This is Part I of a two-part series. Read Part II here.
Technology today is shaping every aspect of how the world works, communicates and lives. Entering into the new norm, a new digital society is emerging, connecting everyone and everything like never before. Digitalisation and technology adoption has been increasing at a steady rate over the last few years, and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the rate of adoption.
Tech-driven innovation and disruptive technologies have been integral parts of the crisis response and mitigation efforts. The private and public sector as well as citizens now rely on digital channels to provide and access goods, services, information and entertainment.
In this increasingly VUCA world, everyone is ramping up their digital transformation efforts to better serve citizens and clients. Governments and organisations across the globe continue to find innovative and effective ways to adapt to the new normal and the post-COVID-19 environment. This was the focal point of discussions during the Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition Day 1 that brought the key decision-makers and influencers together for a strategic level discussion on the issues that matter the most.
Convening the brightest digital minds for a strategic level discussion on the issues that matter the most, the Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum offered a unique way of tackling challenges in its first virtual edition. Intentionally planned, every activity and facet of the event was designed to let delegates garner exclusive insights from the digital leaders as well as demonstrate their thought-leadership.
As always, the forum provided intimate interaction between key ICT leaders from the Public Sector and the Financial Services Industry who influence and determine digital strategies across agencies and organisations.
Apart from informative presentations from renowned speakers, this year’s forum continued its award-winning OpenGov Gamification Table (OGT) format in the new OpenGov Gamification Virtual Rooms (OGVRs). Every OpenGov Gamification Virtual Room was a virtual heuristic exercise allowing delegates to learn from varying decision-making scenarios just as they would in the physical world.
Cultural Shifts amid the Pandemic
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered opening remarks.
Well before the pandemic, there was consensus on the benefits of remote models – working from anywhere, anytime. The discussion was vigorous on how to bring this about effectively and securely but ultimately, it did not happen in any significant way. Then, at the end of 2019 came a 500-mile tailwind so devastating that it forced the world to pause. The virus respected no border, industry or community – ravaging all with equal ferocity.
The public and the private sectors worked independently and together to fight the pandemic, coming up with a slew of ad-hoc solutions. Digital initiatives and tech platforms were launched across sectors and industries. However, the demand on the public sector shot up dramatically as citizens, forced to stay at home, looking to the government for necessities to survive. Compounding the situation was the need to urgently manage the sick, the vulnerable and the inaccessible population.
In the early stages, people were excited at the opportunity to work from home, a cultural shift that had been in the offing for a while. Interestingly though, the step was considered a “pivot” – with the connotation of reaction rather than strategic, or some may call “band-aid technologies”. People and organisations were said to be “pivoting” to manage and mitigate the issues the pandemic brought.
Beyond a doubt, both sectors did their jobs in terms of providing relevant programmes and initiatives throughout the age of COVID-19. But the question remains, were those initiatives innovative and intentional? Was enough done with the available tech? Additionally, as the initial euphoria of remote working wears thin, people, once happy about the shift, realise that the new normal disrupts their work-life balance and their well-being.
The good brings with it the bad, the unsafe and the difficult. Deployment, in normal circumstances, of technology like AI, Cloud and Data Analytics are accompanied by cybersecurity challenges. In the pandemic where almost everything has moved online, cybercrime has increased astronomically.
Knowing this, Mohit challenged the delegates, if you put digital transformation at the heart of your plan, is everything going to be magically in place? Or do we need to look beyond the adoption of technologies to the comprehensive integration of technology, processes, and people?
Organisations and institutions must find the right balance in their digital transformation journey using technology. They must also find leadership to achieve the ultimate end goal of a complete digital transformation in the new normal.
In closing, Mohit emphasised the need for agencies and organisations to find the right partner in this digital journey. Not just from the tech sector, but also the government, banking and FSI, to ensure that everyone is on the right path to an ideal digital transformation.
The PhilSys: A Foundational Identity Platform for an Inclusive and Resilient Digital Philippines
After Mohit’s opening remarks, the forum heard from Denis F. Villorente, Undersecretary for the National Information & Communications Technology Assets Index, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Denis acknowledged that digital transformation was already happening before the pandemic – COVID-19 accelerated it. There were many initiatives in place or the pipeline.
Denis spoke about the potential of a robust national ID system that could facilitate multiple types of transactions necessary for digital ecosystems and societies, saving people, government and businesses time and money and unlock new drivers of economic value and growth.
Exploring the rationale of the Philippines’ national ID system, he conceded that there was a need for a foundational ID system. The over 25 functional ID systems do not offer digital authentication services to third parties and highly dependent on paper-based and manual processes. This has led to high costs and fraud in service delivery and prevents the shift to online services.
In terms of public services, the current identification landscape in the Philippines has not just created exclusion but also exacerbated inequality. Citizens often need to provide two or more matching physical documents which is a barrier for many to access services. About 1 in 5 of the poorest (40% ) Filipinos have been unable to apply for government services because they lacked the required IDs. Similarly, 1 in 6 of this group have been unable to receive government financial support because they lacked the required IDs.
Knowing this, the need for a foundational ID was glaringly obvious. Therefore, Republic Act No. 11055 or the Philippine Identification Act was signed into law. The law establishes a single national identification system that aims to provide valid proof of identity for Filipino citizens and resident aliens of the Philippines. The Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) is the government’s central identification platform.
The PhilSys has two functions. One is the PhilSys Number (PSN) that creates a unique digital identity for all Filipinos and resident aliens via the PSN. The other is to provide reliable authentication of that identity for secure digital transactions.
PhilSys is designed as an enabling platform that unlocks new services and systems for the digital economy, especially online transactions. It underpins sectoral IDs and databases to enhance accuracy, interoperability and integrity. The system boosts the digital transformation of existing services and systems reducing cost, time and fraud.
The PhilSys-enabled services will allow governments and businesses to use technology to change how they do business, shifting to transactions that are paperless, automated, and online.
In terms of security, as a permanent and irrevocable unique identifier, the PSN is very sensitive. If it is collected and widely used in its raw format, greater risk of it being leaked or stolen, with consequences for security and privacy. To mitigate these risks and learning from the experience of other countries, the PhilSys is adopting tokenisation as a strategy to protect the PSN from misuse while maintaining the same functionalities. Tokenisation involves the generation of PSN tokens with the power of the user that obfuscate or mask the PSN and serve the same function as the PSN.
The PhilSys aims to provide efficient and reliable authentication services by having the PSN microprinted on a PhilID card to allow holders to retrieve the number when needed. The number is used to facilitate authentication and the relationship is like that of an ATM card and bank account numbers.
A PhilSys mobile app develops an “Alyas” PSN that can be generated by the user via the app. This is like virtual credit card numbers. Data is stored in databases that generate back-end tokens unique to each relying party and can be mapped to others.
Designed with privacy in mind, access to personal data in the ID system is strictly limited by the Data Privacy Act and the PhilSys Act. The country’s National Privacy Commission (NPC) also supervises its compliance. Privacy best practices are embedded in its technical architecture, such as data minimisation and proportionality, tokenisation, and encryption. The system will also adopt security measures per the ISO 27000-family standards.
To end his presentation, Denis said that by the end of 2021, up to 70 million Filipinos will have been registered to PhilSys and been issued their PSN and PhilIDs. He emphasised that the PhilSys present opportunities for service providers to simplify, secure, and reduce the cost-of-service delivery to citizens/clients. Government CIOs have a critical role to play in ensuring the preparedness and readiness of their agencies in unlocking the opportunities and value of the system.
From Artificial to Real: AI Stories in the Fight Against COVID-19
The forum moved to a presentation from Dr Steve Bennett, Director, Public Sector & Financial Services Practice, SAS. He discussed how Artificial Intelligence (AI) helped during the pandemic.
Governments initially adopted operations research, Steve explained, as a scientific method of providing executive departments with a quantitative basis for decisions regarding the operations under their control. It then evolved to AI that could provide better decisions by training systems to emulate specific human tasks through learning and automation. Technology then transformed from artificial to real in the battle against COVID-19.
