Borders have become a huge focus in the fight against COVID-19 with countries having closed their borders completely to stop the spread of COVID-19 and further infection. One of the main areas to be affected by the current pandemic is the travel industry, this includes all sectors from aviation to the hospitality sector and tourism.
Many countries in a bid to keep the economy going, did attempt to re-open their borders to international travellers, which resulted in second waves of infection and COVID-19 clusters appearing from imported cases only.
With rapid coronavirus transmission, many countries find themselves having to close their borders again to tourism and non-essential travellers. In turn, this has had major economic consequences for various countries, many of which depend on tourism and international business travel as a major part of their economy.
Technology Solutions to help re-open borders
In order to get international travel and tourism back up and running, safety measures and systems need to be put in place to show visibility and give insights to the risk of COVID-19 exposure as well as track and record health and well-being of those that enter and leave the country.
There has been an increased focus on technology solutions to accelerate and help solve the problems the pandemic has created, a major one being the travel lockdown and to find solutions to re-open borders and restart the travel industry as a whole.
One such solution has been developed by Singapore start-up to do just that. Liberty Passage developed by Access Anywhere, a total outbreak management system, can be used across various sectors within this industry including airports, cruise lines, immigration, and tourism boards. It also provides a useful tool for insurance companies in this industry to restart to offer customer solutions.
Liberty Passage has been designed to help provide relevant timely information and build the confidence required to restart free movement between countries and continents, giving travellers when crossing borders and authority’s confidence when processing foreign visitors at customs.
“The pandemic has caused major disruption to our lives and to our economies. By providing a solution which will help open up travel and customs around the world, it will help reunite families across the globe as well as allow for international business travel to take place bringing about more freedom and a return to a new kind of normal in a safe, private and secure manner.”
Mohit Sagar, Managing Director, Access Anywhere
Liberty Passage aims to help travellers and authorities with Immigration Visa Clearance, E-Health Certificates, Tourist Visa Applications. It is unique in that it offers various services on one platform, from location risk, COVID-19 exposure risk, E-Health records, and Passenger itinerary records.
Outbreak management solution for individuals, corporates and the travel industry
Liberty Passage is one of three outbreak management solutions Access Anywhere is offering for individuals, organisations, and the entire travel industry.
The Liberty Universe is for the entire population with Liberty Open designed for everyone to manage their personal risk, Liberty Corporate for organisations to ensure a safe return to work, and Liberty Passage for travel and the reopening of borders. Everyone gains from the vast insights the system provides to be able to go about their normal lives whilst keeping as safe as possible against this phenomenal threat.
By joining the three pillars together, ‘the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts’ giving the general public, employees, and travellers more liberty to move with confidence and a smarter understanding of their risk exposure.
In order to start a new type of normal, outbreak management systems will be the key in building confidence, mitigating risk and enhancing safety in everyday life.
For more information on how the Liberty Solution works – please visit www.libertyandpassage.com
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation across the globe, not just in commerce, education and work. Health and safety considerations, too, have paved the way for the rapid adoption of technology. To cater to these urgent requirements, there is a pressing need for governments and businesses to adapt and digitalise at an unprecedented speed.
This urgency is particularly apparent in the healthcare sector where medical and frontline workers are experiencing fatigue due to the unprecedented influx of patients and the accompanying administrative workload.
This is where Intelligent Automation comes to the fore to take over routine, repetitive and complex tasks far more efficiently, freeing up human resources for other critical tasks.
Understanding the relevance and experience of this issue, senior executives from the healthcare sector in Singapore engaged in an in-depth discussion during the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight held on 14 January 2021. The discussion revolved around the topic: Reinvigorating the Healthcare Industry by Harnessing the Power of Intelligent Automation.
Making automation processes a priority in the new normal
The discussion began with a bird’s eye view of the current situation in the healthcare sectors of across the globe and the role of technology to address challenges in this area.
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia, elaborated further on the concept of employee fatigue. He said that the foremost question to be answered by organisations to address this issue is how to scale up processes and transactions which have gone through the ceiling.
He acknowledged that the adoption of automation processes in the pre-pandemic era was considered an extravagance within the business frameworks, this is not the case today in the new normal. It is now a necessity to invest in intelligent automation so that work hours can be maximised. The ultimate issue then to be resolved is not whether to shift to automated processes, but how organisations can improve on these tools once they are set in place. This, Mohit added, is how businesses and government agencies can upscale the entire workforce.
