Governments and private sector organisations have been continually developing and launching apps since the coronavirus outbreak with the aim of helping fight against the spread of COVID-19.
These apps provide services such as providing citizens COVID-19 updates, situation reports, enabling them to make health risk assessments and to be used as a tracker of the spread of the disease throughout the country as well as documenting the rate and numbers of infected.
MySejahtera – Malaysia’s COVID-19 Government app
Malaysia is the next country to just recently launched their own government COVID-19 app.
MySejahtera is an application developed by the Government of Malaysia to assist in monitoring COVID-19 outbreak in the country by anabling users to assess their health risk against COVID-19.
The app was developed through a strategic collaboration between the National Security Council, Ministry of Health, MAMPU – Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
The MySejahtera app enables users to make self-assessments on their health, locate nearby testing hospitals and clinics, and get information on what to do if they do contract COVID-19 and where to get treatment.
The app will also help the Ministry of Health monitor the virus spread and act as a detector for trends in the outbreak.
The app’s self-assessment asks whether users have COVID-19 symptoms. Users can also check in to the app and share their location or a photo with the relevant government agencies.
It also provides useful information for citizens such as the COVID-19 hotline number as well as a Virtual Health Advisory that links users to medical video-consultation platform, Doctor On Call.
How to access the app
Registration cannot be done on the app itself. To register, users need to go to the app’s website and provide a phone number or email address to get a one-time login. Once registered, users can then complete their profile on the app.
It is available on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Huawei AppGallery and the government’s own mobile app gallery – Gamma. It supports devices using Android 4.4 or iOS 11 and newer.
Countries Looking to Launch Contract Tracing App as Soon as Possible
According to the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin, Malaysia is currently preparing a smartphone application to track citizen movements.
The federal government in Australia launched a COVID-19 app last weekend, without contact tracing functionality, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that they are working on this capability.
The National Health Service in the UK is in talks to roll out a smartphone app that instantly traces close contacts of people carrying the coronavirus and advises them to self-isolate. The app, developed by NHSX – the health service’s digital transformation body along with academic and industry partners is in advanced stages of evaluation and they are hoping to deploy within weeks.
Germany also hopes to launch a smartphone app within weeks to help trace coronavirus infections, with the aim of adopting an approach similar to that of Singapore, an effective app that does not invade people’s privacy or break European privacy laws.
With digital contact tracing becoming a more important priority to the government, as well as being an integral part of the government strategy to combat this pandemic, these smartphone apps could lead to a substantial number of lives being saved and critical to protecting public safety.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia’s lead digital economy agency, is ramping up its efforts in enabling a digital learning landscape for youth through strategic collaborations with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Yayasan Peneraju Pendidikan Bumiputera.
With the aim to fortify digital talent amid the COVID-19 recovery, both collaborations were secured via MDEC #mydigitalmaker Movement, a joint public-private-academia partnership launched in August 2016. The initiative, which is part of the agency’s #SayaDigital agenda, has benefited more than 2.2 million children through the integration of computational thinking into the national school curriculum and co-curricular activities organised by MDEC and its ecosystem partners.
The Chief Digital Skills and Jobs Officer at MDEC stated that the fast-changing talent market brings many new opportunities for young people. Strong fundamental and transferable skills fostered from their early years will be key in nurturing them to become an agile and digitally competent workforce.
This strategic collaboration with UNICEF and Yayasan Peneraju marks MDEC’s continuous effort in ensuring that Malaysia continues to produce a pool of digitally innovative and creative talents in line with the goals of the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDIGITAL), she said.
Through the collaboration, MDEC and UNICEF aim to create opportunities and better career outcomes for marginalised young people by bringing them together with industry leaders and experts on the same platform for career guidance and mentorships.
The partnership entails on-the-job training and industrial experience opportunities for young people via apprenticeships as well as skill-building opportunities.
Strategic partnerships such as this will accelerate the delivery of inclusive opportunities in education, employment and entrepreneurship. It is in our interest to build the skills of young people so that no one is left behind, according to the UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam.
