A major transformation is underway in the Australian healthcare system. The Australian government allocated AU$374.2 million in its 2017-18 Budget to be invested over two years, for the nationwide rollout of an opt-out model of My Health Record and to ensure every Australian is a part of it, unless they choose not to be.
In June, the Australian Digital Health Agency (The Agency) released a Request for Tender (RFT) to develop a Strategic Interoperability Framework for Australia, with the objective of contributing to the deployment of a seamless digital health eco-system.
The Agency is working with clinical information systems (CIS) vendors to develop nationally-scalable, secure electronic messaging between healthcare providers. The Agency has also initiated a pilot project for the use of My Health Record in hospital emergency departments, in partnership with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC). The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (the Guild) have signed important service agreements with the Agency to drive adoption and use of the My Health Record system. Large private sector medical service providers continue to join My Health Record. Then in August 2017, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council approved Australia’s National Digital Health strategy (2018-2022).
OpenGov had the
opportunity to speak to Agency CEO, Mr. Tim Kelsey when he
was in Singapore for a conference, to learn more about the focus areas,
the exciting plans, and the challenges. Mr Kelsey emphasised the need to work
with the clinical community to meet its needs and to demonstrate the very real
benefits of digital technology for patient outcomes.
What are the next steps for My Health Record?
My Health Record, as you know, is a summary, a digital repository of a person’s key health information. Australia has been running this initiative for a number of years. To date, it has over 5.2 million registered users. The Australian Government confirmed, in May this year, its intent to bring forward the benefits of My Health Record by expanding it to an opt-out model by the end of 2018, which will mean that every Australian has a My Health Record, unless they choose not to.
That’s the big focus now. It involves preparing the engagement materials that will help inform citizens of their rights to opt out of My Health Record if they choose to and also, to help educate and train clinicians to understand how best to get value from the system and to be able to support their patients to do the same. That process is underway. We are developing plans with all the governments in Australia to ensure that’s implemented successfully.
Beyond that, My Health Record is principally about driving improvements in clinical safety and efficiency. For example, clinicians will have access to a patient’s medication history, thus greatly-reducing the risk of any medication errors. Unnecessary duplication of blood tests and X-rays will also be minimised. These are very important clinical imperatives, which are strongly supported by the clinical leadership in Australia.
Can you tell us about working with the many different stakeholders and connecting them to My Health Record? What are the challenges in the process?
We have had good success over the past 12 months in terms of connecting all the various data sources. The degree of engagement from the private hospital sector has been very strong. We have also reached out to the pathology and radiology industries in regards to collaborating on My Health Record. Both those offers have been well-received.
We are also working with the majority of companies in community pharmacy, to enable them to connect to My Health Record. Pharmacists in Australia will be able to upload dispensed information to My Health Record, undertake medicines reconciliations and in due course to upload other health information into My Health Record.
One challenge is being able to demonstrate to the clinical community that this really does drive benefits for them. The leadership in general practice has been very clear about what it needs from My Health Record and we have been heavily involved with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) to design the service so that it does deliver what is necessary.
There are parts of the clinical workforce, which perhaps haven’t yet quite engaged with the opportunities of things like My Health Record, and perhaps the broader digital opportunity. Those parts will include the specialist community (that is, allied health), with whom we are working closely now.
We have made good progress but there is much more work to be done.
There’s also been a challenge around the design of the service so that it’s really useful to clinicians and consumers. Again, there has been significant improvement but more work needs to be done there. And there are a variety of other improvements that the government has indicated should ideally be delivered before we move to the opt-out phase. They are all in the budget measure. We are working hard to improve the service and, at the moment, the stars are aligned.
The National Digital Health Strategy was approved recently. What are the priorities in this and how are you working with the states and territories for the implementation?
Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy was approved by the Council of Australian Governments, COAG) in August this year. It is a great step for Australian healthcare and, for the first time in decades, it provides clarity around what the key priorities for digital health should be in Australia. Those priorities have been designed in conference with all the states and territories, as well as with the Australian Government and other partners including clinical leaders, community leaders and the industry itself, all of whom will be key delivery partners.
My Health Record is a standout priority for all of us. It offers such clear, clinical benefits. There is widespread consensus to develop a digital health service, which allows data to flow circularly and seamlessly across borders. Not just political borders, but also the institutional borders of healthcare in a way that doesn’t currently happen.
However, My Health Record is not an EMR(Electronic Medical Record). It is not intended to become a comprehensive resource. Alongside, we also need to develop standards for interoperability, so that all health services can speak with common meaning in their correspondence.
That’s another very big callout in the strategy, to develop an interoperability framework, which we will be doing over the course of the next 12 months.
In other ways too, the states, territories and the Commonwealth, along with our partners have called for much more developmental work on areas of clinical practice where there is good evidence that digital technology can enable vastly-improved outcomes for patients, but where they haven’t moved to scale. So, we have launched a series of test-beds, looking at, for example, newborn children’s health and how that can be better supported using digital tools. Looking at end-of-life care, helping people express a preference as to whether they would prefer to die at home or in a hospital, at that point in their lives. Looking at supporting the management of more coordinated care through platform-based planning tools.
These kinds of test-beds are programmed to discover just how we can scale innovations that we know work. That’s another key part of the strategy.
We read about a trial for secure messaging between different healthcare providers. Could you tell us about it?
Another feature of the strategy is to prioritise giving every registered clinician the capability to communicate securely by email with their colleagues. At the moment, a number of companies have developed services in this field and we are working with them, as well as clinical colleagues and state and territory colleagues to investigate how we can create an easy national infrastructure, building on the work that industry has already delivered. For example, a clinician would no longer need to resort to the fax
machine to communicate with a colleague outside of their practice.
You could think of this as developing a standardised way the email address for a clinician could be found that is secure for purposes of clinical correspondence.
Many other countries have developed such an approach. The clinical community in Australia is very, very clear that it wants that to happen quickly.
Is it usually through industry-set standards or government?
It varies. In England it was done by the government. So, what is called Spine in the NHS is run by the government and that provides the authentication exchange for the digital correspondence. In Australia, some states have built their own address book but industry has led the way in other parts of Australia. We need to work together to develop a comprehensive service all clinicians can use and are currently trialling a federated system that makes use of existing address books.
What’s being done in terms of driving adoption in the clinical community and developing a workforce with the right skills for the digital era?
In many ways, this is the biggest challenge. And it’s not a challenge that is unique to Australia. My view has always been that the clinical community is an expert community, a highly educated community. Yet, health has been slow to take advantage of the opportunities that digital services provide, when compared with other professional parts of the global community. I think one of the reasons for this is that in some instances, the case has not been well made to clinical colleagues, that digital can make their practice better.
In some cases, there has been unsuccessful implementation of digital services, particularly in hospitals that has increased the administrative burden on clinicians. As a result, there are clinicians around the world who actively canvass against some digital services.
We need to mindful of that, and very respectful of those opinions. I think building an evidence base is one of the key priorities, to reassure clinicians and demonstrate to them how basic digital information sharing services can really transform healthcare in a positive way.
This is a conversation that has started in Australia. It is vital that we continue to work in conjunction with the clinical community and I think the answer lies in the fact that clinicians want better outcomes for their patients. I firmly believe that digital technology can help achieve these outcomes, we just need to support clinical colleagues in taking the best advantage they can of those emerging technologies.
What is the Australian Digital Health Agency’s approach to data security and privacy?
The Agency recently made a submission to a Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration Inquiry into the Circumstances in which Australians’ Medicare Information has been made available on the ‘Dark Web’. That describes our whole approach to security and privacy.
From a privacy standpoint, if a person chooses to have a My Health Record there are a series of controls they have over who can see their records.
