Professor Subra Suresh, the new President of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU), unveiled his vision today to transform NTU into a Smart Campus that harnesses the power of digital technology and tech-enabled solutions to support better learning and living experiences, the discovery of new knowledge, and the sustainability of resources.
NTU is a top-ranked university for Artificial Intelligence (AI) research in global rankings jointly compiled by Nikkei and Elsevier, based on measurement of research citations between 2012 and 2016. The University is also globally recognised for its strengths in engineering, computing and innovation.
Technologies such as big data, the Internet of Things, robotics, artificial intelligence, real-time and deep data generation and analytics, 3D printing, machine learning, personalised health care and medicine, and cyber security, are driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Technological innovations will have to be integrated with research in areas such as social sciences, ethics, policy, and digital arts and humanities.
President Suresh noted that NTU’s strengths in these areas have attracted interest from start-ups, global companies, other universities, and government agencies to establish partnerships and programmes that foster innovation and greater societal impact. NTU has the critical mass of talent and infrastructure to launch and testbed these rapidly advancing technologies to benefit educational and research activities.
“NTU’s large, beautiful and green campus makes it the ideal place to research, testbed and showcase new smart technologies, from applications for sustainable buildings and efficient energy utilisation to electric and autonomous vehicles to enriching and improving the way we learn, work and live,” said President Suresh.
“We are working hard to ensure that NTU will be Singapore’s largest Smart Campus, and that it will take the lead in Singapore’s drive to become a Smart Nation. NTU will also strive to serve as a model for other communities in Singapore and around the globe by demonstrating how advanced tech-enabled solutions can help improve everyday life in a sustainable manner. It is not just about technology. It is equally important for us to focus on the impact of technology on humans, the natural and built environment, and local and global society,” he added.
As a part of its Smart Campus vision, NTU will prepare all its undergraduate students for the future with new core educational modules to enhance their digital literacy, beginning with the new academic year in 2018. In addition, this year NTU is introducing an innovative undergraduate degree programme in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.
First step – Smart Pass
The first phase of the broad and multi-pronged Smart Campus initiative was launched with the new NTU Smart Pass for the campus community. This is the first in a series of activities to be introduced in measured steps in the coming months and years.
Starting from this month, the new pass with an embedded contactless identity chip can be used with a single tap for a range of daily activities on campus. More services will be added later this year.
The new card serves as an identity card for students and employees. In the near future, the pass will also be used to register at the campus medical centre for health checks and consultations.
The NTU Smart Pass is also a personalised key for access to hall rooms, offices, laboratories and facilities. Having a contactless access system is expected to improve the security and safety on campus.
Using the NTU Smart Pass, students and employees can borrow books and audio-visual materials from the libraries, pay for services such as photocopying and for access to network printers. Students can also use it to book campus facilities such as sports venues and study rooms.
NTU has also tied up with leading payment solutions provider NETS, to enable the NTU Smart Pass with the FlashPay function. This is in line with Singapore’s drive towards a cash-free society, one of the key strategic smart nation projects.
The majority of retail and food and beverage outlets on campus are already equipped with the NETS contactless payment system. The new NTU Smart Pass can therefore be used to pay for a meal at a café or restaurant, for grocery shopping at the supermarket or minimart, and for a range of services including payment of fees, other retail purchases and parking on campus and across Singapore.
It is also ready for use at 80 per cent of the NTU canteens, with the rest coming on board in the next few months. There are plans for students to use the pass to purchase other customised services in the residential hall rooms too.
The NTU Smart Pass can also be used to pay for public transportation, including buses, MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) trains, car parks and retail stores enabled with FlashPay all across Singapore.
NTU is also looking into rolling out mobile payment solutions to complement the NTU Smart Pass, such as NETS QR, NETS Pay and SG QR (the common Singapore Quick Response code planned to be deployed and adopted through 2018), as well as other cash-free payment platforms.
There are also plans to install vending machines fitted with similar cash-free payment systems at the residential halls.
A living lab for future transportation
The NTU campus is already a testbed for various sustainable and energy-efficient technologies with trials underway to implement cutting-edge technologies for transportation on campus. (For instance, Singapore’s first Smart Mobility consortium was launched in January 2017 to test new tech on NTU campus, bringing together 12 industry partners. )
There are plans to deploy 22-seater fully electric shuttles, in addition to the driverless electric shuttles that are already being tested on campus. Several 40-seater autonomous buses that support ultra-fast charging are also being developed, together with bus stops that will have the complementary infrastructure.