Through the partnership, both parties will be focusing on joint and independent programmes that are academic and career-oriented developed by MDEC and UNICEF. The programmes include:
- #MyDigitalMaker Fair
- Premier Digital Tech Institutions
- Future Skills for All (FS4A) programme
- KitaConnect Skills-Building Workshops
- MDEC + UNICEF Youth Employability Readiness programme
Focusing on developing a forward-looking digital landscape for Bumiputera’s youth, MDEC has partnered with Yayasan Peneraju to provide a knowledge-enhancing programme, Yayasan Peneraju High Impact Programme – Competition (Technology), for school students nationwide via a virtual platform.
Fully funded by Yayasan Peneraju, the series of online sessions began in early 2021 and has been benefiting more than 1,000 young Bumiputera students, aged 13 to 17 years old, through learning and exploring digital technology skill sets via online competitions.
The strategic cooperation with MDEC is an important factor in responding to the challenge of nurturing human capital, especially the Bumiputera talent, to the highest potential in deepening technological expertise. As an agency under the Prime Minister’s Department, the organisation’s mandate is to increase the quality of professional Bumiputera talents in the high impact sectors.
“We must ensure that our beneficiaries are also equipped with skills and technological knowledge so that they can excel in their career and life,” said the CEO of Yayasan Peneraju.
U.S. President Joe Biden has been vocal about his goals to boost federal investment in electric vehicles and EV infrastructure since the start of his administration. His proposed American Jobs Plan includes $174 billion for promoting the domestic production of EVs and notably electrifying the entire federal fleet.
The American Jobs Plan will create incentives to continue to lower the cost of and support market demand for electric vehicles. These incentives are a proven policy to support the growing market for EVs, which then drives down the purchase price as the auto industry scales up production and creates incentives for domestic production.
The administration plans to grow the number of charging stations in the U.S. from 42,000 to 500,000 by 2030. Yet even then, perceived upfront costs may deter some state and local governments from purchasing EVs — even those who see EV adoption as an ideal solution to reducing the environmental impact of public fleets.
State and local government leaders interested in electrifying their fleets but put off by the upfront costs of purchasing EVs should take into account the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of these vehicles throughout their lifetime. Running a TCO calculation may reveal that an electric fleet can actually present greater long-term savings, thereby easing the path to adoption.
Looking at the TCO equation alone, it may seem like the costs outweigh the returns. But there are aspects to operating EVs that are far more cost-effective than their internal combustion engine counterparts. For example, EVs require less maintenance because there is no need for oil changes or transmission repairs.
Whereas an ICE car has more than 2,000 different moving parts — many of which will need service or replacement at some point — an EV only has 20 moving parts. A study finds that annual maintenance costs for an EV are $330 less than that of an ICE car, and the Department of Energy finds that the average cost of driving an EV is about half the expense of an ICE vehicle.
Certainly, TCO calculations provide essential projections that can facilitate the first steps to adoption. But once purchased and deployed, how can state and local leaders, as well as government fleet managers, know if their electric fleets are truly providing savings over time? This is where vehicle telematics can be hugely beneficial.
Telematics solutions can capture and share detailed, real-time information about how each EV performs, in addition to its location and battery and charging status. These metrics provide valuable intelligence for fleet managers, helping to more accurately measure TCO, improve daily fleet management and even proactively detect issues to enable preventative maintenance. Notably, some of the metrics that managers would be monitoring for can be unique to an electric fleet, including:
- Historical driving distance data: Telematics solutions can track the exact mileage that a vehicle covered on a particular route or day. This data is also tracked in a traditional ICE fleet, but its purpose on an electric fleet is different.
- EV charging station maps: EV charging station maps on a telematics app can show drivers and managers where nearby charging stations are, as well as details about those stations. These maps can help inform route planning and decisions about when a driver should stop and charge. If plans to grow the nationwide charging infrastructure are successful, these decisions and the ability to locate stations will become easier in time.
