Data lies at the heart of much of the digital transformation happening in the world today. However, the growing volumes of data and the shift to cloud environments, coupled with increasingly stringent regulatory expectations, present an imposing challenge for many organisations today.
OpenGov spoke to Mr. Michael Bishop, Legal Director, Asia Pacific, Commvault, regarding this rapidly changing landscape and its implications for data management. Commvault is a global leader in enterprise backup, recovery, archive and cloud data management solutions.
Growth in data volumes and the shift to cloud
People used to know where their data is. They used to know where their back-ups were. But two developments have led to a paradigm shift.
The first is the exponential growth in data volumes. The second is the shift to cloud. Earlier organisations used to store their data in a single data centre. Now there are commercial cloud, hybrid cloud environments. There are many compelling reasons to move to the cloud, such as scalability according to changing demand and on-demand availability of storage and computing resources. This poses a real challenge for companies as try to manage their data. Now many organisations don’t really understand their data footprint.
New laws and regulations
The new laws and regulations coming in further add to the complexity. For instance, data sovereignty requirements might need the organisation to know where their cloud provider is storing their data. A Singaporean company, dealing with data of Singaporean citizens, might choose a cloud provider based in Singapore. But they might be backing up their data in Malaysia.
Many organisations place a lot of faith in their cloud provider for securing and recovering their data. But Mr. Bishop urged caution, “You can move your data to the cloud, but you cannot move your compliance obligations. Those stay with the organisations. I think in the rush to the cloud and the rush to take advantage of all those features, people have sometimes lost track of their data footprint. This becomes vital during attacks, breaches and outages, when people need to turn around and ask, well where is my data back-up?”
Probably the most important example of new regulation at the moment, is the General Data Protection Act (GDPR; Final version of the Regulation, released 6 April 2016) in the European Union (EU). Mr. Bishop called it the most meaningful piece of privacy legislation in a very long time.
The GDPR was approved and adopted by the EU Parliament in April 2016. The regulation will take effect after a two-year transition period and, unlike a Directive it does not require any enabling legislation to be passed by government; meaning it will be in force May 2018.
Mr. Bishop said, “I like the fact that is a regulation rather than a directive. With a directive, it gets implemented in member states differently. They are kind of free to interpret it however they want. But this harmonises the regulation across all the member states.”
The GDPR was created in a culture, where privacy appears to be more highly valued, as compared to other jurisdictions. The GDPR will hand back power to the individual or the data subject. Individual data subjects would be able to bring class actions directly against the organisations. Earlier only the data controller could be prosecuted, because the processor was considered to be just doing the controller’s bidding. But under the GDPR both parties can be pursued. The cloud providers and data processors, now they are just as liable as the controllers.
Mr. Bishop also believes that the data portability rights in the GDPR and the data breach notification rules are big positive steps.
But these presents a huge challenge for organisations dealing with data. For instance, GDPR sets a time limit of 72 hours (Australia introduced similar notification requirements recently, but with a requirement to notify as soon as practicable) for informing the supervisory authorities about any unauthorised loss, access or disclosure of information, resulting in physical, material or non-material damage to natural persons.
Another example is the ‘Right to erasure’ ('right to be forgotten') in Article 17 of the GDPR states that the data subject has the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her, if the personal data are no longer necessary in relation to the purposes for which they were collected or otherwise processed; or the data subject withdraws consent.
This can be highly problematic from a data management point of view. The organisation has to delete all copies of that individual’s data, wherever it has been reproduced or duplicated. To do that you have to know where your data is in the first place.
72 hours presents a very small window. Hence, a very proactive approach is required. Companies need to be prepared to communicate the effects and have remedial measures in place. No one is immune to these cyberattacks and data breaches. And everyone is going to be targeted at some point.
On top of the difficult obligations of trans-national laws, businesses have to deal with different national regulations. It can get overwhelming for IT managers and CIOs.
In fact, Mr. Bishop said that many organisations in Asia did not realise initially that they were going to be affected by the GDPR. “If you are serving customers in the EU, you are caught by the GDPR. If you have an office in the EU, it’s applicable to you. Even if you are monitoring the behaviour of European citizens, or if you have a website with European customers, you will still be under the jurisdiction of the GDPR,” he said.
Previously data privacy was not a subject which interested many people. Many organisations thought they would pay the fine if it came to that. The fines proposed under GDPR are much bigger (can go up to the higher of 20 million Euros or 4% of the annual worldwide turnover).
The bigger fines are focusing people’s attention on privacy issues. But that is not the only factor. People are realising that privacy breaches affect customer trust.
It gets even worse if customers find out that an organisation suffered a cyberattack and didn’t disclose it, especially when their personal information if affected.
Commenting on the recently proposed cybersecurity bill in Singapore, Mr. Bishop said, “One of the things I really like is the mandatory reporting. That’s really important.Companies are required by law to disclose any data breaches to protect from vulnerabilities.”
