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.
Visiting China has just become more convenient for Singapore residents, thanks to an innovative feature added to the Changi Pay digital wallet. Launched in 2021 by Changi Airport Group (CAG), a wholly-owned subsidiary under the purview of Singapore’s Ministry of Finance. This digital wallet has introduced a game-changing collaboration with a fintech company and an innovative technology provider.
One of the most significant benefits of this collaboration is the ability for Changi Pay users to make secure payments at a wide range of merchants in China. The focus is on leveraging a third-party mobile and online payment platform in China, where mobile payments through QR codes have become vastly more popular than traditional methods involving cash or conventional bank cards.
Lim Peck Hoon, CAG’s Executive Vice President for Commercial, expressed her enthusiasm about the collaboration and its positive outcomes, stating, “We have been turbocharging our digitalisation efforts to enhance the travelling experience for our passengers, and we are proud to see this collaboration bear fruit.”
One of the immediate advantages that users will appreciate is the ability to transact in China without incurring the typical transaction fees associated with overseas credit card payments. This is a significant boon for travellers who often find themselves burdened by extra charges when making purchases abroad. Changi Pay has effectively eliminated this hassle, allowing users to enjoy their shopping and dining experiences without worrying about hidden fees.
Besides, Changi Pay has gone the extra mile by providing users with attractive exchange rates. This means that when making payments in China, users will benefit from favourable rates, ensuring that their money goes further. This is a practical advantage that can significantly enhance the overall travel experience, making it more affordable and enjoyable.
Further, Changi Pay has introduced an enticing incentive for its users. Those who opt to make payments in China using the digital wallet will receive e-vouchers. These vouchers can be redeemed for purchases at Changi Airport upon their return, effectively offering users extra value for their spending. It’s a win-win situation that adds another layer of appeal to using Changi Pay for international transactions.
This collaboration has not only streamlined international payments but has also aligned perfectly with CAG’s overarching mission to elevate the traveller’s journey through digital innovation. By addressing the pain points associated with overseas transactions, Changi Pay has demonstrated its commitment to making travel more convenient, cost-effective, and rewarding for its users.
Digital wallets streamline the entire travel payment process, eliminating the need to carry bulky wallets filled with cash and numerous payment cards. This convenience not only simplifies transactions but also enhances the overall travel experience by reducing stress and hassle.
Likewise, digital wallets often offer favourable exchange rates and eliminate or reduce transaction fees typically associated with foreign currency payments. This translates to savings for travellers, allowing them to allocate their budgets more efficiently.
Hence, digital wallets have evolved into tools that modern travellers simply cannot do without since they provide a streamlined, risk-free, and time-saving solution for them to manage the financial aspects of their trips.
Also, digital wallets increase the excitement and accessibility of exploration by making travel more comfortable, cost-effective, and rewarding. Because of this, digital wallets are quickly becoming an essential companion for travellers all over the world.
In a groundbreaking move that promises to usher in a new era of innovation and sustainability, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has joined forces with the Mandai Wildlife Group in a visionary two-year partnership.
This collaboration seeks to drive digital transformation in Singapore’s wildlife parks, with a focus on three pivotal areas: Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), sustainability, and immersive experiences. This bold initiative was formally launched with the signing of a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) at the iconic Singapore Zoo, setting the stage for Mandai Wildlife Group’s parks to become a veritable “living lab for innovation.”
“Our partnership with Mandai Wildlife Group expands on our existing digital transformation and innovation efforts, with the parks serving as a ‘living lab for innovation’ to support this endeavour,” said Leong Der Yao, Assistant Chief Executive, Sector Transformation, IMDA.
The IMDA-Mandai Wildlife Group partnership is not merely a symbolic gesture but a commitment to co-develop innovative solutions that will have real-world applications. At its core, this collaboration aims to tackle pressing challenges and identify untapped opportunities within the realm of wildlife conservation and entertainment. It’s a partnership that envisions a future where technology and nature converge to create a harmonious and sustainable coexistence.
One of the primary focal points of this collaboration is the development and deployment of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). These robots are poised to revolutionise the way wildlife parks operate, enhancing both efficiency and visitor experience. Unlike traditional AMRs designed for flat surfaces, the challenge here lies in adapting these robots to navigate the intricate and often uneven terrains of outdoor environments.
