For people with disabilities, using websites and apps can be a frustrating and sometimes impossible experience. When online experiences are not designed with accessibility in mind, some users can’t fully access all the content and features. That is why the federal government created Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act: to foster an inclusive digital environment that empowers all users.
For that reason, IT, procurement and operations teams in the public sector are tasked with creating 508-compliant digital experiences that are widely usable, highly accessible and all-inclusive. This mandate applies to all federal, state and local agencies as well as their vendors, contractors and partners. It calls for website content, emails, computer software, application, and PDF versions to be non-discriminatory and fully accessible to all.
Accessibility is more critical and relevant than ever
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation, with virtually every government service now having a digital offering. While the 508-compliance law is part of an ongoing legislative drive to create a more equitable socio-economic playing field for those with disabilities, creating more accessible applications benefits all users. Both disabled and non-disabled members must be able to access the same opportunities for growth and advancement.
There are three major priorities to consider when creating accessibility. First, a product must deliver an easy experience for all. Second, even though the disability community represents a very large segment of the public and private sectors, applications habitually designed to support and perpetuate the “normal, able-bodied” paradigm will continue to marginalise those outside of that definition. Third, every year, lawsuits are filed against not only government entities but commercial companies, too.
508-compliant apps can easily be built to support diverse disabled communities quickly, without having to write code. A visual software development environment allows app designers to quickly and simply add pages and connect data by dragging and dropping components onto a page. When teams have a platform with a graphical toolkit, they can rapidly and reliably create apps and adapt them, along with all of the appropriate inputs, outputs and business logic.
How to prioritise accessibility in organisations
Section 508 chief at the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) provided some tips on how to make accessibility a priority. First, agencies must define their mission as it relates to 508-compliance. Then they must document and follow a process. If they are resource-constrained, they should start accumulating data, turn the data into metrics and use those metrics to clearly demonstrate value to leadership.
For instance, risk avoidance is a huge motivator for executives. Besides the many risks associated with a 508 lawsuit, having an app that’s not accessible means disabled employees can’t perform their jobs. The DVA serves tens of thousands of individuals with service-related disabilities, and the 508-compliance team needed to understand their varied issues. Communicating these issues, and how they impact the organisation, garnered buy-in from leadership and the resources required to create 508-compliant apps.
Demand in the public sector has risen sharply for online apps that engage citizens and employees in meaningful and impactful ways. Creating 508-compliant experiences requires agility and rapid iteration to respond to changing user needs. A low-code development platform can dramatically streamline innovation and accelerate development.
Selecting the right technology partners will help agencies create user-centred digital experiences that are inclusive, accessible, and compliant. They can help accelerate development while providing an agile and scalable foundation.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Creating a good customer experience increasingly means creating a good digital experience. But metrics like page views and clicks offer limited insight into how much customers actually like a digital product. That is the problem the digital optimisation company is solving. The new platform gives companies a clearer picture of how users interact with their digital products to help them understand exactly which features to promote or improve.
Modern livestock development based on precision technology has become one of the options for continuously meeting household demands. Syahrul Yasin Limpo, Minister of Agriculture, advocated using the technology to improve the resilience of Indonesian cattle products.
“We have to support innovative animal husbandry techniques (and the breeders) to use KUR (people’s business credit) to meet capital demands,” Syahrul said at the kickoff of the National Technical Coordination Meeting in Jakarta.
According to SYL, the world’s cattle sector is currently in decline due to a lack of fodder because swept away by floods and extreme weather. He stressed the challenges were worldwide, with direct consequences for distribution routes and high inflation. However, he urged ministry workers to find a means to meet the meat demands of 270 million Indonesians as part of the ministry’s obligation.
Nasrullah, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Director General of Livestock and Animal Health, stated that the government had established a strategy to deal with the global food crisis. Increasing food production capacity for commodities such as cattle, buffalo, purebred chicken, free-range chicken, lamb/goat, duck, and pork is one of them. The Ministry of Agriculture continues to expand production capacity and increase exports of swiftlet nests, chickens, and chicken eggs to various Asian countries.
