The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (MAHA –METRO) are working together to conserve water and protect the environment by installing DRDO’s eco-friendly biodigester units (a non-sewer sanitation technology) in its facilities.
According to a press release, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was inked on 5 January between MAHA-METRO and DRDO through which DRDO will render technical support for the implementation of its advanced biodigester Mk-II technology for the treatment of human waste (night soil) in the metro rail network.
DRDO is a premier research organisation and MAHA-METRO is a joint venture company under the central government and the government of Maharashtra. DRDO’s biodigester is an indigenous, green, and cost-effective technology and has one of the largest numbers of DRDO-licensees (ToT holders).
The Indian Railways has already installed about 240,000 biodigesters in its fleet of passenger coaches. For MAHA-METRO, the technology has been revamped and further improved in a bid to save water and space.
A customised version of this MK-II Biodigester, suitable for treating human waste generated from houseboats in Dal Lake, was successfully demonstrated by the DRDO to the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Administration. The Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LWDA) of the J&K Administration has initiated the process to procure 100 units of Mk-II Biodigesters for civil habitats around Dal Lake to minimise water pollution. The implementation of Biodigester MK-II in Srinagar is being monitored by a committee of experts constituted by the High Court of J&K. When fully implemented, this green technology will significantly reduce the Dal lake pollution.
This technology is upgraded through improvements in the bio-degradation efficiency, design modification, and addition of secondary treatment modules. The new reactor is designed to provide more path length with increased biological reaction time, thereby enhancing the biodegradation efficiency of the system. This technology was primarily developed for the armed forces in high-altitude Himalayan regions, including Leh-Ladakh and Siachen glacier.
India is pushing to be one of the largest green energy producers in the world. According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, as of October 2020, India’s total renewable energy installed capacity had reached over 89.63 GW.
A news report explained that during the last six years, India has witnessed the fastest rate of growth in renewable energy capacity addition among all large economies, with renewable energy capacity growing by 2.5 times and solar energy expanding by over 13 times. Renewable energy now constitutes over 24% of the country’s installed power capacity and around 11.62% of the electrical energy generation.
Further, including large hydropower, the share of renewable energy in electric installed capacity is over 36% and over 26% of the electric energy generation. Large hydropower has about 45 GW hydro installed capacity and 13 GW capacity under installation, bringing India’s total renewable energy portfolio of installed and in-pipeline projects to 221 GW, the report said.
Around 49.59 GW renewable energy capacity is under installation, and an additional 27.41 GW capacity has been tendered. This makes the total capacity that is already commissioned and in the pipeline about 166.63 GW.
The Housing Development Board, Singapore launched the HDB Flat Portal. The one-stop online platform will make it easier for prospective buyers and sellers streamline the process. The Minister for National Development, Desmond Lee announced, “This new portal will make it more convenient for home buyers and sellers to gather information on the purchase or sale of a flat through a single integrated platform”.
Some of the salient features of the portal include a customised financial calculator for buyers to check their budget and payment plan and sellers to estimate sales proceeds, and flat listings collating information on current and upcoming Build-to-Order (BTO) launches.
The website will also have loan listings for buyers to get information on housing loans offered by HDB and participating financial institutions, said Mr Lee. He added that HDB is looking to include resale flat listings in subsequent phases of the portal’s rollout. The HDB Flat Portal is the second phase of the HDB Resale Portal launched in January 2018.
Its launch took place after a series of engagement sessions with industry players and stakeholders, he said. “The HDB Resale Portal has halved the time needed for resale flat transactions from 16 weeks to around 8 weeks and reduced the number of appointments with HDB from two to one,” said Mr Lee. “We will continue to look into ways to further improve the transaction process for HDB home buyers and sellers.”
Buyers can use the suggested payment plan in the portal as a benchmark when talking to property or bank consultants before purchasing a resale flat, said Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie. The section on upcoming Build-to-Order (BTO) flats is also helpful as buyers can view information on upcoming launches and subscription rates of previous launches in one website, speeding up the search process, she added.