A foundation point raised by Mohit was that technology is now embedded in society and it cannot function as efficiently without innovation. Organisations must focus on ushering a completely seamless delivery of services through technology, particularly in the healthcare sector where operations cannot slow down.
He stressed the fact that successful scale programmes for intelligent automation require executive ownership and direction. It is critical to have leaders to direct innovation from the top or otherwise, it is never going to happen.
Mohit concluded by urging delegates to partner with the right people, experts in the field, who can make it easier for them to embark on a journey towards intelligent automation rather than trying to do everything in-house.
Reshaping operations in healthcare through AI, RPA
As the world continues to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic, boosting the healthcare industry through innovative processes is key.
This was the focal point of the discussion led by Dr Zoran Bolevich, Chief Executive and Chief Information Officer at eHealth New South Wales, NSW Health, during the virtual session. For him, the vision of organisations across the world must be to foster a sustainable healthcare system that is digitally enabled.
Dr Zoran confirmed that in countries like Australia, digital advancement is a prerequisite for agencies, especially those in healthcare. Fo his organisation, he cited statistics that show over 12 million hospital appointments were booked digitally and approximately 2.25 million invoice transactions have been processed through digital means.
He was of the firm belief that health IT can be utilised to solve issues in the healthcare sectors more quickly. The challenge then is how to build on tech agility to continue seamless delivery of health services. He added that a ‘future health strategy’ must provide value-based healthcare, elevate the human experience and empower patients or consumers. This, Dr Zoran said, can be achieved by investing in AI and automation.
To further explain, Dr Zoran said that at an initial stage, organisations must automate workflows in shared service centres and use data and algorithms derived from these systems to boost operations. Later, data gathered can be further harnessed to ramp up supply chain management procedures like stock control and automatic re-ordering of supplies. The automation process then becomes a procurement system that can guide staff in a smarter way for the procurement of medical supplies.
Dr Zoran also agreed that AI should further be used to improve processes in updating medication content and providing a basis for clinical decision-making.
Beating the pandemic panic through automation
Anna Twomey, Senior Solution Advisor, Americas Public and Private Healthcare SME, added interesting insights to the discussion at hand.
She mentioned that despite the onset of what she referred to as a pandemic-panic among agencies in the healthcare industry, digital technology could help alleviate these worries.
Anna described Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a digital partner that gets smarter as more data and insights from the healthcare sector, including visualisation and imagery and e-learning information, are stored. Through RPAs, transformation in healthcare can be further amplified as these streamline transactions in scheduling appointments, approving request referrals, updating patients’ charts, and reviewing medical reports.
As the healthcare sector continues to navigate through tough times during the pandemic, having digital partners like RPAs can help medical practitioners better predict health outcomes and bridge the gap between specific populations of patients within the sector.
Once patient data is recorded, healthcare can look at these analyses to predict trends in certain segments with particular issues or co-morbidities like diabetes, heart conditions and other diseases.
In her experience, some of the challenges which shore up costs decrease patient satisfaction. The solution was to put up an end-to-end AI system that can look up viable solutions to these challenges, from managing patient ratings down to small facets of operations like serving food in hospitals.
Through AI, physicians and healthcare workers are better able to address patient conditions and needed treatments.
After the thought-provoking presentations by the speakers, delegates participated in an insight-sharing activity.
When asked what the primary objective of their digital strategy is, half of the delegates said that the goal is to enhance patient experience and journey while for the others the objective is to improve overall health quality.
According to one delegate from the National University Health System (NUHS), innovation captures many of these objectives. The positive news is that many businesses are building the necessary infrastructure to boost their digital transformation journey.
An interesting question during the session got delegates in deep thought. If their company has an unlimited budget, the area in which 57% of participants said they would invest in is the integration of disparate systems.
A delegate from IHH Healthcare was firm that improving back-end support services is equally important while applying digital initiatives. However, he added that there are still challenges that have to be addressed like scaling programmes. Another participant from the health sector said that if there are challenges in the budget, the solution is to bridge the gap in operations through RPAs.
A third (33%) of participants said that they are inclined to use intelligent automation in their integrated care departments, while the same percentage of attendees cited that they are adopting AI to drive patient experience.
A NUHS executive thought that integrated care is fundamental and that most organisations take the leap when they are presented with the opportunity to intensify integrated care technology. However, she was quick to add that one of the bottlenecks in intelligent automation is the notion that it only caters to back-end processes. In the long term, AI will increasingly be used in other areas of operations.
