Researchers from NUS Design and Environment and Yale-NUS College have collaborated with ETH Zurich and other Singapore universities to start a Future Cities Lab Global (FCL Global) – an international, interdisciplinary research collaboration that aims to develop solutions to help cities and their surrounding regions achieve sustainable growth.
NUS Deputy President -Research and Technolog, Professor Chen Tsuhan said that NUS adopts a systems approach to solving real-world problems concerning climate change and sustainability.
He said, “Harnessing our deep and broad expertise in areas such as green technologies, design, engineering, sciences, social sciences and public policy, we aim to advance integrated sustainability solutions that are optimised and resilient for tropical, urban and Asian settings.”
Launched in December last year, the five-year collaborative venture seeks to address the globally significant challenges of expanding urbanisation, where existing cities are fast growing and new cities are emerging in the face of rapid population growth.
Tapping on the deep expertise of 120 engineers, architects, environmental scientists, economists and social scientists from Singapore and Switzerland, the collaboration builds on the work of the now-completed Future Cities Laboratory Programme which focused on cities and their development.
Supported by Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF), FCL Global expands the focus to address corridors and networks between cities and the surrounding regions – such as roads, ports, rivers, and airports, as well as their impact on land use and ecology.
The collaboration will be co-hosted in two research laboratories: ETH Zurich, and Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) – a partnership established between ETH and NRF at the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE).
NUS researchers are involved in six of the eight projects that are currently being carried out. These will focus on topics such as green buildings and neighbourhoods in dense urban areas, new technologies for recycling building materials, and solutions to aid tropical coastal cities in Asia that are distressed or at risk of flooding.
Prof Lam Khee Poh, Dean of NUS Design and Environment and a member of the FCL Global Steering Committee, observed that Singapore is one of the most liveable cities in Asia and the world. Stressing on the need to focus on a holistic people-centric design to build a resilient city of tomorrow, he added, “NUS’ multi-disciplinary research in collaboration with FCL Global will develop future-ready solutions for sustainable and healthy cities. This will also help advance Singapore’s multi-ministry effort to achieve the Singapore Green Plan 2030.”
The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) will launch the SG Cyber Safe Programme to help Singapore enterprises to raise their cybersecurity posture.
The programme is part of the Safer Cyberspace Masterplan launched in October 2020, which aims to raise Singapore’s general level of cybersecurity.
In a speech by Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information at the MCI Committee of Supply Debate 2021, he said “Cybersecurity, therefore has to be a collective effort and a core part of our lives in this digital age-integrated into the products we use and the way that we behave online.”
“As more enterprises go digital, our exposure to cyber threats grows in parallel. Cyber attacks on companies have a far-reaching impact on our wider economy. So, as part of the Safer Cyberspace Masterplan, CSA will launch the SG Cyber Safe Programme to support companies in strengthening their cybersecurity.”
The SG Cyber Safe Programme is a concerted effort by the Government to help enterprises better protect themselves in the digital domain. Under this programme, initiatives to be introduced include:
The toolkits, targeted at key enterprise stakeholders such as enterprise leaders, technical teams and employees, will provide leaders with a deeper understanding of cybersecurity issues and threats. It will also enable them to implement cybersecurity measures, including employee training, within the organisation.
CSA will be rolling out the employee cybersecurity toolkit by the end of 2021. For a start, CSA has worked with Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) and Civil Service College (CSC) to adapt existing cybersecurity modules – originally developed for public officers – for employees in the private sector.
Tools for enterprises to self-assess their cybersecurity posture.
This includes the Exercise-in-a-Box Singapore incident response simulation tool, which will be launched in partnership with the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre in the later half of 2021. CSA will also develop assessment tools on enterprises’ Internet domain, connectivity and email health.
SG Cyber Safe Trustmark.
The Trustmark will serve as a mark of distinction for enterprises that have put in place good cybersecurity measures that correspond to their risk profiles.
CSA will start industry consultations on the SG Cyber Safe Trustmark from April 2021 to seek views on the concept and implementation. CSA intends to introduce the trustmark by early-2022.
As the trustmark is intended for companies or projects with higher cyber risk, a separate cyber hygiene mark will also be developed to complement the SG Cyber Safe trustmark. More details on the trustmark and cyber hygiene mark will be announced in due course.
Building Cybersecurity Talent Base in Singapore
The Minister added that “Our cybersecurity talent base is a key enabler of these efforts and we are working closely with industry partners and Government agencies to nurture and grow our cybersecurity workforce.
He said that first of all, to meet near-term demand, the government will facilitate the training and upskilling of cybersecurity professionals, as well as fresh and mid-career non-cybersecurity professionals for cybersecurity jobs, through programmes such as IMDA’s Tech Skills Accelerator.