Companies express worries about undermining the confidence in the consumer economy. “That’s the wrong way to look at it. What we should be focusing on is how can we restore confidence by putting the right encryption in place, by putting right security measures in place, managing communications and having plans for remedial actions,” said Mr. Bishop.
At the end of the day, it comes down to what Mr. Bishop called ‘data intimacy’. He described it as having a complete understanding of where your data and environment is, and how the data lifecyc
le varies according to these factors. Organisations need to have that understanding before they can even start to unravel their compliance obligations.
The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates how fast the adoption of new technology can be, including cloud technology. While the cloud journey started well before COVID-19, the pandemic has certainly undoubtedly accelerated the process. This is because government agencies and organisations need to and have to roll out applications and technological solutions quickly, leaving them no time to use everything with hardware.
The public sector in the region, in particular, is still at an early stage of cloud adoption. As a result, many agencies encounter issues with legacy processes and organisational structures when moving to the cloud. As a full-scale cloud migration may not be possible for many government agencies and organisations, Hybrid Multi-Cloud is an efficient strategy as it enables organisations to choose the optimal solution for each task or workload.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Gunasekharan Chellappan, Country Manager, Singapore, Red Hat. For over 25 years, Guna has been in the IT software industry in various leadership assignments. In his current role, he leads Red Hat’s sales team in Singapore and supports customers in their digital transformation initiatives.
Over the years, Guna has been extensively involved in implementing complex analytics solutions such as supply chain, customer experience and risk management across the world in various industries ranging from financial services, government, manufacturing and retail.
Agencies and organisations are expected to continuously deliver a mix of different services for their citizens and customers. Agility and cost-efficiency are the two primary driving aspects of many government agencies and organisations wanting to move to the cloud. Further, organisations have to maintain some workloads on-premises while also supporting cloud-native development.
Guna believes in an Open Hybrid Multi-Cloud outlook, and, in fact, it should be a default. Hybrid cloud refers to mixed computing, storage and services environments made up of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services, and a public cloud—such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. Multi-cloud refers to the presence of more than one cloud deployment of the same type (public or private), sourced from different vendors
Running everything on the public cloud could be inconvenient and unwise, so organisations should retain some data on-premises. Various reasons underpin this perspective, including cost, security or regulations and other control measures, such as data sovereignty.
Organisations have learned over time that having all their eggs in the public cloud is not cost-effective as it was once thought. So over time, they have pulled most applications on-prem, making it easier to manage while using the public cloud for innovation.
An Open Hybrid Multi-Cloud deployment gives organisations the capability to pick and choose specific tools they prefer from different cloud providers, such as storage, security and Artificial Intelligence. As a result, they are not limited to the options of one cloud provider and can choose the best possible tools and services according to their needs.
With a good Hybrid Multi-Cloud strategy, tools from across the various clouds can be made to work together seamlessly. The more sophisticated the organisations are, the better they are at combining the right tools to achieve their goals.
If organisations opt for open source solutions, such as Red Hat, they do not have to learn all the different networking protocols or different storage mechanisms.
By relying on Red Hat as an abstraction layer, organisations can take that complexity issue off the table altogether. Red Hat offers open concepts which encompass being open, portable and giving freedom to developers using consistent tools and processes to deploy the applications on any cloud.
By not being constrained to one cloud, organisations are free to move any application they develop to another provider without reengineering the application. Applications can be developed once, but they can be deployed anywhere, whether on-premises or public cloud.
Typically, customers who are still at the initial stage, want to move an application to the cloud. Then, as they become more comfortable with the setup, they start looking to go deeper, moving more existing applications to the cloud as well as developing applications on the cloud. At this point, they want to take advantage of what the cloud has to offer instead of only moving monolithic applications.
Guna elaborated on how Red Hat helps customers in their cloud journey. Red Hat empowers and supports customers in their cloud transformation, allowing them to focus on their primary objectives. With Red Hat’s significant pool of resources and talent, they assist clients in shifting and modernising applications with a minimal amount of effort. Red Hat helps design new applications that run on the cloud in an agile way. This agility combined with the capability to scale automatically, Guna emphasises, is the true benefit of moving to the cloud.
Sometimes organisations are only looking to move their data centre because it is cost-effective. However, data centres costs could actually be higher over the long term.
The usual timeframe to move from a data centre to the cloud with microservices can vary between weeks to years. For example, developing core banking applications that have hundreds of modules can take years to complete. However, typical applications that are already Java-enabled take about 3 months to break down, refactor and test.
Red Hat Open Innovation Labs is an immersive teaming residency that arms customers with the skills, tools and processes to deliver better software, more quickly, to meet the demands of today’s market. The Labs provide an environment for customers to develop applications with speed, agility, scalability and increased security.