The IMDA and Mandai Wildlife Group are initiating a Call for Proposal that specifically targets outdoor AMRs equipped with tele-operation capabilities. This ambitious endeavour seeks to address existing industry challenges and technology gaps, with the ultimate goal of making these AMRs an integral part of daily park operations.
The identified use cases for these outdoor AMRs are diverse and compelling. A central operations platform, powered by tele-ops, will facilitate the management and coordination of multiple AMRs throughout the park premises. This not only streamlines operations but also ensures that these robots can work seamlessly together, enhancing overall efficiency.
Additionally, the introduction of AMRs for F&B delivery both to staff and visitors within the parks promises to revolutionise the dining experience. Visitors can now enjoy the convenience of ordering meals through a dedicated app, further enhancing their overall enjoyment of the park.
The collaboration also aims to automate and streamline visitor management services, such as location and ticketing services. This will significantly enhance the guest experience by reducing wait times and providing more personalised assistance. Moreover, the implementation of AMRs for surveillance purposes promises to improve security within the parks. These robots can navigate dimly lit and challenging terrains with ease, enhancing staff’s ability to respond swiftly to any guest needs or emergency incidents.
While these innovations are exciting on their own, they are part of a broader initiative by IMDA to enable the large-scale deployment of AMRs for commercial use. This partnership with Mandai Wildlife Group represents a critical step in achieving this vision.
By fostering collaboration between enterprises, technology partners, and the AMR community, IMDA aims to drive the adoption and interoperability of AMR systems across both indoor and outdoor environments. This initiative is poised to bring about tangible benefits for businesses in Singapore, ranging from increased productivity to the creation of new, high-value jobs.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) announced a partnership with the Hong Kong Insurance Authority (IA) to spearhead the Open Insurance movement. This initiative is being realised through the launch of the OpenAPI Platform for the Insurance Sector, often referred to as the Central Register.
Open insurance revolves around the concept of facilitating the exchange of insurance-related information among insurance companies and third parties using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), thus fostering innovation in insurance products and services.
The OpenAPI Platform for the Insurance Sector serves as a trusted repository that houses open insurance APIs. Its primary function is to connect authorised insurers, licensed insurance intermediaries, and their third-party service providers, allowing them to seamlessly display and manage their product and service information. By granting public access to this valuable data, this central hub serves as a catalyst for enhanced connectivity, further fuelling the development of groundbreaking insurance products and services.
The Head of the STP Platform at HKSTP expressed her enthusiasm for this initiative, stating that it is a significant step toward the realisation of Open Finance. By harnessing the potential of open APIs, businesses can unlock new avenues for growth through enhanced connectivity, collaboration, and innovation. The OpenAPI Platform for the Insurance Sector empowers both insurance companies and tech ventures to leverage open APIs, thereby delivering transformative financial experiences to the industry.
The Associate Director of the Policy and Development Division at the IA urged the insurance industry to embrace the OpenAPI Platform as a driver of innovation and collaboration. He emphasised that the establishment of this platform underscores IA’s unwavering commitment to fostering greater cooperation among market players, while also promoting the application of Insurtech both within and beyond the insurance sector. IA remains dedicated to working in tandem with HKSTP and other stakeholders to nurture a dynamic Insurtech and Open API ecosystem.
HKSTP has been at the forefront of catalysing Hong Kong’s thriving API ecosystem by enabling businesses to undergo transformative changes through data and technology. The recent introduction of the API Hub further solidifies its role as a dependable source of data and functional APIs for a wide range of industries.
Enterprises now have easy access to a vast array of market-ready data and digital solutions, while technology enablers can seamlessly connect with partners and customers. Additionally, HKSTP has established partnerships with 27 banks, providing access to over 1,200 Open Banking APIs, thereby enriching the API landscape and promoting further innovation in the financial sector.
The collaboration between HKSTP and the IA to launch the OpenAPI Platform for the Insurance Sector marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Open Insurance. This innovative platform is poised to reshape the insurance landscape by facilitating the seamless exchange of information and fostering collaboration among industry stakeholders.
As businesses and tech ventures embrace open APIs, the insurance sector is set to experience a wave of innovation and transformation, ultimately leading to more impactful financial experiences for all stakeholders involved. The dedication of both organisations to nurturing a vibrant Insurtech and Open API ecosystem further underscores their commitment to driving positive change within the industry. With the groundwork laid by this partnership, the future of insurance in Hong Kong looks brighter than ever.