And secondly, to strengthen the talent pipeline for the longer term, the government encourages youths to pursue a career in the field through cyber outreach initiatives like SG Cyber Talent. There has been over 7,000 participants to-date.
The government has also launched the SG Cyber Leaders programme to create a community for current and developing cyber leaders to exchange ideas, and learn about global best practices.
The minister called on all Singaporeans to do their part to stay cyber safe. “All of us need to play our part to create a safer, more secure cyberspace. There are things we can do as individuals. We should enable two-factor authentication, update our software in a timely manner, choose a passphrase rather than a password and staying vigilant to spot signs of phishing.”
The Ministry of Communications and Information has made building an inclusive digital society one of their main priorities for 2021. Their aim is to ensure that ‘all Singaporeans can reap the benefits of digitalisation.’
In order to reach this goal, the National Library Board (NLB) is transforming libraries into hubs for digital learning.
The Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025 (LAB25) looks at how NLB’s roles and priorities will evolve from 2021 to 2025, in response to social, economic and technological changes.
‘A key component of LAB25 is working with communities, individuals and industries to innovate and explore new solutions to address the needs of citizens.’
Since January 2020, NLB has carried out various types of public consultations to understand what Singaporeans would like to see in their libraries and archives.
The National Library Board has identified five areas to focus on:
Champion lifelong learning
NLB will prepare its patrons for a fast-changing world through programmes such as on career and personal development. These include the Future of Work series and the My Digital Life series, which promote public awareness of how technology affects our life.
NLB has also revamped its library makerspaces in 2020, with a rebrand from PIXEL Labs@NLB to MakeIT at Libraries, to reflect the need to shift Singapore’s DIY and innovation culture into the next gear. There are three makerspaces which comprise activities such as hands-on workshops in 3D printing and robotics, jointly organised by NLB and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
Bridge the digital divide
NLB will continue to partner IMDA and other government agencies to help communities, especially our seniors, to be comfortable and confident when using digital services and technology. For example, Library Learning Journeys will be conducted monthly at 25 public libraries from late February 2021, with capacity of four participants for each session. Led by digital ambassadors, these sessions teach seniors how to use the NLB mobile app and other digital services in libraries, such as connecting to Wireless@SGx, accessing eNewspapers and scanning QR codes.
Document and tell Singapore stories
NLB will continue to involve the community in its efforts to build the nation’s contemporary collection and collect its history. An ongoing “Documenting COVID-19” collection drive organised by NLB and the National Museum of Singapore has so far received over 740 submissions of more than 3,600 photos, personal stories, videos, ephemera, webpages, blog, diaries and creative responses.
NLB has also recorded 61 in-depth audio interviews as part of the oral history component of Documenting COVID-19. NLB aims to record at least 120 interviews from now until 2022. The public will be able to access them on the Archives Online website.
Strengthen citizen engagement
The NLB will continue to step up efforts to ensure that libraries are safe and inclusive spaces for the community to interact with one another. Communities are encouraged to pursue their passion in learning through setting up their own interest groups and reading clubs at the various libraries, where they can interact with like-minded people from all walks of life.
Promote information literacy
NLB has been actively promoting information literacy through the Source. Understand. Research. Evaluate. (S.U.R.E.) campaign, which promotes the importance of information evaluation and discernment. Over 25,000 participants have benefited from S.U.R.E. programmes in the last three years, with increased interest during COVID 19.
In the coming years, NLB will step up its efforts on S.U.R.E. and will weave the campaign into programmes across interest areas, such as combining a love of reading with being wise consumers of information at NLB’s Read Fest 2021.
Revamping libraries – part of Libraries of the Future Masterplan
In line with the Libraries of the Future Masterplan, NLB will continue to develop public libraries with seamless access, both physically and digitally. Since 2015, six revamped public libraries have been launched. The revamped Choa Chu Kang Public Library will reopen in the second half of 2021.
Choa Chu Kang Public Library will be the first Libraries of the Future library to be redesigned with sustainability as its main theme, and will feature digital services which aim to encourage the appreciation of natural landscapes and biodiversity.
Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) is leading the city’s efforts to implement a global solution known as cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology which is a communication system that enables a vehicle’s smart sensors to interact and exchange data with other smart vehicles, infrastructure, mobile networks and devices – could help tackle road safety problems, such as accidents and congestion.
Since 2017, ASTRI and its partner (Hong Kong’s flagship mobile network provider) have been working together to fine-tune the technology. Their latest endeavour is called the 5G V2X project, the first trial run of C-V2X on public roads in Hong Kong.