Red Hat works with organisations on a deeper level by helping to change the people, the processes, and the platforms. Different organisations have slightly different strategies in managing their teams. Some rigidly divide their teams and as a result, each does not have a comprehensive understanding of the organisation. For Guna, organisations need to have a blended model, in which there is a specific team that slowly transforms everyone.
Guna encouraged organisations to leverage an open Hybrid Multi-Cloud optimally and take advantage of all its features. Organisations and agencies that are currently relooking at their entire data strategy need to be aware that the future of data residency is with an Open Hybrid Multi-Cloud strategy. The flexibility to run applications across various environments without having to rebuild applications, retrain people or maintain disparate environments is the outcome of implementing a Hybrid Multi-Cloud strategy.
Multi-cloud is now a reality for many organisations. Although it can come with challenges, it has driven technological advancements for developer productivity. Red Hat takes the complexity of having to learn various platforms when considering a Hybrid Multi-Cloud strategy. It can help map out high-level considerations to take advantage of these benefits for cloud-native development.
Red Hat exists to help organisations standardise across environments, develop cloud-native applications, and integrate, automate, secure, and manage complex environments with award-winning support, training, and consulting services.
Government agencies and organisations can use Red Hat products and services to overcome their cloud challenges – all while keeping costs low and their options open.
This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Read Part 1.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Simon Dale, Managing Director, South East Asia at Adobe. For over 30 years, Simon has worked for and with innovative tech companies across Europe and in the Asia Pacific and Japan, mostly in sales leadership roles. He specialises in launching and growing new businesses in the enterprise software space.
While the use of technology in the public sector is not new, it is becoming increasingly more important to adopt a more citizen-centric outlook. Simon feels that agencies need to be willing to directly serve citizens and engage with them in real-time. This requires a paradigm shift in thinking followed by a strategy that would enable it.
Adobe’s digital transformation is a great example. A decade ago, Adobe used to sell software (in the form of packaged discs) to distributors who then sold it to the customers. Today, Adobe’s customers can go to the company’s website, purchase the product and download the software directly onto their device. To facilitate this, Adobe had to change its thinking, develop a strategy and set up infrastructure and systems.
Simon encourages governments to understand the importance of citizen experience – which is far different from customer experience. Government agencies need to manage citizen experience from the viewpoint of a life journey broken up into specific stages, organising its content and channels to align appropriately. Such a design can only be built on understanding – when governments recognise what each citizen needs at a particular stage or season of life. Adobe’s 2021 Public Sector Trends Report shows that empathy is essential in designing and implementing truly citizen-centric services.
Adobe has a five-stage customer journey: discover, try, buy, use and renew. When customers first visit Adobe’s website, the company has limited information. Each time a customer returns to their site, explores and/or uses Adobe’s products, a bigger and more comprehensive picture and understanding emerge. For the most part, big data analytics can be used to evaluate data to enable personalisation, but Artificial Intelligence (AI) can accelerate this process.
Fundamentally, when citizens engage with the government in the digital space, they want relevant content and an easier experience. Agencies need to anticipate citizens’ needs and respond with suitable content, send out more timely and relevant information, as well as smoothen the experience on their digital platforms. Adobe is placed perfectly to help with this.
Throughout the pandemic, Adobe worked with both the U.S. and the Australian governments to accelerate communications on the status of the COVID-19 outbreak, critical updates and information, measures in place. This was vital in managing government response during the pandemic and easing concerns that were escalating and managing expectations.
The accelerated adoption of new technologies to improve digital customer experience (CX) has been made possible due to strong public-private partnerships. Amazingly, Adobe has partnered with all 50 U.S. states to power their digital modernisation through Adobe Experience Cloud and Adobe Document Cloud. The partnerships exist across individual agencies at the state, county and city levels.
Great examples are Adobe’s work with the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in terms of content management. The Census Bureau employed Adobe’s Experience Manager to build a digital foundation for the online census. Similarly, Adobe partnered with the CDC to orchestrate multi-channel communications to millions of citizens with up-to-date information about the COVID-19 emergency.
Citizen expectations are hugely influenced by the retail and financial sectors. The ease of business that encompasses many options and easy transactions are what people now demand. Simon believes that an “add-to-basket” experience is possible in some areas of public services.
Accelerated by the pandemic, governments have had to deliver some services without physical contact. If they build on this, citizens should be able to pick up certain services and drop them in a ‘check-out basket’. Services related to things like renewing a driver’s license, applying for a marriage license or getting copies of various certificates are all in the realm of possibility.
Using platforms like Adobe Experience Cloud, governments across the globe are revamping their online presence, making their websites and apps easier to navigate, ensuring content is personalised and updated in real-time, and creating intuitive forms that work on any device. Adobe Document Cloud helps optimise internal document workflows and Adobe Sign powers the entire e-signature process, reducing time spent on tasks such as applying for benefits and drastically reducing paper waste.