The journey from halls of residences to classrooms will also be complemented by last-mile options, such as e-scooters and e-bicycles, following public trials on campus. The University will be setting up charging stations for electric vehicles and e-mobility devices including systems for wireless charging.
Robotics to counter manpower shortage
To overcome the manpower crunch in many labour-intensive fields, the University plans to increase adoption of robotics on campus. Use cases include include robot cleaners and roaming tray-return robots in the canteens.
Among other smart technologies developed by NTU include a shelving robot that can read barcodes and carry parcels up to 5 kilogrammes, which would be useful for warehousing and logistics.
NTU is also co-developing robots with industry that can paint indoor walls up to heights of 10 metres or inspect buildings for structural defects.
Creating an eco-friendly campuses
Under its EcoCampus initiative, NTU targets a 35 per cent reduction in energy, water and waste intensity by 2020, making it one of the world’s most eco-friendly university campuses in the world. Over 95 per cent of NTU buildings spread over a 200-hectare (500-acre) campus are now Green Mark Platinum certified (equivalent to LEED-Platinum certification in the USA), and the University is on track to achieving the target of 100 per cent by 2020.
NTU will accelerate research efforts in smart infrastructure to improve energy efficiency. Partnering global tech giant Siemens, NTU will develop various infrastructure solutions using advanced data analytics that can optimise the performance of green buildings and self-driving vehicles.
There are also plans to connect all data streams from the campus into a single central analytics platform known as the integrated Building Management System (iBMS), leading to more energy savings with improvements in productivity and operations.
In addition, an NTU virtual campus model is being developed that can perform computational simulations to identify real-time cost-saving opportunities and to evaluate benefits of a technology before actual implementation.
The following has been adapted from a speech by GovTech chief executive Kok Ping Soon to an audience of CIOs at a STACK-X event on 25 March 2021
Lessons from COVID
The past year has been marked by discontinuities and disruption in all aspects of our lives – work, home, school and social. In many ways, it has been a period of profound learning, adjustment and adaptation. Though the pandemic has been disruptive, it has also underscored the potential and value of digital technology in nearly every segment of society. More than anything else, digital technology has played a critical role in our fight against COVID-19.
For example, Singapore health authorities reduced the time taken by more than 50% to identify and quarantine a close contact, from 4 days to less than 1.5 days. This was achieved through the development and use of TraceTogether and SafeEntry, applications that GovTech developed to support manual contact tracing. The Gov.sg WhatsApp channel delivers regular updates to 1.2 million subscribers in their preferred language to keep them informed of the situation. And of course, technology has allowed us to keep in touch with loved ones and to conduct business, via virtual meetings.
However, it has not been an easy year for CIOs. On one hand, with demand shrinking, CIOs faced pressures to cut costs and stop new projects. At the same time, they need to rapidly scale up technology enablers to support remote working and new digital business models in order to survive. At the height of COVID-19 last year, many of us would have received an image on WhatsApp asking people who led the digital transformation of their company. COVID-19 may have forced CIOs to be reactive initially, but a year on I hope many will have shifted from a survival defensive mode to an opportunity-seeking offensive mode.
Locking in Gains
Such a shift is necessary because COVID-19 has helped reduce years’ worth of effort needed to drive digital transformation. A McKinsey study last year said that we have leapt five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in just a matter of eight weeks. CIOs should lock in these gains and resist the temptation to revert to old ways of doing things. Doing so requires three pivots that CIOs must spearhead in their organisations.
Firstly, be Digital First by shifting more physical business processes to digital delivery. Having experienced the convenience and understood the possibilities offered by digital technology, consumers and businesses will demand increasingly high-quality digital options.
Do more to make digital services easy to use and seamless. Avoid the temptation of applying a ‘digital lipstick’ on a legacy process. For example, many restaurants have stopped giving out menus for dine-in service to minimise contact. You are asked to scan a QR code for the menu which, as it turns out, is nothing more than a PDF copy of the old menu. You still need to get a server to take your order. This is digitisation and not digitalisation.
At GovTech, we are striving to digitalise all government services. Today, 95% of government transactions can be completed digitally from end-to-end – paperless, cashless and presence-less. Registering your newborn and getting the baby bonus is now fully digital. Getting a license to set up a business is also fully digital. Booking an appointment for your COVID-19 vaccination is done digitally. And when you are done, a digital copy of your vaccination certificate is in your HealthHub account.
