Adrian Orr, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, announced that Aotearoa’s Central Bank (iTe Pūtea Matua) is commencing proof-of-concept design work for a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), taking into account the public’s feedback received during a recent consultation.
A CBDC would provide a platform for economic and financial innovation, including competition in the payments and settlement sector, cross-border transfers and financial inclusion and capability building tools.
“We must decide how best to use digital technology to modernise central bank money, while we continue to ensure cash remains an option for those who need it. An innovative approach is needed to support a more efficient and resilient cash system, and the changes required are potentially far-reaching,” Orr pointed out.
Orr was confident that the country had the tech capacity to deploy a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). He acknowledged that such a currency, at the very least, should be easy to use, ensure privacy is maintained and be free of major risks – cyber or operationally. He felt that these were benchmarks that would inspire trust and drive wide usage.
The critical initiative empowered by public involvement is something New Zealanders hope could speed up the digital adoption of digital currencies and other forms of digital cash instruments – cryptocurrencies and NFTs including.
Digital currencies and cryptocurrencies may be operating on the same digital platform, but these cash alternatives are distinct from one another. In one sense, they can be worlds apart. While digital currencies are electronic forms of fiat money officially sanctioned by a central bank (and can therefore be used in an everyday setting without issue), cryptocurrencies are a store of value that is protected by encryptions and are not government-sanctioned. In short, cryptocurrencies can come with a lot of risks.
Orr acknowledged the public’s desire for discreetness and the importance of privacy in their money as seen in the consultation. “We believe that a CBDC can be designed in such a way that privacy can exist alongside design features that make it hard for central bank money to be used for nefarious or illegal purposes. The emphasis we place on privacy reflects the fact that the CBDC design will be driven by a broad community, rather than specific commercial, interests.” the Reserve Bank Governor detailed.
The work itself will be a multi-stage and multi-year effort. Currently, no decision has yet been made on what form of CBDC was right for New Zealand.
What makes this move towards a digital economy comprehensive is the public consultation. This comes in the form of an issues paper, Future of Money – Cash System Redesign (Te Moni Anamata – He Whakahou i te Pūnaha Moni) and shall close on 7 March 2022.
Already about 190 submissions have been received so far. The paper sets out issues facing the cash system, largely driven by falling transactional cash use and raises options including requiring banks to offer cash services and retailers to accept cash.
From the looks of it, New Zealand is relying more and more on technology to boost its local economy. Recently, the government has launched NZ Tech Story, allocating as much as $1 million to a marketing campaign that would showcase its technological prowess to the whole world, as reported on OpenGov Asia.
The move is bound to attract both fresh talent and inject timely global investments to the over 5-million-strong Pacific nation. In effect, by putting the limelight on its tech capabilities to the world, New Zealand hopes to boost its up-and-coming digital economy in the long run.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) recently kicked off the “vHK Grand Tour” AR Design Competition (the Competition), officially launching a series of activities which aim to encourage Hong Kong secondary academia to combine augmented reality (AR) technology with famous landmarks in Hong Kong, thus creating their ideal Green and Smart City landscape and enhancing their sense of belonging to the city.
Students and the general public were also introduced, via a seminar, to the Government’s “Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong 2.0” (Blueprint 2.0), the latest development in immersive technologies and their applications in STEM education, thereby enabling the new generation to master new digital technologies and promote Hong Kong as a green and smart city.
Funded by the General Support Programme of the Innovation and Technology Fund under the Innovation and Technology Commission, the Competition is also supported by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, Education Bureau, and several innovation and technology (I&T) enterprises and education organisations and the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers.
The Chairman of HKPC stated that as the super-connector among the government, the I&T sector and the education sector, HKPC has been committed to promoting I&T education and talent training, and advocates equipping young people with ‘FutureSkills’ to expand the local I&T talent pool.
Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR, HKPC hopes the competition will enable students to experience the application of AR technology and increase their interest in immersive technologies; and concurrently alight young peoples’ vision of Hong Kong becoming a smart city and enhance their awareness of green living and sustainable development, thereby strengthening their sense of belonging to Hong Kong.
In the future, HKPC will continue to leverage its advantages in the field of I&T, and combine its rich experience in talent training to lay a solid foundation for nurturing talents for the I&T development of Hong Kong.
In her opening address, the Commissioner for Innovation and Technology noted that with the development of technology, the application of innovation and technology is emphasised, especially on the benefits brought about by I&T in our daily life, and through which we have a fresh understanding and feeling towards Hong Kong’s history, culture, art and other aspects.