Features of the online portal:
The portal has provisions for every buyer and seller to have a profile which requires a login via SingPass. The website also has a “My Flat Dashboard” which tracks the number and category of the application you want to make.
Another fascinating feature is called “Finding a Flat”. Using this feature a buyer can input his/her price, location, flat type, waiting time, and mode of sale preferences and can get suitable results based on them.
Apart from making the transactions move twice as fast, the portal significantly reduces the amount of previously required administrative work and the number of appointments. Documentation and formalities like Submitting a resale checklist, applying for flat valuation, HDB loan application letter which earlier had to be done on independent websites can now be done in a single place.
This portal will also enable less reliance on property agents. All their functions like linking the buyer and seller, driving the schedule on transactions and formalities are managed effectively by the portal itself without any charge or fee.
The HDB Online portal is a boon for the Lion City’s citizens helping them realise the dream to own a house by simplifying and accelerating the process.
The role of information and communications technology (ICT) has been redefined at the onset of the global COVID-19 crisis. Pre-pandemic, ICT was already considered a critical backbone of emerging markets but this was made more apparent today as organisations struggle to get back on their feet and recover from the massive impact of the pandemic.
As countries move toward digital transformation in the new normal, technologies like AI and cloud computing leverage ICT networks to track the movement of services, streamline operations and improve existing work patterns. In healthcare, this technology has been harnessed to monitor patient outcomes and make intelligent decisions based on data gathered. In business, ICTs are also crucial in pointing out areas of improvement within the workplace.
For government agencies, ICT is a tool for enhancing public service. Through this technology, organisations can improve governance and public participation. When there is an integrated system of communication technologies like wireless networks and broadband services, as well as social networking programmes, community participation is fostered. Likewise, positive perceptions of government accountability and transparency are upheld.
For several agencies in Indonesia, the implementation of a fortified ICT system during the pandemic requires strong collaboration. One of these organisations is the Ministry of National Development Planning which in a statement said that working together with help from technology is the solution towards boosting the nation’s social capital index.
Suharso Monoarfa, Head and Minister of the National Development Planning, stressed that society and government must work together to contribute to the nationwide recovery. Hence, there is a necessity to improve through ICT the nation’s social capital index, the sum of the perceived social stability and well-being of the whole population.
He stated during the recently held Blueprint for New Heroes Webinar: “we realise that the handling and recovery of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is actually a collective work of all of us. Therefore, the government and society at large should join hands. Social capital in society is the key to controlling this Covid-19.”
To explain further, he cited as an example the advantage of a robust social capital in Taiwan. The Minister said that there were no large-scale lockdown nor social restriction policies there, but the Taiwanese government was able to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus in a short period.
The importance of balancing social capital is seen from research that showed countries with higher social capital index recorded a decreased mortality rate by 17% to 32%.
As the government remains committed to developing its digital initiatives, the role of ICT in boosting social capital is made more crucial. This is the case in healthcare where community cooperation needs to be ramped up by improved ICT processes to implement health protocols and facilitate monitoring of COVID-10 cases. The Ministry emphasised: “in a situation of high uncertainty, in the current period of recovering from the impact of Covid-19, building trust, awareness and mutual cooperation in the community is important.”
Investing in ICT is also important in bridging gaps in information-sharing to a population consisting mostly of millennials. The Minister said that government agencies must realise that they are not tapping into technology for citizens but a population of netizens.
The Minister took the opportunity to discuss that Indonesia’s Vision 2045, part and parcel of the nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, is to be prioritised under the National Medium-Term Development Plan. This initiative, he said, can be achieved by banking on different areas like human resource development, economic development and e-governance.
He also cited that efforts must be strengthened in boosting technology. This is in line with earlier statements of government officials that digitalisation and tech remain a top priority this year. As reported by OpenGov Asia, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights announced that it is set to embark on a digital revolution this year by building on various innovations it has adopted in 2020.
The Vietnamese Government Office and the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam recently co-hosted an online seminar in Hanoi, which shared Japan’s experiences and policies to promote e-government, towards a digital government.