- Vehicle charge status: Real-time state-of-charge reporting provides visibility into the battery status of each EV so managers can make smarter decisions about where and when to deploy a vehicle.
- Recharging: If recharging stations back at the lot or depot is limited, real-time, state-of-charge reports can help managers prioritize the order in which vehicles must be charged. They can decide whether to delay charging to take advantage of off-peak electric rates and which vehicles should be plugged into faster charging stations.
University of Queensland researchers are collaborating with an extensive range of health professionals to re-design and improve strategies to prevent childhood obesity. Aware of the powerful role played by digital technologies, Dietitian and UQ Research Fellow Dr Oliver Canfell is part of a team developing an online tool kit that can be used to prevent obesity in the young.
He noted that obesity is a chronic condition that’s difficult to reverse, which is why prevention is important and most effective in the early years. There have been real-world impacts recently – people with obesity who contract COVID-19 often have worse outcomes than people with a healthy weight. It was also noted that children and families look to health professionals for support but are commonly not receiving care until it is too late. Clinicians need new ways of working so they can focus on prevention, and digital health can help enormously.
The first step towards achieving that goal is the Precision Support for Preventing Childhood Obesity (PRECISE) program, a partnership between UQ and Health and Wellbeing Queensland (HWQld). Almost 20 health professionals including GPs, child health nurses and dietitians have been recruited from across Queensland to design the digital solutions to focus on prevention in routine practice.
The tools designed in the PRECISE program will be available via Clinicians Hub, a central digital platform created by HWQld to help health professionals effectively prevent and manage childhood obesity. The Chief Executive of HWQld noted that obesity had many causes which made it a particularly complex problem to address.
It can be a challenging topic to raise with families, and research shows many doctors feel ill-equipped to manage this complex and sensitive health issue, the expert noted. Clinicians Hub offers a variety of clinical tools, resources and training to help health workers identify, prevent and talk about childhood obesity with confidence and impact.
One-in-four Queensland children and two-in-three adults live above a healthy weight range. These patterns are usually well established before five years of age – so there is a need to get in early.
The UQ Global Change Institute has established a Digital Health Research Network to support PRECISE and other digital health initiatives.
About the Global Change Institute
The Global Change Institute draws together research excellence and expertise from across UQ, industry, government and the community to address grand challenges which deliver impact to society, the economy, the environment, and culture.
Addressing global challenges requires strong transdisciplinary teams to deliver pathways to impact. With the help of the UQ research community, the Global Change Institute is developing multiple Collaborative Research Initiatives (CRIs) to address global challenges.
For example, The Healthy Kids and Families Collaborative Research Initiative (CRI) focuses on addressing the importance of community-based, co-designed interventions to address the needs of children, adolescents and their families in the health system and ensuring they have a healthy, productive and long life.
Examples of the challenges this CRI will address with stakeholders include:
- complexities experienced by families in navigating the health system and obtaining timely and appropriate health care, and ongoing support for children with complex needs
- specific and unmet needs of families of children with physical, neurodevelopmental and/or learning challenges
- promotion of healthy eating and physical activity behaviours established in families and day-care centres, pre-schools and schools, and
- systemic inequities between children to achieve optimal health outcomes, healthy behaviours and access to health services (e.g., socioeconomic differences).
Industry experts and financial-technology service providers called for the upgrade of homegrown financial-technology capabilities to further elevate the financial sector and boost the digitalisation of other industry sectors.
The insurance industry is likely to be a forerunner in terms of digital transformation. The operation efficiency and sophistication level of service in the insurance sector should be further enhanced despite initial progress in the realm, as digitalisation is becoming a prerequisite for all insurance service providers. There is also a basic demand to leverage financial-technology measures to counter potential cybersecurity risks, as large amounts of data are leveraged for daily operations and business decisions.
The digitalisation of financial services would help resolve financial imbalances and further serve underfinanced groups. The digitalisation of financial services offers tailor-made solutions for small and micro businesses and helps mitigate risks for commercial lenders.
