On 4 July, the Ministry of Science and Technology
released a press statement that said the Prime Minister
Mr Narendra Modi approved the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation
Bill 2018, that will develop a DNA databank of criminals and help
the government identify missing persons and disaster victims faster.
The press release stated that the bill aims to ensure that
with the proposed expanded use of this technology in the country, there is also
the assurance that the DNA test results are reliable, and the data remains
protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of Indian
Mr Jayaraman Gowrishankar, Indian National Science Academy senior
scientist at the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics in Hyderabad
said that the Ministry relies on DNA for two things – establishing the
biological identity of an individual and determining whether there is any
biological relationship between two people. Through the bill, the
Ministry will be able to expand the application of DNA-based forensic
technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the
country. The utility of DNA-based technologies, for solving crimes and identifying
missing persons, is well recognised across the world.
The Ministry said that the bill's provision will enable
cross-matching between people that have been reported missing and unidentified
bodies found in parts of the country; it will also be used to establish the
identities of victims of mass disasters. The bill also provides for mandatory
accreditation and regulation of DNA laboratories, preventing non-accredited
laboratories to test DNA samples.
The bill's title was altered after the Law Commission
reviewed the original draft, named Human DNA
Profiling: A draft bill for the Use and Regulation of DNA-Based Technology,
suggested few changes, and developed precautions in the law to take care of any
The bill was created to establish rigorous standards to
regulate the activities of laboratories while using DNA profiling technology,
to be able to identify missing children and unidentified deceased individuals
including disaster victims, to convict repeat offenders and to ensure that
there is no unauthorised use of DNA samples or information.
Forensic DNA profiling is proven value in solving cases involving
offences that are categorised as affecting the human body (such as murder,
rape, human trafficking, or grievous hurt), and those against property
(including theft, burglary, and dacoity).
According to the press release, the aggregate number of
these crimes in the country, as per the statistics of the National
Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2016, is more than three hundred
thousand per year. Of these, only a very small proportion is being subjected to
DNA testing at present. The Ministry expects that the expanded use of this
technology in these categories of cases will lead to not only better justice
delivery but also an increase in conviction rates, which currently stands at only
30% (NCRB Statistics for 2016).
Indonesia has agreed on a Joint Action Plan for Management System Synergy National Public Service Complaint (SP4N) – People’s Online Aspiration and Complaint Service (LAPOR!). The action plan provides an operational framework for each agency associated with the project, including the Ministry of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB), the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo), the Presidential Staff Office (KSP), and the Indonesian Ombudsman.
The government intends SP4N and the ‘LAPOR!’ application to be the primary avenue for people throughout Indonesia to express concerns and the foundation for improving the quality of public services.
“The goal of this joint action plan is for the five SP4N-‘LAPOR!’ management agencies to be able to carry out their duties and authorities under their respective roles in the future to achieve the targets that have been set,” Assistant Deputy for Digital Transformation of Public Services of the Ministry of PANRB Yanuar Ahmad explained after signing the SP4N-LAPOR Synergy Joint Action Plan! in Jakarta.
This action plan will serve as a technical guide to realising the targeted goals, the number of reports, the quality of follow-up, and the interoperability of agencies, as further discussed following the Roadmap SP4N-LAPOR!, which has been compiled in PANRB Ministerial Regulation No 46/2020.
This action plan is developed from the agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding on SP4N Synergy Using the LAPOR! Application. This initiative also intends to improve coordination across the ministries and agencies that have agreed in the MoU and PKS to collaborate on the strengthening and execution of SP4N-LAPOR!
Furthermore, this implementation plan increases efficiency and effectiveness in SP4N-‘LAPOR!’ management, particularly at the national structure level, in expediting bureaucratic reform and improving the public service quality. It should be noted that the PANRB Ministry’s six programmes are outlined in the action plan.
Institutional strengthening: organisation and governance, strengthening the SP4N coordination node (Hub), boosting HR capacity, institutional strengthening: monitoring and evaluation programmes and optimising the use of complaint information, streamlining IT: Integration, and strengthening communication and public involvement are among them. It is hoped that in the future, SP4N-‘LAPOR!’ will be the exclusive outlet for complaints about public services.
