ASIA-PACIFIC, 26 AUGUST 2021 – NCS today announced the launch of NCS NEXT Cloud Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Melbourne.
• Expands on NCS’ presence in Australia and aims to encourage innovation collaboration between Australia and Singapore
• Helps governments and enterprise leverage digital technologies to transform the way they operate and thrive in the digital economy
• Aims to grow local team to 1,500 and create 500 new digital jobs
ASIA-PACIFIC, 26 AUGUST 2021 – NCS today announced the launch of NCS NEXT Cloud Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Melbourne. The CoE will offer governments and enterprises greater support on accelerating their cloud initiatives. This is part of NCS’s regional expansion strategy into Australia, following the partnership with Optus Enterprise in December 2020 to bring integrated ICT and digital services to Australian clients across a wide range of industries and government sectors. The CoE will also facilitate expertise exchange and deepen collaboration between Singapore and Australia, helping both cities build up cloud expertise in a competitive talent market.
The setup of the CoE follows an earlier announcement made this year on the formation of NCS NEXT to help organisations leverage digital technologies to transform the way they operate. This would involve innovating and co-creating new applications, processes, and services with organisations to better service their end customers or stakeholders. NCS NEXT in Melbourne is part of the company’s NEXT Innovation Triangle which also includes nodes in Singapore and Shenzhen and draws on the unique strengths each city brings in terms of talent, clients, and innovation.
Andre Conti, Head of NEXT Solutions, Australia, said, “We have witnessed the increasing pace at which both public and commercial sectors in Australia are adopting a digital-first approach to transforming the way in which we live and work. Through the NCS NEXT Cloud CoE launch in Australia, Optus Enterprise and NCS can help Australian enterprises and government agencies leverage cloud-based innovations to unlock competitive advantages and enhance customer or citizen experiences. By tapping into NCS’ 40 years of experience in supporting the public sector in APAC and our strong partner ecosystem, NCS Australia will play an active role in nurturing and pushing the local ICT space forwards”.
Partnering Victoria to grow a tech ecosystem and develop talents
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was also signed today at the Cloud CoE launch, with The State Government of Victoria represented by Invest Victoria as well as the Department of Treasury and Finance. This partnership leverages the CoE to promote innovation in cloud, reach new customers, drive talent development, and advance Victoria’s competitiveness in the technology sector.
With 80 per cent of Australian enterprises expected to shift to cloud-centric infrastructures and applications by the end of 2021, the launch of NCS NEXT Cloud CoE comes at an opportune time to help Australian organisations navigate the complex tech ecosystem and accelerate their cloud deployment.
Tim Pallas, Victorian Treasurer said, “Victoria is the tech capital of Australia and we’re so proud to welcome NCS to Melbourne, creating jobs and continuing our thriving reputation of innovation and excellence.”
To support the growth of the Cloud business in Australia, NCS is also committed to building the digital talent pool in Victoria, focusing on capabilities in innovation, artificial intelligence, 5G-enabled internet of things (IoT) applications, advanced analytics and cloud. NCS aims to grow the local team to 1,500 and create 500 new digital skilled jobs over the next few years to support the needs and aspirations of the Victorian and national ICT communities.
NCS is a leading technology services firm with presence in Asia Pacific and partners with governments and enterprises to advance communities through technology. Combining the experience and expertise of its 10,000-strong team across 49 specialisations, NCS provides differentiated and end-to-end technology services to clients with its NEXT capabilities in digital, cloud and platforms, as well as core offerings in application, infrastructure, engineering and cybersecurity. NCS also believes in building a strong partner ecosystem with leading technology players, research institutions and start-ups to support open innovation and co-creation.
For more information, visit ncs.co.
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A team of scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has developed a predictive computer model. When tested on real pandemic data would have reduced the rate of both COVID19 infections and deaths by an average of 72% based on a sample from four countries.
The model, called NSGA-II, could be used to alert local governments in advance on possible surges in COVID-19 infections and mortalities, allowing them time to put forward relevant countermeasures more rapidly.