“Through the synergy of business players, we will create priority livestock commodities on a corporate basis, precision, and integrated with a livestock supply programme of 10 million heads through the development of goats/sheep, ducks, and chickens,” he explained.
Additionally, Syahrul encourages regional and central government cooperation and synergy to be reinforced to preserve existing output and strengthen the resilience of Indonesian cattle products. Particularly in terms of job division and work duties within each work unit. He proposes that each division’s tasks be clarified to decide the subsequent measures. Measurement is required to determine critical activities and control task efficacy.
The livestock industry has used technological advancement to modernise. In New Zealand, the government employed a new antibody testing robot to provide faster and more accurate tests for animal sickness. A 750kg high-throughput diagnostic robot worth NZ$ 580,000 (US$ 376,736.10) will improve testing reliability and precision throughout future biosecurity interventions.
The first-of-its-kind technology will aid in disease control among breeds since they will need to analyse 3,000 to 7,000 samples daily. By automating this process, farmers will profit from speedier outcomes while enhancing the well-being of the people and animals involved. The system, developed in Germany, can test up to 7,000 samples daily for antibodies to FMD and other exotic diseases.
The robot is self-sufficient and does not need constant supervision or interaction. This frees up animal health laboratory personnel for other tests and ensures stability during intense reaction periods. Even without human involvement, the robot can run experiments overnight. Delays in testing can have an economic impact because antibody testing is critical for preserving access and security of goods exports to New Zealand’s overseas markets. If an exotic disease outbreak occurs in New Zealand’s animals, automation will help the country to recover more quickly.
Meanwhile, agricultural sectors known as smart agriculture have been modernised by technology. It boosts output, addresses farm-related issues such as food demand, and makes farms more connected and intelligent. Precision farming, variable rate technologies, smart irrigation, and smart greenhouses are innovative agriculture applications that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT). The innovative farming method provides farmers with higher yields, higher-quality products, and the ability to cultivate crops regularly all year. The technology satisfies the market’s requirement for food efficiency and sufficiency.
CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is helping small to medium-sized businesses in the mining and mining equipment, technology and services sectors by offering a free online course that provides expertise and support for research and development.
Innovate to Grow is a 10-week online programme offered by CSIRO that is designed to help eligible small to medium-sized businesses in the mining and mining equipment, technology and services sectors that are in the early stages of engaging in R&D or pursuing a new idea. It will be guided by experienced researchers and innovation experts who will help participants to examine their technical or business challenges, explore R&D opportunities, and develop actionable business and funding plans.
Upon completion of the Innovate to Grow programme, participants may be able to access facilitation support through CSIRO to connect with research expertise nationally and may also be eligible for dollar-matched R&D funding.
The SME Collaboration Manager for CSIRO stated that the programme is designed to assist small-medium businesses in understanding the process of engaging in R&D by providing them with information on how to access funding, mentoring and a highly connected network through research organizations and industry peers.
The Innovate to Grow programme targets Australian companies with less than 200 employees, and currently is offered at no cost to participants. In this way, it is hoped that some of the barriers that smaller enterprises face when they have an idea they would like to pursue can be removed.
Upon completion of the Innovate to Grow programme, participants will have received assistance in defining their goals, developing a business case for R&D with the help of a university or CSIRO, and preparing a funding proposal.
Participants will also benefit from the expansion of their professional networks through connection with their peers in the cohort, sector-specific mentors, and CSIRO which has the world’s largest mineral resources R&D capability.
One company that manages the Australian Premium Iron Joint Venture participated in the Innovate to Grow program in 2021. The Principal Scientist at the firm stated that the company participated in the Innovate to Grow program as a way to refresh their knowledge about engaging with research organisations, identifying available funding options and preparing for partnerships with organisations like CSIRO or universities.
