, capabilities, and interactions.
The renewed NAIS 2.0 acknowledges the opportunities and risks that AI presents in a society where digital technologies are an integral part of everyday life. Mastery of AI, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wong, holds the key to empowering businesses and citizens, unlocking new job opportunities, and driving the next wave of economic growth.
However, the responsible and sustainable management of AI is imperative to mitigate potential negative effects or misuse, such as cyber threats and misinformation, ensuring that AI engagement is safe and trustworthy for everyone.
NAIS 2.0 is framed by the vision “AI for the Public Good, for Singapore and the World.” The strategy revolves around two key goals: Excellence and Empowerment. Under the banner of Excellence, Singapore aims to selectively develop AI peaks to advance the field and maximise value creation.
This involves directing AI towards addressing pressing global challenges, including population health and climate change. On the Empowerment front, the strategy aspires to equip individuals, businesses, and communities to use AI with confidence, discernment, and trust, making AI the great equaliser in preparing for an AI-enabled future.
The strategy outlines 15 key actions across various systems and enablers that Singapore will undertake over the next three to five years. These actions encompass building a trusted and responsible AI ecosystem, driving innovation and growth through AI, and ensuring that people and businesses can engage with AI effectively.
Simultaneously, the launch of the inaugural SCAI underscores Singapore’s commitment to navigating the challenges of AI development. Themed “For the Global Good,” the conference aims to convene over 40 distinguished experts from academia, industry, and government. The goal is to identify critical questions in the realm of AI that, once answered, will enable the responsible development and deployment of AI for the benefit of societies globally.
Singapore’s NAIS 2.0 and the SCAI mark a significant stride toward harnessing the potential of AI while acknowledging the responsibilities that come with it. With a vision focused on the public good and a commitment to excellence and empowerment, Singapore is poised to navigate the intricate landscape of AI, ensuring that this transformative technology contributes positively to society and the world at large.
A National AI Strategy is paramount for a country, offering a strategic vision that guides the integration and development of AI. This comprehensive approach is instrumental in fostering economic growth and competitiveness by attracting investments, promoting innovation, and creating job opportunities.
Positioned as a leader in AI research and development, a nation with a well-defined strategy elevates its technological standing globally. Beyond economic benefits, such strategies address specific societal challenges, such as healthcare and education, improving citizens’ overall quality of life.
Establishing a robust regulatory framework, fostering talent development, and promoting ethical AI principles are integral components of these strategies. They also facilitate international collaboration, ensuring the exchange of knowledge and joint efforts in addressing global challenges.
To encourage spatial planning by India’s village councils (gram panchayats), the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has introduced Gram Manchitra, a geographic information system (GIS) application. The tool enables and aids gram panchayats in undertaking planning at the local level using geospatial technology.
The application serves as a unified geospatial platform to better visualise and monitor the various developmental projects to be carried out across different sectors. It functions as a decision support system to formulate Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDP).
It offers various planning tools that use GIS technology to assist gram panchayat officials in formulating practical and attainable development plans. These features make up the decision support system during the development plan preparation, including tools for identifying potential project sites, tracking assets, estimating project costs, and assessing the potential impact of projects.
Moreover, the Ministry has introduced mActionSoft, a mobile-based solution designed to help capture photos with geo-tags (GPS coordinates) specifically for projects with tangible assets as output. The geo-tagging of assets occurs at three stages: before the commencement of work, during the work, and upon the completion of the work. This establishes a repository of information encompassing all projects and assets associated with natural resource management, water harvesting, drought-proofing, sanitation, agriculture, check dams, irrigation channels, and more.
Assets that are geo-tagged through the mActionSoft application are accessible on Gram Manchitra, contributing to improved visualisation of diverse developmental projects within the gram panchayats. The assets created under the Finance Commission are geotagged along with photographs by the panchayats. The GIS data of these geotagged assets on the panchayat map is accessible and visualisable through the Gram Manchitra application.
Agricultural activities play a significant role in boosting incomes for residents in villages nationwide. The government invested in modernising and digitising these operations, aiming to enhance productivity and promote sustainability.
Earlier this year, the government launched the Unified Portal for Agricultural Statistics (UPAg Portal) to optimise and improve data management. As OpenGov Asia reported, the portal standardises data related to prices, production, area, yield, and trade, consolidating it in a single location. This eliminates the necessity to compile data from multiple sources. The portal can also conduct advanced analytics, providing insights into production trends, trade correlations, and consumption patterns.
Meanwhile, scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-Madras) announced a portable, point-of-use device for identifying heavy metals in both soil and water. It delivers a user-friendly, non-technical read-out value of the soil quality index on a mobile phone-like application.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has introduced an AI-based Chatbot for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme, wherein Indian farmers receive annual income support of up to IN₹ 6,000 (US$ 72). This AI Chatbot aims to enhance the efficiency and outreach of PM-KISAN, providing farmers with prompt, transparent, and reliable responses to their queries.