Our Digital Platforms are open to support the private sector’s digitalisation efforts. SingPass, which is Singapore’s national digital identity platform, now provides seamless and secure access to over 1,400 digital services by 340 public and even private sector organisations such as Prudential (an insurance company) and OCBC (a bank). With SingPass’ MyInfo function, businesses can offer “one-click” registration and perform e-Know Your Customer (e-KYC). With its Login function, businesses can authenticate their users with high assurance, without the need to operate their own systems. And with Digital Signing, users can now electronically sign contracts and legal documents, allowing transactions to be completed in a presence-less environment.
Secondly, CIOs should lock in the use of cloud and microservice-based architecture in developing their applications. A cloud-first strategy has been instrumental in our ability to quickly roll out COVID-19 digital solutions. Postmaster, the backend platform for the Gov.sg WhatsApp channel, was built using Twilio’s SMS platform. Our COVID-19 chatbot uses Google’s Dialogue Flow. The TraceTogether App is built on Google’s Firebase mobile platform. And the series of GoWhere websites and SafeEntry were built on AWS to enable reusability and scalability.
We are not just developing new applications on the cloud but migrating 70% of Government ICT systems onto the Commercial Cloud. To support this migration, we have been developing the SG Tech Stack. Instead of having to develop a new application from scratch, agencies can now access a global ecosystem of ready-made applications to add advanced features to their digital services. Application testing and deployment can now be automated and done in real-time, increasing the cadence of delivery.
Cloud has become the foundation that enables organisations to transform, differentiate and gain a competitive advantage. The adoption of a cloud-first strategy will enhance organisations’ digital transformations; a reluctance to do so will mean an increased risk of being left behind.
Third, CIOs should lock in the centrality of Digital in their organisation’s business strategy. According to Gartner, organisations that seized the COVID-19 opportunity and increased funding for digital innovation are 2.7 times more likely to be a top performer, rather than a trailing one. CIOs and engineering teams are now uniquely positioned to influence not just how business is done, but what should be done. They should take advantage of this window of opportunity and digitalise their end-to-end business processes.
GovTech is reshaping the roles and responsibilities of CIOs in the Government. Our CIOs are now in the front seat when it comes to driving their agencies’ Transformation Plans. In the past, CIOs were primarily order-takers at the end of a value chain and were judged based on their ability to maintain cost-efficient and reliable infrastructure because IT was considered a cost centre. Now, CIOs are expected to demonstrate how IT can be leveraged to deliver transformational growth because it is accepted as a value-driver. This will require CIOs to develop new skills. It is not good enough for CIOs to simply keep abreast of the latest technologies. They need to hone their communication skills, develop relationships with other business leaders, and understand how IT can best serve their organisations’ needs and goals.
But while I encourage CIOs to take an offensive stance by being digital-first, cloud-first and locking in the centrality of Digital in their organisations, three defensive plays should not be forgotten. Not paying attention to these risks will set us back in the digitalisation agenda.
The first is cybersecurity. The SolarWinds cyber-attack, which affected 18,000 organisations, including US government agencies and Fortune 500 companies, is a reminder that cyber threats are real, trans-border and constantly evolving. To derive the benefits of digitalisation, we must be ever-vigilant against cyber risks. We need continuous and sustained efforts to strengthen our cybersecurity posture.
The second is data security and privacy. With greater digitalisation, the volume and value of data will grow in tandem. Data can yield valuable insights that improve business efficiencies. It can enhance products and services for consumers. But as more data is collected, the risk of data breaches also increases. If data is not used responsibly, trust can be eroded, even undermined. We must accord due protection to personal data and privacy by strengthening the accountability of organisations for the personal data we handle.
The third is third-party risks. The rapid pace of technology development and the skills gap mean many organisations will need to seek outside help. However, this can lead to reliability and security issues. Organisations need to have better governance and take a more intelligent risk-based approach. Develop standardised processes and proactive decision-making using analytics, instead of sliding into a “firefighting” mode and only tackling issues when they arise.
There has never been a better time for those of us in the ICT industry. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital tools, increased the appetite of organisations for digitalisation, and demonstrated new ways of working together. The impetus for digital transformation has never been stronger, and the tangible benefits that can be derived are clear for all to see. Let us seize this opportunity to lock in the digitalisation gains while watching out for the risks. There’s certainly a lot of work ahead for all of us, but the digitalisation momentum borne out of the pandemic will carry us through.