Her colleague from the NUHS agreed, stating that the whole purpose of adopting AI is to support patients’ journey so integrated care must be at the core of every organisation’s digital blueprint.
Anna summed up the online discussion by encouraging more agencies to capitalise on the strengths of intelligent automation processes in a bid to ramp up operational blueprints in healthcare. This, she said, can be done by collaborating with experts in the field of Intelligent Automation.
She invited the delegates to engage with partners who could guide them and be on the journey with them.
Smart Nation Initiative Minister in charge, Vivian Balakrishnan announced that the trace together program will be stood down and all the data collected under the program would be deleted after the pandemic ends to maintains people’s privacy and government’s transparency. He reiterated that the sole purpose of the program was for contact tracing and to break the chains of COVID – 19 transmission. He added that the Ministry of Health might want to retain the epidemiological data for research purposes, but it will all be anonymised.
The government has also issued the procedure that will be in place to request deletion of data from the Trace Together app and tokens. When signing up for TraceTogether, a random user ID (a string of numbers and letters) is generated and linked to the user’s contact number and identification details, such as his name and NRIC number. These details are stored in a secure server, according to the TraceTogether website.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) uses the identification details to contact the right person when necessary. When the app or token users are near one another, their user IDs are exchanged in an encrypted and randomised form and can be decrypted only by MOH. The encrypted Bluetooth data exchanged is stored in the app or token, and does not contain personal, identifiable information. Bluetooth data older than 25 days is also erased automatically. Only when a user tests positive for Covid-19 will MOH request that he upload the Bluetooth data to the government’s servers for tracing close contacts.
The app also collects anonymised information about a user’s phone and app, such as the phone model and app version, to help the government improve the app and provide a better user experience. This data does not have personal, identifiable information. No global positioning system location data is collected. The Android version of the app needs “location permission” from the user because Android requires apps requesting Bluetooth access to also get permission to access the user’s location information.
Users can also request for their identification data to be deleted from the government’s server unless they are confirmed Covid-19 cases and their proximity data – or information about people near them – has already been uploaded to the government’s server.
For a user of the TraceTogether app, he can make the deletion request by e-mailing email@example.com with the mobile number he registered in the app.
For a user of the TraceTogether token, he can return the physical token to the government by first e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the last four characters of his NRIC, FIN or passport number. The government will then let him know how to return the token.
When the request is received and can be made, the government will delete the user’s contact or mobile number, identification details and random user ID from its server. Once the deletion is completed, the data that the user’s device has exchanged with other users’ devices becomes meaningless because that data is no longer linked to the user.
When the nation fully recovers from the pandemic and there is no need to track and trace citizens to avoid the risk of infection, they will be prompted to disable the app or return or throw the token away.
The new strain of the COVID-19 virus was first discovered in South East Asia when a 45-person cluster got infected in Malaysia from a traveller who returned from India and breached his 14-day quarantine. The Philippines detected the strain among random COVID-19 samples in the largest city of its capital region. Since then, the world has been struggling to cope with the mutation that seems to be far more infectious.
The mutation called D614G makes a small but effective change in the virus’s spike protein, which the virus uses to enter the human cell. “The mutation is said to have a higher possibility of transmission or infectiousness, but we still don’t have enough solid evidence to say that that will happen,” Philippines’ Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing.
The strain has been found in many other countries and has become the predominant variant in Europe and the US but the World Health Organization says there is no evidence the strain leads to more severe disease.
There’s no evidence from the epidemiology that the mutation is considerably more infectious than other strains, said Benjamin Cowling, head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong. “It’s more commonly identified now than it was in the past, which suggests that it might have some kind of competitive advantage over other strains of Covid-19.”
Managing the pandemic at a national and global level is extremely difficult at it is being done in an environment cynicism of public health institutions. Data breaches of hospitals, health facilities and similar databases have been a fairly regular occurrence.
National responses to outbreaks vary greatly from country to country and there have been conflicting messages between leaders, health agencies and experts. These have fostered increased concern and confusion in the wider population. As Southeast Asian countries take various steps to prevent a resurgence while reopening limited travel, they struggle with people breaching quarantine rules after returning from overseas as well as false-negative test results at borders.
The delays in rolling out available vaccines and the discovery of new strains have forced a number to countries to go into lockdowns again and enforce stricter social distancing norms and restrictions.
