Power generation is the lifeline of cities. All activities come to a standstill even when there is a temporary power cut.
And although electric power has made modern life so comfortable, it comes with a great cost to the environment.
Traditionally electricity generation takes place in fossil fuel/ nuclear power plants that have huge detrimental impact on the ecosystem.
In the process of power generation, these plants emit copious amounts of greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide) that degrade the air quality in the atmosphere.
The next innovator in OpenGov Asia’s Change Makers of Tomorrow series, came up with an eco-friendly method of electricity generation – from plants themselves.
Bioo is dedicated to generation of electricity from nature through unique technologies and patents of its own.
Pablo Vidarte, the CEO of Bioo told OpenGov Asia that the journey began with a vision to use nature and its organic processes as the biofuel to power batteries of the future without harming plants or any other kind of living being.
Pablo and his team collaborated with university nanotech experts to work out a prototype that could successfully utilise the tech envisioned by them.
After almost a yearlong of trials they came up with a range of products that work on the unique Bioo technology.
Bioo currently has two major lines as a part of its current business model.
1) Bioo Installations: Installations that use the proprietary technology of transforming plants into biological switches that can activate music, lights, and even screens in public spaces, making them look more attractive.
Two products that are currently under development are:
- Bioo Panel: A vegetal panel that is installed under the ground and that supplies power to lighting systems of parks and gardens. It enables constant electricity production during the day and at night along with saving up to 60% of irrigation water. Additionally, it is visually in line with the landscape.
- Bioo Sensor: The innovation is an alternative to the current chemical batteries used in irrigation sensors in agriculture industry that need replacement every 6 – 18 months. Thanks to the large existing need for a solution, major firms in the sector are interested in such an application, with the global market being measured in 7.9 billion euros.
Bioo uses the organic substances that are present in the soil naturally as well as those expelled by the plants through the roots. Something that happens immediately after the photosynthesis process.
These organic substances are then broken-down using microorganisms in the soil which eat them. Once the organic substances are broken, they set electrons free along with hydrogen which is naturally released during photosynthesis.
These free electrons are then used to generate electric current. And the hydrogen merged with atmospheric oxygen is used to generate water. There is no damage to the plant in this process, and in fact, the microorganisms are fed and water is generated in the process of creating electricity.
Pablo also shared that in future, Bioo will focus on creating products and installations for smart cities that consider plants as not just decorative objects but with a utility aspect as well.
Pablo and his team have been recognised for their sustainable, out of the box thinking at various platforms.
They were selected as the most innovative company of the year by the European parliament. They are also one of the top 59 finalists at the 10th Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition.
Organised by Singapore Management University (SMU) Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, this international competition is focused on urban innovations and solutions created by student founders and early-stage startups based on the theme “Reimagine, Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Cities”.
The top 59 finalists from around the world will convene in Singapore sometime second quarter of 2021, to compete for prizes worth up to S$1.5 million at the finals.
OpenGov Asia feels honoured to learn from the new generation of innovators like the Bioo team and hopes to encourage more innovative minds to think differently.
Science, engineering, technology, and innovation give people the power to develop a country and its quality of life. Investment in these areas is vital for economic growth and social progress.
Research and development in smart tech can help build greener cities with better access to essential systems and services for all. Moreover, infrastructure development, technology transfer and public and private R&D must be supported and regulated by good policies if they are to work.
To ensure scientific progress is encouraged and embraced at all levels of government decision-making, the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) is tasked with giving strategic advice to the government and stakeholders, as well as pursuing excellence in science, engineering, and technology for the benefit of everyone.
Malaysia’s S.E.T.I. Initiatives
One of the contributions of the ASM is to incorporate interactive learning of STEM into the pedagogy of education in Malaysian schools. “To see the performance and results, inquiry-based science education (IBSE) will create an interactive learning environment in the physical classroom. Therefore, we want to have this kind of ecosystem and environment in schools.”
She is eager to see more collaboration between tertiary education and industry so that any courses and curricula provided by universities are both industry-required and future-proof. This is why their organisation is working with the government to create collaboration between industry and academia. “I believe that will help us advance more.”
ASM is currently working with the Malaysian government, in particular the central agency, to begin evaluating public decision-making universities based on data. Hence, using facts, metrics, and data to inform strategic business decisions that align with goals, objectives, and initiatives is the most effective data-driven decision-making.
Making data-driven decisions the norm within an organisation is necessary to foster a climate that values scepticism and curiosity. “Data is the starting point of conversations at every level, and people improve their data skills through practice and application,” says Hazami.
At its core, this calls for a self-service model where users can access the data they require while maintaining a balance between security and governance. Additionally, it necessitates proficiency, resulting in opportunities for training and development for workers to acquire data skills.
Additionally, ASM has developed a Responsible Conduct of Research module which acts as a benchmark to have this code of ethics in research taught to all graduates, whether they are in hard sciences or the social sciences.
“We want that because every piece of knowledge we incorporate in the future will be based on good science and value. Therefore, we must consider bioethics, biosecurity, and training modules on ethics in research,” Hazami explains.
ASM has recently directed its scientists to provide solutions in close collaboration with the ministries. Citing as an example is their committee on water, energy, health, agriculture, and biodiversity (WEHAB++). For instance, when Malaysia faces issues such as the price hike for chicken feed which causes societal dissatisfaction, solutions to food security issues such as this can be provided by the Academy’s expert network through science and technology directly to the government and stakeholders.