This is quite honestly unique among similar systems that I have encountered elsewhere in the world. I think Australia is leading the world when it comes to recognising the importance of personal privacy, in relation to health data. The Australian Parliament has legislated to ensure a person has control over access to their My Health Record in a way that, to the best of my knowledge, no other government has done.
When asked to clarify, Mr. Kelsey said that My Health Record takes copies of records from other systems, EMR systems included, from hospitals, from GP software systems, from pathology and radiology systems. It takes those copies (not original documents) and makes them easily visible to clinicians, keeping in account reports such as pathology and digital imaging display only the report itself, not the visual image.
The Agency has a comprehensive set of processes and technology controls in place to protect health and personal information in place. The system has strong security, which ensures information is only stored and accessed by trusted connected health systems and users such as healthcare providers and consumer. ADHA’s Cyber Security Centre continually monitors the system for evidence of unauthorised access, utilising specialist security real-time monitoring tools that are configured and tuned to automatically detect events of interest or notable events. The document also lists ensuring healthcare providers only access the information they should access and the controls available to individuals.
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.
In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the year 2022/2023 marked a significant juncture for cybersecurity in New Zealand. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) revealed a sharp increase in financially motivated cyber activities, surpassing state-sponsored incidents for the first time. This shift in dynamics signals a crucial turning point in the realm of cybersecurity, one that demands heightened vigilance and adaptive measures from organisations across the country.
With an eye on defending against an increasingly sophisticated threat landscape, organisations in New Zealand find themselves facing a relentless onslaught from cybercriminals. These malicious actors, driven by financial gain, are employing tactics aimed at extorting payments from businesses. However, there’s a silver lining amid this adversity. Organisations, increasingly cognisant of these tactics, are bolstering their resilience to withstand such coercive manoeuvres.
Yet, this resilience is constantly put to the test as cyber adversaries innovate, adopting novel techniques and technologies that challenge conventional detection methods. The advent of cutting-edge technologies like generative artificial intelligence (AI) further amplifies the need for organisations to exercise stringent governance, ensuring the adoption of these advancements while mitigating associated privacy and security risks.
Amidst this turbulent landscape, the NCSC stands as a bastion of defence, dynamically adapting to confront the ever-shifting cybersecurity scenario. This year, the NCSC’s interventions and expertise have been instrumental in preventing an estimated NZ$65.4 million in potential harm to vital national entities.
Notably, over the past four fiscal years, the NCSC’s capabilities have been pivotal in detecting approximately one-third of all recorded incidents. In 2022/2023, the NCSC took proactive measures, successfully disrupting over 250,000 malicious cyber events through the implementation of Malware Free Networks®.
In the span of the reported period, 316 cyber incidents targeted nationally significant organisations, a slight decrease from the 350 incidents documented in the preceding year, 2021/2022. Notably, 73 of these incidents, equating to 23%, demonstrated potential connections to suspected state-sponsored actors – a decline from the previous year’s figure of 34%. Conversely, 90 incidents, accounting for 28%, displayed indicators of criminal or financially motivated activity, marking a rise from the 23% recorded in the prior reporting period of 2021/2022.
In a significant move towards fortifying the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure, the NCSC, in conjunction with New Zealand’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT NZ), has become the forefront operational cybersecurity agency for Aotearoa New Zealand. This integration promises a unified approach, pooling resources, and expertise, and fostering both domestic and international alliances for a more robust defence against cyber threats.
The integration not only streamlines operations but also ensures a consistent stream of guidance and support for New Zealanders facing cybersecurity challenges. By providing a centralised hub for advice and assistance during cyber incidents, this merger aims to facilitate a more cohesive response to threats faced by the nation.
The NCSC’s latest report has positive insights, offering actionable strategies to combat the recurring tactics employed by cyber adversaries. Encouraging organisations to leverage these insights, the report emphasises the need for continuous review and enhancement of cybersecurity controls and governance. Furthermore, it extends a supportive hand, urging organisations to seek additional assistance when needed.