In an increasingly tech-dependent and tech-driven world, it is pertinent that the healthcare sector explores new technologies to provide information, options and advice. Citizens need safe and secure solutions that can help them track, monitor and manage risk from the virus and also help them go out for work and fulfil essential tasks of daily life.
Novel technologies and platforms, of course, have been launched to help inform citizens on testing, care and movement. The most well-known of these would be contact tracing and symptom-reporting apps, some of which are increasingly being deployed by local and national public health agencies.
Liberty and Passage is one such solution for this persisting problem. Developed by Access Anywhere, the total outbreak management system combines several cutting edge technologies on one platform that can be used across various sectors including airports, cruise lines, immigration and tourism boards. It is a useful tool for all industries to restart their business.
Using AI and ML, Liberty & Passage has been designed to help provide relevant timely information and build the confidence required to restart free movement between countries and continents, giving travellers when crossing borders and authority’s confidence when processing foreign visitors at customs.
With these critical features, Liberty & Passage is an outbreak management solution for individuals, organisations, and the entire travel industry.
The platform is designed for the entire population with Liberty Open designed to manage personal risk, Liberty Corporate for organisations to ensure a safe return to work and Liberty Passage for travel and reopening of borders. Everyone gains from the vast insights the system provides to be able to go about their normal lives while keeping as safe as possible against this virulent threat.
By joining the three pillars together, ‘the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts’ giving the general public, employees and travellers freedom to move with confidence and a more intelligent understanding of their risk exposure using cutting edge technology.
Tech innovation is helping to manage the pandemic and better equip countries when dealing with the current public health emergency and for future public health emergencies. Outbreak management systems will be the key in building confidence, mitigating risk and enhancing safety in everyday life.
For more information on how the Liberty Solution works – please visit www.libertyandpassage.com
Singapore government is taking steps towards expanding the commercial use of drones to manage air traffic in future skies. In the first of such trials which are scheduled for March this year, multiple drones will take to the skies near Marina South Pier to test the effectiveness of an unmanned air traffic management system. If the trial is successful, it could be used to safely and efficiently manage drone traffic at scale.
The drones are built-in with a technology that makes sure that it does not collide with other drones using an automated system. This system can deconflict and monitor multiple drones flying in Singapore’s limited air space.
Sanjay Suresh, Head, Business Development, Nova Sytems Asia shared that first, the system lays out the flight plan for the drone after checking the flight schedule and path of other drones. The system also can alert the done through multiple channels in case there is a change in other drone’s direction or flight time.
The team at Nova Sytems has run numerous tests with more than 500 drones at the same time in a virtual setting. The live test that is scheduled for the second week March is the final milestone before the project is launched. Up to 6 drones will fly above the waters in the Maritime Drone Estate near the Marina South Pier. This minimises the risk to people and property while simulating real-time marine use cases.
“We want to fully stress test the system to make sure that a package needs to be delivered from the shore to a ship is fully aware that there are other drones performing rescue operations and doing vessel checks. We want to do this as we see it as a very possible future scenario” says Ryan Lee, Managing Director, Nova Systems Asia.
Data like the ship positions and scheduled movements will be included to help drones avoid them during the trial. The operators can also add weather conditions and flight patterns of migratory birds in future so that the drones can respond to these situations
The trial is also pivotal for the authorities as it will help them set in place the regulations with drone use likely to be ubiquitous in the near future. Ryan shares that the days are not far when people might have their own drones fetching them meals and goods from the market. Therefore, it is important to set regulations in place on time.
In trying to understand an unmanned traffic management system and the need to test it we found out that aircraft are guided safely by air traffic controllers communicating with pilots via radio, a system known as air traffic management (ATM). This direct, point-to-point, line-of-sight communication between an operator and an aircraft is the industry’s standard mode of operation. But estimates show that the growth of commercial air traffic is will ultimately exceed the capacity of a human-centred system—and this is just for human-piloted flights.
As unmanned and self-piloted operations continue to multiply, ATM systems will need to shift to a more scalable model: a digital system that can monitor and manage increased activity. This system is called Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), or a networked collection of services that communicate together based on common rules. Rather than relying on centralised control, UTM frameworks around the world will use the principle of distributed authority, which opens up the system to more service providers who can adapt as the market evolves and needs change.