The partnership between the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) and the Hong Kong Insurance Authority (IA) to launch the OpenAPI Platform for the Insurance Sector aligns with key goals of the HKSAR Government. It promotes innovation and technology development in the insurance industry, enhancing the efficiency and accessibility of financial services while fostering the growth of Insurtech.
The platform also contributes to financial connectivity and regulatory cooperation, supporting Hong Kong’s status as an international financial hub. Furthermore, it exemplifies the government’s commitment to digital transformation across industries, collectively positioning Hong Kong for sustained economic growth and global competitiveness.
OpenGov Asia earlier reported that Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) soft-launched the FintechHK Community Platform, a centralised fintech platform to connect local and global fintech companies with Corporate, Investor, and Service Champions.
The platform is fully supported by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (FSTB) and curated by InvestHK; the initiative comes as an extension of the Global Fast Track Programme, which garnered great industry participation in 2022.
In a bid to support startups struggling to train AI models in the country, the government plans to establish a major graphics processing unit (GPU) cluster. The move will also encourage investments in the field of chip design for AI applications, enhance domestic intellectual property, and improve the country’s global standing in the AI and semiconductor industries.
A GPU cluster is a network of computers with GPUs on each node to train neural networks for image and video processing. According to the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekar, the GPU will be set up under the India AI programme. The government will help startups and foreign enterprises interested in developing domestic intellectual property in chip design for AI applications through the IN₹ 11 billion (US$ 132 million) – IN₹ 12 billion (US$ 144 million) design-liked incentive systems.
Chandrasekar noted that presently, most conversations about AI revolve around applications such as ChatGPT. However, the project’s main aim is to develop practical AI applications for the real world. The emphasis will be on developing AI-specific integrated circuits for real-use cases in healthcare, governance, and education.
Alongside this announcement, the Minister mentioned that construction for a semiconductor packaging and assembly plant has been started by a leading American semiconductor manufacturing company in Sanand, Gujarat. The project has a total investment of US$ 2.75 billion. The project will receive significant support, including 50% fiscal backing from the central government, along with additional incentives representing 20% of the overall project cost from the state of Gujarat. The facility will encompass 500,000 square feet of cleanroom space and will commence operations in late 2024.
Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unveiling of the semiconductor vision and the intended investment of IN₹ 760 billion to stimulate and develop India’s semiconductor ecosystem, significant advancements have been achieved in the past 18 months. The Sanand plant represents a significant milestone in India’s journey toward becoming a leading semiconductor industry.
The India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) is a distinct and autonomous Business Division operating within the Digital India Corporation. It aims to cultivate a dynamic semiconductor and display ecosystem, positioning India as a worldwide leader in electronics manufacturing and design. Spearheaded by international experts in the semiconductor and display sectors, ISM serves as a central hub for the effective and coordinated implementation of the Program for the Development of the Semiconductor and Display Ecosystem. This is achieved through close collaboration with government ministries, departments, agencies, industry partners, and academic institutions, ensuring a comprehensive and streamlined approach.
ISM is developing a comprehensive and long-term strategy to nurture sustainable semiconductor and display manufacturing facilities. It promotes the implementation of secure microelectronics and cultivates a reliable semiconductor supply chain, including raw materials, speciality chemicals, gases, and manufacturing equipment.
ISM will also provide essential support through Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools, foundry services, and other suitable mechanisms for early-stage start-ups. It will enable cutting-edge research, including evolutionary and revolutionary technologies, through grants, global partnerships, and mechanisms involving academia, research institutions, and industry stakeholders. It actively promotes collaborative initiatives with national and international agencies, industries, and institutions. These efforts accelerate commercialisation and skill development, enabling the transfer of technologies (ToT) to foster innovation and growth.
New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have participated in a multinational exercise led by the United States to advance and fortify the military’s cyber capabilities. This collaborative effort is driven by the necessity to shield the nation and its assets against the relentless and ever-evolving array of cyber threats in the contemporary digital landscape.
The exercise underscored the commitment of New Zealand to staying at the forefront of cybersecurity and serves as a testament to the strong international partnerships. By engaging in this exercise, the NZDF personnel have had the invaluable opportunity to exchange insights, strategies, and best practices with their counterparts worldwide. This cross-cultural collaboration enhances cyber readiness and fosters a spirit of cooperation and solidarity in confronting the common challenges posed by the modern cyber domain.