Vietnam’s National Power Transmission Corporation (EVNNPT) has operationalised its first digital transformer station in Thuy Nguyen district, the northern port city of Hai Phong, earlier this week. The 210kV station was built at a total cost of around VND348 billion (US$15 million) on an area of 40,100 square metres spanning the Dong Son and Kenh Giang communes.
According to EVNNPT Deputy General Director Luu Viet Tien, the station helped cut around 80% of the amount of copper cable, slash copper cable transport and installation costs, and reduce the risks of incidents caused by cable damage. The system will use artificial intelligence (AI) in monitoring and examining and make use of cameras and smart drones to repair lines.
He said the 220KV digital station will a ensure stable power supply for socio-economic development in Thuy Nguyen and regions in the vicinity, reduce power loss, and enhance connectivity, safety, stability, and flexibility in the operation of power systems.
EVNNPT will evaluate the efficiency of the station to select suitable technologies for transformer stations in the future. The Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) plans to have all equipment on transmission lines and 80% of 110 kV circuit facilities digitalised from now to 2022.
By 2025, EVNNPT will have digitalised 100% of facilities on medium and higher-voltage power lines, according to EVNNPT Chairman Duong Quang Thanh. To that end, the group will continue to integrate other digital technologies like the Internet of Things, big data, and cloud computing.
It will continue research on building information models and digital worker platforms to serve its staff while developing AI applications for image analysis and data governance. EVNNPT said it has completed 61 of the 63 centres for the remote control of transformer stations and converted 670 of the 844 transformer stations into unmanned ones.
Tien said that the digital transformer station is a new technology in both Vietnam and many other countries in the world. He added that before the station was constructed, EVNNPT held several conferences with large equipment suppliers such as Siemens, ABB, and GE.
Recently the Minister of Information and Communications (MIC), Nguyen Manh Hung, claimed that digital transformation and innovation will turn Vietnam into a developed country by 2045. He said that innovation always has to start with awareness and thinking and has to be seen from different perspectives. Old infrastructure, old ways of doing things, old knowledge, old products, old business models are no longer suitable. The country needs new infrastructure, new ways of doing things, new knowledge, new products, new business models.
That is why many people say that digital transformation is more of a policy revolution than a technology revolution. Adopting new business models, new technologies that fundamentally change industries. “If we are open to accepting the new, then the new technology of the world will come, talent from all over the world will come, a new industry will emerge and the cradle of Vietnam will create exportable digital technology products,” he noted.
The New Zealand Growth Capital Partners’ (NZGCP) Elevate New Zealand Venture Fund is committing NZ$14 million (US$10 million) into the Finistere Aotearoa Fund, which will target agri-food technology companies needing Series A and B investment. The fund will match Elevate’s commitment at least dollar-to-dollar with private capital. At first close at least US$28 million will be available to invest into agri-tech investments in New Zealand-connected entities.
According to a news report, the Finistere Aotearoa Fund will focus on commercialising New Zealand’s robust technology and intellectual property pipeline. The Fund is a subsidiary of Silicon Valley venture capital fund managers Finistere Ventures.
The Economic and Regional Development Minister, Stuart Nash, welcomed the new Elevate commitment. “The government’s Agritech Industry Transformation Plan was launched last year. In that, we highlighted that investment was a key constraint for the sector, so we welcome the creation of this specialist fund and look forward to its productive contribution to New Zealand’s transformation.”
The New Zealand government’s investment and commitment to a zero-emissions national agriculture strategy has turned the country into a centre for agricultural excellence, according to Arama Kukutai, co-founder and partner of Finistere Ventures. The New Zealand operation will be managed by long-time investment manager Dean Tilyard and based in Palmerston North. Finistere Ventures has a global agri-tech focus with offices in the United States, Ireland, and Israel.
New Zealand has become a world leader in agricultural research and innovation focused on curtailing the environmental impact of agriculture. “Having a strong local presence in Aotearoa has long been on our agenda. We are excited to partner with NZGCP to support the global commercialisation of New Zealand’s most promising agri-food technology advancements,” Kukutai stated.