This is because Adobe is not just a provider of a piece of technology, but a long-term partner for business applications with values built on technology. Adobe’s perspective allows governments to get into citizen experience best practices immediately rather than building technologies from scratch or spending money on technologies that will not be valuable. Government agencies can focus on their tasks and adopt technology that is going to accelerate their digitalisation.
The concept of democratising digital decision-making for the public sector is vital to long term development. Data democratisation does not mean everyone has access to all data. The idea is to provide access to information that decision-makers need that is relevant to the level at which they operate that is constrained by the sensitivity and the use of data.
The fact is, the public sector collects vast amounts of information on citizens, but they have to be careful who has access to it. Agencies get data about people from their websites which include what they are looking for, what services they have availed of and issues or concerns they have. Every government employee who influences or decides those interactions and that content should have access to that citizen information, bound by the right level of privacy compliance and data protection.
It can help them rethink, reimagine and redesign the content they put up, how they can improve and what they need to do to better serve their citizens. Democratisation in this context means giving everybody who is contributing to “the last mile” more access to the information they need, so they can understand where they fit into the process.
It is analogous to conversion and retention in marketing, which, Simon believes, provides an argument for more government officers to have access to the right level of data. Better information allows faster conversion and better retention of customers, in this case, citizens. Richer data sets being made available to them, allows them to improve the citizen journey.
That being said, data democratisation has to be managed by robust data governance, compliance policies and security measures. Adobe takes safety and regulatory adherence seriously. It can take data that is garnered from citizen interactions – anonymous and authenticated – and use applications to allow decision-makers to analyse that data for various purposes.
Simon is confident in Adobe’s ability to better the world through its digital offerings that can meet the vast and growing needs of the public sector. Designed for easy deployment, compliance and management, Adobe tools, apps and services can be tailored to the specific needs of individual departments.
He firmly believes that digital insights have no value if they are not actionable. Systems, solutions and technology have to drive decisions that improve the lives of citizens through all digital services. Simon is optimistic that technology will continue to drive the quality of life and digital experiences of citizens across the world.
This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Read Part 1.
Service NSW has settled on the secure data transfer application that will replace email for sharing sensitive personal information at service centres following a phishing attack last year. The solution has been rolled out to almost half of all service centres across the state after being developed in-house by the one-stop shop for NSW government services. It will allow frontline staff to transfer information to other government agencies such as NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages and NSW Fair Trading.
The need for such a solution became extremely apparent in March 2020, when an email compromise attack against 47 Service NSW staff members exposed the personal information of 103,000 customers. Roughly 3.8 million documents, including handwritten notes, scans of driver’s licences and records of transactions, were stolen in an incident that has now cost over $25 million to amend.
In the absence of alternative methods of information sharing, service centre staff would routinely transfer documents containing personal information to staff in other NSW government agencies using email, a practice that Service NSW itself identified as a risk at least a year prior.
When answering questions on notice from budget estimates, Service NSW last month revealed it had begun the process of rolling out a new transfer solution to its service centre network. A spokesperson stated that following an assessment of “several delivery options” following the six-month pilot, the agency selected a solution that was developed in-house and built on a stack by an American software and I&T company.
The solution has been developed by a dedicated Service NSW team, the spokesperson said. Its solution provides an improved method to protect customer information and replaces the use of email to transfer scanned documents.
At present, 48 service centres across the state have begun using the solution, all but four of which went live in the past month. The first four service centres – which were involved in the six-month pilot – used the solution to transfer information to Department of Customer Service partner agencies for 280 transactions.
It was noted that the full network rollout to all 107 service centres is expected to be completed by January. Since the email compromise attack, Service NSW has also introduced controls to automatically delete emails that are more than 60 days old. Earlier this year, the Service NSW CEO said this had singlehandedly reduced the number of emails in mailboxes by 92% since June 2020.
Service NSW also introduced multi-factor authentication across almost all of its externally-facing IT systems in the wake of last year’s phishing attack that exposed 736GB of data. After bringing MFA to email shortly after the March 2020 data breach, the CEO said the agency had now enabled the feature on all but 5%of externally-facing systems. It follows funding to the tune of $5 million in last year’s state budget for cyber security upgrades at the one-stop shop for NSW government services.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA; encompassing two-factor authentication, or 2FA, along with similar terms) is an electronic authentication method in which a user is granted access to a website or application only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence (or factors) to an authentication mechanism: knowledge (something only the user knows), possession (something only the user has), and inherence (something only the user is).
MFA protects user data – this may include personal identification or financial assets – from being accessed by an unauthorised third party that may have been able to discover, for example, a single password. A third-party authenticator (TPA) app enables two-factor authentication, usually by showing a randomly generated and frequently changing code to use for authentication.