Anas also visited multiple regencies to boost local government performance with government apps and digitalisation: Government Agency Performance Accountability System (SAKIP). He reiterates that adopting SPBE will undoubtedly improve efficiency in various areas, including work speed, decision-making, policy formation, and the service process.
According to Minister Anas, the State Civil Apparatus (ASN) must be ready to adapt to the digital environment. Minister Anas stressed that digitalisation is the only way to improve governance and impact society. Citing President Joko Widodo, Anas emphasises that bureaucracy is not a pile of paper; it must be dynamic and have an impact. The actual work of bureaucrats must be quantifiable.
He urged the health sector to implement similar digitalisation initiatives to reduce the number of stunted children in Indonesia. According to President Joko Widodo’s directions, the frequency of stunting is expected to fall to 14 per cent in 2024, down from 21.6 per cent in 2022. It is likely to fall to 17.8 per cent in 2023 and 14 per cent in 2024.
Minister Anas also stated that the stunting reduction initiative is being hastened by adopting the Electronic-Based Government System, a digital plan (SPBE). SPBE is a government administration that provides services to government agencies, state civil servants (ASN), business people, communities, and other parties through information and communication technology. Currently, the districts/cities with the highest frequency of stunting have been mapped, and their SPBE maturity level has been connected to them.
He has also invited local government public malls (MPPs) to combine with digital services on several occasions (MPP Digital). He said that one of MPP Digital’s benefits is single-sign-on for all lines of public services. As a result, citizens can access resources across all services with a single user account.
South Australia has solidified its reputation as a world-class hub for the photonics industry, which is experiencing significant growth globally. This growth is being driven by the increasing demand for photonics technologies, including areas such as communication, healthcare, and energy.
The state of South Australia has a strong presence in the photonics industry, with many businesses operating in this field and contributing to the local economy. In the next five years, these businesses are expected to experience significant growth in revenue, reflecting the growing demand for photonics technologies and products. The success of the photonics industry in South Australia showcases the state’s commitment to innovation and its position as a leader in this field.
The report titled “Lighting a New Path: Global Opportunities for the Photonics Industry in South Australia” was commissioned by the South Australian Government and released in December 2022. It evaluates the advancements made in the photonics industry in the state over the past six years, since the development of the first photonics roadmap in 2016. The report provides insight into the progress made and serves as a reflection of the efforts and achievements of the South Australian government and the photonics industry.
Photonics is a field of science that deals with the study of light and its properties. Its innovations have found practical applications in a wide range of industries, including defence and space, healthcare and biotechnology, energy and mining, cutting-edge manufacturing, and agriculture.
These applications make use of the unique properties of light to create new technologies and solve complex problems in these industries. Photonics has the potential to significantly impact various aspects of modern life and shape the future.
The report highlights that South Australia has gained a competitive edge by concentrating on the branches of photonics that offer higher returns and lower competition. This focus has allowed the state to establish expertise in rapidly growing areas, such as quantum-related photonics research and development.
By doing so, South Australia has positioned itself at the forefront of these cutting-edge fields and has created unique opportunities for growth and innovation. The report emphasizes the significance of this strategy in fostering a strong and thriving photonics industry in South Australia.
According to the 2016 report, South Australia’s photonics industry was estimated to have an output of AU$ 200 million. However, within just six years, this figure has skyrocketed to AU$ 614 million. This impressive growth is reflected in the increase in the local photonics workforce, which grew from 800 jobs to approximately 1,500 jobs over the same period. These figures demonstrate the substantial progress made by the South Australian photonics industry and its continued expansion and success.
Co-Author Dr Alexis Mendez, the President of MCH Engineering, describes photonics as an enabling technology that has a broad range of applications and impacts a variety of industries. Photonics is a versatile and powerful technology that is used in many different fields, enabling new innovations and solutions to complex problems. According to Dr Mendez, photonics is a key driver of technological advancement and has the potential to transform numerous industries and areas.
Over the past six years, there has been a marked expansion in the ecosystem for optics and photonics in South Australia. This growth can be attributed to various factors, such as increased investment, the development of new technologies, and the growth of the local photonics industry.