The main goal of our study is to aid health authorities to make data-driven decisions in fighting the global COVID-19 pandemic. The critical knowledge discovered in historical data enables us to provide early warning, preparation, and prevention for crisis control and enhance the resilience of human societies.
– Assistant Professor NTU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and lead researcher
Through the testing of the model in four Asian countries using data available, the team demonstrated that it could have helped reduce the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths by up to 76% in Japan, 65% in South Korea, 59% per cent in Pakistan and 89 per cent in Nepal.
The computer model achieved the result by recommending timely and country-specific advice on the optimal application and duration of COVID-19 interventions, such as home quarantines, social distancing measures, and personal protective measures that would help to thwart the negative impact of the pandemic.
The team also showed NSGA-II could make predictions on the daily increases of COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths that were highly accurate, at a confidence level of 95%, compared to the actual cases that took place in the four countries over the past year.
Harnessing the power of machine learning, the research team developed the model by inputting large amounts of data on COVID-19 mortalities and infections worldwide that is available for the whole of 2020, helping it learn the dynamics of the pandemic.
As the pandemic progresses and the COVID-19 virus undergoes many mutations, it threatens the resilience of global society across every aspect of daily life, the environment, and the economy, and it requires the prompt and prioritised attention of policymakers worldwide.
The developed computer programme could serve as a useful tool to help governments formulate strategies and interventions at an early stage to limit or even counter a predicted surge in cases, reducing infections and mortality rates.
The team plans to introduce more variables, such as economic status and cultural differences, into the model to further improve its accuracy. They are seeking to validate its efficacy by including data from additional countries in Europe and North America, providing insights into COVID-19 evolution across different geographies.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Singapore’s healthcare community have learned various things from the Covid-19 experience that can guide the way they deliver care in the future. Accurate information is essential as the basis for informed decisions. Moreover, people can take more control of their healthcare destinies when they are empowered by information and technology.
As Singapore and much of the world is turning the corner on the pandemic, it is driving the adoption of transformative technologies in healthcare. In the last year, it was the intense and unrelenting pressures of the pandemic that ultimately proved to be the most potent agent of change for digital transformation in healthcare.
The necessary elements of this transformation—the required infrastructure—are rapidly coming to maturity. It starts with the increasing availability of health data from connected devices. It is unleashed by the increasing sophistication of technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), hybrid cloud and automation.
Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has released a fully integrated 3D version of OneMap, Singapore’s authoritative national map. The tool is the certified national map of Singapore which contains the latest and most comprehensive information on Singapore’s landscape. A product of a collaboration between several government agencies, the map’s services are free to access.
The application, OneMap3D, was unveiled at the Singapore Geospatial Festival 2021, where SLA also signed separate memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the country’s logistics and real estate agencies to expand the industry’s use of OneMap.
The latest was created by converting the original format to 3D using open-source 3D geospatial technology and 3D city modelling. Initially, OneMap was first released in 2010, followed by an improved version in 2017 in 2D that included features such as real-time traffic data and an Application Programming Interface (API) for app developers.
It is built on our commitment to enhance our country’s geospatial capabilities and to provide new geospatial solutions for businesses, government and the wider public.
– Singapore’s culture, community and youth minister
OneMap is the country’s digital map service, and it is constantly updated with information from government agencies, such as where citizens can pick up a free face mask. Singapore’s Civil Defence Force also used OneMap to create MyResponder, an app that alerts all trained first responders to cardiac arrests in the area. The new OneMap3D upgrade will allow citizens to navigate through a neighbourhood in the first-person view, simulating what a route would look like in person.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Geospatial Technology involves the use of technology for collecting and utilising geographic information. Some of these technologies include Geographic Information System (GIS), GPS, remote sensing, and geofencing.