“We are very optimistic and bullish about the hyperscaler demand in the enterprise sector. To support the growing needs of global technology giants and cloud service providers expanding in the region, we at the company are proud to announce that we will be building the first hyperscaler data centre facility in the Philippines,” – The Philippines telco company’s VP and head of ICT Business for Enterprise
The Philippines is recognised as one of Southeast Asia’s emerging markets, with numerous technology firms planning to build data centres there. Data centre providers are likely to see new opportunities because of IoT data processing. IoT is anticipated to deliver applications and workloads that require near-real-time responsiveness, promoting the deployment of edge data centres. Due to the sheer rapid growth and development of data centre projects, new players will be able to enter the industry.
In addition, an article stated that the Philippines data centre market will reach USD 535 million by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 11.40 per cent between 2021 and 2026.
With this in consideration, the Philippines’ fully integrated telco business has stated that it will construct the country’s “first and largest” data centre, which will serve the vast power and IT needs of global hyperscalers. The facility, which will be built under its subsidiary, will be telco-neutral and will incorporate sustainability in with its design and operations, according to the company. The facility will be Tier-3 certified and Tier-4 ready when it launches, the company said in a statement.
“This hyperscaler data centre is a first of its kind. It will have more power capacity in one facility versus all our 10 VITRO data centres combined. It will also be designed to be the global class in energy efficiency and reliability, and will make use of the latest in green technology,” said the Philippines telco company’s VP and head of ICT Business for Enterprise
The company mentioned that it is expanding its data centre network to support and provide the considerably larger needs of hyperscalers, notably to service their availability zones, which are the key nodes of their worldwide network for delivering cloud products.
“We are continuously enhancing our existing data centres in three main ways. First, we are adding more power capacity per rack to support the dense and high-powered equipment of hyperscalers. Second, we’re further enhancing the reliability and energy efficiency of our data centre facilities. And last, we’re also looking for ways to deliver Renewable Energy to support the carbon neutrality commitments of these companies,” added the company’s VP and head of ICT Business for Enterprise.
Moreover, with its VITRO Data Centre facilities located in various important areas, the telco company maintains the country’s largest network of data centres. These data centres are also supported by the company’s 524,000-kilometre fibre optic network, which connects the Philippines to the rest of the world.
These facilities are connected to the telco company’s participation in 14 international submarine cable systems and one terrestrial system that carries data traffic in and out of the Philippines, with three more new submarine cables in construction, including the Jupiter Cable, Apricot Cable, and Asia Direct Cable.
OpenGov Asia in an article reported that the business world is moving at a rapid pace to keep up with the overwhelming demand for information and the need to monetise and operationalise raw data. With the ever-changing demands of the modern business model, many companies place their trust in data centres, as these facilities play a critical role in meeting their IT requirements.
Data centres are more than just safe and secure facilities with reliable power and network connectivity. They are quickly becoming an asset to many businesses, proving to be a dependable extension of their IT team. As a result, data centres are increasingly becoming an essential component of modern business start-ups. In this scenario, data centres become crucial to progress and are no different for the Philippines.
Part 1 of a two-part series. Read Part 2.
Good citizen experience is one of the most essential components of an effective government. Unfortunately, it is still a far cry from the seamless, personalised engagements that citizens have and expect from the private sector. Hence, the public sector must shift to citizen-centric digital offerings, with an effective strategy to deliver private sector level digital services.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Simon Dale, Managing Director, South East Asia at Adobe. For over 30 years, Simon has worked for and with innovative tech companies across Europe and in the Asia Pacific and Japan, mostly in sales leadership roles. He specialises in launching and growing new businesses in the enterprise software space.
Having worked in the Asia Pacific markets for 20 years, with experience in all major countries, he has deep business experience in the region. He is actively involved in the startup scene in South East Asia as both an advocate for technology as well as a mentor.
In deploying technology with the government, Simon acknowledges the importance of effective policies to support and facilitate government objectives. There are three indispensable dimensions in delivering technological solutions to the public sector – people, technology and processes. The most critical aspect is people as they understand and can determine how to deploy technology to particular use cases or even come up with cases.
For a long time, government agencies were “hidden” behind counters, tickets and forms with limited direct interaction with citizens. With developments in technology, and more recently, being driven by the pandemic, government employees are being pushed to deal directly with citizens and provide real-time services, albeit digitally.
For a great digital citizen experience, Simon firmly believes that agencies need to understand a citizen’s journey as a continuum, learning to serve people effectively at whatever point they are in their life. This direct citizen engagement is a new concept. And if they are to do it successfully, government agencies need to understand citizens’ life journey and their context of citizen experience. Services have to be in line with where people are in their life stages.
While organisations in the private sector tend to have a stronger strategy for personalisation than in the public sector, it should be the other way around. Government has the responsibility of equity – to make sure everyone has access to what is needed and ensure that no one is left behind within society. Empathy and personalisation in government can address that.
In delivering digital services to citizens, Simon emphasises that internal stakeholders are vital. The mindset of key decision-makers and implementers will determine the extent and nature of the experience. As the citizen and customer experience wave is still in its early stages, the role of people to firmly push this to the next stage is essential.