The mining industry faces many challenges, and it requires multiple elements to come together to achieve success. CSIRO plays a vital role in supporting research and development goals for the industry, he said.
The global smart mining market is projected to grow from roughly US$9.3 billion in 2019 to about US$23.5 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 16.3% during the forecast period 2020-2027.
Smart mining is a process that uses advanced technology, information and autonomy to improve safety, reduce operational costs, and increase productivity for mine sites. Companies in the mining industry are focusing on increasing productivity by implementing advanced software and solutions. It also includes the use of remote-controlled robotic equipment for mineral and metal extraction known as telerobotic mining, which reduces the risks for miners.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the global smart mining market, primarily due to the disruption of international trade, prolonged lockdowns and restrictions in construction, mining, and maintenance activities worldwide.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has launched a mobile application for the Khelo India Youth Games 2022. The app gives participating athletes, coaches, support staff, parents of athletes, and officials from all states participating in the Games access to information about the competition, through a single platform. This is the first time that a dedicated application has been launched for the Khelo India Youth Games.
The App has a dedicated athlete login and supports the athlete right from the time of their registration into the games, through the entire course of the Games. The app gives the athlete a chance to check if their verified documents have been uploaded before the start of the Games. According to a government press release, this will ensure greater transparency for athletes in the registration process. The application is available both for Android and Apple phones and can be downloaded free of cost.
As the athlete registers for the games and arrives at the Games venues in Madhya Pradesh, they can check the status of the issuance of their sporting kits, the hotel where they will stay, transportation plan for athletes to and from the venue, as well as have important contact numbers where athletes can connect in case of an emergency. Further, to ensure that athletes have immediate responses to queries raised by them during the Games, a chatbot has also been created. For sports fans, the application gives access to match schedules, medal tally, addresses of Games venues, and the photo gallery.
The Khelo India Youth Games are held every year. They are national-level multidisciplinary grassroots games held in January or February for two categories: under-17 years school students and under-21 college students. This year, the Games will be held in Bhopal from 30 January to 11 February. The competition has been divided into twelve different verticals, including developing state-level Khelo India centres, talent identification and development, sports for women, and the promotion of sports amongst people with disabilities.
The government has launched several applications and online services to promote athletics. For instance, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) launched the National Anti-Doping Agency app. It provides athletes with a one-stop solution for all anti-doping-related information. The app helps athletes understand anti-doping rules and regulations and provides a platform for athletes to report any potential anti-doping violations.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports launched the Fit India App to encourage people to adopt healthy and active lifestyles. The app provides offers a range of features such as fitness challenges, workout routines, health tips, and a record of daily physical activity. The app also provides users with a dashboard that helps them track their progress and set goals for themselves. Its age-appropriate fitness protocols, approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), test the fitness level of the user. Based on the results of the fitness tests, the app gives users a fitness score that tells them how fit they are and then further suggests activities to improve their health and fitness level.
Automated elections are cost-effective because they can accommodate up to 1,000 voters per clustered precinct instead of 500 voters per precinct in manual ballots, necessitating paying more workers. Therefore, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Cavite 4th District advised his colleagues in the House of Representatives to employ the Automated Elections System (AES) in the Barangay (village) and local council Sangguniang Kabataan (BSK) elections on October 30 this year.
In House Resolution 717, which he submitted on Wednesday, Barzaga asked the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms to launch an investigation into the Electoral Reform Act. The viability and feasibility of executing automated BSK polls are discussed.
“It will not only result in faster outcomes and the announcement of victors, but it will also eliminate human involvement or error and confusion in the evaluation of ballots on an experimental basis on the BSK Elections in major barangays, ideally in Metro Manila,” he convinced.
There are 42,022 barangays in the country as of October 2022, each with one punong barangay (local official) and seven Sangguniang Barangay (village council) members, one SK chairperson and seven representatives.
