India is home to the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, elite science and technology institutions like the IITs, robust and ubiquitous digital infrastructure and millions of newly-minted STEM graduates every year.
A such, India is well-positioned to become a global leader in the development of artificial intelligence. Industry analysts predict that AI could add up to $957 billion to India’s economy by 2035. India hopes to stand out in the international community not just as a leader in the Artificial Intelligence field, but also as a model to show the world how to responsibly direct AI for social empowerment. The nation has robust plans to leverage AI for inclusive development, representing the country’s ‘AI for All’ strategy.
Speaking at the inauguration, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi said Artificial intelligence is a tribute to human intellectual power, enabling humans to innovate tools and technologies. Today, these tools and technologies have also acquired the power to learn and think! The combination of AI with humans can do wonders for the planet.
India wants to become a global hub for AI and its approach is powered by core principles of Teamwork, Trust, Collaboration, Responsibility and Inclusivity. India’s National Programme on Artificial Intelligence is dedicated to the rightful use of AI for solving problems of society. It will be implemented with the support of all stakeholders.
India has deployed technology comprehensively to improve transparency and service delivery. Home to the world’s largest unique identity system (Aadhaar), India also has one of the world’s most innovative digital payments system (UPI). The nation has been rapidly expanding its optical fibre network with the aim is to provide every village with high-speed internet connectivity.
Such large-scale, tech-empowered programmes combined with expanded connectivity have enabled access to digital services, including financial services, like Direct Cash Transfers to the poor and marginalised.
Recently, India inaugurated launched the Atal Innovation Mission to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Further, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) is being formed that will create an e-Education unit to boost the digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity. Virtual labs are being established to provide hands-on experience to learners.
Through these steps, India hopes to keep pace with emerging technologies for the benefit of its citizens and the world at large.
None-the-less India is still exploring how best to use and deploy Artificial Intelligence in the optimal management of its national assets and resources, delivering more citizen-services promptly and conveniently as well as finding a bigger role for AI in agriculture, healthcare, urban infrastructure and problems of climate change.
‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020 – RAISE – is India’s mega virtual summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI) organised by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and NITI Aayog scheduled to run from October 5-9.
A global convergence of ideas, RAISE 2020 is a virtual meeting of minds to exchange ideas and chart a course for using AI for social transformation, inclusion and empowerment in areas like Healthcare, Agriculture, Education and Smart Mobility, among other sectors.
The event anticipates robust participation from global industry leaders, key opinion makers, Government representatives and academia. Delegates and experts in research, policy and innovation on Artificial Intelligence will join virtually to discuss cross-sector subjects like ‘Leveraging AI for Pandemic Preparedness’, ‘The Impetus that Innovation Places on Digitisation’, ‘Inclusive AI’, ‘Partnerships for Successful Innovation’ etc.
Eight Hong Kong universities are in line for grants totalling HK$165 million aimed at developing better virtual teaching methods, which are anticipated to become part of the “new normal” in coming years.
Online teaching was widely adopted amid the coronavirus pandemic as schools suspended face-to-face classes for months at a time to avoid infections. But the University Grants Committee (UGC), which funds the city’s public institutions of higher education, noted along with its Quality Assurance Council (QAC) on Thursday that they believed schools would continue to make use of virtual methods to enhance teaching and learning even after the pandemic ended.
The additional HK$165 million would be allocated to the eight universities funded by the committee to facilitate more systematic collaboration to promote the strategic development of virtual teaching and learning, a spokesman said.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) recently announced that they welcomed the additional funding launched by the University Grants Committee (UGC) and the Quality Assurance Council (QAC) for universities to promote the development of virtual teaching and learning (VTL).
Over the years, PolyU has laid a solid foundation for VTL. In response to this new initiative, PolyU will actively propose innovative solutions, and continue to strive in acquiring more resources to promote the University’s development of VTL.
To address the long-term teaching and learning needs, our initial plans include: developing exemplary real-time delivery of online academic programmes and new paradigms of online teaching, as well as initiating VTL-related research.
In light of the ongoing pandemic situation, PolyU has been using different online teaching and learning platforms, while constantly upgrading its classroom facilities and providing training and technical support to staff and students to accommodate online and synchronous teaching. PolyU is also committed to digital transformation – some examples include building a teaching and learning centre that supplies e-learning resources and developing new online teaching solutions, such as using virtual reality (VR) technology in teaching and establishing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
PolyU has furthermore dedicated its efforts in developing several online science experiment platforms in recent years, including the newly launched “Borderless Lab 365”. The platform enables students to perform real-time science experiments remotely anywhere and anytime, thereby significantly improving the effectiveness of teaching and learning. This innovative platform is not only being used by the students of PolyU but is also being deployed by various secondary schools. Feedback from teachers and students has been positive, this is a good testament to the competence of PolyU in effectively combining technology with teaching.