The bi-annual Exercise Cyber Flag, orchestrated under the auspices of the US Cyber Command, is designed to cultivate the capacity for executing Defensive Cyber Operations beyond the conventional IT network boundaries. Beyond this primary objective, it serves as a crucible for developing, assessing, and validating cyber skills within the milieu of multinational cooperation.
The NZDF actively engaged in this exercise in a collaborative spirit and commitment to cyber resilience. This involvement transcended geographical constraints, with contributions from NZDF personnel stationed within the United States, specifically the State of Virginia, and remotely from New Zealand. The endeavour was characterised by two highly proficient Cyber Protection Teams comprising a dynamic ensemble of Regular Force, Reserve Force, and civilian professionals.
The first of these teams constituted a fusion of talents from the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Navy and NZDF civilians affiliated with the Defence Cyber Service Centre. The second team was a composite unit representing the NZ Army, bolstered by the inclusion of Special Forces personnel. Furthermore, the exercise ecosystem was enriched by dedicated individuals who assumed the role of opposing forces, simulating a spectrum of cyber attacks and exploitation scenarios.
The bi-annual Exercise Cyber Flag, orchestrated by the U.S. Cyber Command, is a pivotal and meticulously crafted undertaking. Its central aim is to cultivate the expertise required for the execution of Defensive Cyber Operations, a domain that extends far beyond the conventional confines of IT networks. However, this exercise serves a multifaceted purpose, functioning as an invaluable for developing, assessing, and validating cyber skills, all within the multinational cooperation.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) actively participated in this exercise as a collaboration and commitment to cyber resilience. What is particularly noteworthy is the NZDF’s ability to transcend geographical boundaries in its contribution. Personnel from the NZDF were positioned within the United States, specifically in the State of Virginia, and worked from remote locations in New Zealand. This dynamic engagement showcased the NZDF’s adaptability and dedication to the exercise’s objectives.
Cyber Protection Teams represent a blend of talent from the Regular Force, Reserve Force, and civilian professionals. The composition of these teams was diverse and inclusive, with the first team comprising individuals from the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Navy, and NZDF civilians affiliated with the Defence Cyber Service Centre—the second team representation from the NZ Army was further augmented by the inclusion of Special Forces personnel.
Furthermore, the exercise ecosystem was enriched by the indispensable contributions of individuals who assumed the roles of opposing forces. Their expertise lies in simulating a spectrum of cyber attacks and exploitation scenarios, providing an invaluable testbed for the teams to hone their defensive capabilities.
SmartSat has approved Project P2.59 led by the University of Sydney’s AMME School, aiming to develop an advanced robotic satellite system with AI, sensing, and control capabilities. Collaborating with Sydney-based robotics startups, this project addresses challenges in close proximity satellite operations, driven by the harsh space environment and increased space debris.
The focus of Project P2.59 is on enhancing onboard autonomy, sensing, perception, and control systems. It will culminate in a ground-based ISAM mission demonstration showcasing satellite proximity operations, docking, and maintenance tasks. This project aligns with the growing ISAM industry, attracting government and private sector investments, and aims to establish Australia’s capabilities and unique advantages in this space.
Advanced Robotics and AI
The project aims to create autonomous robotic satellites empowered by cutting-edge robotics and AI. These satellites can make real-time decisions, adapt to dynamic conditions, and operate without constant human intervention, improving efficiency, especially in close-proximity scenarios.
Sensing and Perception
Project P2.59 emphasises advanced sensing and perception. It deploys state-of-the-art sensors to capture real-time data, enabling informed decisions based on the satellite’s surroundings. This capability is crucial for safety and mission success.
Robust control mechanisms are essential for reliability and safety in satellite operations, navigating challenges in the space environment. These mechanisms provide precision and agility for close proximity, docking, and maintenance tasks.
Demonstration of Capabilities:
A key milestone is the ground-based ISAM mission demonstration, showcasing various operations, including proximity manoeuvres, docking, and simulated maintenance tasks. It highlights the project’s expertise and commitment to advancing Australia’s ISAM capabilities.
Significance of ISAM:
ISAM is a burgeoning sector globally, attracting substantial investments. It extends satellite lifespan and opens new mission possibilities. Australia’s strategic position in this field is reinforced by Project P2.59.