There will be two polls for the BSK elections, one for ordinary voters aged 18 and above and another for SK electors aged 15 to 30. The lawmakers suggested repurposing and adjusting the existing Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) to accept two ballots from registered voters. Then, the devices can independently summarise the Barangay and SK elections’ scores.
The BSKE, scheduled for October this year, will use a manual election system in which voters will write the names of candidates on ballots. Historically, manual elections can encounter issues such as imprecise counting, perception, and appreciation of votes. The integration of votes in larger Barangays usually takes two to three days, as opposed to automated elections, which immediately transmit the results to the canvassing centre upon closing of the voting.
Barzaga stated that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was praised for conducting the national and municipal polls on May 9, 2022, for having the fastest results and largest voter turnout since the Philippines adopted the AES in 2010, and that the public has accepted the outcomes of the elections. The 2022 national and municipal elections were attended by 55,290,821, or 84.10 per cent of the 67,745,526 registered voters.
The resolution also said that the Comelec owned the 97,000 reconditioned vote-counting machines (VCMs) it purchased in 2016 and leased more VCMs for the 2022 elections and that a portion of these machines will be used in the BSK Elections in the pilot barangays. Barzaga believes voters are well-versed in using AES since The Philippines have used the technology in the national and municipal elections in 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2022.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has indicated that it is open to holding automated village votes. Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia noted that they would investigate the possibility of executing a pilot test of barangay and SK election automation in specific areas/precincts. He mentioned that Barzaga contacted him about the proposition earlier this week.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act 11935 on October 10, 2022, rescheduling December 5, 2022, BSK elections to October 30, 2023, and holding other polls every three years after that. Meanwhile, earlier this month, OFW Party List Rep. Marissa Magsino suggested that the government should change the existing law to increase voting options to prevent voter disenfranchisement of about 1.83 million OFWs exercising their right to vote. The proposed legislation would enable Filipino personnel working abroad to vote via email, web-based portals, and other internet-based technologies.
Researchers are exploring ways to improve artificial intelligence image identification accuracy on computer vision. Computer vision is an artificial intelligence topic that teaches computers to extract information from digital images. They employed an algorithm that takes the distorted image as input and outputs a clean image to the users.
The study focuses on images partially smudged or distorted due to the missing pixels. Another goal is to reduce the uncertainty estimations and inferences from the visual data acquired. The researchers then created computer algorithms to reveal the part of the signal that is marred or otherwise concealed.
“Models for doing so already exist, but quantifying the uncertainty is difficult. And you don’t want to make a mistake in a life-or-death situation,” Swami Sankaranarayanan, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the study’s lead author, explained.
So far, they have been able to reconstruct images of simple objects, such as human faces or animals. However, they wish to expand their method into more required fields, such as medical imaging, where our “statistical assurance” may be precious. If the film, or radiograph, of a chest X-ray, is blurred, they intend to reconstruct the image as accurately as possible.
They attempted to rebuild the image while preserving vital information. In the instance of a chest X-ray, this could tell whether a patient has lung cancer or pneumonia. Sankaranarayanan and his associates have already begun collaborating with a radiologist to assess whether their method for diagnosing pneumonia could be beneficial in a clinical context.
Their work is also helpful in the realm of law enforcement. The image from a surveillance camera may be grainy, but law enforcement agents can improve it using their instruments. The tools he and his colleagues are building could aid in identifying a guilty individual and exonerating an innocent one.
As a result, obtaining a more excellent grasp of that uncertainty could benefit us in various ways. For one thing, it can help us learn more about what we don’t know. MIT engineers successfully established reliable estimates of uncertainty and displayed ambiguity in a form that the average person could understand.
In a new study, Sankaranarayanan and his co-authors — Anastasios Angelopoulos and Stephen Bates of the University of California at Berkeley; Yaniv Romano of the Israel Institute of Technology; and Phillip Isola, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT — addressed the issues.