The journey will involve a 14km-stretch between the Science Park and Sha Tin town centre. The 30-minute drive will see connected vehicles collect road intelligence data as they pass 14 sets of Road Side Units (RSUs) on lamp posts and traffic lights. The RSUs will provide real-time warnings and data for 10 different driving conditions on the road.
Any vehicle equipped with an on-board unit can communicate with different elements along the road, forming an ecosystem powered by 5G technology.
Various devices can collect real-time traffic data and use it to provide warnings to drivers of hazardous driving situations, traffic light changes, pedestrians on a road crossing, and alternative travel routes in the event of a nearby accident or traffic congestion ahead.
In the future, the ecosystem could accommodate autonomous vehicles, allowing actions – like closely grouping cars together in busy areas – to alleviate traffic jams.
The Road Side Unit is a small radio unit installed on top of the traffic light post, about 12 metres in height. It a coverage radius of 100-200 metres; every vehicle coming into this area will communicate to the radio of this Road Side Unit.
Every second, the unit communicates 10 times about its location, direction and its speed. With this exchange of information, the computer onboard the vehicle will calculate what will happen after four seconds. It will alert the driver through this analysis.
C-V2X involves the “Internet of Vehicles”, which has been made more efficient and reliable through the development of 5G which is 20 times faster than 4G, and five times shorter in latency. It can connect one million vehicles or sensors within one square km.
The layered design of the C-V2X system means it can be used in different parts of Hong Kong and also across Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.
ASTRI and HKT’s work on C-V2X has consisted of several demonstrations and trials, including the first C-V2X live trial at Hong Kong Science Park, in Sha Tin, in 2017, a field trial in Wuxi, mainland China, in 2018, and a 2019 demonstration of autonomous driving at Hong Kong International Airport.
This site was chosen for the variety of traffic scenarios it provides: regular public roads, roundabouts, hotspot cross junctions, and even intersections without traffic lights. The aim was to prove that C-V2X can be used to improve traffic safety and efficiency in real-life conditions.
This trial will see ASTRI and HKT working with a vehicle partner – a Swedish manufacturer of commercial vehicles, which has considerable expertise in driver behaviour testing as well as a global database of best practices.
The business development director in Hong Kong and China for the vehicle manufacturer stated that its existing Advanced Driver Assistance System already includes blind-spot detection, lane-departure warnings and an automated electric brake system.
This has drastically improved vehicle safety, but communication remains one-way within the vehicle, she said. The company’s collaboration with ASTRI on C-V2X will increase the range of detection of outside elements and subsequently improve safety further.
The road trial would help test the interaction between ASTRI’s on-board unit, the manufacturer’s vehicles and the infrastructure set up along the road to see whether they can correctly access the data while the vehicle is moving.
In Singapore, service-providing apps are prominent and contribute to a large amount of the country’s market share. That amount will continue to grow as a multi-million-dollar app will soon be launched in the country to help users find their way around, call a taxi, make reservations at restaurants and even book staycations, all on one free platform.
The new tech venture by a transport giant is a one-stop app that melds transport, food, and leisure services, as the company goes head-to-head with competition such as ride-hailing firms. While the developer’s core business remains transportation services, the app is part of the company’s pivot to offering more online services, drawing from its S$100 million venture capital fund to aid in its digitalisation efforts.
The company’s managing director and group chief executive officer said the project is the first time the land transport company is rolling out such an all-in-one lifestyle and mobility app. In a digital world, mobility is no longer just about simply transporting people from point A to B. It is about bringing services to people wherever they are, whenever they need, he added.
The app provides an interactive map-based interface that shows both nearby attractions and functions as a navigation tool, giving locals – and tourists – an avenue to discover little-known parts of Singapore. By partnering with restaurant-booking platforms, it also allows users to pre-order food and drinks from their pick of more than 1,500 restaurants and cafes for quick collection. The company also partnered with an international travel agency, adding hotel booking options and entertainment deals to the platform, including more offbeat and recreational experiences.
With the demand for taxi rides still below pre-Covid-19 levels, the app aims to give the company’s cabbies a boost by drawing a wider lifestyle user base and offering them an in-app taxi booking function. This is in addition to the existing booking app of the company, which will continue to operate.
Moreover, the company said that as more users are onboarded, more innovative services will be rolled out. While there are no plans yet to offer food delivery, a very possible prospect is the inclusion of hawker stalls, cinemas, and supermarkets on the app.
Also, local marketing executives say the app could bring about greater visibility for restaurants. They think the app will bring about great brand awareness and it is good that the platform targets public transport commuters, taxi riders and has geolocation features, which has become a norm for most app-based service providers.