In practice, UTM means aircraft will no longer have to speak to a single entity, such as an assigned air traffic controller. Instead, it will be able to communicate freely with multiple service suppliers. These suppliers will be held to relevant safety, security and performance standards by authorities, and will be able to coordinate with the rest of the network to make efficient decisions based on specific flight objectives. The transition will be gradual, but one that is important for the global aviation system’s future viability.
Vietnam has launched a new portal dedicated to dealing with fake news. The Vietnam Anti Fake News Centre (VAFC) was built and is operated by the Ministry of Information and Communications’ Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information.
The organisation has been tasked with receiving online reports of fake news. The portal defines fake news as inaccurate, untested, censored information, appearing incorrectly in content, and spread via the Internet and other media.
According to a news report, the portal spots and discredits fake news and publishes correct information. The portal also actively detects information trends with a large number of sharing and interacting to evaluate, appraise, and label possible fake news. It also offers instructions on how to recognise, prevent, and deal with fake news.
All individuals and organisations can also reflect on fake news through the switchboard 18008108 operated by Viettel Group, with guidance on how to report fake news provided when connecting to the hotline.
At the launching held in Hanoi on 12 January, a representative from the VAFC called for support from the relevant authorities at all levels, especially press agencies, to assess information and detect fake news, helping prevent and repel bad news and maintain a healthy network environment.
In addition to curbing the spread of fake news, the government has created policies for its ministries and private players to detect and block spam. Five major mobile service providers – Viettel, VinaPhone, MobiFone, Vietnamobile, and the virtual network I-Telecom blocked more than 89,600 mobile subscribers spreading spam calls in the last six months of 2020, according to the Department of Telecom under the Ministry of Information and Communications.
In December 2020 alone, the providers handled 17,290 subscribers: 7,844 by Viettel (45%), 7,301 by VinaPhone (42%), 1,155 by MobiFone (7%), 868 by I-Telecom (5%), and 122 by Vietnamobile (1%).
A representative from the department said that in the future, it will work closely with the mobile service suppliers to enhance the public and businesses’ awareness of spam numbers and spam messages, encouraging them to use registered SIM cards.
Spam calls and messages are delivered mostly to advertise products and services, such as offers to sell houses, apartments, and condotels, and include invitations to buy insurance policies, use financial services, and register for English training courses.
The subjects that deliver spam calls and messages use sophisticated technical measures that change regularly to deceive appropriate agencies. Earlier last July, the department coordinated with the subscribers to launch a number of technical solutions using big data and machine learning to identify subscribers with signs of spreading spam calls and messages.
In August 2020, the government issued a decree on the measures to prevent and reduce spam messages, emails, and calls. These included building anti-spam systems and developing criteria to identify spam. Monitoring and sharing information and databases on sources of spam and collecting and handling complaints.
Further, the government claimed it would supervise advertising service provision via text messages, emails, and calls; prevent and revoke electronic addresses spreading spam; strengthen domestic coordination and international cooperation; and raise awareness about spam prevention.
A team of physicists, engineers and chemists from across local institutions, led by Chair Professor Wang YAO of Research Division for Physics & Astronomy under Faculty of Science, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), working on the research of fundamentals and emerging technologies of two-dimensional (2D) materials, has recently been awarded funding of over HK$80 million from the Areas of Excellence (AoE) Scheme 2020/21 (Ninth Round) under the University Grants Committee (UGC).
This will facilitate the exploration of fundamental physics in the new realm of two-dimensional atomic crystals and their van der Waals heterostructures with the abundant quantum degrees of freedom (e.g., spin, valley); and to explore quantum engineering of materials and devices in the unprecedented atomically thin 2D geometries, to revolutionise electronics, optoelectronics and photonics.
The team of leading experts of 2D materials in Hong Kong were assembled to capitalise on this great opportunity. This AoE project is an inter-institutional and interdisciplinary one covering physics, applied physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, comprising 17 scientists from HKU, City University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Professor Yao stated that the team is grateful to UGC for the recognition of their past achievements through the award of this funding, and most importantly for this opportunity to work together as a team to achieve something bigger in this exciting area.
Dean of Science Professor Matthew EVANS extended his congratulations to the Project Coordinator and Co-Principal Investigators of this inter-institutional research project. He said, “I am most delighted to see the concerted efforts of our top-notch physicists and their collaborators in diverse disciplines on developing fundamental research on 2D materials, outracing other cutting-edge research and being recognised through the award of funding in this vigorous exercise.”