On the prevalence of the use of geospatial information in Singapore, organisations such as Grab manipulate this data to be able to match drivers with passengers, in real-time. There is already an everyday use of geospatial technology with the likes of GPS for navigating around. It provides location-based services such as:
- Bus explorer: for information on bus routes and arrival timing
- Landquery: Finding out land ownership and land lot information
- Schoolquery: Searching for primary schools which are located within a 1-2 km radius from a location
- Trafficquery: Live traffic information, cameras, ERP gantries and availability of parking lots
SLA Chief Executive says the MOUs with the logistics and real estate agencies are part of SLA’s efforts to collaborate with industry leaders to promote growth and opportunities through geospatial solutions.
SLA’s MOU with the property or real estate company in the real estate space will result in the development of new feature data collection and customised Application Programming Interface (API) to improve the property company’s applications and OneMap geospatial information. As per the company’s CEO, the collaboration has the potential to be a “game-changer” in the real estate industry.
In contrast, the parties will collaborate on geospatial co-innovations to improve hyperlocal and granular data at the street level for last-mile delivery under SLA’s MOU with Singapore’s logistics company. “We are delighted to be SLA’s first express logistics partner for GeoWorks,” says the CEO of the logistics firm.
He went on to say that by having the company’s drivers contribute pictorial information to enable OneMap’s accuracy and data volume, the company could potentially set a new industry operational standard by improving the entire last-mile delivery process.
The SLA and homegrown robotics and automation solution company MOU will see the trial of automated data capture with robots, limiting the time and effort from manual data capture, to develop geospatial innovation in the area of robotics and automation solutions. This collaboration will also allow SLA and the company to develop standards for robotics-ready maps and map information interoperability for compatibility across multiple platforms.
Western Australia’s Main Roads has completed the migration of its customer relationship management (CRM) system into the cloud in collaboration with an American multinational technology corporation. The government agency has transitioned CONNECT, a Dynamics-powered CRM suite by the company, to the cloud as part of a nine-month project.
The project, supported by ASG and WithPrecision, is aimed at modernising the legacy system and providing enhanced support for its network operations centre. The new cloud-based CONNECT platform is being integrated with Main Roads’ raft of legacy software, including its Oracle-based road data application and its record-keeping systems.
Main Roads is planning to create an Azure Data Lake to store data from different systems. To enhance its data and analytics capabilities, the agency also plans to make more use of Microsoft’s Power Platform to turn the stored data into actionable insights.
The platform has been customised to support the agency’s 24/7 Customer Information Centre by allowing staff to record calls as a customer activity or convert them into a case or fault report. Activities, cases or fault reports can also be linked to customised Project pages providing a centralised view of all customer interactions related to road projects across WA.
Main Roads CRM System Manager stated that the new platform has been well received by users. He noted that people very quickly could see the advantage of having a centralised customer system and start building a more holistic view of our customers. It gives the team a real-time view of what’s going on within infrastructure delivery projects which they never had before.
OpenGov Asia recently reported that Transport for NSW is hoping that aggregated data collected by a Dutch consumer electronics company and LiDAR systems might provide it with more timely insight into conditions and hazards on the state’s road network. The agency, in collaboration with iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), currently relies on videos taken by crews for safety assessments, from which certain road attributes are extracted.
However, TfNSW wants to speed up the process, and has embarked on a project that will “convert raw data… into an international standard five-star rating system”. The project will deliver 20,000 km of road attributes in NSW using TomTom’s MN-R map data, as well as prove feature extraction techniques and machine learning for LiDAR data.
MN-R is the model that the consumer electronics company uses to keep its mapping data up-to-date. It combines several layers of data collection techniques, including from the use of its navigation systems and from sensors.
In addition to understanding road conditions and hazards, TfNSW hopes the project could also lead to the development of predictive algorithms around injuries and fatalities in the future. The project will feed into a global ‘AiRAP’ initiative from a non-profit roads rating agency, the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP).
TfNSW is also working with the University of Technology Sydney and geospatial data experts an NSW software company on the project. The local company has previously partnered with the consumer electronics company to extract more than 50 road assets and safety features such as road markings, safety barriers and trees from LiDAR data.
The IRAP global innovation manager, who is overseeing the project, said AI had the “potential to reduce costs and increase the frequency and accuracy of data”. She noted that making faster and more affordable data collection possible means that safety assessments can be done on an annual basis across the whole road network.
The global road safety market size was valued at US$2.88 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4% from 2021 to 2028. During the COVID-19 pandemic, road fatalities witnessed a sharp decline.
Most aspects of everyday lives as consumers or employees have been embedded by Artificial Intelligence (AI) based systems. The further advancement and increased diffusion of AI capabilities pose risks of job replacement and even concerns of what this all means in terms of being human. Singapore Management University’s (SMU)Business Partnerships unit and International Trading Institute delved into the issue of “Working with AI-Enabled Smart Machines”.
University professors and thought leaders documented 30 examples of people doing their everyday work in real-world business settings in partnership with AI-enabled smart machines. These case studies will be used in their co-authored book The Future of Work Now: People Collaborating with Smart Machines.
The case studies covered a range of industry settings including insurance and financial services, knowledge work across other service sector industries, healthcare, factory floor production, and field operations across multiple industries.
One example cited was from one of Singapore’s banks who had massive migration to data analytics starting in 2010 and their follow-on progression into using machine learning. The system was able to draw on the bank’s existing data sources and external data to evaluate the probability of fraud or financial crime.
Before using this new system, the majority of the time spent by the bank employees who were doing transaction surveillance was on data amalgamation and sorting through the alerts generated by the prior generation of rule-based systems. The latter is an earlier type of AI application, with most of these alerts being false alarms.
With the new machine-learning-based system analysing and evaluating the rule-based alerts, the transaction surveillance employees can now focus directly on the alerts identified by the system as having a high or medium probability of being an actual problem.
The employee’s work time is allocated more efficiently, as they no longer need to look at large numbers of false alarms. Additionally, they no longer need to manually amalgamate all the supporting information use to evaluate each alarm as that background data access and integration work was automated as part of the machine learning application.
Another case study was on Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform. They are a digital-native born company whose business is based on AI-enabled data analytics. The case study highlighted the role of their product managers. These are the people who orchestrate the complex process of developing, phasing in and scaling new Shopee e-commerce platform capabilities and feature enhancements.
The product manager’s challenge is to do this in a way that meets business goals, satisfies customer needs, deals with the constraints and problems faced by the technology teams developing the new AI-enabled capabilities and features, and addresses the many conflicting requirements and trade-offs that arise.
The case study highlighted that while product managers are overseeing the processes of bringing AI-enabled capabilities and features of the platform to market, the nature of their role is so multi-faceted and complex that very few of their engagement management, negotiation, coordination, and decision-making tasks can be automated by these same type of AI capabilities. This product manager example illustrates one of the important ways in which human roles are required to manage the implementation of AI-based change efforts within a complex company setting.
The threat is not about AI taking away human jobs. The real threat is when people choose not to team with AI. Organisations need to learn how to capitalise on what AI can do, go beyond just thinking about simple labour displacement and manpower cost savings, and find ways to use the technology to create value in ways that lead to new demand and correspondingly to new employment opportunities.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, AI is becoming more sophisticated at doing what humans do, but more efficiently, quickly, and cheaply. Scientists from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and clinicians from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) have used artificial intelligence to create a new method of screening for glaucoma.
The central banks of India and Singapore plan to link their digital payments systems to enable instant, low-cost fund transfers. The two sides will connect India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Singapore’s PayNow in a major push to disrupt the cross-border transactions between the two nations that amount to over US$1 billion each year.
The move is targeted for operationalisation by July 2022, both nation’s central banks said earlier this week. Users on either of the systems will be able to make transactions with one another without having to sign up to the second platform. When implemented, fund transfers can be made from India to Singapore using mobile phone numbers, and from Singapore to India using UPI virtual payment addresses (VPA). The experience of making a PayNow transfer to a UPI VPA will be similar to that of a domestic transfer to a PayNow VPA, noted the Monetary Authority of Singapore in a press statement.
UPI is an instant real-time payment system that facilitates inter-bank transactions developed by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI). It has become the most popular way users in India transfer money to one another and to businesses, a news report stated. The system, adopted by scores of local and global firms, is now processing over 3 billion transactions each month. Singapore’s PayNow also enables peer-to-peer funds transfer service, available to retail customers through participating banks and non-bank financial institutions (NFIs). It allows users to send and receive instant funds from one bank or e-wallet account to another in Singapore by using just their mobile number, Singapore NRIC/FIN, or VPA.
The Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank, described the project as a significant milestone in the development of infrastructure for cross-border payments between India and Singapore. It noted that the linkage closely aligns with the G20’s financial inclusion priorities of driving faster, cheaper, and more transparent cross-border payments. The linkage builds upon the earlier efforts of NPCI International Private Limited (NIPL) and the Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS) to foster the cross-border interoperability of payments using cards and QR codes, between India and Singapore. It will further anchor trade, travel, and remittance flow between the two countries.
Earlier in August, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, launched a new digital payment system called e-RUPI. It is a QR code or SMS string-based e-voucher, which is delivered to the mobile of the beneficiaries. The users of this seamless one-time payment mechanism will be able to redeem the voucher without a card, digital payments app, or Internet banking access at the service provider. Any government agency and corporation can generate e-RUPI vouchers via their partner banks.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the e-RUPI initiative will be one of the programmes launched over the next few years to limit touchpoints between the government and the beneficiary and ensure that the benefits reach their intended beneficiaries in a targeted and leak-proof manner. The vouchers are person- and purpose-specific, which means that if they are released by the government COVID-19 vaccinations, for instance, then they can be redeemed only for that. It also ensures that the payment to the service provider is made only after the transaction is completed. Being pre-paid in nature, it assures timely payment to the service provider without the involvement of any intermediary. E-RUPI is expected to be a revolutionary initiative for ensuring a leak-proof delivery of welfare services.
The University of South Australia’s Innovation & Collaboration Centre (ICC) is now accepting applications for its 2022 Venture Catalyst Space program. As the first of its kind space accelerator and incubator, the program forms part of the State Government’s $4 million Space Innovation Fund, which supports activities to grow the space industry in South Australia. Now in its fourth year, the program supports space start-ups through a program of tailored support, mentoring and access to resources at the University of South Australia.
Complementing the thriving ecosystem of more than 60 existing space industry companies, the HQ of the Australian Space Agency, and the Smart Sat CRC in South Australia, the competitive and globally recognised Venture Catalyst Space program has nurtured companies from Canada, India, the United States and Australia.
Recent graduates of the 2021 program each received funding, workshops, mentoring and introductions to key Australian space industry contacts as well as a world-class workspace with access to the resources of the University of South Australia for the duration of the program.
Working closely with the ICC’s industry partners and a global pool of industry experts that includes the expert in residence, Kirk Drage, the companies were able to test and develop their products and services and build out their business. Associate Director of the ICC Jasmine Vreugdenburg encourages local start-ups as well as companies from across the global space industry to apply.
It was noted that since launching the program, 19 companies have been supported in building, testing as well as iterating their minimum viable product, raise funds and develop partnerships with both research and industry across Australia and abroad.
The latest cohort of companies has gained global media attention, connected with leading industry organisations including NASA and the Australia Space Agency and have rapidly integrated into the space community and industry.
The centre is now looking forward to opening up its Venture Catalyst Space program once again to innovative talent across the globe; founders have been encouraged to apply for the next intake. Applications are now open for the 2021 intake via icc.unisa.edu.au and will close on 28 November 2021. The program will run from January to July.
About the South Australian Space Industry Centre
The South Australian Space Industry Centre is supporting the state’s emerging space industry by providing funding to grow jobs and build South Australia’s space ecosystem through the Space Innovation Fund. The Fund is responsible for invigorating South Australia’s space innovation ecosystem by supporting promising entrepreneurs, new start-ups and early-stage businesses to scale up and activate their ideas.
The Space Innovation Fund aims to support potential entrepreneurs and start-ups providing a pathway for post-graduate innovators and entrepreneurs to:
- develop expertise and build knowledge in specialist space-related fields of study
- develop entrepreneurial ideas in order to bring them to market
- rapidly develop their technology, build channels to market and pitch for investment by tapping into global networks of mentors, investors, and corporate partners.
Australia’s space sector
The Australian Space Agency noted that the space sector provides essential data and services for daily activities, from banking and internet access to knowing where you are. Space also provides critical data that supports emergency management, planning, and weather forecasting, and inspires young people to engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) domains.
Space is a fast-growing and competitive commercial sector. Space technologies support Australian innovation and the digital economy.
By increasing government expenditure on healthcare and rapidly increasing demand for innovative medical technologies, Singapore medical devices market is expected to grow quickly, according to a leading analytic company.
Singapore aims to provide smart healthcare to people with the help of novel technologies, which is helping the country to withstand the impact of COVID-19 on its healthcare system. This report reveals that the Singapore healthcare market is a strongly growing market in the Asia-Pacific region, with a focus on health technology and research and development.
Telemedicine, electronic health records, patient solutions, medical diagnostics, health management solutions, personal health and fitness, and medical education are some of the areas where technology plays a major role.
The report reveals that government initiatives such as Diagnostics Development (DxD) Initiative and the Smart Nation initiative will support the increased demand for medical devices by the rapidly ageing population to drive the market in Singapore.
Singapore’s public and private healthcare expenditure, which accounts for about 5.3% of GDP in 2020, is expected to exceed 8.5% in 2030. This increase can be attributed to the Singapore government’s focus on raising the healthcare expenditure driven by the growing consumption of healthcare services by the general population.
Medical Devices Analyst stated that the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Plan (RIE2025), launched by the Singaporean government, holds a budget of around US$19bn with ‘Human Health and Potential’ as one of the major areas of focus. The plan is expected to strengthen the medical devices industry in the country.
To keep up with advances in biomedical science and encourage the development of new clinical treatments, The Ministry of Health, in partnership with Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and other governmental bodies, have increased their focus on investing in clinical and translational research.
Singapore provides universal health coverage to citizens and permanent residents. Almost 80% of the healthcare cost is subsidised by the government. Polyclinics in Singapore are also adopting new technologies such as virtual systems, and this is making healthcare delivery more accessible and affordable, especially during the pandemic.
Using a virtual system, the attending nurse enters the details of the patient’s medical condition, and the computer algorithm in the device will recommend required tests and consultation with specialists at the National Heart Centre, Singapore. This will provide faster service to patients while eliminating incidental costs that accompany hospital visits, and help the physician attend to more patients each day.
Adherence to the ASEAN Medical Device Directive’s (AMDD) basic policies is expected to be followed by all ASEAN countries in the next few years. The AMDD system for registering and assessing medical devices requires ASEAN countries to follow uniform classification criteria for medical devices. This will provide medical device companies with a common market of more than 600 million people.
There has been an obvious and significant rise in the development and deployment of transformational technologies in the healthcare system during the pandemic in Singapore, and this demonstrates the commitment of the country in achieving its aim of providing technology-driven healthcare solutions to its citizens
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Digital Monitoring Solution is one of the examples of Singapore’s innovation in medical devices. The Digital Monitoring Solution is an affordable and fully integrated smart health platform comprising a tamper-proof smart wearable, mobile app, geofence locator, remote monitoring dashboard and automatic alerts.
The solution provides a holistic 360-degree view for round-the-clock monitoring and detailed record logs of a seafarer’s well-being, combining key vitals tracking (temperature, heart rate, SPO2, activity level and sleep patterns), highly accurate indoor geofencing with automated geofence quarantine monitoring and health symptoms monitoring. It analyses and triangulates information collected and can detect abnormalities and assess risks.