Fintech solutions should focus more on small and micro businesses at the grassroots level. Fintech service players serve a positive role to help avoid the mismatch of financial resources, and they should stick to serving the grassroots financial and consumption market in the long run.
– Zhang Jun, dean of the Fudan University School of Economics
Technologies have already helped expand wealth management products’ customer base and enhanced its risk-control schemes. China’s asset management industry was valued at 12.1 trillion yuan (US$1.89 trillion) in 2020, but the sector still lags behind in terms of predictive algorithms to mitigate risks. Further efforts in smart data technologies are needed to meet risk control and regulatory compliance requirements.
Moreover, China plans to build pioneering fintech hubs nationwide, focusing on the research and development of blockchain technology and digital currency to boost investment in financial infrastructure. Beijing ranks top among eight cities around the world, thanks to its huge consumer market, advanced technology application and fast development of the fintech ecosystem. Other cities that China aims to develop as global fintech hubs are Shanghai, Shenzhen in Guangdong province, and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China’s central bank, published a three-year fintech development plan. So far, some results have been achieved and major projects are proceeding as scheduled. Issuing the central bank digital currency was included in that blueprint, which also involves developing fintech services based on blockchain, big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and financial security technology. The three-year plan aims to promote China’s fintech industry to an international leading level.
The basic technology framework of the digital currency designed by the central bank has almost been completed, with sophisticated top-level design, and trials are ongoing in some application scenarios. The fast progress will give the PBOC a leading position among its global peers in officially launching a digital currency. Regulations on fintech technology development will focus on protecting personal privacy, expanding fintech services to benefit more individuals, and streamlining regulations.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, China has urged a digital transformation in the financial industry in response to the increasing uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. The volatility has also created unprecedented opportunities for digitalisation across the world, and the financial industry continues to explore openings to embrace technology and uncover new areas of growth.
Chinese fintech strategies combined with current digital transformation trends will likely produce the following footprints:
- Fintech industries will be more online, open, and intelligent: Industries will convert more traditional services from offline to online and build an omnichannel strategy by tapping into emerging channels. They will apply artificial intelligence (AI) applications to online businesses with matching needs from both retail and corporate customers. They will create more data streams and use cases to strengthen client relations.
- New technologies and applications will be introduced to improve operational efficiency with emphasis on data factors: Industries will focus on the introduction of smart operations, smart risk management, and smart customer relationship management (CRM) with the integration of low-code SaaS applications. They deploy blockchain applications to build and expand a trusted financial service environment, piloting applications such as traceability, authentic right, trusted execution environment, and multi-stakeholder transactions.
The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) stated that Taiwan will engage in cooperation and exchanges with the Baltic states in the areas of quantum technology and biotechnology. The two countries are expected to lead to future bilateral academic and research exchanges. Both countries will discuss technology development, biomedicine, semiconductors and technology parks.
The natios have concluded that the plans for future cooperation between Taiwan and the Baltic states – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – will focus on academic and research exchanges in the quantum technology and biotech areas.
This direction was chosen after considering the Baltic states’ position as members of the European Union, with varying levels of technological development and expertise, and Taiwan’s current policy on science and technology research. The ministry added the delegation, which includes the parliamentary representatives Matas Maldeikis of Lithuania, Janis Vucans of Latvia and Juri Jaanson of Estonia showed positive interest in supporting bilateral cooperation and exchanges in the field of technology.
Taiwan believes that quantum technology is coming and the country is investing to become a leader. Taiwan will invest NT$ 8 billion – about US$ 282 million – in the development of quantum technology in the coming five years with a view to becoming a tech hub that boasts more than semiconductor manufacturing prowess.
The initiative is much broader than just building a quantum computer, according to the story. The country will invest in quantum devices, quantum computers, quantum algorithms and quantum communication technologies. The new technologies will be employed to develop applications for areas spanning cybersecurity, finance, national defence and more. Taiwan must invest in quantum research before it can secure a place in the competitive world of advanced technologies.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s biomedical industry has grown from strength to strength in recent years as a result of farsighted government policymaking, spotlighting her administration’s commitment to developing high-growth sectors of the economy.