The development of 2D materials and beyond
The rapid development of information technology has been based on the continuous scaling down of microelectronic devices that improves cost, performance and power. This trend, empirically summarised as Moore’s law, is coming to an end because of the intrinsic scale limit of silicon microelectronics.
The new era of innovation will be profoundly different, calling for new material systems to host even smaller devices under new geometry, new heterogeneity, new quantum degrees of freedom to carry information, and new physical principles to process and store information.
Two-dimensional materials have a great potential to revolutionise microelectronics and information technology. The variety of 2D materials feature a wide range of material properties from metal, semiconductors, insulators to magnets and superconductors, as well as exotic physics associated with electrons’ quantum degrees of freedom (spin & valley) that could be exploited to encode and process information more efficiently.
Their extreme thinness – which is just a few atoms at most – promises the ultimate miniaturisation of devices and unparalleled control of materials and device functions. Moreover, 2D materials feature unprecedented flexibility in their assembly into heterostructures, through which new materials and device functionalities may emerge.
This project aims to explore these exciting opportunities for revolutionising electronics, optoelectronics and photonics, through a concerted effort addressing the fundamental issues from physics, materials synthesis to device engineering based on 2D materials.
Led by pioneers in the field of 2D materials, the team will seek to sustain Hong Kong’s edge in the field through basic and applied research, with a long-term goal of developing new prototype devices that will have application and commercialisation potentials for Hong Kong.
The role of social media platforms in advancing the cause of government organisations has been amplified with the onset of security and safety protocols rolled out to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Agencies in Indonesia have long realised the advantage of tapping into social media to disseminate information to the public. Banking on this advantage, the Marine and Fisheries Research and Human Resources Agency (BRSDM), a department under the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, recently held a virtual forum on public relations (PR) aimed at optimising the use of social media in the realm of information dissemination. There, the Ministry underscored the importance of having a change in mindset. There must be a need to look beyond conventional media and learn to adapt to other forms of digital media to improve operations.
During the event, Kusdiantoro, the Secretary of the Agency, said that by utilising social media, organisations across the country can unlock many opportunities to inform the general public of the undertakings and milestones achieved by the Ministry.
To emphasise, he cited earlier reports that showed Indonesia is among the top 10 countries which spend the most time on the internet. According to the Digital 2020 Global Digital Review published by Hootsuite and social marketing agency We Are Social, internet users in Indonesia in the age range of 16 – 64 years old spent an average of 7 hours and 59 minutes surfing the internet every day during 2019. This is longer than the average time recorded globally at 6 hours and 43 minutes.
The Secretary added: “The high use of social media in Indonesia is a great opportunity that can be used by government public relations to broadcast and socialise the work achievements of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, especially from BRSDM.”
To fully reap the benefits of utilising social media platforms, the Secretary noted that human resources and officials in PR must have an in-depth understanding of how the internet and social media work. It is likewise key to have a broad understanding of how to effectively manage these channels. These actions will allow the organisation to understand key concepts and data related to government policies and reforms that they can share with the public.
This is of significance to the Marine and Fishery Ministry which currently has 9,202 employees across its various departments. These do not include fisheries instructors, students and other key figures. The Secretary added that without proper publication, marine and fishery activities will not be optimised.
The expanded role of public relations
Other officials present during the online event shared the same sentiments. Tb Ardi Januar, the Special Staff of the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries for Public Communication Media Relations, stressed that the role of PR is crucial in following the mandate laid down by Indonesian President Joko Widodo for the Ministry to enhance communication ties between stakeholders and fishermen.
He explained that to attain this objective, the Ministry must keep its communication lines open to key players in the industry. It is also equally crucial to be able to effectively convey the policies of the Ministry to the public to strengthen public transparency and accountability. He added: “Public relations must also be able to compare institutions so that the public is well informed and able to counter issues, as well as clarifying controversial issues, bridging things that are unclear and straightening confusing information –that is the role of public relations.”
With the proliferation of new social media channels and citizen journalism, streamlining public relations is made easier. The trick is to use these platforms innovatively and creatively. In boosting social media presence, key points to be prioritised include helping disseminate the government’s flagship programmes in infrastructure and the economy.
Initiating reforms in public relations is only one of the undertakings set forth by government agencies in Indonesia. In an earlier report by OpenGov Asia, the Ministry of Communication and Information noted that it is developing several e-commerce platforms to assist Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.