Meanwhile, educators from the National University of Singapore Business School said that the app is a “natural evolution” for the company, which already has a ready pool of drivers. For him, the super app market is not oversaturated. The country is just scratching at the surface and there is still room for improvement. Every company will come onto the field with a different synergy, a different set of a starting point and different value propositions.
In contrast, educators at the Singapore Polytechnic School of Business, believe it will be hard for the company to differentiate its offerings from other platforms, as Singapore’s market is too small, and to affect a platform shift, they will have to pump in as many dollars as possible to gain market share. They further added that the platform that can integrate all its services on one platform most seamlessly will emerge on top. It is about offering a particular lifestyle, and it must all be interconnected.
Accordingly, as reported by OpenGov Asia, the country’s Department of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat allocated over S$24 billion over the next three years to help mature enterprises ranging from micro to large firms, to invest in new and emerging technologies to sharpen their competitiveness. The government is looking to catalyse a wide range of capital to co-fund and enable businesses to innovate, transform and scale.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) jointly issued a paper on managing new risks that could emerge from extensive remote working arrangements adopted by financial institutions (FIs) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The paper “Risk Management and Operational Resilience in a Remote Working Environment” highlights that, in view of the protracted remote working arrangements and the likely adoption of hybrid working arrangements in the future, it is important that FIs remain vigilant towards remote working risks and take pre-emptive steps to mitigate them.
The aim of the paper is to:
• raise awareness of key remote working risks in the financial sector;
• share good practices adopted by FIs to mitigate key remote working risks; and
• encourage all FIs to adopt good practices on managing remote working risks.
The Paper looks at possible risks to FIs in the areas of operations, technology and information security, fraud and staff misconduct, and legal and regulatory risks. It also examines the impact on people and culture that may be brought about by remote working.
Mr Ong Chong Tee, Deputy Managing Director (Financial Supervision), MAS, said, “Financial institutions in Singapore have swiftly adapted to remote working and split-team arrangements in response to COVID-19. The operational resilience of our financial institutions during this period reflects the soundness of their business continuity management plans. It also underscores the importance of regular tests through internal drills and industry-wide exercises jointly organised by the MAS and the financial industry.
“Investments in the digitalisation of work processes and services over the past five years have also enabled our financial institutions to continue to provide a high level of support to meet the needs of individuals and businesses, during the pandemic. MAS will continue to work closely with ABS and other industry associations to enhance operational resilience and maintain high service standards.”
Drawing from the experiences of ABS member banks, the Paper suggests key risk management actions needed to address these areas of concern. The risks and risk mitigation measures set out in the Paper are also applicable to non-bank FIs.
MAS encourages FIs to benchmark their remote working controls against the examples in the Paper. FIs should also continually review and enhance their risk management practices to address evolving risks. This Paper is part of the ongoing collaboration between
MAS and ABS’ Return to Onsite Operations Taskforce (ROOT), to coordinate responses to the crisis and prepare for a post-COVID-19 new normal.
Mr Samuel Tsien, Chairman of ABS, said, “Over the years, banks have invested consistently and significantly in risk management and technology. The investments have enabled the industry to quickly and effectively respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure that banking services are not disrupted during the crisis. Where their roles permitted, banks have made arrangements to facilitate their employees to work from home in a safe and secured environment and allowed the continued provision of services that our customers needed. This outcome is not only due to individual banks’ efforts. It was also a collective one.”
“ABS and ROOT, working together with MAS, coordinated the financial sector’s response to the crisis. The good practices are now captured in this Paper. It will serve as a valuable reference guide to all banks as remote and flexible work arrangements continue to be adopted as the pandemic evolves. The Paper is also a good guide to banks when dealing with other types of crises”.
With its mission to further improve the digitalisation of various business sectors, Minister for Communications, and Information S Iswaran noted that Singapore’s digital future is underpinned by several things including competitive enterprises that leverage digital technologies to innovate and grow. He also highlighted that because of the pandemic, many traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have pivoted towards hybrid online-offline models to engage and transact with consumers.
For the Government to further adapt, one of the new initiatives announced was a new Chief Technology Officer (CTO)-as-a-Service scheme that will include a one-stop, self-help tool for small-and-medium-enterprises (SMEs) to assess their digital needs and gaps. SMEs can then access customised recommendations on digital solutions based on the company profile, and information on Government support, adding that the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) would work with the relevant agencies on the initiative as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation drive. SMEs that need more in-depth advice can tap on a shared pool of CTO- equivalents or digital consultants with expertise in areas such as data analytics, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.