With mindsets and culture addressed, agencies will need to next look into technology and processes. Technology must facilitate the goals of the digital customer experience that the government envisions, while processes need to enable digitalised customer experience instead of being the impediments. They should encourage and foster collaboration and innovation to better serve people.
Across government agencies, a lack of digital skills affects the deployment of technology and the extent of its use. Adobe works with governments to help develop the capacity of their officers and to build citizens’ skills by supporting relevant training initiatives. Adobe’s partnership with Skillsfuture has enabled Singaporeans to develop their fullest potential throughout life, regardless of their starting points.
Infrastructure can be a limitation in deploying technological solutions. Such bottlenecks are often connected to policies that centre around agency perspective – ‘buy’ versus ‘build’ or ‘own and operate’ versus ‘outsource’. While the dedicated infrastructure is necessary to an extent and in specific contexts, a cloud-based mindset is increasingly proving to be more efficient. The availability and agility of cloud services have been well proven in the commercial sector.
A great example is the Adobe Experience Manager, a comprehensive content management solution for building websites, mobile apps and forms. The platform places citizens at the centre with solutions that are responsive, relevant and social, providing lifetime value. It can deliver and manage digital experiences across government agencies that are timely and personal.
More recently Adobe deployed a data centre in Singapore with Adobe Sign and Adobe Experience Manager cloud services that are available to Adobe’s customers across the world, increasing capabilities and efficiencies especially for those in the region.
For Simon, the world has not changed much in terms of the channels of engagement, but it is evolving when it comes to the adoption of digital channels of engagement. The digitisation of the channels has accelerated far more quickly than the government’s ability to deliver the services digitally.
The access to digital services has greatly improved and, with so many cutting-edge technologies on the horizon, things can only get better. Solutions specifically designed for different communities are being created regularly and governments are looking to serve all their citizens equitably – the elderly, differently-abled, people with limited access, education or resources. Simon is optimistic that governments’ ability to digitally serve citizens, even in countries with a slower pace of transformation, will improve quickly.
Adobe is committed to partnering closely with government agencies around the world in this journey to help deliver a better and more empathetic citizen experience.
Part 1 of a two-part series. Read Part 2.
Beyond a doubt, the pandemic has hastened digital transformation and opened up a myriad of opportunities. Implementation of tech-enabled platforms and solutions is taking place across industries, and they are no less critical to healthcare. The ongoing crisis is prompting digital leaders in the health sector to reconsider how to best leverage technology to serve the pressing current need as well as future requirements.
In a normal year, healthcare institutions around the world spend trillions of dollars to address growing healthcare challenges. With the unprecedented numbers of patients seeking care, as outpatients or admissions, health systems in hard-hit areas have been put under even more strain – with demands for space, supplies and staff far outstripping supply.
Moreover, as health services crumble under the number, patients reach out to other peripheral agencies and institutions looking for help anywhere they think they can get it. Facilities, systems, infrastructure, providers, paramedical staff and patients have been overwhelmed across the board, but far more so in areas that have poor or limited access to healthcare.
Against this backdrop, Amazon and Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced a new global programme to support organisations working to improve health outcomes for underserved or underrepresented communities. They provided funding and technical expertise, committing $40 million over three years to assist in developing solutions to improve health outcomes.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak with Peter Moore, Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific and Japan, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, to gain deeper insights into their accelerated transformation initiatives as well as to discuss projects and initiatives implemented by AWS that assist governments and the public sector to leverage AWS technologies in support of their missions and mandates.
Technology has accelerated transformation in the health sector
COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for healthcare across the board while also inspiring and driving innovation at an unprecedented rate. Without a doubt, the use of technology in healthcare has resulted in better patient diagnosis and treatment, as well as improved quality of life and the saving of many lives.
It is universally acknowledged that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and across the board, things have shifted entirely to a digital or hybrid mode. As things sort of settle, the question is, would these methods continue even after physical routines resume. “From a technology perspective, what does the future look like?”
Peter agree that the world is experiencing turbulence and churning; the key question that needs to be addressed is “how do government and public agencies respond?”.
According to Peter, COVID-19 has forced significant changes that have impacted many lives and marginalised large swathes of populations. Governments throughout the region are grappling with the ‘have nots’ rather than the ‘haves,’ which Peter feels, is rooted in politics and policies. The focus now has to be on equitable solutions for all citizens – students, employees and patients; urban or rural; low or high resource.
The fact is, even though the public sector was well on the path of digitisation and moving to the cloud before COVID-19, the pandemic has forced governments to rethink their cloud strategy. Peter believes that the primary driver behind this shift in the pre-COVID era was citizen demand for effective service delivery. Education, healthcare and civil service institutions started putting a web backend to enhance citizen service delivery and better capabilities for government employees.