As a result, the state has seen a significant increase in the number of businesses operating in this field, the growth of the local workforce, and the expansion of photonics-related research and development. These developments have created a supportive environment for the growth of the photonics industry in South Australia and have positioned the state as a leader in this field. The growth of the optics and photonics ecosystem has significant implications for the local economy and is poised to drive further innovation and progress in the years to come.
Dr Mendez stated that the team noted the development of new programs, facilities, and funds that have collectively improved the hi-tech infrastructure for SA entrepreneurs. This has led to the rapid growth of new commercial activity, particularly in the defence sector, while already established SA photonics-based businesses are beginning to re-engineer products and move into new markets.
Temasek Polytechnic and Neo4j, a leading graph database provider, have partnered to help the industry and students in Singapore stay ahead in the fast-changing world of technology. The collaboration aims to provide industry professionals and students with the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the demands of the digital age and remain relevant in their respective fields.
The partnership was formalised on 1 February 2023 through signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), designed to provide students at Temasek Polytechnic with hands-on experience using cutting-edge technologies and help the local industry stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly digital world.
“The reason we started this programme is really to fulfil the smart nation objectives. Moreover, we are seeing a big demand for graph technology in the industry. To ensure that the best skill sets are available locally and coming from an open-source mindset, collaboration is key,” explains Eng Pin Kwang, Director School of Informatics & IT of Temasek Polytechnic.
The partnership was officially launched in the presence of Mohit Sagar, CEO of OpenGov Asia, who highlighted the importance of staying ahead in the technology space and keeping up with the latest advancements.
He said, “The world of technology is constantly evolving, and it’s essential for individuals and organisations to upgrade their skills to remain relevant continuously. The partnership between Temasek Polytechnic and Neo4j is a step in the right direction, providing students and industry professionals with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in the digital age.”
“While graph database technology as part of a curriculum has been implemented in Malaysia and Indonesia, this will be a first in Singapore,” said Daniel Ng, VP of Marketing, Neo4j.
In a previous OpenGov exclusive interview with Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, Kesavan Nair, Neo4j’s VP of Global Cloud and Strategic Sales, explained the idea and workings of graph database technology.
Graph Database Technology is specifically built and optimised for discovering patterns and hidden linkages in massively interconnected datasets. Because it mirrors how the human brain thinks and maps associations utilising neurons (nodes) and synapses, graph database technology is effective because it discovers and displays relationships in the data.
A graph database effectively stores and queries data sets in a node-and-relationships model. As a result, graph technology performs very well where there needs to be background information on path length or shape by discovering neighbouring data effectively using graph storage and infrastructure.
Ryan Lim Beng Kee, Assistant Director of Capability & Industry Development, School of Informatics & IT, explained that they had formulated a three-year diploma programme to serve students’ best interests. The programme is not a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter course but can be tweaked to suit individual learners’ pathways.
Cybersecurity, data analytics and graph technology are the most current high-demand talent in the market. More crucial, however, is to have cross-functional skills. Cross-cutting IT skills are more attractive to the market. “For example, a data scientist may not find a job specifically for the ‘data scientist’ role. But with a broader knowledge of data science in banking, pharmaceutical and/or gaming, the chances of them landing a role increases significantly,” said Nik Vora VP, APJ at Neo4j.
In addition to benefiting students, the partnership will also have a positive impact on the industry in Singapore. Neo4j’s technology will help companies and organisations to manage their data more efficiently, leading to better decision-making and increased productivity. The partnership will provide a platform for industry professionals to collaborate and share their knowledge, helping to create a more dynamic and innovative environment.
The partnership between Temasek Polytechnic and Neo4j is a testament to the importance of staying ahead in the technology space and the need to upgrade one’s skills continuously. It provides students and industry professionals with the tools and knowledge needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world and sets an example for other organisations.
“Today, there is an acute shortage (of certain technological skills), and I’m working on this collaboration to provide Singapore skills talent that knows how to apply the technology. So that’s why the building of skills in terms of having an objective of technology adoption is a key proponent critical,” Eng Pin Kwang concluded.