The event virtually brought together experts from Japan and 23 cities and provinces in Vietnam. It was chaired by the Minister and Chairman of the Vietnamese Government Office, Mai Tien Dung, and the Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam, Takio Yamada.
Addressing the seminar, Dung said it is the third event of this kind and forms part of Japan’s activities to support Vietnam in building e-government. In the context of social distancing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the use of information technology (IT), artificial intelligence (AI), and digital technologies is crucial to sustain the normal functioning of the Vietnamese economy.
During the event, specialists from Japan discussed Suga’s new policies in developing digital government and shared experience in digitalising public services as well as formulating policies for the application of AI.
Vietnam has developed and operated a number of the e-government’s key information and database systems, which have not only promoted a new way of working at governmental units but also facilitated the delivery of online public services to businesses and people, he said.
These systems have allowed society to save up to about VND9.8 trillion (US$426 million), in expenditure annually. The Minister further noted that such success would not be possible without the help of the government of Japan through the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam, Japan’s Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
E-government development must ensure a close connection between IT application, public administrative reforms, and improvement in transparency and publicity. The satisfaction of people and businesses is among key factors to measure the e-government building.
Ambassador Yamada highlighted the significance of e-government and digital government at the time of COVID-19, saying the use of digital technologies at many administrative bodies in Vietnam enables the delivery of a variety of online public services with added values and no direct contact.
He said he is impressed by Vietnam’s proactive response to the pandemic with the quick rollout of a contact-tracing app NCOVI. E-government is also one of the top priorities of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The Japanese government will continue adopting more cooperation programmes to assist Vietnam’s reforms in the coming time.
In 2019, the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) held the first joint coordination committee meeting on information security.
OpenGov Asia reported on the event, during which the two sides decided to strengthen support for a project that raises awareness about information security and law enforcement capacities for the same in Vietnam. Around the world, network security is the most important problem while digitalising and implementing e-government that creates a digital economy.
Over the last few years, MIC’s cybersecurity units have worked closely with Japan and shared their experiences. At the meeting, the two sides discussed the project implementation progress and exchanged ideas and technology solutions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation across the globe, not just in commerce, education and work. Health and safety considerations, too, have paved the way for the rapid adoption of technology. To cater to these urgent requirements, there is a pressing need for governments and businesses to adapt and digitalise at an unprecedented speed.
This urgency is particularly apparent in the healthcare sector where medical and frontline workers are experiencing fatigue due to the unprecedented influx of patients and the accompanying administrative workload.
This is where Intelligent Automation comes to the fore to take over routine, repetitive and complex tasks far more efficiently, freeing up human resources for other critical tasks.
Understanding the relevance and experience of this issue, senior executives from the healthcare sector in Singapore engaged in an in-depth discussion during the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight held on 14 January 2021. The discussion revolved around the topic: Reinvigorating the Healthcare Industry by Harnessing the Power of Intelligent Automation.
Making automation processes a priority in the new normal
The discussion began with a bird’s eye view of the current situation in the healthcare sectors of across the globe and the role of technology to address challenges in this area.
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia, elaborated further on the concept of employee fatigue. He said that the foremost question to be answered by organisations to address this issue is how to scale up processes and transactions which have gone through the ceiling.
He acknowledged that the adoption of automation processes in the pre-pandemic era was considered an extravagance within the business frameworks, this is not the case today in the new normal. It is now a necessity to invest in intelligent automation so that work hours can be maximised. The ultimate issue then to be resolved is not whether to shift to automated processes, but how organisations can improve on these tools once they are set in place. This, Mohit added, is how businesses and government agencies can upscale the entire workforce.
A foundation point raised by Mohit was that technology is now embedded in society and it cannot function as efficiently without innovation. Organisations must focus on ushering a completely seamless delivery of services through technology, particularly in the healthcare sector where operations cannot slow down.
He stressed the fact that successful scale programmes for intelligent automation require executive ownership and direction. It is critical to have leaders to direct innovation from the top or otherwise, it is never going to happen.
Mohit concluded by urging delegates to partner with the right people, experts in the field, who can make it easier for them to embark on a journey towards intelligent automation rather than trying to do everything in-house.