First, AI and data analytics helped governments in their responses against the pandemic by Epidemiological Modelling and Medical Resource Optimisation. Governments used data analytics to flatten the infection curve while preserving limited resources crucial in the COVID-19 era. AI and data analytics also assisted governments regarding contact tracing efforts by connecting and understanding data available to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Utilising these technologies can also make outbreak predictions by knowing the areas where large communities are residing and are vulnerable to possible contagion. Governments can utilise machine learning and AI to help them make predictions and anticipate future outbreaks.
Second, AI and data analytics aided governments in the recovery phase, more specifically in delivering citizen benefits. Citing the example of the United Kingdom, Steven said the British government offered a range of benefits to people in need. like other governments, the nation, too, wanted to make sure that benefits were delivered to the right people. AI and data analytics were successfully deployed to quickly score and validate the right beneficiaries that all those resources went to.
Steve agreed that the re-imagining of government, including digital transformation, is happening all over the world and was accelerated by COVID-19. At the core of this, AI and data analytics are helping governments to determine what it means to focus on services for their citizens.
In terms of citizen centricity, Steve gave the example of a large city in Denmark. The city wants to get people back to work in 13 weeks or less if they lose their job. This vision is tailor-made for machine learning and AI to optimally match the mix of programmes to the right citizens. Knowing the background of people and by having AI/ML map appropriate programmes, the government has seen great results in terms of getting people back to work.
AI and data analytics has helped governments when it comes to producing tailored citizen services and benefits optimisation. For example, the New Zealand government noticed that people who entered the benefits programme were children or under the age of 18. They wanted to know how they could change the trajectory of children and families in New Zealand.
So, they started to use data analytics technology that the retail industry has been using for years, where companies gather and understand data that can help them identify what products are most fitted for their customers. Adopting this logic and technology to the public sector, helped them offer the best tailor-made services for their citizens, saving the government a lot of resources.
Confident that these examples about AI and data analytics would inspire delegates, Steve closed by emphasising that these technologies are not just theoretical. They can make and have made a practical difference in the lives of citizens and in government missions.
The next on the programme was a Power Talk where Mohit joined panellists Agnes Perpetua R. Legaspi, Assistant Director Export Marketing Bureau, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Henry R. Aguda, Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Technology & Operations Officer & Chief Transformation Officer, UnionBank of the Philippines, Brigadier Kuldip Singh (retired), Sr Consultant/Specialist, National Disaster Management Authority, and Sean Audain, City Innovation Lead, Wellington City Council.
On the agenda to discuss was public services in the new normal and what does the word “Reboot” mean. Open to debate was the kind of transformation the panellists were expecting to see and how did they think technology would support the reshaping of the world with lessons learned from COVID-19.
Agnes said that the new normal means not going back to the old norm. The working environment will continue to be hybrid; using a lot of ICT, incorporating shared value creation in governments and organisations will equate to better business processes and client services. Agnes conceded that there will always be a need to evolve and adapt to change and embrace new technologies. AI and predictive analytics, she felt, will play a vital role in the post-COVID 19 environment.
There was already a global trend of remote working, Kuldip acknowledged; COVID-19 magnified and accelerated this trend. Humans are averse to change and are creatures of habit so it is up to leaders to continue and improve this trend going forward. Along with the evolution of technologies and practices, there is a huge concern about the associated risks that are evolving alongside. For example, from robberies using guns, it has evolved to laptops and the internet. Knowing this, society needs to be more careful going forward.
Henry agreed with Agnes and Kuldip that practices during the new norm are here to stay. From a financial sector perspective, the industry can adopt a banking work from anywhere approach because banks follow their customers. If it is a work-from-home setup, they will introduce banking-from-home. The banking sector will adjust to the current norm. However, he cautioned that this transition needs to be secure enough to mitigate possible risks and threats associated with this change.
Sean said the good thing about the new normal is that it allows new things to occur. A huge proponent of biodiversity, one of the most promising things, he noted, is the decoupling of our economic growth from carbon. The world managed to do it during the COVID-19 era supported by disruptive technologies. Sean hopes that the speed of change complements these purposes.
IoT – The Smart City Technology
After the engaging Power Talk section, the forum heard from David Graham, Chief Innovation Officer, City of Carlsbad on how the Internet of Things boosted smart city technology in the city of Carlsbad.
The concept of smart cities has been around for a long time, David agreed and the pandemic further magnified the ideas around it. Governments found work virtually, deliver citizen services via tech and deploy a slew of online tools. Countries also saw drastic adjustments needed to address climate change and similar issues. All in all, the pandemic accelerated and promoted change.
With innovation ramping up during the crisis, it impacted residents, visitors, business and governments. There was a need for rapid adaptation of new technologies to get work done as the way work got done changed. New ways to engage with the public were discovered that can move from temporary to long-term. Insights that contribute to continuous improvement and advanced data-driven decision making have been obtained. To summarise, innovation principles to get the job done were learned.
There were several ways the city of Carlsbad adapted to the new normal. First is they adopted a new city app, Carlsbad Connects, an easy way for citizens to report things that attention around town – like potholes, sidewalk cracks, traffic light outages, graffiti or code enforcement issues.
The city replaced landlines with Voiceover IP increasing capabilities and flexibility. They conducted virtual inspections and upgraded cybersecurity. A Business Centre for online payments was established.
The city council continued its analysis of the effects of the pandemic by issuing an updated survey of Carlsbad businesses during COVID-19, data collection and analysis of changing business needs and financial assistance that needs re-assessment. The council provided rapid lifelines to local businesses like a COVID-19 restaurant map that connects residents with safe dining locations, information on food delivery/takeout options, that are accessible on a phone, tablet or computer.
They had initiatives to address COVID-19 hot spots which cater to the calls for services related to 19 health order violations, identification of focus areas for increased outreach or education, and track and monitor changes in patterns in districts.
Some of Carlsbad’s city-wide initiatives include operations and performance monitoring, community risk reduction, pre-planning, after-action mission analysis, hazard reduction, predictive analytics and proactive interdiction.
The city adopted a Drone Programme for city-wide operations that could highlight possible emergencies within the community beyond the physical line of sight. It also uses these drones for package and service deliveries.
David believes that strategic digital transformation must include an equally strategic digital transformation investment programme. Governments should approach investment in digital infrastructure the same way they see investments in physical infrastructures. A capital improvement strategy for technology and digital should be a five-year plan with project descriptions, timelines, cost and funding sources.
Governments must make consistent investments crucial to adapting to emergencies and crises, David concluded. They must evaluate residents, businesses, visitors and staff experiences to reduce friction on future continuous improvement efforts. Leaders must let the crucible of crisis accelerate change management while making temporary responses a long-term improvement. People must not focus on the phrase “back to normal” but must instead create a “better normal” to achieve that future.
Increase Your Agility with Multi-Cloud Flexibility
The forum welcomed Ryan Tassotti, Enterprise Architect and Principal Engineer, Dell Technologies to share how governments and organisations can utilise the flexibility of a multi-cloud system to increase their agility.
Ryan defines the cloud as an on-demand self-service that has broad network access, resource pooling capability, rapid elasticity and can measure services. The cloud has four deployment models – private cloud, community cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud. The Top 3 objectives driving cloud spending for Asia Pacific’s customers are New technology, Digital Transformation and Cloud-First Strategy.
Ryan explained that the Philippine Cloud Policy is up to date in terms of digital innovations and services, aiming to improve citizen’s experience with the government. It is data-centric and classification level is important. He was firm in his opinion that no Philippine government created data should be subject to foreign laws, regardless of the cloud deployment model.
The fact is, Ryan noted, that the pandemic ushered the world into a new era. The new normal brings new demands and the cloud is set to provide solutions to these new necessities. The world has made a paradigm shift and digital transformation must accelerate with it. Close to three-quarters (74%) of all organisations are investing in on-demand digital services, two-thirds (65%) of global GDP will be from digital by 2022 and on-demand models by 2023 will be 15%, up from less than 1% in 2019.