In conclusion, the partnership between Temasek Polytechnic and Neo4j is a positive step towards equipping individuals and organisations with the necessary skills and knowledge to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world of technology. With its cutting-edge technology and commitment to innovation, Neo4j is poised to play a vital role in shaping the future of data management and analysis in Singapore and beyond.
The Philippines introduced the National Privacy Commission (NPC) Registration System (NPCRS), which included simple tracking of enrolment requests/approval, a secure gateway for the monitoring unit to access registration data, and real-time insight into the validation of mandatory documents.
It will also enable accurate data collection from sectors and subsectors, reliable verification of active or inactive registration, retrieval of contact information for their data protection officer (DPO), and easy production of documents such as a registration certificate or analytical reports on registered entities.
“The registration system was designed and created with privacy, security, and operations in mind” (DevSecOps). Before making changes involving personal data processing and the system went live, Privacy Impact Assessments were performed throughout the planning,” Rainier Anthony Milanes, chief of the NPC’s Compliance and Monitoring Division, declared.
By facilitating online registration of data processing systems, the NPCS is considered to make compliance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012 easier for both government and private entities. He reiterated that the circular addresses problems when implementing previous circulars on common or numerous DPOs.
“It also contains new laws, such as the necessity to show the NPC mark of registration, which will offer data subjects the necessary assurance that companies processing their data have fulfilled the first level of DPA compliance,” Milanes explained.
It is being created concurrently with the completion of NPC Circular No. 2022-04, dated December 5, 2022, and headed registration of personal data processing systems, notification on automated decision-making or profiling, designation of DPO, and the NPC seal of registration. The circular went into effect on January 11.
Section 5 of the circular requires PICs or PIPs that employ 250 or more people, process sensitive personal information of 1,000 or more people, or process data that may likely jeopardise data subjects’ liberties to register all their data processing systems.
According to NPC Commissioner John Henry Naga, the NPCRS and the implementation of the Data Breach Notification Management System in April 2022 are part of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s marching order of digitalising government services.
The Philippines, on the other hand, expanded e-commerce regulation with the proposed Internet Transactions Act and planned to establish an electronic commerce (e-commerce) agency. Its objective is to regulate all business-to-business and business-to-consumer commercial transactions conducted over the internet, including those involving internet retail, online travel services, digital media providers, ride-hailing services, and digital financial services. The House of Representatives approved the bill’s final reading.
The role of the e-commerce bureau is to protect consumers and merchants who conduct internet transactions. The bureau will also represent the “central authority” regulating online trade and will function as a virtual one-stop shop for customer complaints about internet transactions. During the plenary session, the plan was advanced, with 245 members voting in favour of House Bill 4. There were no votes against the bill or abstentions.
As data value has expanded recently, several countries have updated their data protection bill. China has taken steps to design regulations that would promote the effective use and circulation of public, personal, and corporate data while adhering to rules and strengthening governance over data resources. It has also emphasised the significance of having a system that assures the secure and legal data flow over the border.
According to a National Development and Reform Commission official, the new laws are intended to encourage the lawful and efficient use of data to stimulate the real economy and allow people to share the benefits of the digital economy’s growth. According to the official, the proposed laws will enable the country to respond to the global technological revolution and industrial transformation while increasing its international competitiveness.
A research team led by Professor Chan Ting-fung, Associate Professor from the School of Life Sciences at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), has developed a new computational method called LAFITE (Low-abundance Aware Full-length Isoform clusTEr).
The technology has been successful in identifying thousands of low-abundance full-length RNA transcripts in lung adenocarcinoma cell lines that were previously unknown using existing technologies. This is a breakthrough in the field of lung cancer research and has the potential to lead to new treatments and a better understanding of the disease.
About low-abundance RNA transcripts
In an organism, different tissues have the same genome but their transcriptomes, the composition of expressed RNA transcripts, vary significantly. Previous research found that the majority of expressed transcripts are present at low levels, referred to as “low abundance”, but they play crucial roles in regulating various biological processes such as metabolism and cancer progression.
Restrictions of current RNA sequencing technologies
RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) is widely used in biology and clinical studies but has limitations in identifying low-expression or full-length transcripts. RNA-seq fragments and amplifies RNA molecules to improve detection of high-copy, short-length transcripts, but low-copy, low-expression full-length transcripts are challenging to identify.