NZGCP was established by the New Zealand government. As per its website, NZGCP aims to stimulate a well-functioning capital market for early-stage technology companies. Its investment vehicles are designed to stimulate private investment into this space through fund of funds and co-investment models.
Finistere Ventures is aiming for a final close of NZ$42 million (approximately US$30 million), which if achieved would see Elevate’s contribution rise to NZ$21 million (US$15 million). James Pinner, the investment director of Elevate, said, “Finistere and Dean Tilyard established Sprout, a Callaghan tech incubator based in Palmerston North with a strong agri-tech focus, and the fund has a number of existing New Zealand investments including BioLumic, Invert Robotics, and CropX – all three have also been supported by NZGCP via our Aspire fund.”
The Aspire Fund is one of two NZGCP investment vehicles created to promote private investment. The Aspire Fund does this through partnering with other private investors to make direct investments into early-stage (proof of concept and seed stage) companies. The Elevate Fund does this through using best practice fund of funds management to invest into venture capital firms looking to fund New Zealand companies at the Series A and B stages.
The group is also involved in a range of market development initiatives alongside investors, New Zealand Private Capital, and the Angel Association of New Zealand. It has a market development mandate and seeks to partner and collaborate with a wide range of government bodies and private investors. It intends to help develop the early-stage New Zealand investment market and ultimately help early-stage New Zealand companies grow.
Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency (CSA) has issued an alert following the discovery of vulnerabilities in more than 100 million internet-connected devices globally. The CSA’s Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SingCert) said that administrators of the affected stacks are advised to apply security patches immediately.
Security patches have already been rolled out to address threats called Name: Wreck. These bugs are a set of Domain Name System (DNS) vulnerabilities that have the potential to cause either Denial of Service (DoS) or Remote Code Execution, allowing attackers to take targeted devices offline or to gain control over them. The widespread use of popular sets of rules called stacks and often external exposure of vulnerable DNS clients lead to a dramatically increased attack surface. Organisations in the healthcare and government sectors are the most affected, said, security researchers. Other sectors implicated include entertainment, retail, manufacturing, financial services, and technology.
A cyber-security firm’s report said that Name: Wreck affect these stacks, which govern how devices can “talk” to each other over a network such as the Internet. However, the firm said that not all devices running the affected stacks are vulnerable, but it conservatively estimated that if 1% of the more than 10 billion deployments are, then at least 100 million devices are at risk.
Potentially affected equipment and devices include consumer electronic products such as wearable fitness products, smartphones, printers and smart clocks, ultrasound machines, defibrillators, patient monitors and critical medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging, storage systems, industrial manufacturing robots, and energy and power equipment in industrial control systems.
Also affected are unmanned combat aircraft, commercial aircraft, self-driving cars, space exploration rovers and critical systems for aviation, and high-performance servers and network appliances in millions of IT networks. It is not clear how many devices in Singapore are affected by these bugs.
The cybersecurity firm added that unless urgent action is taken to adequately protect networks and the devices connected to them, it could be just a matter of time until these vulnerabilities are exploited, potentially resulting in major government data hacks, manufacturer disruption or hotel guest safety and security. The firm said that one way a cybercriminal could exploit Name: Wreck is to compromise ultrasound machines that connect to a website to get firmware updates. They could also use the bug to redirect the ultrasound machines to their sites to download fake firmware which is malicious. The infected ultrasound machines could then be instructed by the malware to upload all medical records to the cybercriminal.
Although security patches have been rolled out, the cyber-security firm said patching can be difficult in some cases. For instance, if affected devices are not managed centrally, it means each one must be manually patched. Some devices also cannot be taken offline for this because of their mission-critical nature, such as medical devices and industrial control systems.
If patching is not available, SingCert advised administrators to enforce segmentation controls and proper network hygiene measures such as restricting external communication paths and isolating vulnerable devices. They should monitor patches released, monitor all network traffic for malicious data, and configure devices to rely on internal DNS servers.
Accordingly, the CSA’s core mission is to keep Singapore’s cyberspace safe and secure, to underpin National Security, power a Digital Economy, and protect the country’s Digital Way of Life. To underpin National Security, CSA continuously monitors cyberspace for cyber threats and protects and defends Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) to ensure the continuous delivery of essential services to Singapore residents. The agency analyses the risks that the threats pose and take appropriate mitigation measures to prevent them from affecting users.