Biomedical technology has been a top priority in Taiwan’s national development strategy. Over the past few years, the country has conducted over 300 clinical trials, 80% of which involved multinational firms, while local biomedical industry revenues grew 8.7% in 2019, with total investment exceeding NT$55.1 billion (US$1.84 billion).
Taiwan’s biomedical industry includes three major sectors: applied biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. Research institutes have played an important role in the development of Taiwan’s economy, and today no less than nine institutes are involved in the development of Biomedical Innovations in the country’s biomedical industry.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, MOST announced that 20 tech startup companies would showcase Taiwan’s Biotech capabilities to the world connect with the global ecosystem, resources and industries in the forum organised by Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA). There are 20 TTA startup teams are selected by industrial experts and focused on global bio-industrial market potential startups.
Taiwan has demonstrated how to democratically tackle the COVID-19 threatening and how to be a truly global partner by utilising technologies. Taiwan’s efforts and commitments have drawn international attention and the relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. has become stronger than ever before in the past year. The U.S. is leading the trends of advanced science and technology development and has a vivid startup ecosystem, while Taiwan has renowned semiconductor and ICT industries and long supported technology startups.
By working together, Taiwan can speed up the transition from scientific findings into practical technology applications and create a win-win situation and achieve future possible collaborations in the US. The companies presented disruptive biotech innovations such as vocal implant systems, AI Video-based telemedicine solutions and detection of respiratory function with ultrasound technology.
A report titled “Government Cloud Platforms 2021–2022 RadarView” evaluated 15 providers based on product maturity, enterprise adaptability and future-readiness. The report identifies four trends that are shaping the market. The first is the increasing compliance needs that are accelerating the shift to the cloud. The cloud helps agencies address sensitive workloads, such as those involving health care data while complying with requirements.
State and local governments are increasingly adopting cloud to lower IT and licensing costs. Cloud can help city councils manage and organise resources and foster communication and collaboration. It can help them securely store, analyse and process sensitive economic data, and they can more easily capture and process data from the internet of things and edge computing.
The second trend is the emergence of tailored cloud regions for communities such as defence and intelligence. Such regions can address the level of sensitive data that these communities work with, and these users can look to these isolated cloud resources to deploy workloads securely and compliantly.
The third trend is the fact that convergence with emerging technologies is driving change. Modern governments are working toward improving services by leveraging emerging technologies like 5G networks, blockchain and edge computing for greater speed, low latency, and high availability of verifiable data to enable use cases such as congestion monitoring and smart waste management. Additionally, cloud platform providers are helping government agencies and departments to streamline collaboration tools.
Specifically, cloud-based blockchain helps agencies move away from siloed systems while ensuring that any copy of data will be available, verifiable and trustworthy. The report points to the Health and Human Services Department’s Accelerate app for managing contract billing. It uses blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning and process automation.
Additionally, 5G lets agencies send and receive information faster than other networks and with lower latency, and edge computing lets them process at or near the data source, which reduces latency. The U.S. Freight Transportation System uses Verizon’s multi-access edge computing solution to boost supply-chain efficiency and provide end-to-end near-real-time logistic controls, the report summary states.
Fourth, government cloud providers are expanding their influence by growing into new regions and helping the public sector shift to cloud while maintaining data governance and sovereignty. Moves toward modernisation, smart cities and a digital economy are driving governments to upgrade their IT infrastructure, and cloud is the best way to ensure that data is securely and readily available. In the past, strict data sovereignty requirements often complicated governments’ cloud adoption, but now providers are filling the need by setting up data centres to employ local workers in the countries they plan to serve.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the U.S. Department of Defence (DOD) outlined its goals that would help support service members outside of the U.S. by way of cloud computing. The agency establishes the vision and goals for enabling a dominant all-domain advantage through cloud innovation at the tactical edge. It identifies areas requiring modernisation to realise the potential of cloud computing, specifically: security, redundancy, reliability and availability.