The Deputy President and Provost of PolyU stated, “The UGC and QAC attach great importance to promoting VTL, which is in line with PolyU’s strategic development. We hope that with this additional funding in place, PolyU can secure more resources to accelerate the progress of VTL, so as to enhance the overall experience and effectiveness of teaching and learning.”
Another university that received funding was The University of Hong Kong (HKU). A press release from the university stated that they also welcome the move by the UGC and the QAC to provide additional funding for universities’ virtual teaching and learning (VTL) initiatives.
The Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) stated, “In the past 15 months, HKU has engaged deeply with VTL as first the social unrest and then the pandemic moved much teaching and learning online. Additional funding from UGC will enable us to intensify our efforts to build on the many innovative practices developed by teachers and students throughout the campus. It will help us ensure that VTL is fully integrated into our strategic plans for T&L as we navigate the ‘new normal’ in the 2020s.”
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay (IIT-Bombay) have created an AI model to diagnose two species of malaria parasites by studying the changing trends of proteins in human blood. The project has been funded by the Department of Biotechnology.
According to a news report, the researchers recently developed proteomics technologies and made an artificial intelligence (AI)-based model in collaboration with three different hospitals across India. The model differentiates between two malaria parasites – P falciparum and P vivax – for better malaria diagnosis.
The researchers, from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, collected blood samples for strains of P falciparum, P vivax, and dengue from across the country. Including the Medical College Hospital in Kolkata, Sardar Patel Medical College in Bikaner, and Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai, along with blood samples of healthy people. Then, the team created a dataset to train the AI model.
The dataset was analysed, and the researchers studied the protein levels from blood plasma against the severity of malaria to create quantifiable data. The majority of malaria cases in India come from the malaria-vulnerable population, including workers at construction sites in malaria-endemic regions. These are regions without a proper drainage system, leaving standing water for days to facilitate mosquito breeding.
Other parts of the malaria-vulnerable population include people without awareness of the harmful effects of the standing water in their localities during the malaria season. The main issues at the time of the disease are quick diagnostic aids, which describe the causative agent of the disease, a researcher from the study explained.
Currently, the team is focused on creating a prototype of a diagnostic kit so that the technology is available for the mass-detection of the disease. The kit can be used to compile these panels of proteins for diagnostics and prognostic purposes. Once this prototype is ready, the team will compare the kit with the currently used RDT kits. The study involves a panel of proteins, which will help in the reduction of false-positive and false-negative results.
Since 2000, India cut malaria cases by more than half and the number of malaria deaths by more than two-thirds. Ending malaria remains a top government priority. In 2016, India introduced its first National Framework for Malaria Elimination (2016-2030). In 2019, the government increased funding by more than 25% for the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.
At present, malaria diagnosis is undertaken by manually studying the blood samples for the parasites which still has difficulty in determining the progress of the disease. In the case of malaria, P falciparum, P vivax and other species are not differentiable through RDTs and ideally need an expert eye along with intensive work of looking at 100 fields of blood smear using microscopy, the gold standard for malaria diagnosis, the researcher noted.
During malaria season, the number of cases is high, resulting in an increased burden on clinicians for manual diagnosis. If the diagnosis, along with the timely progression prediction from non-severe malaria cases to severe, before the development of clinical manifestations is made for clinicians, then the treatment can be specific and efficient.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) will launch a digital asset trading platform in the second half of 2021 to allow trading on all types of digital token assets excluding cryptocurrencies. According to the SET, cryptocurrencies do not meet its product qualifications and could facilitate money laundering, while causing harm to the bourse’s image as a “high trust” exchange.
The Executive Vice-President of the SET stated that the digital asset platform will be similar to other popular e-commerce marketplaces but all products on SET’s platform will be digital token assets. He said tokens traded on the platform must meet at least one of three conditions. First, the token must have an underlying asset that investors can analyse on value. Second, it must be a valuable product that supports economic activities. Third, the product must have benefits to society and the environment.
The bourse also formulated a fully integrated distributed ledger technology (blockchain) and digital asset investment service in 2020 to link various digital asset exchanges, digital wallets and initial coin offering (ICO) portals in Thailand under one platform via a collaboration with an arm of a banking group in Thailand.
The bank will be responsible for sourcing and screening products entering the SET digital asset marketplace. The SET is looking to sign an agreement with other partners with an aim to achieve exponential growth through tech innovations and investments via its three arms.
The SET also has studied several ICO cases. Most projects being studied have the possibility of making profits in the future. In order to protect investors, the digital asset must meet at least one of the three conditions set by the SET but cryptocurrencies don’t meet any of them. Thus, they cannot be counted as the SET’s product even though some countries accept payments in cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrencies are currently used in some countries which are experiencing high inflation and currency fluctuations such as Zimbabwe and Venezuela as an equivalent of fiat money. Thailand has a strong economy. As inflation has remained low and the Bank of Thailand’s measures to keep the baht stable have worked in the past, the SET has no reason to support cryptocurrencies at the moment.