A recent survey of 900 IT leaders across verticals and regions found that 96% of organisations have an executive mandate to leverage cloud technologies. While 89% plan to deploy private cloud infrastructure in the next 12 months, 76% of organisations will leverage multiple clouds environments over the next two years.
Utilising a multi-cloud strategy caters to different workloads. Some organisations value performance, some prioritise data services, while some look at costs and data sovereignty. While hybrid-cloud seems to be the way forward, a hybrid-cloud platform must bring stability. It must stabilise workloads, apps, and data spread across multiple clouds – all in all, a consistent cloud experience for everything.
Ryan advised organisations to find partners in cloud adoption. “There are experts who can help you migrate without pain – why do it alone?”
Cloud adopters must ensure that the platform is consistent throughout. They must avoid hiccups throughout an application’s lifecycle with platforms that extend seamlessly, End-users do not want to be surprised by a new management interface so they must be informed.
Ryan and his team in Dell Technologies promote consistency. They facilitate consulting services, deployment services that accelerate technology adoption, managed services realising digital transformation value for client systems, storage, backup, and converged infrastructure, and education services that develop and retain valuable IT talent through continuous learning.
Ryan is firmly convinced that the future is hybrid, the future is multi-cloud, and the Philippine Cloud Policy embraces these advancements.
New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure – Strategies, Implementation, Successes, Challenges and Road Ahead
Next, delegates heard a presentation from Chris Buxton, Chief Digital Officer, Statistics New Zealand on the strategies and challenges behind the implementation of New Zealand’s integrated data infrastructure.
Chris shared that New Zealand’s integrated data infrastructure has two parts. One is the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), an integrated database containing de-identified longitudinal microdata about people and households. The other is the Longitudinal Business Database (LBD), an integrated database containing de-identified longitudinal microdata about businesses. Linking these datasets together is called the Spine, created by linking births, tax, and visa data together, other sources (aka nodes) are linked with the spine.
The flow of data in the IDI and LBD is by collecting data from all sources, processing and linking the data, and identifying data available for research. The data is kept safe within a ‘five safes’ framework to ensure that access to the IDI and LBD is only provided if all the following conditions can be met:
- safe people (background checks on citizens)
- safe projects (inspections on infrastructures)
- safe settings (adept data storage systems)
- safe data (anonymising the data)
- safe output (nobody can take out data from the system)
Researchers from government agencies, universities, the private sector use the information derived from these data to study studying issues like child vulnerability, education and employment outcomes, the impact of health conditions and business productivity.
Researchers use anonymous data from IDI and present it in a comprehensible way, allowing users to visualise integrated government data at a detailed geographical level. The information also influences employment pathways and outcomes by letting researchers know how the workforce is changing over time.
However, while there are benefits, there are also limitations. Researchers can tackle previously ‘unanswerable’ questions via longitudinal view, cross-sector view, and geographical views all while reducing research cost and burden. But various administrative data quality issues are also present and these processes demand high time and skill investments.
Chris also shed light on the new Datahub. The hub is a centralised data management platform that stores, verifies and analyses data. Based on the Cloudera technology stack, it feeds data into new and existing statistical and analytic systems such as the R and Python programming languages and tools such as SAS and Microsoft’s Power BI. Errors in data are detected early through automated validation and checking systems that also extract relevant metadata and prepare the data for use. With no restrictions on how data is formatted, the Datahub provides increased flexibility around how data is stored and used.
Chris shared lessons and enabling factors from the implementation of the IDI and LBD. They found the “If you build it, they will come” phrase to be true. He explained that when leaders decide to build a system dedicated to data, then the information needed from that data will come. He also added that data providers are generally willing to make their data available. However, they found that technical skills are a barrier to extracting true value from data. For systems to succeed, there must a be social licence, informed trust and flexibility is key.
At the end of his presentation, Chris advised governments and organisations to improve their infrastructures, improve access to these services, make legislation reviews, and create international access to create improved awareness.
Blazing the Trail in AI Talent Development
Koo Seng Meng, Senior Deputy Director – AI Innovation, AI Singapore was next to discuss how AI Singapore blazed the trail in AI talent and literacy development in Singapore.
Seng Meng started by confirming that AI Singapore’s National programme intends to educate all nationalities, not just Singaporeans, on AI and to harness the scientific and economic potentials of AI for Singapore. They work closely with the government’s lead ministries and economic agencies as well as the private sector’s research institutions and enterprises to build local AI talents.
By staying true to their mission called “Grow our own timber”, Seng Meng said that Singapore must develop their people to meet the national demands on AI. For example, at a primary level, AI Singapore launched AI for Kids (AI4K). On the secondary level, they let schools adopt AI for Everyone (AI4E) as an AI foundation baseline. There is also AI for Students (AI4S) dedicated to young learners. In an industry setup, there is AI for Industry (AI4I) where universities use the course with academic credits, pushing them to an AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP).
AI Singapore have done these talent programmes for 3 years, but the question is, is it enough?
Seng Meng believes that there should e an increase in the supply of AI Engineers, not students to go into the workforce. The nation must grow an AI–literate population to grow an Ai-trained workforce to increase the number of AI capable individuals.
This can be achieved by understanding AI basics presented in AI for Everyone, AI for Students, and AI for Kids. AI skills can grow with AI for Industry and co-developed AI curriculum with schools and institutes of higher learning. By growing the AI-capable workforce, the country gets a chance to work on real-world AI such as the AIAP.
AI Singapore and the AI Professionals Association (AIP) have set a competency standard and career pathway for AI learners and aspirants. They also qualify AI Engineer talents that industries need, and through this partnership, they create a national registry of qualified AI engineers for national policymakers.
The AIP is the foremost professional society for practitioners, organisations, and students in AI. The association also started the Chartered AI Engineer profession. They intend to help companies and countries by giving them a national standard for professionally qualified AI engineering talents.
The Chartered AI Engineer profession is broken down into three categories. First is the Associate AI Engineer; they are students or working professionals who have the necessary skills & knowledge to start working on an AI Project. They are not required to display the relevance of their technical skills to business. Rather they are deemed to be proficient in the required technical skills to start working for a business organisation that has some data capabilities.
The second one is the Chartered AI Engineer Level 1; working professionals who have the necessary technical skills to develop AI solutions. They can draw a relationship between an AI project and its relevance to business and design the solution to meet the deliverables, and lastly is the Chartered AI Engineer Level 2; they are working professionals who are team leads for AI engineers. They align project outcomes to fit into the business process and able to set up the appropriate process to monitor the effectiveness of the AI models put into production. They also lead or involve in the final solution architecture to ensure successful deployment that delivers business value.
To end, Seng Meng advised governments and organisations to have an AI Readiness Index (AIRI), that tackles an organisation’s readiness with AI talent, literacy, governance and management support, as well as data readiness that ensures the quality of data, and infrastructure readiness with a data warehouse and computing resources.
The Democratisation of Data & Insights
Taking over the session was Kate Carruthers, Chief Data and Insights Officer, University of New South Wales who spoke on how the democratisation of data can help governments and organisations in their digital transformation journeys.
Data democratisation is the process of transforming data into information and making the information accessible organisation-wide. Data, and the universal access to it, is the key to fully transform organisations, Kate opines. Democratised data will create new opportunities and unlock the value embedded within organisations.
A study says that most organisations are not data-driven and will not be anytime soon. The business adoption of Big Data and AI initiatives must be viewed through a long-term lens – as a process and a journey. Only 31.0% of companies say they are data-driven. The research says that the world is headed in the wrong direction as this number has declined from 37.1% in 2017 and 32.4% in 2018.
Firms need to adopt a long-term approach, focusing on the complex cultural challenges as a starting point. Beyond a doubt, complexity is a defining feature of the digital era but governance structures to manage are not being adjusted accordingly.
Kate proposed several key pillars for data: data governance, data security (including cybersecurity, information security), data platforms and data culture.
Data Governance (DataGov) underpins everything ad is defined as the organisation and implementation of policies, procedures, structure, roles, and responsibilities which outline and enforce rules of engagement, decision rights and accountabilities for the effective management of information assets. It helps by identifying data at risk, locating sensitive data, ensuring that sensitive data is stored and managed properly, identifying sensitive data users, and ensuring consistent data access processes and safer access to sensitive data.