When recovering a blurred image, questions are bound to occur. How much trust can one put in the correctness of the resulting image? And, as addressed in the December 2022 study, how should the ambiguity in that image be represented? The conventional method generates a “saliency map,” which assigns a probability value between 0 and 1 to each pixel to express the model’s confidence in its accuracy.
Their approach revolves around an image’s “semantic characteristics” – clusters of pixels that, combined, have meaning, such as a human face, a dog, or any other recognised entity. According to Sankaranarayanan, the goal is to “estimate uncertainty in a fashion that relates to groupings of pixels that humans can easily perceive.”
While the usual technique may produce a single image representing the “best guess” as to what the genuine picture should be, the ambiguity in that representation is typically difficult to perceive. Therefore, according to the new article, uncertainty should be conveyed meaningfully to people who are not experts in machine learning for application in the real world.
When recovering a blurred image, questions are likely to occur. How much assurance can someone have in the reliability of the resulting image? And, as discussed in the December 2022 paper, what is the best approach to convey uncertainty in that image? The conventional method is to generate a “saliency map,” which assigns a probability value — somewhere between 0 and 1 — to each pixel to represent the model’s certainty in its validity.
Their technique is centred on an image’s semantic characteristics – groups of pixels that, when combined, convey meaning, such as a human face, a dog, or any other recognised entity. According to Sankaranarayanan, the goal is to estimate uncertainty in a fashion that connects to the groups of pixels that humans can easily perceive.
Whereas the usual technique may produce a single image representing the best guess as to what the genuine picture should be, the ambiguity in that representation is typically difficult to perceive. According to the new article, to be helpful in the real world, uncertainty needs to be communicated in a meaningful way to individuals who are not experts in machine learning.
The Ministry of DES has recommended farmers employ more drones for a new Thailand smart farm project in Pathum Thani Province’s Pin Fah Farm region. Pinfah Farm is an intelligent farm model in Pathum Thani Province designated for agricultural eco-tourism.
Pinfah Farm employs drones to spray medications, fertiliser, and various chemicals in farmlands to reduce money and improve farmer health. Chaiwut Thanakmanusorn, Minister of Digital Economy and Society, paid a visit to the new farm and provided financial assistance.
The government allows farmers to pay half of their needs under the “half of each person” programme. The remainder of the fund will be used to assist individuals in purchasing at a reduced price to develop modern agriculture more efficiently. The financial assistance is provided in collaboration with community enterprises or farmer organisations to create a smart farm using digital agriculture technology.
Smart agriculture is a cutting-edge idea that is gaining traction around the world. It boosts output, addresses farm-related issues such as food demand, and makes farms more networked and intelligent. Precision farming, variable rate technologies, smart irrigation, and smart greenhouses are smart agriculture systems that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT).
Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha recently visited the development of the “Digital Agriculture” pilot project at Pha Mi Training Centre in Chiang Rai Province. To expand digitalisation in agriculture, smart agriculture also employed the Government Central Cloud System (GDCC) platform and 5G network.
The Pha Mi Training Centre is an education, research, and development institution for high-value commodities, including vanilla and orchid, which are among the world’s top five most lucrative products. The centre will also increase farmers’ awareness of the region and provide long-term job options. Finally, the initiative attempts to boost farm revenue and eliminate farmer poverty.
The creation of the Cloud GDCC system facilitates the integration of IoT Smart farm technologies and Big Data storage in Thailand’s agriculture sector. The cloud system is designed to support the future growth of Thai farmers and other experimental plants.
Aquaculture sectors are also included in the agricultural digitalisation initiative. The Thai government was undertaking Aquaculture 4.0 to secure the long-term growth of this essential industry and increase farmers’ sustainable farming capabilities. The Aqua-IoT is an Internet of Things-based monitoring system for water’s physical, chemical, and biological properties.
They combined critical data – physical, chemical, and biological water characteristics and weather – into a single interface that enables users to comprehend the link between the data, analyse it, and make informed decisions.