However, the Executive Vice-President said some stock exchanges in Europe currently provide cryptocurrency trading to attract digital asset investors before launching other digital token assets via their platforms.
He said one of the measures to prevent money laundering is to do “Know Your Customer” (KYC) with clients who open trading with the exchanges. KYC will filter and screen unusual investors who come to open trading accounts. Cryptocurrency is just one digital asset product among others, he added.
The bank and other ICO portal firms will search for new products and evaluate the ICO project before putting them on the trading platform. As each product has different characteristics, the bourse must employ experts from different areas to help screen the products.
Digital token assets can be many valuable things such as diamonds and title deeds.
The SET expects that the digital asset marketplace will grow faster than today’s stock market as it emerges in the 4.0 era, while the traditional markets were established in the 1.0 or 2.0 eras which had less technologies to facilitate trading. The stock and bond markets are also governed by regulations that are far less flexible than the digital asset law and usually need intermediaries such as brokers and banks to make transactions.
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) launched its new FinTech Centre located at the InnoCentre in Kowloon Tong to accelerate cross-industry innovation and forge the new era of financial services. This reflects HKSTP’s ongoing commitment to reinforcing Hong Kong’s global leadership as an international financial hub through innovation and technology.
FinTech Centre is the latest addition to the evolving InnoCentre and a key pillar in HKSTP’s growing Fin+Tech ecosystem. The close-knit ecosystem brings financial institutions, regulators and academics, together with fintech startups and companies focusing on extensive R&D in Hong Kong and globally.
The CEO at HKSTP stated that fintech is a strategic focus for HKSTP. Their vision is to nurture the best possible Fin+Tech ecosystem, which has seen rapid growth in recent years. The FinTech Centre’s launch is a new chapter in Hong Kong’s path to be a world-leading fintech hub. Our fintech companies will create the advanced technologies necessary for the financial sector to build a new era of financial services in Hong Kong, Greater Bay Area and beyond.
The Centre will provide a focal point for different stakeholders to collaborate with fintech companies and co-create projects for the financial sector that harness advanced technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cybersecurity and data analytics. The Centre will also serve as a base for business matching, a soft-landing for overseas fintech companies, talent nurturing, laboratory and proof-of-concept trials.
The launch is one of several HKSTP-led initiatives to drive fintech collaboration and co-creation in 2021.
Building Next-Generation Banking Services
HKSTP is also rolling out its Banking Virtual Lab which aims to accelerate fintech innovation. The virtual lab hosts synthetic banking data and relevant APIs in partnership with financial institutions. This will make it easier for developers and banks to work together to rapidly develop, test and validate new APIs and solutions against synthetic data.
As the lab’s first partner, a bank, has already contributed synthetic data and will create a sandbox to collaborate with innovators to address specific business pain points.
The CEO of the bank stated that it welcomes new initiatives that will drive innovation in fintech; supporting HKSTP in the development of its Banking Virtual Lab by contributing synthetic banking data, with the aims of creating a cross-industry ecosystem on the data platform, deepening collaboration with fintech companies, and accelerating the speed of development and success rate of these collaborations.
The collective initiative will help drive the continued development of Hong Kong’s banking industry and generate more opportunities to work with fintech companies on the co-creation of customer-centric products that meet the evolving needs of our customers.
Fast-Tracking Corporate Innovation
Another major initiative is the Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) Accelerator under HKSTP’s Global Acceleration Academy (GAA), announced at the Asian Financial Forum on 19 January 2021. This will fast-track corporate innovation across the BFSI sectors and address the sectors’ critical pain points by developing solutions through co-creation.
The Accelerator will match financial corporates with HKSTP’s 1000-strong network of technology ventures to enhance operational efficiency, customer experience, wealth management, regulation and compliance.
The Accelerator is supported by industry leaders including the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) via the HKMA-HKSTP Fin+Tech Collaboration Platform, Insurance Authority, InvestHK, Hong Kong Association of Banks (HKAB) and the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB). It is carried out in collaboration with 17 BFSI corporates.
Fintech Innovation Hub
Another key development is the establishment of a new Fintech Innovation Hub (FIH) at the FinTech Centre. A collaboration between Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), HKMA and HKSTP, the FIH will serve as a neutral ground for collaboration between financial institutions, technology companies, corporations, universities and government bodies for idea exploration, proof of concept and prototype development, technology testing as well as education and demo purposes.
The Chief Operating Officer and acting Co-CEO at ASTRI stated that as Hong Kong’s largest applied science and technology research institute and having fintech as one of our focus areas of application, research and development, ASTRI is constantly finding ways to benefit the entire financial industry and help drive the sector’s growth into a new era.
The establishment of the FIH marks another milestone and the agency looks forward to an even closer collaboration with HKMA, HKSTP and other stakeholders to support and promote the continued growth of our thriving fintech ecosystem.
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.