Reshaping operations in healthcare through AI, RPA
As the world continues to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic, boosting the healthcare industry through innovative processes is key.
This was the focal point of the discussion led by Dr Zoran Bolevich, Chief Executive and Chief Information Officer at eHealth New South Wales, NSW Health, during the virtual session. For him, the vision of organisations across the world must be to foster a sustainable healthcare system that is digitally enabled.
Dr Zoran confirmed that in countries like Australia, digital advancement is a prerequisite for agencies, especially those in healthcare. Fo his organisation, he cited statistics that show over 12 million hospital appointments were booked digitally and approximately 2.25 million invoice transactions have been processed through digital means.
He was of the firm belief that health IT can be utilised to solve issues in the healthcare sectors more quickly. The challenge then is how to build on tech agility to continue seamless delivery of health services. He added that a ‘future health strategy’ must provide value-based healthcare, elevate the human experience and empower patients or consumers. This, Dr Zoran said, can be achieved by investing in AI and automation.
To further explain, Dr Zoran said that at an initial stage, organisations must automate workflows in shared service centres and use data and algorithms derived from these systems to boost operations. Later, data gathered can be further harnessed to ramp up supply chain management procedures like stock control and automatic re-ordering of supplies. The automation process then becomes a procurement system that can guide staff in a smarter way for the procurement of medical supplies.
Dr Zoran also agreed that AI should further be used to improve processes in updating medication content and providing a basis for clinical decision-making.
Beating the pandemic panic through automation
Anna Twomey, Senior Solution Advisor, Americas Public and Private Healthcare SME, added interesting insights to the discussion at hand.
She mentioned that despite the onset of what she referred to as a pandemic-panic among agencies in the healthcare industry, digital technology could help alleviate these worries.
Anna described Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a digital partner that gets smarter as more data and insights from the healthcare sector, including visualisation and imagery and e-learning information, are stored. Through RPAs, transformation in healthcare can be further amplified as these streamline transactions in scheduling appointments, approving request referrals, updating patients’ charts, and reviewing medical reports.
As the healthcare sector continues to navigate through tough times during the pandemic, having digital partners like RPAs can help medical practitioners better predict health outcomes and bridge the gap between specific populations of patients within the sector.
Once patient data is recorded, healthcare can look at these analyses to predict trends in certain segments with particular issues or co-morbidities like diabetes, heart conditions and other diseases.
In her experience, some of the challenges which shore up costs decrease patient satisfaction. The solution was to put up an end-to-end AI system that can look up viable solutions to these challenges, from managing patient ratings down to small facets of operations like serving food in hospitals.
Through AI, physicians and healthcare workers are better able to address patient conditions and needed treatments.
After the thought-provoking presentations by the speakers, delegates participated in an insight-sharing activity.
When asked what the primary objective of their digital strategy is, half of the delegates said that the goal is to enhance patient experience and journey while for the others the objective is to improve overall health quality.
According to one delegate from the National University Health System (NUHS), innovation captures many of these objectives. The positive news is that many businesses are building the necessary infrastructure to boost their digital transformation journey.
An interesting question during the session got delegates in deep thought. If their company has an unlimited budget, the area in which 57% of participants said they would invest in is the integration of disparate systems.
A delegate from IHH Healthcare was firm that improving back-end support services is equally important while applying digital initiatives. However, he added that there are still challenges that have to be addressed like scaling programmes. Another participant from the health sector said that if there are challenges in the budget, the solution is to bridge the gap in operations through RPAs.
A third (33%) of participants said that they are inclined to use intelligent automation in their integrated care departments, while the same percentage of attendees cited that they are adopting AI to drive patient experience.
A NUHS executive thought that integrated care is fundamental and that most organisations take the leap when they are presented with the opportunity to intensify integrated care technology. However, she was quick to add that one of the bottlenecks in intelligent automation is the notion that it only caters to back-end processes. In the long term, AI will increasingly be used in other areas of operations.