Integrated into the PM-KISAN grievance management system, the chatbot is designed to empower farmers with a user-friendly and easily accessible platform. It assists farmers in obtaining information regarding their application status, payment details, eligibility status, and other updates related to the scheme. The government will make the Chatbot accessible in 22 languages spoken in the country soon.
In a bid to demystify mental illness, Castle Peak Hospital’s Mind Space Museum introduced an innovative approach using cutting-edge technology to immerse visitors into the sensory experiences of individuals grappling with mental health challenges. This immersive journey leverages virtual reality (VR) to simulate hallucinations, offering a glimpse into the world of patients navigating these profound conditions.
In a landmark collaboration supported by a charity programme, Castle Peak Hospital’s Mind Space, is heralded as Hong Kong’s pioneering Mental Health Experience Museum. This novel venture, backed by advanced technology, redefines the comprehension of mental health through a fusion of immersive facilities and state-of-the-art installations.
Mind Space stands as an embodiment of the transformative potential of technology in enhancing empathy and understanding. Powered by the latest advancements in virtual reality (VR), this museum offers visitors a revolutionary opportunity to step into the intricate world of mental health.
Beyond historical perspectives, the Brain Tour zone elucidates the scientific facets underlying mental illness. A standout feature, the Symptom Experience Rooms, employs VR to replicate visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations, allowing participants to tangibly sense the challenges encountered by individuals battling mental health issues.
The heart of Mind Space lies in its VR simulations, meticulously designed to simulate the symptoms and experiences of psychiatric conditions. Participants are transported into a realm where they can tangibly sense the visual, auditory, and tactile manifestations encountered by individuals battling mental health challenges.
From vivid hallucinations to sensory distortions, these simulations serve as an educational conduit, providing a deeper comprehension of the often misunderstood facets of mental illness. Visitors are not mere observers but active participants, gaining invaluable insights through experiential learning
By deploying cutting-edge tech and innovative approaches, Castle Peak Hospital aims to broaden its outreach by inviting more visitors. Mind Space beckons those curious about mental health to embark on an immersive journey, accessible through online bookings.
In his Policy Address, Mr Lee said the Government attaches great importance to mental health. Hong Kong prioritises the mental wellness of its citizens and acknowledges that mental health encompasses more than just medical treatment. Embracing an integrated, multi-disciplinary strategy, the government underscores the holistic nature of mental health care.
Aligned with the community’s focus on innovation and technology, there’s a growing emphasis on integrating advanced technology into mental health services. This push aims to streamline labour-intensive operations in hospitals, elderly centres/homes, and other care facilities. By leveraging innovative technology, it seeks to empower health and social care professionals as well as frontline workers, enhancing their efficiency in daily tasks.
Moreover, this initiative aims to attract fresh talent, especially young individuals, to join the workforce in mental health services. Integrating cutting-edge technology into these fields, not only modernises operations but also presents an appealing and dynamic environment, encouraging new entrants to consider long-term involvement in mental health care.
In July this year, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) secured funding from the Research Grants Council (RGC) Strategic Topics Grant (STG) 2023/24 to drive a transformative health technology initiative.
Hong Kong grapples with a significant prevalence of major psychiatric disorders (MPDs), with conditions like major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder affecting approximately 13.3% of the population. Alarmingly, fewer than 40% of patients attain full symptom relief following initial treatment.
Presently, diagnostic criteria heavily rely on cognitive and behavioural markers, presenting limitations in accurate assessment and treatment planning. PolyU’s groundbreaking project presents a pioneering approach that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) alongside genomic and biomedical technologies. The proposed AI-driven methodology promises a data-centric approach to diagnosis and personalised therapy, marking a significant leap forward in mental healthcare innovation.
Around 15 million subscribers who are currently using 2G will be required to transition to 4G as the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) plans to deactivate the 2G network by September next year, coinciding with the expiration of frequency licenses issued to carriers deploying 2G.
The Ministry initiated discussions regarding the network shutdown as early as 2020, providing users with sufficient time to make the transition. It also implemented regulations that year prohibiting the import of 2G devices. Any current devices entering the Vietnamese market are doing so through unofficial channels. Network operators’ statistics indicate that the country presently has approximately 15 million 2G subscribers.
The Ministry has provided frequent updates regarding the decision and recently held a seminar on how discontinuing 2G signals will move more people to the digital environment. Nguyen Phong Nha, Deputy Director of MIC’s Vietnam Telecommunications Authority, stated that the Ministry is inclined to roll out 6G technology by 2030. As a result, 2G technology phones will no longer be in use, imported, or circulated in the market.
2G devices in Vietnam are reaching the end of their usage cycle. As these devices break down, users will need to replace them with newer alternatives. Furthermore, in anticipation of the plan, mobile telecommunications carriers are formulating policies to assist users when 2G signals are discontinued. These policies primarily concentrate on providing support for terminal devices and telecommunication charges.