DataGov, privacy, risk, ethics and IT must all be aligned regarding information literacy. This will include uniformity in policies and standards, establishing decision rights, information quality, stewardship, privacy, compliance, security, assess risk and define controls as well as architecture, integration, and consistent data definitions.
There are five essential aspects to data management:
- cyber and information security
- risk management
- data and information governance
A good data strategy must be focused on people, technologies and processes. It is critical to understand how data generates value. This does not mean merely financial value; it means value to people and insights that are not otherwise available. Organisations should also know what their critical data assets are with data– and system– classification. Finally, an organisation must know its data ecosystem.
The principles of a successful data strategy include knowing how data generates value, knowing critical data assets and data ecosystems, and ways on how to govern the said data. Data ecosystems must have data capabilities that are about people who create and manage usable, high-quality enterprise information assets.
Capabilities should include tools, data, and processes for management reporting and advanced analytics, as well as action capabilities that automate the provision of data and enable business intelligence and insights to be delivered.
A good data management model must include security architecture, an automated user management system and data pipelines, regular penetration testing, and agile DevOps. Kate said that the democratisation of data also helps in the introduction of self-help dashboards for the following areas:
- Student Admissions & Recruitment
- Student Load Reporting
- Faculty Student Reporting
- Academic Administration
- HR & Recruitment
To end her presentation, Kate said that we must methodically focus on delivering value to people by doing something better today than yesterday. Agility and developmental operations matter and data democratisation is a team sport. Data needs a platform armed with data governance that is aligned with the issues on risk, ethics, privacy, and IT to work collaboratively.
In conclusion, she said, data is a journey, not a destination.
Read Part II of The Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum Virtual Edition: “Embracing Digitalisation to Navigate the New Normal”.
The Philippines’ Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) is proposing to make the use of digital signatures mandatory in national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs).
During the Ease of Doing Business Summit, ARTA urged NGAs and LGUs to subscribe to the Philippine National Public Key Infrastructure (PNPKI) of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to generate e-signature. The DICT can also accredit digital signatures of private institutions.
As per ARTA, the Commission on Audit (COA) is already drafting a circular to recognise the use of digital signatures in all government transactions as well as the crafting of the guidelines on the use of digital signatures.
Aside from the mandatory use of digital signature, ARTA is pushing for a unified online payment system for all fees, contributions, and taxes across NGAs and LGUs. They are already in initial talks and discussions with the concerned agencies, and they are proposing that the Land Bank of the Philippines as one of the government banks to be the payment aggregator of all these payments.
Along with the implementation of e-payment, the agency said that they are currently ironing out the guidelines in the issuance of electronic copies of receipts by the NGAs and LGUs. The use of e-signature and e-payment in government transactions is part of the administration’s push to automate services and processes in public offices.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the government said that integrating information and communications technology in government service is the best way to prepare for the digital demands of the new norm brought by the pandemic.
With a mandate to promote public trust and efficiency in the delivery of public services, ARTA is well positioned to deploy this initiative as part of its strategy. The adoption of digital signatures complements the ARTA’s Advisory Nos. 1 and 2, s. 2020, that urge all government entities to fast-track public transactions through alternative online procedures and the use of e-signatures for official documents.
The Ease of Doing Business and ARTA Council, the policy and advisory body of ARTA previously convened a video conference to discuss initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the virtual meet, the council discussed strategies towards the digitisation of government functions as the country transitions into the new normal as it relates to the COVID-19 crisis.
The council agreed that all government agencies should significantly increase the adoption of technology for efficient and timely delivery of government services. Such adoption of technology and deployment of online services will minimise the risk of further spreading of the virus as well as better serve citizens in general.
These efforts are in line with President Duterte’s directive to ease government-to-citizen transactions during the ongoing state of a public health emergency, and in compliance with the directive of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for government agencies to minimise bottlenecks in the delivery of vital public services.
Previously, ARTA launched its flagship programme NEHEMIA or the National Effort for the Harmonisation of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies. Programme NEHEMIA is a sectoral-based streamlining effort that is directed towards speeding up and realisation of the Socio-Economic Agenda of the government. It targets to reduce the time, cost, requirements, and procedures in sectors of economic and social significance by 52% within 52weeks.
The programme NEHEMIA is in line with ARTA’s mandate to adopt a whole-of-government approach in the streamlining of government services. It is also aligned with the recently released Administrative Order 23: Eliminating Overregulation to Promote Efficiency of Government Processes signed by the President.
The Philippines’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) launched the national artificial intelligence (AI) roadmap which made the Philippines one of the first 50 countries in the world to have a national strategy and policy on AI.
The DTI said that AI adoption can increase Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) by 12% by 2030, or equivalent to US$92 billion based on research estimates. The agency added that the AI roadmap aims to accelerate the adoption and utilisation of AI in the country to advance industrial development, generate better quality entrepreneurship, and higher-paying opportunities for Filipinos. Through the AI roadmap, they hope to establish the Philippines as an AI Centre for Excellence in the region that is backed by a local talent pool and vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
As the country aims to be an AI powerhouse in the region, the roadmap will establish the private sector-led National Centre for AI Research (NCAIR) which will serve as a shared hub for AI research. Also, the agency stated that the AI roadmap would help the country to be a hub for data processing providing high-value data analytics and AI services to the world given the country’s strong business process management sector.
Among the applications of AI are in real estate, banking and financial services, surveillance, retail and e-commerce, education, space exploration, agribusiness, urban planning, manufacturing, healthcare, and logistics and transportation.AI would also help government services become more efficient, said the agency.
With the launching of the AI roadmap, the DTI targets to guide the use of AI to maintain the regional and global competitiveness of local industries; and identify key areas, in both research and development and technology application, for investing time and resources of government, industry, and broader society. It also aims to recommend ways for effectively fostering a triple-helix of research and development (R&D) collaboration among government, industry, and academe, which would be essential to national development; put forward approaches for preparing the future workforce for the jobs of the future; and attract the biggest industries to set shop in the country, which would generate more jobs for Filipinos.
The agency emphasised that AI is a vital innovation amid the COVID-19 pandemic where human-to-human interaction should be limited. AI can also be used in contact tracing, health assessment and monitoring, knowledge management, and addressing supply chain issues. While there is this fear that AI will automate so many jobs that millions of Filipinos might find themselves unemployed, this fear should instead be viewed as opportunities for new possibilities. The structure of the workforce will change. Newer, better, and higher-income jobs will emerge. AI will also allow the country to create a knowledge-based economy, which we can leverage to create a more inclusive and prosperous society.
The rapid adoption of digital technologies can help the Philippines overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, recover from the crisis, and achieve its vision of becoming a middle-class society free of poverty, according to a report released by the World Bank and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
However, the use of digital technologies in the Philippines is still below its potential, with the country’s digital adoption generally trailing behind many regional neighbours. The “digital divide” between those with and without the internet leads to unequal access to social services and life-changing economic opportunities.
In this society-wide digital transformation, the government can take the lead by speeding up e-governance projects, such as the foundational identification system and the digitisation of its processes and procedures, which will help promote greater inclusion, improve efficiency, and enhance security. The government can take an active role in fostering policies that reduce the digital divide and create a more conducive business environment for the digital economy to flourish, said the report.
Over the years, technology has revolutionised the world and daily life, giving rise to innovative tools and resources that can aid in everyday endeavours. Modern technology has paved the way for multi-functional devices – computers, phones and smart tools are increasingly faster, more portable and higher-powered than ever before. No doubt, with all this, life is easier, faster and better.
In line with market place progress, the public sector must also adapt as it pursues its mission to serve citizens, ensuring their safety and well-being. Technology related innovation is critical to accomplish this especially in the new normal brought by the pandemic.
With advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, governments can put data to work improving outcomes for citizens. Powering governments at all levels, these technologies allow for better, faster and more cost-effective decisions that could make a significant difference in the lives of the citizens.