Her colleague from the NUHS agreed, stating that the whole purpose of adopting AI is to support patients’ journey so integrated care must be at the core of every organisation’s digital blueprint.
Anna summed up the online discussion by encouraging more agencies to capitalise on the strengths of intelligent automation processes in a bid to ramp up operational blueprints in healthcare. This, she said, can be done by collaborating with experts in the field of Intelligent Automation.
She invited the delegates to engage with partners who could guide them and be on the journey with them.
Smart Nation Initiative Minister in charge, Vivian Balakrishnan announced that the trace together program will be stood down and all the data collected under the program would be deleted after the pandemic ends to maintains people’s privacy and government’s transparency. He reiterated that the sole purpose of the program was for contact tracing and to break the chains of COVID – 19 transmission. He added that the Ministry of Health might want to retain the epidemiological data for research purposes, but it will all be anonymised.
The government has also issued the procedure that will be in place to request deletion of data from the Trace Together app and tokens. When signing up for TraceTogether, a random user ID (a string of numbers and letters) is generated and linked to the user’s contact number and identification details, such as his name and NRIC number. These details are stored in a secure server, according to the TraceTogether website.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) uses the identification details to contact the right person when necessary. When the app or token users are near one another, their user IDs are exchanged in an encrypted and randomised form and can be decrypted only by MOH. The encrypted Bluetooth data exchanged is stored in the app or token, and does not contain personal, identifiable information. Bluetooth data older than 25 days is also erased automatically. Only when a user tests positive for Covid-19 will MOH request that he upload the Bluetooth data to the government’s servers for tracing close contacts.
The app also collects anonymised information about a user’s phone and app, such as the phone model and app version, to help the government improve the app and provide a better user experience. This data does not have personal, identifiable information. No global positioning system location data is collected. The Android version of the app needs “location permission” from the user because Android requires apps requesting Bluetooth access to also get permission to access the user’s location information.
Users can also request for their identification data to be deleted from the government’s server unless they are confirmed Covid-19 cases and their proximity data – or information about people near them – has already been uploaded to the government’s server.
For a user of the TraceTogether app, he can make the deletion request by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the mobile number he registered in the app.
For a user of the TraceTogether token, he can return the physical token to the government by first e-mailing email@example.com with the last four characters of his NRIC, FIN or passport number. The government will then let him know how to return the token.
When the request is received and can be made, the government will delete the user’s contact or mobile number, identification details and random user ID from its server. Once the deletion is completed, the data that the user’s device has exchanged with other users’ devices becomes meaningless because that data is no longer linked to the user.
When the nation fully recovers from the pandemic and there is no need to track and trace citizens to avoid the risk of infection, they will be prompted to disable the app or return or throw the token away.
The National Informatics Centre (NIC), the Ministry of Electronics and Information Communication Technology (MeitY), and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) are launching the CollabCAD software.
It is a collaborative network and computer-enabled software system that provides engineering solutions for students and faculty of the engineering graphics curriculum. The solutions include 3D product part/assembly design, 2D drafting and detailing, scripting, importing/exporting CAD data, numerical control, visualisations, simulations, content management, and workflow and enterprise resource planning.
CollabCAD runs on Linux and Windows OS-based desktop systems and is available in both stand-alone and client-server modes. The collaborative mode of CollabCAD enables multiple designers to create and modify part data across a network and concurrently access the same design data for storage and visualisation. It also offers an interactive design environment through audio and video conferencing, allowing participating designers to communicate online.
The portal provides facilities to build and edit entities in virtual 3D spaces using basic geometry such as lines, arcs, and conic sections. Collaboration during design/assembly facilitates rapid product visualisation and drastically cuts down the time for requirement specification, modelling, review, and analysis.
According to a press release, NIC, CBSE, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), and the country’s think-tank, the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) will also release a comprehensive e-book on CollabCAD 3D-modeling. This e-book 1.0 is ready for public release through the CollabCAD portal and will guide CAD students, beginners, and professionals in understanding and using CollabCAD software. It is designed and authored by the CollabCAD Group of NIC, New Delhi.