The Commissioner also pointed out that in promoting I&T, the Government has unprecedentedly invested more than $150 billion in the past 5 years. Currently, the I&T industry in Hong Kong is flourishing. She encouraged fellow students to explore the world of science and technology and acquire the skills they will need for careers in the I&T industry.
The Competition will be held in different stages across a period of about 9 months, covering first-round assessment, training workshops, final round assessment, an award ceremony and an exhibition. Participants will be required to design and produce the AR works based on the theme of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR and the vision and goals of Blueprint 2.0 to showcase a brand new image of a green and smart Hong Kong to the public.
In addition, as the COVID-19 epidemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the city, participants are required to integrate anti-epidemic elements into their works to demonstrate the impacts and benefits of innovative technologies on public hygiene and daily life.
Ultimately, the AR works of the top 25 finalist teams will be available for public viewing online and offline, while people from all over the world will be able to participate in the “vHK Grand Tour” without being restricted by time, space and region.
To conduct a proof-of-concept on the use of space-based Very High Frequency (VHF) voice for communication between pilots and air traffic controllers for air traffic management, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Economic Development Board’s Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with partner companies.
The novel technology’s viability and advantages over ground-based VHF voice communications will be shown in the proof of concept, and the data will be gathered for international review, standards creation, and acceptance.
As global and regional air traffic continues to grow, CAAS is committed to leveraging new technologies to enhance air traffic management to improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, and to being a pathfinder and convenor of the public-private partnership needed to drive development and global adoption of such technologies.
– Han Kok Juan, Director-General, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
The Director-General added that the space-based VHF communications technology has the potential to revolutionise aviation, improving safety, effectiveness, and sustainability while expanding capacity to handle the growing demand for air travel. If this proof of concept is effective, it will be a big step toward acceptance and adoption around the world.
Pilots and air traffic controllers currently communicate with one another via VHF voice communications. For instance, pilots can ask for clearance to ascend or descend, and air traffic controllers can adjust a flight path in reaction to weather or turbulence.
The communication must be trustworthy, direct, and immediate to ensure safe and effective air traffic management, particularly in congested airspaces and during abnormal and emergency situations.
Moreover, due to the ground-based nature of present VHF stations, there is little to no coverage for VHF voice communications in maritime, hilly, or remote places that are outside the range of ground-based stations, which poses operational challenges. Air traffic control will be safer and more effective because of the expanded coverage provided by space-based VHF voice communications.
Before they may be used for safe operations, space-based VHF voice communications must first undergo technical feasibility studies, evaluation, and standardisation by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The CAAS-OSTIn and partner companies’ proof of concept is the first technical research where a specially manufactured satellite will be launched into orbit to contain VHF communications gear for such a trial, even though there have been earlier technical studies in this area.
The trial’s goal is to show that space-based communications are compatible with aircraft technology and already-existing ground radio stations, with equivalent speech quality, latency, and other standards to ground-based voice communications.
The trial will specifically show that space-based voice communications are feasible for the equatorial region, where the scintillation effect that degrades the quality of VHF audio communications is known to be particularly severe. Beginning in 2023, the proof of concept will take a year to complete. After that, CAAS will present the findings and data to the ICAO and ITU for review and discussion.
Between CAAS-OSTIn and partner companies, the program delivers strong complementary skills. The testbed for the trial will be provided by CAAS, a prominent provider of air navigation services that is at the forefront of technological development and adoption.
The development and application of space capabilities to aviation as well as the creation of a space eco-system will be examined by OSTIn, Singapore’s national space office, to support the endeavour. Moreover, joint ventures will put the satellite into orbit and supply the hardware and communications infrastructure.
The Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and a global tech giant recently jointly announced a request for proposals (RFP) for the company’s AR/VR Policy Research in the Asia Pacific region. This research initiative invites the region’s academic community to develop solutions-focused research to support the responsible development of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies.
This includes identifying positive approaches to address policy issues and challenges, as well as opportunities in the metaverse and augmented and virtual reality, ultimately giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
With the metaverse becoming the next chapter of the internet, Meta’s vision is to have a billion people accessing the metaverse as part of their daily lives within ten years. That relies on people being in control of their experiences and feeling safe and secure. This RFP reaffirms the tech giant’s commitment to ensuring the responsible development and use of AR/VR technologies and building strong collaborations with policymakers, experts and industry partners to bring the metaverse to life.
The Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance stated that the RFP forms part of the Tech for Good Initiative that aims to bring scholars and practitioners together to catch up with the latest development of technologies and explore how the interplay between emerging technologies and public policy works. The Centre is committed to the attainment of a sustainable society and advanced technologies will help address some of the most critical sustainability challenges we are facing today.
The Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and the company are inviting faculty to respond to this call for research proposals on the following topics:
- Economic opportunity: people can be given more choice, how competition can be encouraged, how a thriving digital economy can be maintained
- Privacy: how the amount of data used can be minimised, how to build technology to enable privacy-protective data uses, and give people transparency and control over their data
- Safety and integrity: how people can be kept safe online and be given tools to take action or get help if they see something they’re not comfortable with
- Equity and inclusion: ensuring these technologies are designed inclusively and in a way that’s accessible
- New Use Cases: what are new applications of immersive technology that create substantial value for people and communities
The research initiative targets to award a total of 6 awards, each in the US$100,000 range funded by the firm’s XR Programs and Research Fund, a two-year US$50 million investment in programmes and independent external research to help in the effort of building the metaverse responsibly. The submission deadline is 25 July 2022, and the results will be announced on 5 September 2022.
The global augmented reality and virtual reality market, in the current year (2022), is expected to have a market size of US$37.0 billion and grow up to US$114.5 billion by 2027 within a 5-year forecast period at a market growth rate of 25.3%.
The driving factors behind this growth include increased healthcare applications of augmented reality, increased applications of augmented reality and virtual reality in retail and e-commerce, strong government funding for the facilitation of growth of the AR and VR market, partnerships between augmented reality device manufacturers and various service industries, the rise in the usage and demand for virtual reality in e-learning, medical training, increased demand of virtual reality in manufacturing divisions.
The Government of Queensland has launched the third of its state-wide regional science and innovation hubs in Cairns, boosting research opportunities in Far North Queensland. Under the Partner Up Queensland Regional Science and Innovation Network, the hubs aim to provide people living in regional Queensland with more opportunities to engage with science and innovation in a meaningful way.
The Member for Cairns stated that the hub in Cairns will enable Far North individuals and community groups to participate in a range of STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and innovation-related activities and events. He noted that the events will be developed by the hub and by local science and innovation champions within the community and will include mentoring, networking and collaboration opportunities; the engagement of youth in the design, implementation, product pitching and entrepreneurship; and engagement with researchers, technologies experts, business and First Nations mentors.
The network will provide opportunities for skills development and establish local networks that will drive growth and development in the science sector and innovation economy throughout regional Queensland. This will result in enhancing how businesses, research organisations and industries can meet the changing scientific and innovation needs of the community.
The region’s Science Minister stated that Cairns joined Gladstone and Toowoomba as locations, with each regional hub being provided with funding of up to $70,000 over 12 months to employ a regional coordinator to support events, activities and projects that encourage Queenslanders’ participation and awareness of science and innovation within their region.
She noted that science and innovation are helping to drive the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan – whether that’s through renewable energy, advanced manufacturing or our education and research sector. Recent research commissioned by the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist showed that 83% of Queenslanders believe science is critical for the Queensland economy, she said.
Survey results from the 3M State of Science Index show that 9 in 10 Australians back more investment in science. The findings indicated that during the pandemic, almost two in three Australians thought that scientists and medical professionals are inspiring a new generation to pursue a science-based career.
This is the reason the hubs are being delivered, together with major investments like the additional $35.5 million to ramp up the development and manufacture of locally-based vaccines that build on last’s announcement of $20 million as part of our flagship Queensland Jobs fund.
The Partner Up Queensland Regional Science and Innovation Network is a joint initiative of the Department of Environment and Science and the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport. The region’s Innovation Minister said the hubs would help to supercharge regional Queensland science and innovation.
For local entrepreneurs and business leaders, the hubs aim to deliver support and partnerships to identify and develop real-world opportunities. Be it robots, hydrogen or medical technology, the government understands that science and innovation will be critical to building regional Queensland’s industries and jobs of the future.
The Far North Queensland Hub will be led by James Cook University and will be supported by Cairns Regional Council, Gulf Savannah NRM, Y(E)P Entrepreneurship Facilitators Cairns, Regional Development Australia and Cairns Chamber of Commerce.
James Cook University Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor welcomed the initiative and said that the hub will strengthen linkages between the region’s very active science and innovation community, the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur.
Having the Hub here in Cairns will boost connectivity between important state government programs and those working on research and innovation in our region, and will support projects that encourage community awareness of science and innovation.