The strategy is broken down into three parts: resilient connectivity, providing the right computing power, and training members to utilise the technology. Regarding the first goal, the agency is committed to providing robust and resilient connectivity all the way to the tactical edge. Right now, network connectivity is a problem when it comes to connecting to the cloud and getting people the information they need to carry out their missions.
The goals can be achieved, but some will take much longer than others, and accomplishing all three will require more than just the efforts of the Defence Department. The approach needs to be holistic that involves a whole government, members of Congressfederal partners, internal to DOD, also with the cloud service providers and developing a cohesive strategy that works for the department to be able to deliver these much-needed services, to where they are needed.
A new agenda to keep Victoria at the forefront of innovation, drive the creation of new industries and support jobs for future generations has been unveiled by the Government. The Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy recently launched the Innovation Statement detailing the plans and investments to propel the state forward.
The ambitious plan builds on existing commitments with a new blueprint to turbocharge Victoria’s startup ecosystem, grow business and innovation precincts, develop homegrown talent, and commercialise world-leading research – keeping Victoria at the cutting edge.
Front and centre of the agenda is the landmark AU$ 2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund, which will bridge the gap between discovery and commercialisation, mobilise innovation in key areas such as health and life sciences, agri-food, advanced manufacturing, clean economy and digital technologies.
Health and medical research is another focus with investments totalling $590 million committed in the past year alone, including up to $400 million for a new Australian Institute of Infectious Disease to lead the fight against future pandemics, and an additional $50 million to spearhead local manufacturing of mRNA vaccines.
The Victoria Government is fostering the big ideas of entrepreneurs and supporting home-grown start-ups to scale up while also building a robust investor landscape to help more Victorian innovators take their ideas global.
The state’s start-up agency, LaunchVic, is leading the way with programs such as the $10 million Alice Anderson Fund helping female founders access early-stage funding, and the $60.5 million Victorian Startup Capital Fund injecting more money into local start-ups.
The Government’s significant investment is building Victoria’s innovation capabilities, increasing competitiveness and attracting national and international investors. Priority initiatives like the $64 million Digital Jobs program are addressing the digital skills shortage by training mid-career Victorians for in-demand digital roles, while the $550 million Connecting Victoria program is helping businesses take advantage of digital opportunities with reliable, better value broadband across the state.
The Innovation Statement showcases Victoria’s impressive history of class-leading innovations and modern inventions making their mark around the world and celebrates and elevates stories from across the Victorian innovation community.
The Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy stated that Victoria is ahead of the curve and there’s no slowing down, which is why the nation must support its innovation ecosystem and continue to make game-changing advancements in science, health and medicine, and technology. The new innovation agenda is a commitment to ensure the next generation of Victorians have all they need for the jobs of tomorrow, she added.
Digital technology and innovation drive economic growth, productivity and competitiveness. The Victorian Government is committed to positioning Victoria as the number one destination for digital technology companies and start-ups in the Asia-Pacific.
The results of the latest survey of Victoria’s information and communications technology (ICT) industry indicate continued growth and a positive outlook with:
- 19,941 businesses
- 139,100 employees
- annual revenue of $38.4 billion (including $2.4 billion in international revenue).
More broadly, it has been estimated that in 2020, Victoria’s digital economy could be worth $50.8 billion.
Victorian Government support
The Victorian Government is creating a supportive local environment where innovation can thrive with programs, initiatives and events being rolled out across metropolitan and regional Victoria. The AU$ 45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program is addressing digital infrastructure, enhanced broadband, mobile blackspots and digital agriculture, and the $18 million Regional Rail Connectivity Project is improving connectivity on five major regional rail lines.
The Victorian Government has established LaunchVic, an independent agency responsible for leading the development of a globally-connected startup ecosystem by supporting startups and investors to sustainably grow and deliver economic and cultural benefits for both Victoria and Australia.