Malaysia is a nation that has embraced digital transformation wholeheartedly. MyDigital – the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint – is a road map for the country’s transformation into a regional digital powerhouse by 2030. It outlines a new and comprehensive approach to existing information and digital technology initiatives.
An integral part is the ramping up of cloud computing services in the public sector. Through its Cloud First strategy, it has targeted the migration of 80% of public data to hybrid cloud systems by the end of 2022. The cloud-first directive will provide for a more effective and smooth data collection and management while helping reduce costs in the long run. Such cloud services will allow Big Data, AI, IoT and other applications to be widely deployed to enhance and strengthen citizen services.
The OpenGov Asia Tech Day on 7 May 2021 aimed to impart knowledge on how public sector agencies could apply real-world AI and analytics applications to provide exceptional citizen services more cost-effectively while guarding against waste and abuse as well as facilitating better outcomes.
This session served as a great peer-to-peer learning platform to gain insights and practical solutions to understand the value of using analytics to extract value from data to make better, faster and more cost-effective, data-driven decisions that make a difference in the lives of the citizens. The virtual event powerfully demonstrated how agencies can turn data into an asset – automating critical tasks, detecting and preventing waste and abuse and embracing efficiency.
Unlocking the Value of Data
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered the opening address.
The fact is, well before the current crises, citizens were getting more demanding as they were used to technology making things available anywhere, anytime and on-demand. Further, during the pandemic, government services could not slow down and indeed, scaled up significantly as the need was pressing and essential.
Effective services, relief packages and pandemic counter-measure all rely heavily on data and information. Research shows in the COVID-19 era, more data than ever before, was collected. But in and of itself, data can do nothing. Mohit emphasised users must fully understand what data can do for you. Most people do not know where to start – that is where problems come from. Users need to investigate the depth and scale of data not play on its surface. Governments and their agencies need to understand datasets by incorporating disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Most executives concede that the pandemic gave rise to ad-hoc solutions and band-aid measures. The question, Mohit asks is, can governments run the way they have been running the past few months more efficiently and innovatively? Understanding and the proper utilisation of data can help with that.
In closing, Mohit urged the delegates to find the right partners for their data and digital journey. If they are to stay ahead of the curve, it is vital to work with experts who can guide them along the right path.
Empowering Malaysia with Data Analytics
The delegates next welcomed by Nik Ariff Nik Omar, Director of Sales, Government Linked Companies, Public Sector & Telecommunications, SAS Malaysia.
SAS’ mission, Nik clarified, is to empower Malaysia during this challenging time and also help the country realise its digital potential. Their mission is entirely in keeping with the nation’s MyDigital vision to invigorate the economy that rests on five main priorities:
- Fight corruption
- Mitigate fraud and instil governance
- Increase revenue by reducing leakages and tackling the dark economy
- Improve public safety and security and safeguard the border
- Provide better education, healthcare and environment for diverse citizens
From a SAS perspective, their forte is empowerment with trusted analytics. After 45 years in business, they are convinced that the key is analytics – core to providing insights to solve problems. A staggering 91% of Fortune 100 companies use their services and platforms for data and analytics life cycles of different maturities for their mission-critical use cases.
They have over 15,000 staff to deliver know-how, solutions, services and training with speed, discipline and commitment. SAS has 83,000 successful sites worldwide, including over 160 in Malaysia with 96% satisfaction. The organisation invests 27% in R&D for continued relevancy, producing best in class solutions and to anticipate clients’ future problems now.
The gamification session consisted of three scenarios and three rounds with delegates divided into five city councils. Teams (councils) were provided with a list of solutions to choose from to help resolve their scenario. Solutions had been pre-classified according to optimal/non-optimal answers but were not revealed to the teams. The greater the number of optimal answers chosen by teams as their recommended solutions, the more points they received.
Teams were also able to provide wild card answers which were solutions of their own. The suitability of these wild card solutions would be determined by the game facilitators.
Gamification Session I
Scenario 1 was building a city of the future / smart city. With the increase in population and diversifying of industries and economies, advancement in technology and digitalisation, decision-makers who part of the city council should plan to ensure that the city keeps pace and provide the optimum infrastructure and services to the people, community and businesses.
There was a lot of discussion within each team and divergent views between the teams. After a robust round of discussion and interaction, the optimal solutions were shared:
- Identify all relevant sources of data (internal or external) that are available and relevant
- Obtain additional data that is deemed crucial to paint a clearer and holistic picture
- Prepare the data into a structure ready for analysis/analytics
- Explore the data by applying analytical methods
- Perform further analysis and scenarios with different variables and goals
- Identify key stakeholders that require the analysis and their specific requirements
- Share and collaborate the analysis with other stakeholders to gather further inputs and additional data to refine the analysis
The SAS team also provided some additional insights on smart city development through applying the right tools and key capabilities in visual data analytics. The key capabilities are:
- Data preparation: Access to different data sources, training-validation data partitioning, feature engineering (e.g. parameters, interactions) and variable selection and missing values
- Data exploration and analytics: Discover relationships, trends, outliers, clusters, 3rd-party visualisations, forecasting and scenario analysis, decision trees and text analysis, auto-charting, suggestive visualisations, related measures and automated explanation.
- Interactive reporting: Responsive and precise layouts, dashboard creation, report formatting for user interactivity; filters, prompts, linking, etc, share, interact and collaborate
- Collaboration and info sharing: Mobile apps, desktop applications, web and other collaboration applications
- Predictive analytics
Gamification session II
Scenario 2 saw teams having to utilise analytics to predict and improve outcomes concerning their smart cities. The groups were given a catalyst project – flood prediction. As the first smart project, they were asked to leverage IoT and advanced analytics capabilities to help them predict the outcome planning and budgeting.
After another round of discussion and the teams’ choices tallied, the optimal solutions were shared:
- Define the overall objective, use-cases and key scenarios of the project
- Identify all relevant sources of data (internal or external) that are available and relevant
- Obtain real-time data from either existing equipment or sensors
- Design the overall solution architecture required to cater for the objectives, scenarios and data
- Define the models required for the use-cases and the results you would like to attain
- Develop the models required for each scenario using advanced analytics techniques such as AI/ML techniques to model the prediction
- Deploy the model, refined and improve it along with new data and scenarios
Relating to IoT in smart cities, SAS mentioned that leaders must lower response time and improve operational efficiencies. They should also be aware of the situation by providing real-time visualisation of a data emergency response and automatically alert its staff by having automated triggers on data. They must provide insight to manage preventive maintenance and provide tools and a forecasting model for predictive analysis. Alerting citizens using different media such as online apps and opt-in subscription for residents is also vital. Governments must also downstream regional and state partners for data integration. Lastly, prediction and analysis improvement by creating an anomaly model, predicting incident model and pre-event impact model.
Gamification session III
By completing their first catalyst project using AI/IoT, the councils now look to expand on other smart city focus area. One area that is of high visibility and top of the list of citizens’ concerns is escalating crime and illegal activities. While it is not under the jurisdiction of the city council to combat crime, the city, with its infrastructure (e.g., CCTV) and data (on citizen, location, events, etc.) would be able to provide valuable input for crime detection and prevention.
The teams now look to set up their city’s command centre equipped with the intelligent capability to monitor, detect, alert and prevent criminal events.
Different views and ideas relating to the last scenario were shared between each team. Their selections were tallied once again. The list of optimal solutions for the final scenario was revealed:
- Obtain more data from external sources (other agencies data, social media, news, blogs, etc)
- Setup your “command centre” structure with roles and responsibilities
- Define the entity or events that need to be monitored as high-risk for investigation
- Define criteria or rules for alerting on potential high-risk individual/events
- Determine the minimal attributes of the entity or events to form a case for investigation
- Design workflows to guide your team through defined tasks as they carry out everyday work
The SAS team, again, provided key capabilities of a visual investigator:
- Entity search
- Alert and triage
- Case and investigation management
- Social network analysis
Entities can be alerts, individuals, companies, specific transactions or scenarios. Searches can be performed on any data stored in the solution database. Simple and advanced searches are easily configurable as per user requirements.
Alerts are the ‘smoke alarm’ of the system. It can be generated from a combination of rules, models or manually where required. They are also created based on configuration, calculations scores and thresholds driven by the customer requirements. Each alert will be supported by a comprehensive set of information of why the alerts were generated, entity details, related hits and social network analysis.
Cases can be generated automatically or manually where required. They can be configured to support each capability, audit, investigations, collections etc. Cases can be populated with any of the data available in the solution that is needed to successfully close it and achieve the desired result.
Lastly, not to be confused with Social Media, Social Network Analysis provides a visual representation of the link between entities and other relevant information (such as phone numbers, addresses, relationships etc.) Social Network diagrams are generated automatically for every alert. They can also be manually updated.
The session concluded with a closing address from Nik Ariff Nik Omar. He thanked the delegates in attendance for participating and contributing throughout the session. He was confident that the exercises and discussions gave a deeper understanding of data and the different scenarios that come with it.
Mohit, after announcing the winners of the gamification sessions, also thanked the delegates. He acknowledged that governments are continuously trying to make decisions without having real insights and events, like the OpenGov Asia Tech Day go a long way in helping.
The reality, Mohit emphasised, is not about how much data you have, but about truly understanding the data you gather and store. More likely than not, governments will find the right response by unlocking the true value of data. From the feedback and interaction, he felt that much light had been shed on varying scenarios relating to data. He once again urged delegates to find the right partners on their data journey who could make their experience easier, smoother and effective.
The Philippines’ National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it will relaunch the multi-billion Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) after it crashed due to the sheer number of Filipinos wanting to register during its launch. Due to the amount of response it received, the government intends to use the PhilSys as another way to queue and register the general population for their vaccination.
NEDA said that they are reviewing the system so that they can increase the capacity to serve more simultaneous users per minute. The agency assures Filipinos that they have experts from all over the world helping them and that they will relaunch the system as soon as they can.
Along with the national ID, the NEDA said that the government is recalibrating its contact-tracing efforts to better manage COVID-19 risks and fast-track solutions. Instead of shutting down the entire economy, the government only close the sectors or the areas with the higher risk and allow 98% of the people with no COVID-19 symptoms or risks to continue working.
The government is also intensifying the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Recover (PDITR) strategy during the lockdown periods to facilitate the reopening of the economy. To strengthen the ‘detect’ and ‘isolate’ pillars, NEDA, the Department of Health (DOH), and other local government units (LGUs), with the help of data scientists from the Asian Institute of Management, are working on a solution to automatically determine likely close contacts of COVID-19 positive cases and immediately notify these people via text message.
Speaking at the recent Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum, Denis F. Villorente, Undersecretary for the National Information & Communications Technology Assets Index, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), spoke about the potential of a robust national ID system that could facilitate multiple types of transactions necessary for digital ecosystems and societies, saving people, government and businesses time and money and unlock new drivers of economic value and growth.
Exploring the rationale of the Philippines’ national ID system, he conceded that there was a need for a foundational ID system. The over 25 functional ID systems do not offer digital authentication services to third parties and highly dependent on paper-based and manual processes. This has led to high costs and fraud in service delivery and prevents the shift to online services.
In terms of public services, the current identification landscape in the Philippines has not just created exclusion but also exacerbated inequality. Citizens often need to provide two or more matching physical documents which is a barrier for many to access services. About 1 in 5 of the poorest (40%) Filipinos have been unable to apply for government services because they lacked the required IDs. Similarly, 1 in 6 of this group have been unable to receive government financial support because they lacked the required IDs.
PhilSys is designed as an enabling platform that unlocks new services and systems for the digital economy, especially online transactions. It underpins sectoral IDs and databases to enhance accuracy, interoperability and integrity. The system boosts the digital transformation of existing services and systems reducing cost, time and fraud. The PhilSys-enabled services will allow governments and businesses to use technology to change how they do business, shifting to transactions that are paperless, automated, and online.
Denis said that by the end of 2021, up to 70 million Filipinos will have been registered to PhilSys and been issued their PSN and PhilIDs. He emphasised that the PhilSys present opportunities for service providers to simplify, secure, and reduce the cost-of-service delivery to citizens/clients. Government CIOs have a critical role to play in ensuring the preparedness and readiness of their agencies in unlocking the opportunities and value of the system.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world, governments, enterprises and industries from the private sector, communities and society in general, continue to face unprecedented challenges.
In the public sector, where governments are trying to keep their citizens safe and the economy running, the onslaught has been unrelenting. Agencies are expected to respond quickly to equip citizens and businesses with the resources to minimise the social and economic consequences.
Recently, the rapid development of vaccines from various pharmaceutical organisations has presented a glimmer of hope to contain COVID-19. Unfortunately, the rollout of the vaccines has been far from hassle-free. Getting the vaccine from the manufacturing sites to the global population is proving to be a monumental mission – logistic challenges combined with inefficient data management are hindering an effective outreach.
The COVID-19 vaccine distribution and management challenges are of a scale and magnitude no one has ever witnessed and are unprecedented, to say the least. Governments alone cannot address this challenge, and no one organisation can claim an end-to-end solution or capability. There is an urgent need to plan the processes, infrastructure and organisations in place to manage vaccine administration and distribution adequately and effectively.
Indonesia has rolled out a mass COVID-19 inoculation programme, aiming at vaccinating two-thirds of the population to reach herd immunity within 15 months. The sheer size of the population and its geographical extent – 270 million citizens spreading across more than 17,000 islands – making the task a mammoth one.
Whether in Indonesia or another country, several questions need answering: do the government agencies and healthcare organisations have the tools and methodologies to classify, prioritise and locate at-risk citizens? Do the agencies have the know-how to determine if there is an adequate localised capacity to administer the vaccine and monitor adverse events? What can they do when faced with the unprecedented logistical / supply chain problems of vaccination programmes?
This was the focal point of the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight held on 06 May 2021 and aimed at imparting knowledge on how government agencies, hospitals and healthcare organisations can optimise COVID-19 vaccination distribution, administration, and management effectively and efficiently.
The session served as a great peer-to-peer learning platform to gain insights and practical solutions to understand how to optimise medical resources to reduce mortality rate, infection rate and stopping pandemic quicker.
Utilising Technology to Fight COVID-19
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered his opening address.
The tail end of 2019 got hit by COVID-19, a crisis so devastating that it brought the world to a standstill almost overnight and has kept on relentlessly till now. Countries all over the world are looking to find ways to keep people safe, healthy and protected – in the short term and for the long haul. While major adjustments – band-aid solutions, or ad-hoc measures, et al – have helped most countries to have a semblance of normalcy, the focus has always been on the development of a vaccine.
And, as a testament to human perseverance and technology’s power, this has been achieved in an incredibly short time.
With the vaccines on hand, the public sector started to look at technologies such as data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve their vaccine rollout – management, administration and distribution. Mohit conceded that adoption of these technologies can help the public sector and healthcare front liners in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic more efficiently and effectively, especially when it comes to vaccination programmes.
But, Mohit asks, do governments honestly know how to fully utilise these disruptive technologies to reap their true benefits? Can they thoroughly understand its purpose in vaccine programmes?
In closing, Mohit emphasised that the utilisation of the tech must go hand in hand with the right partnerships. He urged delegates to find suitable partners in their COVID-19 vaccination endeavours. They must find the right people who do what they do best -and this will allow governments to deliver the much-needed vaccines to communities across all borders.
Data Analytics and AI in Vaccine Distribution
After the opening address, the session heard from Dr Steve Bennett, Director – Public Sector and Financial Services Practice, SAS. He discussed how data analytics and AI helped in various initiatives and response efforts to combat the pandemic.
Steve defines analytics as the scientific process of transforming data into insights for decision making. Data analytics can help leaders make decisions more efficiently and effectively both in their response and recovery efforts.
First, data analytics helped governments in their responses against the pandemic through Epidemiological Modelling and Medical Resource Optimisation. Governments used data analytics to flatten the infection curve while preserving limited resources crucial in the COVID-19 era. Simultaneously, data analytics assisted governments in contact tracing efforts by connecting and understanding data available to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Technologies helped identify specific communities vulnerable to a possible contagion outbreak while Machine Learning and AI helped with accurate projections to anticipate future waves.
Second, AI and Data Analytics aided governments in the recovery phase, specifically in delivering citizen services and benefits. Citing the example of the United Kingdom, Steven said the British government had a range of benefits available to people in need. Like other governments, the nation, too, wanted to make sure that benefits were delivered to the right people – and that’s where technology helped. Similarly in Brazil, AI and data analytics were successfully deployed to quickly score and validate the right beneficiaries that resources needed to go to.
In terms of citizen centricity, Steve gave the example of a city in Europe that wants to get people back to work in 13 weeks or less if they lose their job. Machine Learning and AI optimally matched the mix of programmes to the right citizens. Knowing the background of people and by having AI/ML map appropriate programmes, the government has seen great results in terms of getting people back to work.
As vaccination programmes are being rolled out across the world, the pandemic seems to be on its tail-end. However, the implementation of a vaccine rollout is “the greatest logistics mobilisation since World War II and (we are) trying to move things on an unprecedented scale”. Steve conceded that creating and evolving a data-driven mass vaccination plan presents exceptional challenges, including risk identification, provider enrollment, and vaccine administration.
Centrally, governments must classify and locate at-risk citizens and other critical populations, requiring significant data integration and geospatial capabilities. They need to monitor capacity so there adequate localised ability to administer the vaccine and recruit providers even as the supply chain is optimised.
Local governments will be assuming responsibility for managing and approving orders from enrolled providers based on unknown federal allotments. Vaccine providers must prioritise and identify populations.
Ongoing analytics of vaccination programme is vital and necessary. New and existing data must be integrated and analysed to identify administration problems, monitor gaps in care and update vaccine need projections.
Steve emphasised that a phased approach should be applied to vaccination strategies. The first is planning agencies must have the data and analytic tools to effectively plan vaccine administration strategies. The second is the implementation where they use existing data assets and new collection mechanisms to efficiently vaccinate critical populations. Thirdly, necessary adjustments must be made – decision-makers must constantly adjust based on new information, changing supply and unpredictable demand.
Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Chain
The delegates moved to a presentation from Dr Robert de Souza, Executive Director, The Logistics Institute Asia Pacific, who discussed the different factors that affect and make up the COVID-19 vaccine’s supply chain management.
Robert started his presentation by pointing out that the vaccine supply chain might look uncomplicated but is laden with ambiguity. There are several projected challenges due to its scale and complexity. Over 16,000 Boeing 777 flights are needed to ship a double dose vaccination which translates to 7.59 billion vials dose. And to move vaccines end-to-end, over 1.5 trillion data ports are required.
Other factors that complicate the chain are extreme temperature requirements, shelf-life concerns, verifications of unbroken cold chains and the supply of peripherals for vaccine distribution. The ecosystem of actors and policy drivers in an effective vaccine management programme must include the optimisation of storage and locations for cold storage and distribution must be determined. The vaccine routing mix must be prioritised as well as the infrastructure needed for transportation such as modality, multi vs intermodal links for coordinated scheduling.
Governments must be able to match supply and demand and plan for disruptions including the impact of pandemic suppression measures. Inherently, there is an increased need for risk management when it comes to vaccine distribution.
Robert stressed that the COVID-19 vaccination supply chain is unique because it is global and has disturbed equilibrium. It has put globalisation in the spotlight and governments in the centre. Unfortunately, it has created artificial demands and shortages due to demand shocks and supply shocks.
To improve the COVID-19 vaccine’s supply chain performance through greater visibility, governments and organisations must ask the following questions:
- How distant are distribution centres from strategic infrastructures such as ports and airports?
- What are the ideal locations for vaccination/distribution centres?
- Are vaccination/distribution centres located in disaster-prone areas?
- What is the geographic distribution of demand?
- How many customers can be served within specific timeframes?
- Can demand points be clustered based on geo-information and volumes?
In terms of demand clustering, demand points are not all the same. Some are more crucial and may require higher attention. Clustering enables the definition of effective customer-centric strategies. A dynamic simulation consisting of good methods, typically leveraging upon large datasets can be applied.
Strategic infrastructure such as ports and airports enable supply chains to function. A high-level assessment of distances between such infrastructures and supply chain nodes is vital. Notably, demand points carry different weights in terms of volumes. An understanding of demand patterns, on the time dimension, enables accurate planning of logistics capacities.
Robert urged delegates to think of a COVID-19 vaccination programme as an ecosystem and not a chain or a network. Decision-makers must ask all the right questions like the “what, from where and to where? Who, when and how”? They should remember that increasing data granularity yields more insights.
When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination programme, Robert conceded that a wide array of tools and technologies are readily available to address supply chain problems at all levels including strategic, tactical and operational. But the identification of problem statements and data remains a challenge. Governments must embrace digitalisation to achieve operational excellence, supply chain transparency as well as boost financial and service level performance.
OVID-19 Vaccine Cold Chain Logistics Management
Kelvin Goh, APAC AI-IoT Business Development & Global Intelligent Logistics, SAS was the next presenter and discussed how the continuous monitoring and examinability of cold chain logistics of vaccines can help the public sector.
Right off the bat, Kevin noted that logistics – especially cross-border logistics – is already a complicated task. When coupled with cold chain management, its complexity doubles.
He expanded on the framework of the vaccine storage and handling toolkit for the delegates to better understand the process. Ideally, the vaccine cold chain flowchart always starts with the manufacturer and then moves to the distribution phase. Only then will it reach the provider/government facilities.
If the cold chain is not properly maintained, Kevin warns, vaccine potency may be lost, resulting in a useless vaccine supply.
In terms of cold chain storage and handling optimisation, there must be continuous monitoring, intelligent alerting and efficient decision making. Cold chain logistics monitoring, alerting and decisions can be directly applied to support the challenges of Vaccine Storage and Handling across the regulatory spectrum.
The regulatory guidance on Vaccine Storage and Handling is divided into 7 sections:
- SECTION ONE: Vaccine Cold Chain
- SECTION TWO: Staff and Training
- SECTION THREE: Vaccine Storage and Temperature Monitoring Equipment
- SECTION FOUR: Vaccine Inventory Management
- SECTION FIVE: Vaccine Preparation
- SECTION SIX: Vaccine Transport
- SECTION SEVEN: Emergency Vaccine Storage and Handling
To better handle the pandemic and post-pandemic realities SAS’ Cold Chain for Biologics solution provides monitoring, tracking and optimising capabilities to address the high dimensional and complex nature of biologics logistics. The solution is built on three pillars:
- MONITOR: Create end-to-end transparency for key assets to drive data-enabled action across the supply chain.
- TRACK: Ensure guidelines and protocols are followed for vaccine and biologic distribution/storage while maintaining the integrity of the supply chain for regulatory compliance and patient safety.
- OPTIMISE: Dynamically optimise the cold chain to manage risk, improve efficiency, prevent waste and maximise safety and outcomes.
Kelvin emphasised that vaccine providers must enable rapid and informed decision-making through real-time analysis of sensor telemetry used in monitoring equipment reliability and the supporting infrastructure critical to the distribution and storage of vaccines.
They must also learn to reduce human cognitive and physical workloads through digitisation and automation of associated workflows while maintaining real-time situational awareness of vaccine integrity and availability through intelligent alerting and decision-making technologies.
After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This activity is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences and impart professional learning and development for participants.
The opening poll was about the major challenge the delegates face in the current COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Half (50%) of the delegates said that extreme storage requirements are the biggest challenges, while 39% said that transportation and delivery are their main obstacles. Only 11% said that nursing shortages hinder their vaccine distribution.
The next question focussed on delegates’ perception of data analytics supporting their organisations in the current vaccine distribution. Just over a third (36%) said data analytics can help in identifying the location and concentration of priority populations. The rest of the votes were almost evenly divided. Some felt that analytics could help measure changes in need and demand patterns to optimise supply-chain strategies, while others indicated it could be deployed to monitor the relative adequacy of providers capable of vaccinating critical populations.
Asked about the stage of readiness their organisations was in handling the vaccine distribution, just over a third (35%) said that target populations and vaccination strategies are almost ready. Over a quarter (26%) revealed that human resources management and training were in place, while 22% said that planning and coordination are set.
While all agreed that data analytics plays a vital role in vaccination programmes, delegates were asked which aspect of analytics solutions would be their priority for their country’s vaccine strategies. Half (50%) of the delegates said that analytics will greatly help in vaccination programme analytics, while 25% said it would optimise the supply chain. A fifth (20%) said it will improve prioritising and identifying populations.
To round off the discussion, delegates were polled on what their main strategy to encourage long-term growth after the COVID-19 pandemic would be. Over half (52%) said that a digital transformation strategy remains at the top. Other votes were almost evenly divided between improving workforce skillsets, preserving productive companies, supporting public R&D and tax incentives for corporate innovation investment.
Febrianto Siboro, Managing Director, SAS Indonesia closed the session with concluding remarks. He believes that the current pandemic situation is extraordinary and, therefore, the solution to recover the national economy must be equally extraordinary.
In line with the Indonesian government’s missions for technological innovation, SAS provides solutions based on data to answer the needs of all public sectors including healthcare. Key in this is clean, efficient data management. With good quality data, AI can generate key insights on trends and patterns that will eventually solve complex problems and accelerate decision making.
While COVID-19 may have forced all countries to restart, it has at the same time, presented the opportunity for all developing nations, including Indonesia, to transition into developed ones.
The Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology – National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) – initiated its call for proposals for 2023 funding. NRCP will start receiving project proposals at the DOST Project Management Information System (DPMIS) portal.
The NRCP continuously provides financial support to relevant fundamental/basic research and policy research with socio-economic benefits for the people to ensure that new knowledge and information are generated. NRCP has 13 areas for research which are clustered in six (6) priority areas under its National Integrated Basic Research Agenda (NIBRA). Aside from generating new information or new research areas for further development, it is expected that projects also strengthen governance through the fusion of science and the arts, technology and innovation and subsequently increase productivity and ensure efficient processes in the delivery of research results for the public good.
The priority research areas and programmes of the council should be aligned to the NIBRA which is part of the existing Harmonised National Research and Development Agenda (HNRDA) of DOST. The six components of NIBRA are:
- (1) Sustainable Community (SAKLAW Programme),
- (2) Food and Nutrition Security (SAPAT Programme),
- (3) Water Security (TUBIG Programme),
- (4) Clean Energy (ALERT Programme),
- (5) Inclusive Nation Building (ATIN Programme) and
- (6) Health Sufficiency (LIKAS Programme).
This SAKLAW programme focuses on assessment studies of vulnerable ecosystems particularly lakes and mined-out areas. Research topics include risk-assessment, social and environmental (water quality parameters and biomonitoring indicators), carrying capacities, hydrological dynamics (surface waters, flood and sediment), and economic resource valuation for the lakes, as well as the reduction of heavy metals exposure among communities and policy studies on bioremediation strategies for the programme on Greening the Mined-out Areas in the Philippines (GMAP).
It also focuses on risk communication studies for disaster management which will generate risk communication plans and strategies for local government units.
The expected deliverables include assessment reports of vulnerable ecosystems, remediation strategies, and policy recommendations for development and conservation as well as inclusive and sustainable development.
The SAPAT programme focuses on the food safety of raw or processed food products (particularly on contaminants and adulterants. It likewise includes taxonomic studies of flora and fauna (e.g. genetic analysis, morphological, allelopathic, bioecology studies) for food security and sustainability which will generate policy recommendations. The expected deliverables are regulatory policies and policy recommendations.
The TUBIG programme will put its efforts into studies of water quality, and its accessibility and availability for safe drinking purposes. It also includes characterisation of water resources (pollutants/contaminants/toxicity, physicochemical, socio-economic, biological and morphological). It will address the impacts of La Nina, El Nino, Climate Change threats, regional climate and saltwater intrusion on potable water supply.
The deliverable outputs will eventually address water quality issues for policy recommendations per geographical area and may generate standards on water availability and quality indices. The Clean Energy ALERT priority programme covers resource assessment of potential alternative sources of energy (wind, solar, biofuels, hydro and others) for Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA). The expected output includes prototypes of commercially viable alternative energy technology.
The ATIN programme gives attention to documentation on Philippine indigenous knowledge, culture, and heritage; national security and sovereignty studies; “Filipinnovation” of Arts, Culture and Heritage for Creative Industries; and “Kapakanan ng Tao sa Oras ng Pandemya” (KTOP) research initiatives dealing with the social dimensions of the pandemic. The expected deliverables include creative works (i.e., documentaries, monographs, dictionaries and others), models and systems, case studies, assessment reports and policy recommendations.
Lastly, the LIKAS programme will concentrate on fundamental and taxonomic studies on potential sources of natural products from the rare environment (e.g., volcanoes, caves, mud springs, lahar, marine sediments, mined-out areas, mesophotic reefs, mangroves and others), and also on basic veterinary studies – zoonotic diseases (etiology, transmission and control). The deliverable outputs will be policy recommendations and new bioactive compounds for potential medicinal use.
Aside from studies that generate new knowledge and discoveries, the Council prioritises proposals that forge linkages between the government particularly local government units (LGUs), academe, industry sector, and civil society. It also looks for proposals that will ensure translation and transfer of social technologies to the people and various publics. These are aligned to NRCP’s mandate to promote frontier and problem-oriented research in the sciences and humanities that provide solutions to pressing and national issues.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), through its ICT Industry Development Bureau (IIDB), supports an international tech company’s initiative that provides sponsored (Artificial Intelligence) AI training to women data scientists in the country.
The training is offered free of charge for women who wish to pursue a career in the field of AI. The capacity-building initiative aims to equip more women with fundamental knowledge in AI through various workshops across eight (8) countries.
The initiative seeks to involve more women in the field, especially since data shows that the industry is dominated by men. According to recent research by the World Economic Forum, only 22% of jobs in AI are held by women, with even fewer holding senior roles.
The company providing the free training is a digital technology certification body that aims to equip and empower organisations and sectors with industry-validated certification training and competency exams. Aside from AI, it offers certifications in mobile application development, big data, industry 4.0, artificial intelligence, fintech and digital marketing.
For this initiative, the digital tech certification company is partnering with a multinational tech giant to encourage more women into AI by providing a complimentary 1-day AI hands-on workshop. The programme is offered to women data scientists across the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.
The DICT encourages the private sector’s initiatives that aim to empower and upskill the women workforce not only to promote gender equality in the workplace but also to enhance developments in the country’s AI field.
Accordingly, as reported by OpenGov Asia, the Philippine Government crafted an artificial intelligence (AI) roadmap to improve productivity and economic growth as well as transform the country to be more globally competitive.
According to a report, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shared that an AI task force composed of seven agencies will be drafting the road map.
Aside from the DTI, other members of the AI task force include the Departments of Agriculture, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
These agencies have previously signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the implementation of the “Filipinnovation” and Entrepreneurship Roadmap, which is meant to build regional inclusive innovations centres (RIICs) across the country.
Additionally, the government will also receive help from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM); the USAID through its Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development; and state universities, research institutions, and members of the industry.
The importance of shifting towards new technology was emphasised as this will make the manufacturing industry more efficient and scalable to leapfrog to industrial development. There is a great need for it as the country’s industrialisation is lagging. The need to embrace new technologies, encourage innovation, research and development (R&D) and provide support for start-ups are important for these will help improve productivity and competitiveness.
However, there is still a need to reskill the workforce, which can be achieved by improving the country’s education system, the ease of doing business, and the building infrastructures. This is possible by improving the education and training systems, which would deliver the necessary skills required in the digital economy. The focus should be given to developing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. An ‘A’ can be added to the equation, which can stand for agriculture and the arts, thereby producing STEAM.
There is a need for concerted efforts to guarantee that the shift towards the new digital economy or Industry 4.0 will not leave anyone behind.