Higher eukaryotes, including humans, can produce multiple transcript isoforms from the same gene through RNA splicing. However, RNA-seq cannot clearly identify individual transcript isoforms. As a result, current transcriptome research mainly focuses on gene levels and not transcript levels, leading to the overlook of many low-expression transcripts.
The Oxford Nanopore Technologies third-generation sequencing technique can capture native RNA transcripts and has improved ability to identify low-abundance, full-length transcript isoforms. However, the Nanopore DRS data used in this approach has significant noise and intrinsic errors, reducing its accuracy.
To address these limitations, Professor Chan Ting-fung and his team developed LAFITE, a new computational method specifically designed to process Nanopore DRS data and identify full-length isoforms. LAFITE surpasses all existing methods with its higher sensitivity in detecting low-abundance RNA transcripts.
Lung adenocarcinoma is the leading cause of cancer death in Hong Kong and has a lower five-year survival rate compared to other major cancers globally, according to the National Cancer Institute. While the causes of lung adenocarcinoma are complex, many studies have shown that changes in transcriptomes play a significant role in its progression.
The research team used LAFITE to analyze Nanopore DRS data from four lung adenocarcinoma cell lines. They successfully identified a new low-abundance RNA transcript isoform from the cancer gene AKT1 and showed its functional role in lung cancer cell lines, which was linked to patient survival and promoted tumour cell migration in lung adenocarcinoma.
Applicability to other cancers
With LAFITE, the research team discovered thousands of previously missed low-abundance transcripts, creating a complete transcriptome of lung adenocarcinoma. This will be a valuable resource for researchers to understand the mechanism behind the formation, migration, and progression of lung cancer. The team believes that LAFITE can be used for other types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer, and in studies on cancer cell drug resistance for drug development.
According to Professor Chan Ting-fung, a complete characterization of transcript isoforms of individual genes may provide new insight into their biological functions. LAFITE allows researchers to reassess gene function by identifying all expressed transcripts in a comprehensive manner, emphasizing the importance of transcript-level analysis in transcriptomic studies.
Abdullah Azwar Anas, Minister for Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) asked the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) to play an active part in implementing the One Data Indonesia (SDI) programme. The agency can become a critical point in fostering the establishment of efficient governance, government bureaucracy digitisation, and data and information linkage.
“BPS is crucial for the success of SPBE and SDI through the availability of statistical data linked with the aims of the National SPBE Architecture strategic effort. As a result, the BPS will play a key role in implementing the digitisation of government bureaucracy,” Anas said at the launch of the 2023 BPS Bureaucratic Reform and Results of the 2020 Population Census Long Form in Jakarta.
He also applauded and advocated the agency’s adoption of bureaucratic reform. He believes that instituting bureaucratic change at BPS will directly help the adoption of the Electronic-Based Government System (SPBE) and One Data Indonesia (SDI).
Anas stated that the BPS’ efforts were a tangible manifestation of the President’s directive to create an impactful bureaucracy. This also includes the execution of topical bureaucratic reforms as well as the reinforcement of the SPBE. The agency uses SPBEs to regulate integrated data governance to provide quality data that can be shared to support government policy formation and serve as the foundation for deciding government strategy.
Furthermore, the integrated data optimise service quality. They can provide resilient, smooth, and adaptable services, allowing the data generated by adopting SPBE and SDI to be exploited to its full potential. The future of Indonesia’s digital government can be realised by integrating all SPBE elements and implementing them collaboratively by all government departments.
On this occasion, Margo Yuwono, Head of BPS, indicated that attempts to execute BPS bureaucratic reform were bolstered upstream by upgrading BPS internal systems and management. These internal initiatives are strengthened with downstream support by addressing government priorities through thematic bureaucratic reform programmes, allowing them to impact society considerably.
He explained that as part of the poverty alleviation initiative, BPS collected preliminary data on the Socio-Economic Registration (Regsosek) and its data collection and conducted a survey to assess progress toward eradicating severe poverty. Synchronisation and harmonisation of reference codes amongst central agencies, as well as thorough oversight of cooperatives and MSMEs, are part of the investment expansion programme. Then, as part of the government digitisation effort, BPS aims to collect statistical data through a shared national statistical infrastructure.