Nonetheless, the Philippines has made a comparable effort. The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (DA-BAFE) visited the nation’s first established innovative greenhouse project to enhance the widespread application of smart agriculture.
The smart greenhouse is a significant advancement in precision farming. It employs sensor technologies to generate a microclimate that allows plants to develop consistently. An intelligent greenhouse modifies the environment autonomously to help plants grow to their full potential. This innovative farming method provides farmers with higher yields, higher-quality products, and the ability to cultivate crops regularly all year. This satisfies the market’s requirement for food efficiency and sufficiency.
While in Indonesia, Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo urged the adoption of precision technology to boost the resilience of Indonesian cattle products and to meet domestic demands constantly. It is believed that the technology will increase the food production rate for commodities such as cattle, buffalo, purebred chicken, free-range chicken, lamb/goat, duck, and pork.
Syahrul advises strengthening regional and central government cooperation and synergy to conserve present output and increase the resilience of Indonesian cattle products. Job division and work obligations within each work unit. He suggests that the tasks of each division be specified to determine the next steps.
All organisations that use alphanumeric Sender IDs to send SMS are now required to register with the Singapore SMS Sender ID Registry (SSIR) as part of the measures announced by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) last October. This registration is intended to protect consumers from non-registered SMS that may be scams, a press statement has said.
Starting from 31 January, any non-registered SMS will be labelled as “Likely-SCAM”. This functions similarly to a spam filter or spam bin. Consumers might get non-registered SMS labelled as “Likely-SCAM” and are advised to exercise caution. If unsure, consumers are encouraged to check with family and friends. This will improve IMDA’s overall resilience against scams.
All organisations that use alphanumeric Sender IDs must register early with the SSIR. This is to give adequate time as non-registered SMS Sender IDs after 31 January will be labelled as “Likely-SCAM”. Organisations that have not registered their Sender IDs are advised to do so, the statement said.
As of January 2023, over 1,200 organisations have already registered with SSIR, using more than 2,600 SMS Sender IDs. These include financial institutions, e-commerce operators, logistics providers, and SMEs that send SMS to their customers who have registered with the SSIR.
In recent months, IMDA reached out to organisations through aggregators and associations such as the Singapore Business Federation, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, and Association of Banks in Singapore, to encourage them to register with the SSIR. The mandatory SSIR regime is part of a broader effort to protect against scams, which also includes working with telecom operators to reduce the number of scam calls and SMS coming through the communication networks.
Since the implementation of the SSIR in March 2022, there has been a significant decrease in scams reported through SMS, with a 64% reduction from the last quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2022. Additionally, scam cases perpetrated via SMS dropped from 10% in 2021 to 8% in Q2 2022, down from 10% in 2021.
To effectively combat scams, a collective effort from society is needed. Despite implementing various measures, scammers may adapt their methods and tactics. IMDA will continue to collaborate with other stakeholders in the fight against scams, but individual vigilance and awareness are crucial. Consumers should remain vigilant and share scam prevention tips with friends and loved ones, the statement said.
IMDA leads Singapore’s digital transformation with infocomm media. To do this, IMDA is working to develop a dynamic digital economy and a cohesive digital society, driven by an exceptional infocomm media (ICM) ecosystem. It fosters talent, strengthens business capabilities, and enhances Singapore’s ICM infrastructure. IMDA also regulates the telecommunications and media sectors to safeguard consumer interests while fostering a pro-business environment and enhances Singapore’s data protection regime through the Personal Data Protection Commission.
Scams and unwanted commercial electronic messages and calls are an international problem with scammers continuing to prey on unsuspecting parties. Last year, IMDA and Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to boost cooperation and fight scams and spam. The agreement covers cooperation in information sharing and assistance in investigations relating to scam and spam calls and short message services. The two sides also agreed to mutual exchanges of knowledge and expertise and collaboration on technical and commercially viable solutions in relation to scam and spam communications.