Minister also noted that these digital consultants will be managed by IT consultancy firms appointed by IMDA and will be selected based on their digital skills and experience in relevant industries. Firms will receive both digital consultancy and project management services to identify needs and solutions, as well as manage project implementation. These resources will be accessible to all registered SMEs, including home-based businesses which are sole proprietorships. The service will come in the form of a web application for the service, accessible via computers or mobile devices. said, Minister.
He also announced a new Digital Leaders Programme, which will equip firms with the capabilities and talent to accelerate their digital transformation journey. The programme will provide up to 70% support on qualifying costs to help companies build a core digital team to develop and execute their digitalisation strategy. It will also connect companies with tech partners to develop new digital products and services, and better position them to compete internationally.
The minister said the programme will initially support up to 80 companies, beginning with those more advanced in their digital journeys, with management teams committed to driving digital transformation for sustained growth. It will be managed by IMDA and Enterprise Singapore as well as other economic agencies. Firms in the programme will participate in a two-year pilot, receiving funding support to help build an in-house core digital team, and develop a proof of concepts for new digital products and services, adding that the programme will be launched this year.
The IMDA is also introducing the Better Data-Driven Business (BDDB) programme, which will provide firms with free tools and guidance to help safeguard their customers’ data while more effectively using data to remain competitive. The programme will also provide a free business intelligence tool that can convert raw data into visual dashboards that can aid business outcomes such as better sales and operational efficiencies. It will also enable more advanced data uses, such as for R&D and innovation, through curated resources such as case studies and videos.
Meanwhile, another S$50 million will be invested in IMDA’s Open Innovation Platform – a crowd-sourcing platform that matches business challenges to technology solution providers – to enhance its capabilities, the Ministry said. This will help more enterprises access innovative solutions and accelerate the deployment of digital innovation at scale. IMDA will also co-fund the prototyping of matched challenges to help innovative tech companies expand their market base.
In support of these efforts, it has been reported that more than S$500 million of the Fortitude Budget will be allocated to support the digital transformation of businesses, including support for e-payments, adopting digital solutions and deepening digital capabilities, announced Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Due to the disruption caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Singapore has adopted a new standard for protecting the verification of globally interoperable health documents based on tamper-proof distributed ledger blockchain technology.
The Singapore Government has published HealthCerts – a set of digital open standards for issuing digital COVID-19 test results and vaccination certificates, in line with international standards and the Singapore Government’s requirements.
Beginning on the 10th March, travelers undergoing a pre-departure COVID-19 test at authorised clinics in Singapore would also receive their results in a digital certificate loaded into HealthCerts.
The blockchain framework used to digitally attest HealthCerts is powered by OpenAttestation, which is an open-source document notarisation framework that uses cryptographic hashes for independent verification. Once documents are issued and stored on the blockchain, they can be verified by any auditor making it possible for outside parties to trust the submission source.
The use of digital identity and other assets is overseen by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group, a part of the Prime Minister’s Office, which oversees the deployment of this new technology. The digital certificate stores identity details (name, national identity number, DOB, etc.) and test details (type, status, date, medical institution details). The QR Code will be sent via email or presented under the SingPass Mobile app.
According to the HealthCerts webpage, for added assurance, Digital Certificates may be digitally notarised by the Government through Notarise to ease downstream verification by ensuring:
- Untampered content – Authenticate the veracity of the Digital Certificate against blockchain hash value
- Trusted provenance – Verify the legitimacy of Digital Certificate according to Singapore’s travel policy requirements and checks that the laboratory (or clinic) is authorised to issue Digital Certificates
- Rightful ownership – Strong identity assurance through SingPass to prevent impersonation
Verify provides an easy, reliable way to ensures digital certificates have not been tampered with and issued/ notarised by a recognised entity.
Supporting the opening of cross-border travel
To support the opening of cross-border travel, there is a need to verify travellers’ identities and their associated health status. Singapore has therefore designed HealthCerts with global interoperability in mind as an open standard. Entities can sign up to issue digital certificates compliant with the HealthCerts standard.
At the moment, AOKpass, Accredify. Collinson and Trybe.ID provide issuance service to clinics and labs such as Quest Laboratories, Gleneagles Hospital and Parkway Shenton Medical Group in Singapore and overseas countries.
As Verify is open-sourced, private companies or governments can develop their own versions of Verify, with their own list of recognised COVID labs or foreign authorities.
Private sector offerings: Affinidi provides document verification services for attesting document authenticity and validation to airlines and airports.
IATA conducts verification against the rules engine of other countries to determine if the test certificate meets the destination country requirements.
The government has said it is keen to work with partners to further the work in this space, which includes further enhancing interoperability, privacy, and verifiability for such certificates.