As countries grappled with the challenge of scaling COVID-19 testing, they launched the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative to help organisations around the world apply the power of the cloud to accelerate diagnostics research and development. Through this initiative, AWS committed $20 million in computing credits and customised expertise from the AWS Professional Services team to support customers using AWS to drive diagnostic innovations.
In February this year, AWS released the report, “Unlocking APAC’s Digital Potential: Changing Digital Skill Needs and Policy Approaches.” Prepared by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta and commissioned by AWS, the report analyses the digital skills applied by workers in their jobs today and the digital skills required by workforces over the next five years. The report focuses on six Asia Pacific countries: Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea.”
Telehealth and telemedicine, two of the fastest-growing areas of healthcare, have proven to be lifesaving, facilitating safe and effective patient care from a distance and assisting physicians in pooling their resources when the virus was straining the healthcare system.
To strengthen such health care systems that show promise, AWS has launched new initiatives and a global programme focusing on health equity. “I find a lot of benefit in advising governments where I see things working well and where they can improve,” says Peter.
AWS global programme assists customers in developing solutions to improve health outcomes and equity.
Max Peterson, Vice President for AWS Worldwide Public Sector, says healthcare has changed at an astounding rate, as have the ways people work, live, learn and serve. In his opinion, governments and non-profits have, for the most part, done things in person. While many were working in the cloud to digitise and transform the delivery of their services, the pandemic has shown that digital solutions may well become the only interface with citizens customers and citizens in the future.
In such a rapidly evolving digital world, data, Peter firmly believes, plays one of the important roles for technological development. It must be better leveraged to promote more equitable and inclusive systems of care. Agencies must create more robust and informative datasets or clean existing datasets to improve accuracy about race, ethnicity, gender, disability, or other data points that will help to advance health equity for all. AWS is keen to support this capability delivery.
“What I have alluded to so far is that there’s going to be a huge demand on new capabilities and that demand is going to come from those who are currently underserved. So, we want to focus on giving access to health services for the underserved communities,” Peter confirms emphatically.
Roughly half of the world’s population lacks access to basic healthcare. The proposed projects will focus on underserved populations all over the world and will include the development of tools like telehealth and telemedicine to reach secluded and marginalised communities, remote patient monitoring, increasing the availability and impact of health workers and more. Promising Initiatives will get credit and technical assistance so that they can be brought to market.
The project’s second focus, Peter elaborated, is addressing social determinants of health (SDoH) – the environmental conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age, these aspects hugely influence a wide range of health outcomes and risks. Safe housing, transportation, education, access to nutritious foods, clean air and water and other services are examples.
Across the world, AWS’ new global programme builds on its work with current customers who are harnessing AWS technologies to support their health equity programmes, which include:
- National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved (NHIT): Earlier this year, the non-profit debuted the cloud-powered Data Fusion Centre on AWS to assist in addressing intergovernmental data challenges and translating Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) data into actionable insights. Industry, academia, and communities can use the Centre to discover, explore, and visualise SDoH and health equity-related factors and their impact.
- HealthImpact’s Trust a Nurse, Ask A Nurse: This non-profit is collaborating with community-based organisations throughout California to make registered nurses available for free, particularly in underserved and minority communities. A new telehealth service that provides education and support about COVID-19 and vaccine options is now available. Hippo Health, which runs on AWS, powers the telehealth platform, and Telehealth Consulting Services provide subject matter expertise.
- Rush University Medical Centre Population Health Analytics Hub: The Chicago-based medical centre, which is a nationally recognised leader in quality and health equity, is establishing an analytics hub to address the clinical and social determinants of health that contribute to premature cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Rush set up the COVID-19 analytic hub on AWS during the pandemic to integrate patient and operational data for rapid, targeted intervention.
As an example, Peter refers to India. It has a large population where all of SDoH issues are of vital importance. While those with resources in the country have access to doctors and excellent healthcare, many economically weaker sections cannot access those services. “Vaccinating the population in India has been a huge task. And we’ve been very involved in that through an application called CoWIN – a country-wide vaccine registration and scheduling management system.”
To address the need for health improvement in India, AWS is broadening this platform, which has been thus far focused on COVID-19, to include other diseases as well so that vaccinations can be provided to everyone in the country.
Making the world a better place with AWS Start-up Ramp
In line with its mission to make the world a better place, AWS recently expanded its Start-up Ramp programme in Southeast Asia. This new programme for early-stage start-ups developing solutions in health, digital government, smart cities, agriculture and space technology is committed to assisting entrepreneurs as they build, launch and grow their businesses.
It works to remove barriers for entrepreneurs who want to make an impact in the public sector by providing technical design and architecture reviews, mentorship, credit and assistance with go-to-market plans to successfully direct the public sector’s complex regulatory and security requirements.
Start-ups in their early stages that are focused on finding product-market fit and meeting their first customers can apply to become Start-up Ramp Innovators. Those with already paying customers who are focused on growth and scale can apply to become Start-up Ramp Members and gain access to programme benefits. Customers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam can now apply for the programme.