CBSE will introduce the CollabCAD Software for engineering graphics for classes 11 and 12. The release explained that CollabCAD will be used for practical assignments as part of the subject curriculum, which includes making different types of 3D designs and 2D drawings. Students from over 140 schools across the country, along with schools in the Middle East (affiliated with CBSE) will have access to this software.
NIC and CBSE will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for CollabCAD software support and train the students and faculty of engineering graphics in CBSE-affiliated schools. The MoU, which is valid for ten years, aims to develop human resources and skills around CollabCAD software and popularise CollabCAD among the students and faculty, the release noted.
The software was initially launched in April last year and in tune with the requirements of the ‘Tinker from Home’ campaign for students from over 5,000 schools across the country. A CollabCAD 3D Design Challenge was announced by AIM two days after the launch for students to create 3D digital models using CollabCAD geometric modules.
CBSE has been introducing advanced technology courses in its schools. In July 2020, CBSE integrated an Artificial Intelligence (AI) course in the curriculum for classes 11 and 12. The course was structured around a framework for students consisting of AI basics (its history and applications); skills (design thinking, computational thinking, data fluency, and critical thinking); and values (ethical decision making and bias). The course was made robust with problem-based learning outcomes and assessment methods.
Singapore government is taking steps towards expanding the commercial use of drones to manage air traffic in future skies. In the first of such trials which are scheduled for March this year, multiple drones will take to the skies near Marina South Pier to test the effectiveness of an unmanned air traffic management system. If the trial is successful, it could be used to safely and efficiently manage drone traffic at scale.
The drones are built-in with a technology that makes sure that it does not collide with other drones using an automated system. This system can deconflict and monitor multiple drones flying in Singapore’s limited air space.
Sanjay Suresh, Head, Business Development, Nova Sytems Asia shared that first, the system lays out the flight plan for the drone after checking the flight schedule and path of other drones. The system also can alert the done through multiple channels in case there is a change in other drone’s direction or flight time.
The team at Nova Sytems has run numerous tests with more than 500 drones at the same time in a virtual setting. The live test that is scheduled for the second week March is the final milestone before the project is launched. Up to 6 drones will fly above the waters in the Maritime Drone Estate near the Marina South Pier. This minimises the risk to people and property while simulating real-time marine use cases.
“We want to fully stress test the system to make sure that a package needs to be delivered from the shore to a ship is fully aware that there are other drones performing rescue operations and doing vessel checks. We want to do this as we see it as a very possible future scenario” says Ryan Lee, Managing Director, Nova Systems Asia.
Data like the ship positions and scheduled movements will be included to help drones avoid them during the trial. The operators can also add weather conditions and flight patterns of migratory birds in future so that the drones can respond to these situations
The trial is also pivotal for the authorities as it will help them set in place the regulations with drone use likely to be ubiquitous in the near future. Ryan shares that the days are not far when people might have their own drones fetching them meals and goods from the market. Therefore, it is important to set regulations in place on time.
In trying to understand an unmanned traffic management system and the need to test it we found out that aircraft are guided safely by air traffic controllers communicating with pilots via radio, a system known as air traffic management (ATM). This direct, point-to-point, line-of-sight communication between an operator and an aircraft is the industry’s standard mode of operation. But estimates show that the growth of commercial air traffic is will ultimately exceed the capacity of a human-centred system—and this is just for human-piloted flights.
As unmanned and self-piloted operations continue to multiply, ATM systems will need to shift to a more scalable model: a digital system that can monitor and manage increased activity. This system is called Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), or a networked collection of services that communicate together based on common rules. Rather than relying on centralised control, UTM frameworks around the world will use the principle of distributed authority, which opens up the system to more service providers who can adapt as the market evolves and needs change.
In practice, UTM means aircraft will no longer have to speak to a single entity, such as an assigned air traffic controller. Instead, it will be able to communicate freely with multiple service suppliers. These suppliers will be held to relevant safety, security and performance standards by authorities, and will be able to coordinate with the rest of the network to make efficient decisions based on specific flight objectives. The transition will be gradual, but one that is important for the global aviation system’s future viability.