“The quick win for BPS bureaucratic change in 2023 is to foster data collaboration for targeted policies. This is being accomplished with the Digital Socio-Economic Registration Data platform,” Margo elaborated.
The Digital Public Service Mall (MPP) deployment is also being stepped up. On separate occasions, Anas met with 17 regional governments from East Java Province and Lubuklinggau City to examine technology usage, up to and including the Digital MPP requirements.
Two services will be presented in the early stages of MPP Digital development. Among them are population administration and licencing services. These two services were chosen because the public most regularly uses them.
Meanwhile, there are 11 criteria for organising MPP Digital. These services include general information, queues, consultations, complaints, Community Satisfaction Survey (SKM), performance evaluation, document processing and tracing, commitment, platform, sustainability, security, and user trials.
The engineers at RMIT University have led the development of an innovation that could result in mobile phone batteries having a lifespan of up to three times longer than current technology. This would be a significant advancement in battery technology, leading to longer-lasting devices and reduced waste. Additionally, it could have a positive impact on the environment and resources by reducing the need for frequent battery replacement.
The recycling rate of handheld batteries, including those used in mobile phones, is currently low in Australia, with only 10% being collected for recycling. The remaining 90% end up in landfills or are disposed of improperly, leading to significant environmental harm.
The RMIT team has proposed a solution to this issue by using high-frequency sound waves to remove rust and extend the lifespan of recyclable batteries up to 9 years. This could greatly improve the current recycling rate and reduce the environmental impact of improper disposal.
Recycling lithium and other materials from batteries are often hindered by high costs, making it difficult to promote the reuse of these items. The team is working with a nanomaterial called MXene which they believe holds great promise as an alternative to lithium in batteries. This material could help address the cost challenge of recycling and make the process more economically feasible. The use of MXene in batteries could be an exciting development for the future of battery technology.
Leslie Yeo, the Lead Researcher at RMIT University, stated that MXene, a nanomaterial with high electrical conductivity like graphene, has great potential for battery technology. However, it rusts easily, and the team discovered that high-frequency sound waves can remove rust and extend the lifetime of MXene batteries by up to three times, making it commercially viable for electronic parts. The research is published in Nature Communications.
How the tech works
Co-lead author Hossein Alijani, a PhD candidate, said that the main challenge with using MXene is the rust that forms on its surface when exposed to a humid environment or suspended in watery solutions. This rust is difficult to remove, especially since MXene is much thinner than human hair.
Existing methods to reduce oxidation involve chemically coating the material, limiting its use in its native form. The team showed that exposing oxidized MXene film to high-frequency vibrations for a minute removes the rust, allowing for recovery of its electrical and electrochemical performance.
The team of engineers at RMIT University in Australia has developed a new way to restore oxidized materials to a near-pristine state using high-frequency sound waves. The technique could extend the lifetime of battery components used in mobile phones and other electronics, which typically deteriorate after 2-3 years of use due to rust formation. The team is working with a nanomaterial called MXene, which has high electrical conductivity and the potential to be a promising alternative to lithium in batteries.
The challenge with using MXene was its tendency to rust, inhibiting electrical conductivity. The team’s innovation of removing rust from MXene using sound waves could help revive MXene batteries every few years, extending their lifetime by up to three times. The ability to prolong the shelf life of MXene is crucial for its commercial viability in electronic parts. The team says their work opens the door for MXene to be used in a wide range of applications, including energy storage, sensors, wireless transmission, and environmental remediation.
The team is looking to collaborate with industry partners to integrate their acoustics device into existing manufacturing systems and processes, so their method of rust removal can be scaled up. They are also exploring the potential of their invention in removing oxide layers from other materials for applications in sensing and renewable energy.
The team is optimistic that this innovation can bring the nanomaterial MXene to a wider range of applications in energy storage, sensors, wireless transmission and environmental remediation, by removing the rust that inhibits battery performance and restoring the electrical conductivity and electrochemical performance of the material.