Peter recognises that health authorities around the world are at varying levels of readiness since the pandemic began and no one can predict what the future holds.
People have witnessed the rampant spread of COVID-19 across the globe and seen how it has ravaged economies, healthcare systems and taken far too many lives. As a result, the public and private sectors must develop faster solutions and respond in a more innovative, agile and equitable manner.
AWS will be deeply involved with helping to securely store, manage and analyse large amounts of health data as it is critical for advancing medical research and meeting the growing demand for high-quality health analytics.
Ultimately, AWS will continue to help to power and empower public health innovation!
About Peter James Moore
Peter James Moore is the Regional Managing Director for Amazon Web Services, Global Public Sector, where he is responsible for building and growing the public sector business (Government, Education, Healthcare, and Non-Profit Organisations) in Australia and New Zealand, India, Southeast Asia, Japan, and Korea.
He previously established Inventus Pte Ltd to provide strategic advice to foreign companies looking to enter the Asian market. Peter has been hired by Intellectual Ventures as a Strategic Business Consultant in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, where he identifies and cultivates opportunities and potential partners for programmes in Asia and other international markets.
Before that, he was an experienced Microsoft General Manager with 25 years of IT Sales and Marketing experience (15 years at Microsoft) across all of Asia Pacific, having worked and lived in Australia, Singapore, and China. Product Marketing, Technology Evangelism, Sales Management, and complete Business Function and P&L Management have all been the roles he served at Microsoft. The last eight years have been focused on the Public Sector in Asia.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Peter worked for Intergraph for over 9 years in a variety of senior management positions covering Australia and New Zealand. He also had consulting assignments in South Africa and Hong Kong during this time. And before joining Intergraph, Peter was a Radio Technician in the Royal Australian Air Force, where he spent 9 years in Australia and Malaysia.
The Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission is working with the University of Cincinnati to build the Ohio Sentencing Data Platform (OSDP). The OSDP is designed to help judges implement the Uniform Sentencing Entry and Method of Conviction entries and empower courts with accessible and reliable information. The OSDP will achieve goals that include: using data to inform decision-making; improving transparency; and, making data accessible for the public, practitioners, and research.
The collection of sentencing data in a comprehensive and searchable database will inform decision-making and give judges the tools and information needed to impose sentences in accordance with the purposes and principles of felony sentencing.
Courts, Counties, and policymakers statewide can use this data to make sensible, cost-effective decisions, promote smart, effective use of resources, and ensure measured proportional responses. Further, reliance on data creates an opportunity to monitor and evaluate the results of those changes, to determine if the desired effects are achieved, and assess unintended consequences.
The OSDP will establish standardised data formats for compiling and tracking felony sentencing in all 88 Ohio counties. Built with $800,000 in funding from the court, the database will allow users to compare sentences across the state and see the broader demographics of those who are sentenced to identify race- or income-based inconsistencies, for example.
Those of us who have been entrusted with the duty to lead and to participate in the criminal justice system have an obligation to make sure there is public trust in that system and that the system delivers. Diverse justice for all. And data collection will make that happen.
– Maureen O’Connor , Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice
So far, 34 of the state’s 244 common pleas judges have opted into the program, which requires them to fill out detailed forms on their sentences. More judges are signing up every week. The platform is the first step to providing accessible and searchable information for judges making sentencing decisions and increasing transparency and accessibility for the public, journalists and researchers.
Giving justice-system practitioners, including judges, attorneys, and court staff the best information available for use during the sentencing process without administrative or fiscal burden, allows them to perform their public-service duties in the most impactful way.
Until recently, Ohio didn’t have a central index on sentencing, so it was difficult to find the number of people sentenced for a specific felony in a given year, the sentences imposed for each felony offender, how many of those were imposed as a result of a plea bargain or how many offenders were placed on community supervision.
The data-driven OSDP project is designed to “tell the story” of sentencing in Ohio by providing understanding and analysis of the criminal justice system by providing statewide, reliable and accessible information on sentencing outcomes.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the justice system, banks, and private companies use algorithms to make decisions that have profound impacts on people’s lives. Unfortunately, those algorithms are sometimes biased — disproportionately impacting people of colour as well as individuals in lower-income classes when they apply for loans or jobs, or even when courts decide what bail should be set while a person awaits trial.
U.S. researchers have developed a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming language that can assess the fairness of algorithms more exactly, and more quickly, than available alternatives. Their Sum-Product Probabilistic Language (SPPL) is a probabilistic programming system.
SPPL shows that exact probabilistic inference is practical, not just theoretically possible, for a broad class of probabilistic programmes. The researchers have been applying SPPL to probabilistic programmes learned from real-world databases, to quantify the probability of rare events, generate synthetic proxy data given constraints, and automatically screen data for probable anomalies.