The establishment of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Multi-Modal Distribution and Connectivity Centre or DC Centre aims to improve both countries’ transportation and logistics ecosystems, as well as strengthen supply chain resilience and accelerate trade digitalisation.
The partnership, according to Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications, and Information, is an important step in the continued development of Singapore’s and Chongqing’s roles as mutual hubs of Southeast Asia and Western China, respectively.
As a key project of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI) and logistics priority area, the DC Centre will be a physical location for multimodal operations in Chongqing and help build the CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.
With this new facility in place, there will be greater opportunities for collaboration between Singapore, Chongqing, and other international partners in some areas.
– Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications and Information
Minister Teo emphasised first the improving logistics and transportation systems on both sides. To better integrate Chongqing’s key road, rail, and river logistics nodes and give logistics participants a smooth experience, the DC Centre will complement current and planned facilities including the Guoyuan Port and Yuzui Terminal South Yard.
In 2017, Minister Teo recalls the inauguration of the two joint venture companies of Singapore and China -the Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Solutions Company Limited or S1 and Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) DC Multimodal Logistics Company Limited or S2. Now, a training and placement programme will be formed between S1 and the Chongqing Finance and Economics College, with specialised training taking place within the DC Centre itself, to expand the talent pool of Chongqing’s logistics business.
Second, the Minister highlighted the improved supply chain resilience. In an era of global supply chain disruption, the CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor can determine its value by linking land and sea routes to provide the flow of essential goods, specifically perishable and time-sensitive supplies. To that end, she encourages all interested parties to join the Corridor by utilising key nodes such as the DC Centre and improving connectivity and trade flows between regions.
Minister Teo also stressed the hastening of trade digitalisation. In response to the growing importance of the digital economy, Singapore and Chongqing are encouraging the exchange of digital data and documents to improve supply chain visibility and facilitate seamless cross-border cargo movement. She welcomes more companies to join them in these endeavours, including those from adjacent sectors such as trade financing.
OpenGov Asia earlier reported that 17 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed among Singapore and Chongqing businesses in 2020 on the side-lines of the Smart China Expo (SCE) Online, as enterprises continue to explore opportunities despite pandemic restrictions. The MoUs included collaborations in the built environment and manufacturing, as well as logistics and tourism for markets in Chongqing, Western China, and Singapore.
On the other hand, at the annual Smart China Expo in Chongqing in 2019, Singapore and Chinese companies signed 13 agreements for collaborative efforts to use digital technologies in education, manufacturing, and telecommunications.
In the same year, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Enterprise Singapore, and the Chongqing Application Development Administration Bureau launched the Joint Innovation Development Fund (JIDF), an RMB$ 40 million initiative to promote the joint development of innovative products and solutions, which may include research and development and pilots to promote innovative technologies such as robotics, IoT, augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. The fund’s goal is to catalyse projects that have the potential to generate significant economic benefits for the companies and countries involved.
The Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) is committed to building robust partnerships within the 5G ecosystem with a range of stakeholders including local industry and start-ups. C-DOT has continued to emphasise the evolution of a coordinated collaborative framework that supports multiple providers and promotes healthy competition amongst key 5G players in an output-driven and target-oriented environment.
Broadband, especially mobile broadband, has become an integral part of life. Its adoption was accelerated through the rapid expansion of 4G services across the country since 2015. Currently, 800 million subscribers have broadband access, compared to 100 million subscribers in 2014. According to a press release, through policy initiatives, the government has been able to give citizens access to mobile banking, online education, and telemedicine, among others.
Dr Rajkumar Upadhyay, Executive Director, C-DOT highlighted the vision of PM GatiShakti as it harnesses the country’s technological potential. This is done by creating an environment for the creation of path-breaking initiatives by local R&D, industry and start-ups. He underscored the importance of achieving synergy among various participants of the technology ecosystem to spur novel innovation and competitive spirit leading to the development of holistic indigenous solutions expeditiously.
He expressed confidence in emerging partnerships between R&D and industry in enabling the proliferation of indigenous 5G across the country and emphasised that effective collaborations would bring Indian products and solutions to the international market.
C-DOT is the premier Research and Development (R&D) centre of the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, Government of India. C-DOT has overseen the design and development of a host of telecom software applications such as optical, switching and routing, wireless and security. Further to developing an indigenous 4G solution, C-DOT now focuses its attention on 5G.