Presently, a few major network operators have deactivated 2G and 3G signals in areas with low demand for these services. Moreover, network operators are offering affordable 4G phones priced at approximately VND 300,000 (US$ 12.5), catering specifically to a segment of customers who only require basic voice and texting services.
Nguyen Trong Tinh, Deputy General Director of Viettel Telecom, noted that state-run group Viettel achieved the milestone of being the first network operator to successfully migrate most of its 3G subscribers to 4G. This transition has resulted in only about 0.2% of customers continuing to use 3G services.
The group plans to offer more support to customers by adjusting charges and providing 4G service prices at reasonable rates. The objective is to make these prices comparable to or even lower than current 2G services, aligning with the preferences and payment capabilities of the customers. Moreover, in terms of terminal devices, Viettel has supported 50% of the device price for 2G customers switching to 4G for the past two years.
Tinh explained that phasing out obsolete technologies in favour of newer ones is poised to yield significant economic benefits and resource optimisation for telecommunications businesses. This strategic shift allows companies to allocate resources more efficiently and stay at the forefront of technological advancements.
Viettel also collaborates with phone manufacturers to assist customers in getting smartphones at discounted prices, typically around 60-70% off for a single phone. For 4G phones offering voice and texting services, Viettel provides support for purchase costs, offering discounts of up to 50%, depending on individual customer circumstances.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Quoc Khanh, Deputy Head of the technology department at VNPT Group, has said that the company will give away smartphones, subsidise phone prices, and introduce appealing packages for customers residing in remote areas and islands who are still using 2G.
However, despite these efforts, the percentage of 2G subscribers in Vietnam remains relatively high compared to other countries in the region and developed nations. Approximately 16% of subscribers in Vietnam are still exclusively using 2G.
Thailand is embracing the digital era, spearheading a transformative journey aimed at enhancing government efficiency across all tiers and delivering superior services to its citizens. The nation’s commitment to digital transformation signifies a strategic drive towards modernisation, aiming to optimise administrative processes and ensure seamless citizen interactions.
With a proactive approach, Thailand is keen on leveraging technology to streamline governmental functions, promoting efficiency and transparency at every level, offering citizens enhanced access to government resources, and fostering a user-friendly experience.
In line with this, the Prime Minister’s Office recently hosted the prestigious Digital Government Awards 2023, an occasion celebrating state agencies’ remarkable strides towards embracing digital governance in line with the country’s overarching policy of technological advancement.
The award ceremony served as a platform to honour and acknowledge 150 state agencies for their remarkable transformation into digital governance entities. Hosted by the Digital Government Development Agency (DGA), the event spotlighted the remarkable developmental changes and successes achieved by these agencies on a national scale.
In his address, Puangpet Chunlaiad, Minister attached to the Office of the Prime Minister underscored the paramount significance of enhancing state services, emphasising the importance of facilitating seamless citizen-government interactions through remote channels. The recognition bestowed upon these agencies highlights their unwavering commitment to advancing digital capabilities, ultimately aiming to streamline services and enhance accessibility for citizens engaging with governmental entities.
In a concerted effort to align with the Civil Service Act and drive digital advancements in local administrative organisations, several key entities in Thailand have joined forces. Led by the Digital Government Development Agency (DGA) and in collaboration with the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSD), the Municipal League Association, and Bang Kruai Municipality, a pioneering pilot project has been set in motion to enhance the manual for citizens.
At the heart of this collaborative initiative lies the aspiration to transform the manual for citizens of local administrative organisations, in line with the Municipal League of Thailand’s vision. The objective is to transition these manuals into a digital format, catering to the evolving needs of citizens and supporting services in the digital realm.
Of notable importance is the planned integration of services provided by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security through the ‘government’ super application. This application currently hosts an array of 32 services within the public welfare workgroup. The proposed joint workshop, inclusive of the DGA, the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission, government agencies under the MSD, and the National Municipal League Association, aims to dissect and restructure processes and systems.
The ultimate goal is to bridge the gap between the MSD’s service system and local digital systems, facilitating easier access and consistency in service manuals for local government organisations.
The envisioned outcome is a more streamlined and accessible service manual that better aligns with the populace’s needs. Through this collaborative effort, these organisations aim to empower citizens by providing more accessible and efficient digital services, fostering a technologically advanced and citizen-centric administrative landscape in Thailand.
OpenGov Asia reported that Thailand has consistently championed the cause of fostering digital skill inclusivity, extending its efforts towards diverse segments of the population, including students, entrepreneurs, and individuals with disabilities. Recognising the transformative potential of digital literacy, the nation has embarked on comprehensive initiatives to bridge the gap and ensure that the benefits of the digital era are accessible to all.
In an effort towards fostering digital inclusivity and advancing economic and social development, Mr Prasert Chandraruangthong, the Minister of Digital Economy and Society (Minister of DE), inaugurated the Pho Tak Subdistrict Community Digital Centre.