Nonetheless, despite its best efforts, cyber-attacks may still succeed. To deal with them, the CSA have incident response teams who stand ready to investigate, contain and remediate serious cyber-attacks on our CIIs. CSA also regularly conducts cybersecurity exercises to ensure that the critical sectors are ready to respond promptly and effectively in the event of an attack.
The use of a simple organic molecule during the fabrication of a two-dimensional (2D) perovskite results in one of the highest recorded efficiencies for perovskite-based devices. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) employing this 2D perovskite material achieved an external quantum efficiency as high as 20.5%, which rivals the best organic LEDs, according to research co-led by City University of Hong Kong (CityU).
Led by Professor Andrey Rogach, Chair Professor at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, CityU, and his collaborator Professor Yang Xuyong from Shanghai University, the research team has worked on 2D perovskite materials and succeeded to realise such efficient and bright green LEDs.
Their technology yielded the best-reported performance on both current efficiency and external quantum efficiency. This work has now put the perovskite LEDs close on the heels of current commercial display technologies, such as organic LEDs.
The findings were published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, titled “Smoothing the energy transfer pathway in quasi-2D perovskite films using methane sulfonate leads to highly efficient light-emitting devices”.
The key to the powerful change lies in the addition of around 10% of a simple organic molecule, called methane sulfonate. This molecule reconstructs the structure of the 2D perovskite nanosheets, while simultaneously enhancing exciton energy transfer between sheets of different thicknesses. It is also useful in reducing defects in the 2D perovskite structure, contributing to higher efficiency.
The consequences for producing better LEDs are encouraging. The brightness of 13,400 candela/m2 at a low applied voltage of 5.5 V and external quantum efficiency of 20.5% is recorded. This is close to the maximum that can be achieved by many existing LED technologies and has almost doubled the external quantum efficiency level of 10.5% reported in the previous collaborative study of the same groups two years ago.
“The CityU team has built up its expertise on perovskite materials to a very high level in a relatively short period of time, thanks to funding support from Senior Research Fellowship by the Croucher Foundation,” said Professor Rogach.
“The high brightness, excellent colour purity, and commercial-grade operating efficiency achieved marks 2D perovskites as an extremely attractive material for future commercial LEDs, and potentially also display technology. It’s a tangible outcome from both fundamental and applied research into novel nano-scale materials” he adds.
Other collaborators include researchers from CityU, Shanghai University, Jilin University, University of Science and Technology of China, Nankai University, Wuhan University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Innovation in LED tech
According to an earlier OpenGov Asia article, researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have discovered a novel way to enhance the efficiency of the ultraviolet (UVC) light-emitting diode (LED) disinfection technique and developed a closet that could kill 99.99% of the bacteria and viruses on the garment inside within a minute. The closet is now in use at three special schools under Po Leung Kuk.
UVC is widely used for disinfecting purposes in private and public facilities, but the light source of existing UVC disinfection products are mainly mercury lamps, which not only has lower germicidal efficiency but is also bulkier with a much shorter lifespan than the LED light.
Moreover, mercury lamp has a longer disinfection cycle and requires time for warming up while LED emits light instantly. Since last year, over 140 nations, including the US, EU, China, Japan and Australia, have implemented a treaty on gradually phasing out the use of toxic mercury in commercial and industrial processes.
However, despite LED lights’ superiority over its mercury-based counterpart, it is not yet widely adopted in sterilisation products due to its narrow beam angle and low output efficiency with traditional single-layer reflector.
Dozens of students, lecturers, and officers at the Posts and Telecommunications Institute of Technology (PTIT) can now use motorbike parking services, keep track of class schedules, check exam scores, and pay for meals entirely on their smartphones.
PTIT is a key human resource research and development unit of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC). With the aim of promoting digital transformation to improve the quality of training and research, the Institute deployed the PTIT S-Link mobile application for students, lecturers, and managers with essential functions.
PTIT S-Link sends students alerts about an upcoming lesson. It notifies the user about learning subjects, venues, and other detailed information about the class. The app was made operational in late 2020 and has over 12,000 downloads.
According to a press release, a digital university is taking shape at PTIT. In September 2020, during a talk with PTIT members, the MIC Minister, Nguyen Manh Hung, noted that PTIT, a “miniature society” with young dynamic people has favourable conditions to build a digital society. To prepare the labour force for digital transformation, an online university is the best way to “train digital citizens”. The Institute plans to unveil D-Lab, an online practice platform, S-Class, a smart class platform, and an intelligence operation centre (IOC), shortly.