Australia’s Strategic Position
The project positions Australia as a key player in the evolving space industry. It seeks to meet sovereign space needs and provide unique technological advantages as space technologies evolve.
Project P2.59, led by the University of Sydney’s AMME School, in collaboration with Sydney-based robotics startups, focuses on developing advanced robotic satellite capabilities through AI, sensing, and control technologies. It addresses challenges in close-proximity satellite operations and aligns with the growing ISAM industry, enhancing Australia’s position in the global space sector.
OpenGov Asia reported earlier that the Queensland Earth Observation Hub (QLD EO Hub) convened a workshop in Brisbane that served as a significant step in harnessing the potential of Earth Observation (EO) technologies, data, and workflows for the benefit of Australia.
The initial findings from a comprehensive market engagement study were presented. This study spanned a diverse range of EO and industry sectors and aimed to illuminate both the challenges and opportunities that Queensland, and by extension, the broader Australian landscape, faces in embracing EO technologies not only in the present but also in the foreseeable future.
This market study embarked on an extensive consultation process, engaging with stakeholders across urban and rural Queensland. It encompassed the entire spectrum of the EO ecosystem, from data and service providers to end-users, as well as those contemplating the utilisation of EO in the years ahead.
The core objective was to gain profound insights into the current capabilities, hurdles, and potential avenues for growth within Queensland’s EO community. Additionally, it sought to cultivate a vision of what the future could hold in terms of EO technology deployment.
Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang of Taiwan made her mark at the high-level meeting of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. This prestigious gathering brought together government leaders and digital and diplomatic heads from 38 countries to collectively address the challenges posed by rapidly evolving technologies and establish measures to ensure the security and well-being of their citizens.
Minister Audrey’s presence at this international forum was a testament to Taiwan’s commitment to championing the principles of legality, responsibility, and compliance with both domestic laws and international norms in the development of science and technology.
She echoed the sentiments of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, emphasising that technological progress should never come at the expense of privacy and human rights. In an era where digital innovations have the potential to shape the future, Taiwan remains firmly aligned with its democratic partners, standing united to protect the core values of freedom, democracy, and online human rights.
Taiwan’s dedication to this cause is exemplified by its upcoming commitment in 2022 to sign “A Declaration for the Future of the Internet” alongside allies from over 60 countries. This declaration represents a collective pledge to transform the internet into a digital public domain that safeguards human rights, freedom, and mutual trust.
Minister Tang’s participation in the FOC high-level meeting underscored Taiwan’s honour in joining hands with its allies to defend these fundamental values on the global stage. One of the key takeaways from this meeting was the valuable exchange of experiences. French digital ambassador Henri Verdier shared insights on France’s efforts to promote transnational public programmes.
Highlighting the potential of information systems created through collaboration between civil society and government, Ambassador Henri emphasised France’s ongoing commitment to invest in digital innovation infrastructure.
Minister Audrey, in response, highlighted Taiwan’s efforts in open-source localisation operations and the field testing of communication software like Element in Matsu. This innovative approach ensures resilient digital communication, even in the face of challenges such as submarine cable failures.
The Freedom Online Coalition, established in 2011, has been at the forefront of safeguarding online human rights and promoting the values of freedom and democracy. Comprising member states like the US, Japan, the United Kingdom, and France, the FOC has played a pivotal role in shaping global policies on internet freedom. Taiwan, in recognition of its commitment to these ideals, is set to join as an FOC observer in 2023, further solidifying its role in the coalition’s mission.
Minister Audrey’s engagement extended beyond the FOC meeting as she participated in a symposium organised by the International Strategy Forum (ISF). Here, she engaged in discussions on global governance and emerging technologies with a diverse panel of experts and thought leaders.
Topics ranged from artificial intelligence (AI) application standards to digital trust and the protection of human rights values. The Minister cited that through the Alignment Assemblies project, Taiwan is pioneering a groundbreaking approach to align AI values through citizen deliberation, setting a global precedent.
Taiwan’s overarching goal is to empower all citizens to contribute to the safe and sustainable development of AI while identifying and mitigating the inherent risks of this transformative technology. Minister Audrey pledged Taiwan’s continued collaboration with partners to advance digital development, with a keen focus on the three dimensions of participation, progress, and security.