In addition to providing policies and strategies to decision-makers, the ASM also teaches them how to carry out those policies and strategies by applying their knowledge.
Hazami highlighted the growing movement called “Open Science” which aims to open scientific data and research to the public. In addition to democratising knowledge, the international principle of making research data findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) will support open scientific inquiry and integrity, facilitate improved research management, and encourage data-intensive research.
Unprecedented insights and solutions to local, regional, and global complex challenges are made possible by integrating numerous data streams and enormous datasets across numerous disciplines.
Through the Malaysia Open Science Alliance, the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment & Climate Change (MESTECC), now known as the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) and the ASM are laying the groundwork for the realisation of the Malaysia Open Science Platform (MOSP), a strategic transformative project to strengthen Malaysia’s STI Collaborative Ecosystem.
“The Malaysia Open Science Platform or MOSP aims to connect raw research data, then collaborate and share,” Hazami explains. “By creating a reliable platform that enables accessibility and sharing of research data aligned to national priorities and international best practices, this initiative seeks to transform Malaysia’s research data into a valuable national asset.”
Hazami is passionate about science and technology because it has the power to change the nation. “I’m attempting to make a change, and one of those changes is in the area of science and technology.”
For her, the most meaningful contribution in her 26 years in the academy was when the government accepted 80% of their recommendations for transforming and creating change and an ecosystem. “For now, our current areas of focus are strengthening governance, the innovation ecosystem and the sustainability of R&D funding.”
A change in paradigm towards a growth mindset among policymakers, scientists and the younger generations is her greatest challenge and greatest passion. She believes that when decision-making is based on data, it can provide the best solution possible.
Hazami strongly believes that Malaysian women are more than capable of pursuing careers in science and technology. They hope to have a strong support network to help them succeed in those fields, whether as practitioners or scientists.
“Our goal is flexibility. We need to have an open work environment and open innovation because we can work from home as researchers and scientists. We are more adaptable now. If we can accomplish this, more and more women will contribute to the workforce more effectively,” she says emphatically.
By reaching out to the top management and demystifying technical terms, OpenGov Asia, a steadfast supporter of Malaysia’s digital transformation journey and an advocate for citizen-centric development, will continue to help bring about change. Hazami concludes by urging top leaders to practice a growth mindset for the betterment of the country.
Hazami strongly believes that over the course of the next five years, ASM will continue to serve as a catalyst for change and create the science, technology, innovation, and economy (STIE) ecosystem for the entire nation towards the full potential of digital transformation, including the Malaysian transformation and the humanisation of the economy. “Leaders’ courageous decisions pave the road to successful digital transformation.”
New technology will be keeping beachgoers safer this summer with the Smart Beaches project providing real-time data to almost 50 beaches in NSW, helping the region’s lifeguards more accurately predict beach conditions using GPS and smart cameras.
The Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government stated that the NSW government had invested AU$ 1.6 million to expand the project beyond the Northern Beaches and Lake Macquarie to five new council areas up and down the coast this swim season.
He noted that wave detection buoys, artificial intelligence cameras and surf rescue boards fitted with GPS technology to gather accurate data will be used on beach conditions to enable lifeguards to be better prepared for the busy summer ahead.
These smart devices will provide real-time readings on tide conditions and wave patterns, as well as help to predict how many people will visit the beach, how long they will stay and the most popular times for a swim.
The Smart Beaches project will allow beachgoers to feel safer at the surf, knowing the lifeguards have the latest data on hand to be better prepared for dangerous conditions and prevent incidents both in and out of the water.
The Minister for Local Government stated that the expansion of the trial will mean more councils will benefit from new technology. The data insights help councils make better decisions about when and where to roster lifeguards, decisions that could save lives, she said. As a result, this programme will now be expanded to beaches in Randwick, Central Coast, Wollongong, Newcastle, and Sutherland.
The Member for Manly noted that the technology had been successfully trialled at Freshwater, Shelley, South Steyne and Dee Why beaches. Over the summer of 2020-2021, 88 lives were lost in the surf. Thus, the technology will help lifeguards make more informed decisions to reduce that toll.
The state’s lifeguards will require all help they can get monitoring the surf, conditions, crowd numbers and keeping our beachgoers safe. An app is also being developed for Summer 2023/2024 that will help councils streamline existing reporting and data systems into one, easy-to-interpret dashboard. Funding has been provided through the Smart Places Acceleration Programme, an AU$45 million allocation as part of the Digital Restart Fund.
About the Smart Places Acceleration Programme
The NSW government has launched the NSW Smart Places Acceleration Programme, an AU$45 million initiative that helps place owners – including councils, government agencies, property owners, and regional organisations – partner with the State Government to solve problems and improve the quality of life for communities across regional and metropolitan NSW.
The programme will seek to:
- Support economic and community recovery post COVID-19
- Encourage partnerships with and co-investment from local councils and industry to deliver smart place initiatives
- Support advancement and implementation of the NSW Smart Places Strategy
- Ensure NSW remains the leading state in implementing Smart Places initiatives
The Minister for Customer Service stated that this programme will connect and empower communities by driving investment in new technology and data. The aim is to use technology to make life easier for people. