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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Researchers at Murdoch University’s Harry Butler Institute have partnered with a global technology leader to deliver novel ways to monitor the environment in remote locations. The monitoring technique provides a wireless solution to observe environmental conditions in areas that lack reliable networks and could pave the way for remote detection of bushfires and other potentially damaging scenarios.
The Harry Butler Institute Business Manager stated that said many remote locations in Western Australia and beyond lacked 3G and 4G internet coverage, posing a challenge for suitable communication solutions. The team has been investigating a cost-effective wireless IoT [Internet of Things] solution known as LoRaWAN, that offers low power, long range, wide area network data sensor technology. The network also succeeds alternatives such as WiFi and Bluetooth, as it doesn’t require cellular network coverage, making it ideal to reach remote areas including national parks.
A pilot program had already successfully moved data between Murdoch University’s South Street campus and the city. Two of the team’s researchers were able to move environmental data such as temperature, soil moisture and air quality data, but also demonstrated further innovation by moving images over LoRaWAN – something this network wasn’t even built for.
This innovative and efficient technology solution could provide researchers and emergency personnel the ability to monitor remote locations from anywhere, at any time. Senior Lecturer David Murray said the pilot has given researchers the confidence to pursue further technological developments to assist in the early detection of smoke and fire.
The team is now determining how cost-effective cameras can be developed to monitor bushfires using artificial intelligence models to identify the risk of smoke and fire, and by sending alerts via a LoRaWAN network, he said.
It was noted that this approach, in addition to weather sensors and low-resolution images that can be sent over the network for manual validation, could alert emergency workers to fire threats much earlier.
The network could also be deployed in other diverse scenarios including animal monitoring, with testing previously conducted at Murdoch to monitor the presence of quenda populations at its South Street campus.
The Pro Vice Chancellor of the Harry Butler Institute stated that the low-cost technology option was an exciting prospect for the future of environmental surveillance. This real-time technology could pave the way for monitoring networks not only in Western Australia but globally, he said.
LoRaWAN provides the option of overcoming limitations, saving time, money and resources and its potential environmental applications, including supporting emergency bushfire personnel and researchers monitoring vulnerable species such as quenda, will be significant.
The project further enhances the partnership between Murdoch University and the global tech leader and strengthens both organisations’ commitment to developing technology that can aid the environment and safeguard the sustainability of the planet.
Australia’s bushfire season currently lasts for 130 days a year, lengthened by almost a month in the past four decades, according to new research. Recent wildfire outbreaks across the globe have sparked concern that climate change is increasing fire incidence, threatening human livelihood and biodiversity, and perpetuating climate change.
Various climate models highlight that the prevalence and extremity of fire weather have already emerged beyond its pre-industrial variability in the Mediterranean as a result of climate change, and emergence will become increasingly widespread at additional levels of warming. Moreover, several of the major wildfires experienced in recent years, including the Australian bushfires of 2019/2020, have occurred amidst fire weather conditions that were considerably more likely due to climate change. The report notes that advances in the observation of fire and understanding of its controlling factors support the addition or optimisation of a variety of processes in models.
Singaporeans, particularly those who enjoy benefiting from and contributing to the wisdom of the crowd or sharing their thoughts on government policies, will undoubtedly enjoy CrowdTaskSG, a newly created crowdsourcing web service that taps Singaporeans’ collective knowledge.
Citizens will discover many possibilities to contribute their ideas and feedback to government entities on CrowdTaskSG. Citizens can take part in various tasks, such as surveys on government policies and national identity. Citizens may also be assigned duties to test prototype items, such as new government websites, and provide comments on areas for improvement.
The portal is a one-stop shop, collecting duties from across the government and making them easily accessible to those who are interested. With their Singpass account, all Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents aged 18 and over can use the portal.
Aside from hearing people’s ideas, the procedure is intended to be enjoyable. The app’s goal is to be as enjoyable as popular online games. Users can earn virtual coins by completing activities on CrowdTaskSG and trade them for real-world rewards such as coupons.
Recognising that Singaporeans are the ultimate users of government services, agencies have begun including the public early in the workflow of product or policy production to ensure that their opinion is considered from the outset. GovTech believes that citizens are co-creators in building a strong society.
The current crowdsourcing scene may be seen as fragmented, making it difficult for Singaporeans to have an overview of all the options available, while agencies struggle to discover the correct target participants. CrowdTaskSG addresses these difficulties by consolidating all government crowdsourcing jobs on a single website.
To reach their desired demographic, agencies can also use the tailored assignment tool. For example, if they want to test how user-friendly a product is for elderly users, they may quickly screen for older volunteers.
The CrowdTaskSG team is also trying to expand the number of tasks available, such as polls and A/B testing, and is reaching out to other agencies to learn how the platform can better support their crowdsourcing initiatives.
In addition, GovTech is all about using technology to make everyone’s lives better. CrowdTaskSG is based on the idea that Singaporeans are not only people who benefit from things but also people who can make important contributions.
The agency is asking everyone in the country to help solve problems by using their knowledge and skills. They are hoping that the input and ideas of the public will be the best part of the government’s next digital product.
Meanwhile, OpenGov Asia reported earlier that more users are finding it easy to do business in their native language now that Singpass supports Singapore’s four official languages, which are English, Tamil, Malay, and Chinese. By choosing their preferred language in the app’s settings, more users can enjoy the convenience of doing transactions in their native language. It was also the job of the legal divisions and other government departments to make sure that the texts follow the rules that are already in place.
Even though the multilingual feature has been successfully released, more work needs to be done. When a spreadsheet is used to help with translations, translators can’t see how the app looks and what is being translated side by side. This can slow down translations.
Singpass is one of the eight national strategic projects overseen by GovTech that help Singapore achieve its goal of becoming a “Smart Nation.” Over 2,000 government and business sector services are accessible conveniently and securely online and in person thanks to a Singaporean resident’s digital identification.
A research team from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and AI industry leaders have created a new standard on AI security in response to the demand for securing the integrity of AI programmes and building trust in AI solutions.
“By providing advice on the necessary defences and assessments to make AI applications more secure, we aim to create trust in AI for AI practitioners. At the same time, we hope that consumers will feel more confident in using AI solutions that have been certified with the standard,” says Prof Liu Yang of NTU’s School of Computer Science and Engineering, who also led the research development of the standard.
Despite the many advantages of AI adoption, cybersecurity risks like hacking constitute a serious risk to AI systems, particularly in situations where hackers may access sensitive data or cause automated systems to malfunction. However, there aren’t many rules protecting the security of AI systems.
The standard will be used to direct worldwide standardisation plans in this field through the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO), making Singapore one of the first nations in the world to steer advancements in AI security.
The new standard explains the different kinds of attacks that AI systems could face, how to measure the security of an AI algorithm, and what AI professionals can do to stop these kinds of attacks. It took a year to make, and 30 AI and security experts from business, academia, and the government helped make it.
The standard highlights four case studies where security breaches could have disastrous effects to show how important secure AI systems are. These case studies include content filters on social media platforms to flag offensive content, credit scoring systems to safeguard people and credit institutions, AI-enabled disease diagnosis systems, and systems that detect and shield computers from malicious software.
There could be serious effects on people’s lives if these AI systems fail. Users might be exposed to extremist content on social media sites, get an erroneous diagnosis, or have their credit score incorrectly determined, for instance.
Meanwhile, scientists from the National University of Singapore and NTU Singapore’s Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE) have developed a method to remove phosphorus from wastewater at temperatures higher than those permitted by currently used methods by storing the chemical in bacteria.
Current phosphorus removal techniques struggle to work effectively in temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, which are becoming more common in warm countries. This is expected to occur in additional nations as a result of global warming.
Because water reclamation plants in Singapore are home to a range of microbial species, the SCELSE-developed approach, which is based on bacteria, would help to “future-proof” the removal of the toxin. This is because research has shown that at 30 and 35 degrees Celsius, it successfully removes phosphorus from wastewater.
Candidatus Accumulibacter is the name of the bacterial genus that removes phosphate from wastewater and stores it as polyphosphate granules inside itself, and it is not dangerous to the environment and to humans as well. Scientists say that their method could be used both in small reactors in the lab and in large treatment plants.
The bacteria-based technology makes it possible for biological phosphorus removal to work at temperatures as high as 35 degrees Celsius. This would help “future-proof” phosphorus exclusion, since other techniques that use biological advances only work at cooler temperatures and would be less efficient as global warming affects temperatures to rise around the world.
The National e-Governance Division (NeGD), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently organised the first batch of a capacity-building programme for cloud computing. The initiative targets government officials from central line ministries, state/union territory departments, mission mode project officers, e-governance project heads, and state e-mission teams.
According to a press release, the two-day programme was held at the Haryana Institute of Public Administration. The initiative was designed to enhance capabilities within the government at the central and state levels by ensuring the availability of adequate knowledge and appropriate competencies and skill sets to optimally utilise the benefits of cloud computing in e-governance practices.
Projects with cloud computing offer integration management with automated problem resolution. The technology manages security end-to-end and helps budget based on actual usage of data. At a national level, cloud architectures enable the government to simultaneously utilise resources optimally and accelerate the delivery of e-services. Project Meghraj, for instance, is a government initiative that fast-tracks the delivery of e-services in the country and optimises the information and communications technology (ICT) spending of the government.
The workshop brought together experts from the industry, academia, and government to discuss key domain issues such as cloud fundamentals, India’s cloud journey, cloud building blocks, the procurement of cloud services, and regulatory and policy framework for cloud. Participants talked about challenges associated with cloud implementation and the future of cloud in digital transformation while using engaging presentations on successful cloud use cases.
Session discussions also featured essential training on various components of cloud computing such as custom bidding for cloud services and the establishment of pay-per-use and billing frequency with cloud service providers. Participants explored negotiation instruments for dynamic services under cloud, best practices in cloud procurement, and computing requirements. They also covered guidelines on cloud computing from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and MeitY as well as ITU global standards on cloud computing.
At the event, a NeGD official stated that technology has been leapfrogging over the past two decades, including cloud-based systems, which now drive businesses and touch every aspect of life. Anything that is available via the Internet is being delivered out of a cloud-based application and IT Infrastructure. Within this decade, cloud computing could replace the traditional data centres and emerge as the prominent solution for data analytics and storage, an industry expert noted.
The event was attended by officers from central line ministries and the state governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Goa, Mizoram, and Uttarakhand. Capacity-building programmes with the theme of cloud computing will move forward with physical programmes, which will be conducted in the east, west, and south zones of India this year, the press release added.
The large-scale adoption of cloud has the potential to contribute US$ 380 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), creating 14 million direct and indirect jobs by 2026, according to a report by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM). It stated that a concerted all-around effort could result in the sustained growth of 25%-30% of cloud spending in the next five years to reach US$ 18.5 billion.
The government of Western Australia launched a new Interagency Data Science Graduate Programme, a first for the Western Australian public sector, to put graduates at the forefront of some of the State’s most innovative projects and critical initiatives.
Following the launch of the Digital Strategy 2021-2025 and the focus on using data-driven decisions to benefit the community, the government identified the need to create a defined data science career pathway in the public sector.
The Department of Communities, Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and the WA Police Force are combining to deliver a data science programme that will help to grow the sector’s digital capabilities. The programme offers graduates a unique opportunity to apply their data skills and knowledge to inform Government policy, services and programs to improve the lives of Western Australians.
The programme is structured over 12 months, with graduates completing three four-month rotations between the participating agencies. It will harness the diverse skills and backgrounds of graduates to help deliver convenient, smart and secure digital services to the WA community.
The programme will be seeking graduates with skills and qualifications in data programming languages, analysis of geospatial data, statistical modelling and data visualisation software. Successful applicants will commence the program in February 2023. While data science skills are already benefitting WA significantly, there is a need to encourage more to enter the industry, with 3,000 new local jobs expected in the next 10 years.
The 12-month Interagency Data Science Graduate Programme will offer insight into a wide range of exciting opportunities available across the public sector and provide graduates with the practical skills and professional experience to kickstart their careers. Applications are now open to join the 2023 Interagency Data Science Graduate Programme.
The WA Innovation and ICT Minister stated that under the region’s Digital Strategy 2021-2025, the government is investing in the growth of the public sector’s digital and data analytics capabilities. He said he was also looking forward to announcing the launch of this graduate programme as there is tremendous potential for graduates from a data science background to help to shape WA’s digital future.
About the Digital Strategy 2021-2025
WA Government agencies will collaborate to deliver the vision and objectives of the Digital Strategy 2021-2025. The Office of Digital Government and WA Government agencies will codesign annual strategy roadmaps, that will highlight the different projects and initiatives being worked on and delivered that financial year.
The Digital Strategy Roadmaps will include whole of government and agency-led initiatives that help to progress the strategic priorities and key objectives of the Digital Strategy. Most importantly, the strategy roadmaps will help WA Government agencies to identify opportunities to participate in whole of government initiatives, or ways that they can leverage digital capabilities from other agencies.
With a solid digital foundation, the WA Government can now reimagine the role of digital in how government serves people, businesses and communities. These foundations will enable the government to deliver convenient, smart, and secure services for all Western Australians.
Singapore is well-known for incorporating science and technology into its economic and social fabric. The nation is typically glad to accept the technological revolution that they are now synonymous with, from planned self-driving buses to Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).
However, the country must cope with the issue of an ageing population, a cohort that may not be as digitally savvy as its younger counterparts. With this, the Smart Nation initiatives in Singapore include those that have used technology to address healthcare concerns.
As part of their Year 3-course work, a group of students tagged as SITizens from the SIT-University of Glasgow Nursing programme recently collaborated on an applied research project to discover how older Singaporeans are coping with the digital urge.
The group conducted a study to identify the factors that promote and inhibit older individuals’ digital health literacy. According to them, there is an urgent need to equip senior citizens with greater cyber capabilities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, internet communication was crucial for disseminating updates on the fast-evolving situation, thus, it was time to take a fresh look at how to engage elderly Singaporeans in the digital sphere.
As part of the team’s three-year initiative, students participated in an initial study over the course of three months in the first half of 2022. Two groups of six students each designed and implemented a digital health education programme for seniors at local Senior Activity Centres (SACs).
By interacting with SAC clients who serve the elderly in the locations where they are located, students had the chance to gain a greater understanding of the requirements of this demographic. In addition, it provided a unique opportunity to participate in real-world applied research, as it is an integral element of the nursing curriculum.
Elders welcomed the student, but not the health apps they introduced. It turned out to be difficult to encourage the elderly to be enthusiastic about using the HealthHub app because the older generation believed they had no demand for creative approaches because they were nearing the end of their lives.
Others couldn’t utilise the programme because they couldn’t speak English well enough. The elders are taught how to use the HealthHub app to schedule, change, and cancel appointments by the researchers-students.
Certainly, a Health Promotion Board leaflet was utilised to explain each step at the elders’ pace since the example film was too quick for them, yet, some elderlies were unable to log in during the hands-on attempt because they could not recall their Singpass accounts.
Likewise, the language barrier was an additional obstacle. The materials were also in Chinese, and most of them spoke Mandarin. But the total experience ended up being enjoyable and meaningful due to gestures and kind interactions.
On the other hand, the teaching package will be fully developed through an iterative approach that incorporates the nurses’ experiences. Students benefited from first-hand exposure to the actual process of data collection, which is challenging to simulate in a classroom setting.
Furthermore, health literacy is the motivation and ability to seek and utilise health information. It empowers a person to make choices that will improve their quality of life; and expanded to encompass media and computer abilities.
Across the globe, including Singapore, the elder population has a low propensity for digital health literacy. With this, students from various universities set out to develop instructional materials that would encourage senior citizens to access health information via mobile phones and the internet -initiatives supported by the government.
In response to the need for indoor urban farming solutions, the National University of Singapore (NUS) officially opened the Research Centre on Sustainable Urban Farming (SUrF) to bring together the diverse expertise of principal investigators from across the University to develop new science and technology-based solutions for urban farming in the country.
“NUS is committed to making significant contributions towards Singapore’s food policy agenda, together with partners in the public sector and the industry. We aim to create a globally competitive research programme in sustainable urban farming that incorporates smart agriculture solutions for diverse stakeholders,” says Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS President.
A core team from the domains of science, engineering, and computing makes up SUrF, a research organisation that focuses on sustainable urban farming. This exclusive group of researchers has experience in a variety of topics, including plant science, genomics and gene editing, microbiomes, food science, materials and polymer science, sensor technologies, data science, and artificial intelligence (AI) for indoor farming.
The team will start multidisciplinary programmes to build a cross-boundary, sustainable platform for improving plant performance both before and after harvest, including harvest yield, nutritional profile, and safety assurance.
A new facility for the Centre, with around 200 square metres of indoor plant growth area for research, is planned to be completed by early 2023.
There will be three growth rooms and an additional precision growth room where environmental parameters such as temperature and light spectrum can be changed to promote better plant growth with potentially improved phytonutrients.
PlantEye, a non-destructive phenotyping device for monitoring plant development and recording plant health, as well as many analytical tools for studying nutrient content, will be part of the research equipment.
The Centre will also have access to NUS’s cutting-edge laboratories for molecular genetics research, including gene editing.
Furthermore, SUrF’s research focuses on three stages of food production: before, during, and after production. The goal of the Centre is to come up with solutions for growers and work with local businesses to meet their needs.
Post-harvest interventions can also help improve the nutritional value and microbial safety of food. According to preliminary findings, LED lighting not only removes organisms that cause spoiling but also increases the nutritional quality of green crops.
The team’s next steps will be to develop LED illumination technology specifically for green vegetables typically consumed in Singapore, as well as to test their technique in simulated retail circumstances.
In addition, there are 16 principal investigators in SUrF from the NUS Departments of Biological Science, Food Science and Technology, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science. They oversee about 10 research projects.
One of these projects is trying to make it easier to grow leafy greens in cities. Most crops grown on indoor farms aren’t good for controlled environments because they were grown in the field. This makes growing plants indoors ineffective and unsustainable, with a low yield.
Researchers are looking into new ways to breed plants, such as genomic selection and gene editing, to make leafy vegetable varieties with traits that work well in controlled environments. This is done to improve the quality and productivity of agriculture.
On the other hand, the team made bio-inoculants of bacteria that help plants grow. These can be used in different farming situations, such as when plants are grown in soil, peat, or coconut fibres, or when hydroponic systems are used.
This could help crops grow better and be more resilient in a way that isn’t harmful to the environment. It could also reduce the need for chemical fertilisers.