This month, C-DOT signed an agreement for collaboration in the area of Open RAN-based Radio Network for 5G solution. The collaboration will leverage the complementary strengths of Telecom R&D and private industry to speed the indigenous design, development and deployment of end-to-end 5G solutions that would be mutually beneficial to all stakeholders. Further, the partnership will go a long way to strengthen indigenous Intellectual Property as well as facilitate wider adoption and monetisation of national 5G products and solutions.
Earlier, Union Railways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that at the current pace, he was confident that the deployment of 5G will begin in at least 20-25 cities and towns by the end of 2022. He revealed that India currently has the lowest price for data across the globe and that the price “is at least 10 times cheaper than what other countries are offering”.
In related developments, OpenGov Asia reported on the upcoming 5G spectrum auctions in July 2022. Digital connectivity has been an important part of the government’s policy initiatives through programmes like Digital India, Startup India and Make in India.
A total of 72097.85 MHz of spectrum with a validity period of 20 years will be put to auction by the end of July this year. The auction will be held for spectrum in various low (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz), mid (3300 MHz), and high (26 GHz) frequency bands.
The government announced that, in a first, there will be no mandatory requirement to make upfront payments by bidders. Payments for the spectrum can be made in 20 equal annual instalments to be paid in advance at the beginning of each year. This is expected to significantly ease cash flow requirements and lower the cost of doing business in this sector.
To meet the backhaul demand, the government has decided to provisionally allot two carriers of 250 MHz each in E-band to telecom service providers. The government also decided to double the number of traditional Microwave backhaul carriers in the existing frequency bands of 13, 15, 18, and 21 GHz bands.
Vietnam is keen to promote local innovation and the creation of digital solutions and platforms. The aim is to have products that address national issues and that can be used easily in the local context. Since 2020, Make in Vietnam has turned towards a focus on digital orientation.
Minister Nguyen Manh Hung of the Ministry of Information and Communication was quoted as saying, ‘The Make in Vietnam represents technology products created in Vietnam, designed in Vietnam, made in Vietnam!’ In laying out the government’s ambitions, he called it a ‘…slogan of action and promotes the spirit of design, innovation and production in Vietnam. Instead of just assembling, production is encouraged to help solve the problems of Vietnam itself and aid export to other international markets.’
A landmark decision was taken to enable open-source technology combined with an open approach to data to enable the realisation of the country’s vision. It is expected that the information, electronics and telecommunications industry will master or develop technologies to produce cover more than 45% of relevant content by 2025. The country is expected to have 100,000 digital technology enterprises by then, with at least 10 internationally competitive unicorns playing a major role.
Moreover, the government is keen to encourage and acknowledge people and organisations that show exemplary progress in this area. One of the key ways the government motivates and recognises these contributions has been the ‘Make in Vietnam’ Digital Technology Product Awards.
The Ministry of Information and Communications launched the ‘Make in Vietnam’ Digital Technology Product Awards 2022. Held since 2020 and in its third year, these awards recognise contextualised solutions to solving problems the country is facing. Clarifying that eligible enterprises as those which are at least 51% owned by Vietnamese investors, the Deputy Minister said, ‘There are products that have contributed to changing lives in many remote villages, difficulties that we previously thought would take a long time to solve.’
To facilitate international collaborations and domestic innovation, the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Vietnam recently launched a portal to provide information and support services to local businesses, especially SMEs.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the portal is built on an open platform and the government is inviting stakeholders to participate in creating a smooth, multi-dimensional information system. The portal will be a source of research and reports on various topics from leading agencies, research units, and consulting organisations, helping local businesses quickly and easily access relevant information about the industry and market.
In early 2021, Minister Hung said that people live in both a fast-changing and unpredictable world where they move from the real world to the digital world. As they transition to an increasingly online realm there are both great challenges and great opportunities.
The ICT sector has never had as important a role as it has now. It offers a rare opportunity for the industry to reposition, reinvent and reimagine itself, realise challenges and identify new living spaces that are decisive for development.
Digital technology, digital transformation and the media play a particularly important role in this transformation. This, therefore, requires the ICT sector to grasp opportunities and effectively address challenges to meet the ambitions set out in the “Make-in-Vietnam” strategy.
“Make in Vietnam” is an expression to emphasise the initiative in the creation and design of high-tech products by the Vietnamese.
Pham Duc Long, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications said that the Ministry of Information and Communication will facilitate winners of the ‘Make in Vietnam’ Digital Technology Product Awards to access a wider market thus promoting the flagship ‘Make in Vietnam’ agenda to benefit Vietnamese citizens at large.