The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) said Vietnam is striving to become a leading country with a fully digitised educational sector. It wants to produce a Vietnamese workforce that has globally recognised digital transformation knowledge and skills.
Though the institute has been using IT in its activities for many years, it still faces difficulties upgrading the application. The biggest problem is the lack of a digital university model and transformation at the Institute. In the first period, PTIT is focused on researching and shaping the architecture of the digital university and completing the digital transformation plan by 2025.
With the spirit of carrying out digital transformation in accordance with the “miniature digital nation”, the institute studied national policies and built its digital transformation plan under the three pillars of the national digital transformation programme: digital administration, service, and society.
“The fourth quarter of 2020 and first quarter of 2021 will be the time for the institute to cooperate with a digital technology firm to build a digital university,” Hung said. The Minister’s proposal spurred on development in the institute, the release noted.
In December 2020, Minister Hung stated that one digital university has likely become eligible for pilot transformation. With instructions from the Minister, the institute has become one of the pioneers in building and applying a digital university model. PTIT is not, however, the only digital school in the country.
The targets set in the Hanoi National University’s development strategy by 2030 are: reforming teaching methods towards modernisation, integrating personalisation into IT platforms, and creating learner-centric infrastructure. It also aims to establish intelligent university management and organisation models, execute comprehensive digital transformation in all activities, and operate the shared digital data knowledge system synchronously. The university will interconnect data for effective administration, management, and the renewal of teaching, learning, and research activities. One of the key tasks in 2021-2025 of the school is perfecting the modern university management and organisation model in association with building smart universities.
Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) co-organised a webinar with the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) on 7 April 2021) to update Russian companies on Hong Kong’s latest business environment under the new normal, and encouraging them to tap the business opportunities arising from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) development.
Speakers at the webinar provided Russian companies with the latest information on business opportunities in Hong Kong regarding retail, e-commerce and import trade. They also highlighted how the city can tap opportunities amid rapid changes related to the world’s digital transformation in the face of the global pandemic.
The event started with welcoming remarks by the Vice President of MCCI followed by a video presentation on Hong Kong under the new normal. This included business opportunities, challenges and prospects from the Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion at InvestHK.
He said that the pandemic has fuelled a digital transformation globally and Hong Kong is ready to benefit. The Hong Kong SAR Government is committed to promoting the development of innovation and technology (I&T), with a special focus on research and development, state-of-the-art I&T infrastructure, a tech talent pool, investment funding and other support measures to improve the ecosystem for start-ups.
Russian companies can leverage the city’s sophisticated technology ecosystem to meet the growing demand for digital marketing and technology-related services in the Mainland and across the region.
He added that the GBA development offers huge business opportunities to Hong Kong in various areas. He urged Russian companies to set up a presence in Hong Kong and make use of the city’s status as an international finance centre, the low and simple tax regime, its robust common law legal system and vibrant business environment to expand into the lucrative Mainland market.
InvestHK’s Principal Consultant in Moscow told the webinar, “Through this webinar, we aspire to unveil the unparalleled advantages that Hong Kong grants to all sorts of entrepreneurial minds and daring corporations eager to expand into Asia and globally with all our expertise and care.”
An Entrepreneur and the Founder and Managing Director of a venture studio and consulting firm, based in Hong Kong and Co-Founder of Digital Week Online, a Business Development Specialist also shared his experience in doing business in Hong Kong, highlighting the business opportunities in retail, e-commerce and importation to Hong Kong.
InvestHK is the department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government responsible for attracting foreign direct investment and supporting overseas and Mainland businesses to set up or expand in Hong Kong. It provides free advice and customised services for overseas and Mainland companies.
Hong Kong: an emerging tech hub
Hong Kong is rapidly emerging as a regional tech hub. Key IT infrastructure includes Hong Kong Science Park and Cyberport.
Hong Kong Science Park aims to transform Hong Kong into the regional hub for innovation and technology development. Home to 600 technology companies and about 13,000 technology talents, Science Park is a complete ecosystem that connects stakeholders, nurtures talent, facilitates collaboration, and drives innovation for commercialisation.
A leading information and communication technology hub in the Asia-Pacific region, Cyberport is a creative digital community of over 900 digital tech companies engaged in various forms of digital technology, such as FinTech, eCommerce, IoT/Wearables and Big Data/Artificial Intelligence.