As New Zealand navigates the complexities of an increasingly digitised world, the NCSC’s report serves as a pivotal guidepost, advocating a collective effort towards fortifying the nation’s cyber resilience. In this concerted endeavour, organisations are not merely defending digital infrastructures but safeguarding the collective prosperity and security of the nation.
OpenGov Asia reported that the New Zealand Police issued a warning regarding a targeted email campaign that has notably affected various organisations, with a particular emphasis on schools. This digital threat has instigated increased vigilance among authorities and spurred collaborative efforts aimed at mitigating potential risks posed to the targeted entities.
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.
The Secretary-General of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry (KKDW) is optimistic about the transformation of statutory bodies under KKDW into high-income entities by incorporating new technologies and innovations into their projects and programs. He believes that leveraging the latest technologies and harnessing the skills, expertise, financial resources, and human capital within each agency can turn them from cost centres into profit centres.
During the KKDW Innovation Day 2023, Ramlan highlighted the importance of innovation in addressing global challenges and maintaining competitiveness. He emphasised that Malaysia’s consistent position in the Global Innovation Index reflects the existence of innovation within the country. Ramlan stressed the need to enhance the culture of innovation to ensure long-term competitiveness and resilience.
The annual KKDW Innovation Day serves as a platform to recognise and inspire personnel to contribute to innovation and excellence in service delivery. The Minister expressed satisfaction with the active participation of KKDW and its agencies, showcasing a thriving culture of innovation. He hopes that innovative products developed by the workforce can be not only utilised internally but also commercialised in the future.
The event featured seven categories of quality and innovation awards, including the Public Service Innovation Award and the New Horizon Award for Best Innovative and Creative Group (KIK). Notable achievements included Mara winning the Public Service Innovation Award (Madani Management) for its Business Premises Management System (MyPremis) and Hulu Terengganu Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) securing the New Horizon Award for their polybag lifter tool innovation.
MyPremis, Mara’s innovation, streamlines the process of checking vacancies and lease applications for premises, allowing online submissions and transparent reporting. The polybag lifter tool by Risda addresses seedling deaths after planting, improving planting efficiency and reducing replanting time for rubber trees.
The success stories underscore the transformative potential of technology and innovation in enhancing the efficiency and outcomes of projects undertaken by statutory bodies under KKDW.
The Rural and Regional Development Ministry’s (KKDW) commitment to embracing technology and fostering innovation represents a pivotal shift in the landscape of rural development. With the vision of transforming statutory bodies into profit centres, KKDW’s emphasis on creative solutions and cutting-edge technologies demonstrates a dedication to staying competitive in the global arena.
The success stories shared during the KKDW Innovation Day underscore the tangible benefits of this transformative journey, providing a glimpse into a future where innovation becomes synonymous with progress and prosperity in the realm of rural and regional development. As KKDW continues to champion a culture of innovation, it not only elevates its own standing but contributes significantly to Malaysia’s competitive edge on the world stage.
The Malaysian government is strategically fostering innovation to ensure long-term competitiveness. Initiatives like the National Policy on Industry 4.0 and the Digital Economy Blueprint underscore a commitment to embracing technology.
The National Science and Innovation Agenda focuses on cultivating a culture of research and development, while efforts in STEM education aim to produce a skilled workforce. Digital hubs, such as the Malaysia Digital Hub, provide environments conducive to innovation and collaboration for startups and entrepreneurs.
The Global Innovation Index is used to benchmark and enhance the country’s innovation ecosystem. Furthermore, the government actively supports technology commercialisation through agencies like the Malaysia Innovation Agency (AIM). Ongoing strategies prioritize the growth of technology-driven industries, creating a dynamic landscape that positions Malaysia as a key player in the global digital economy. For the latest updates, official government sources and news outlets are recommended.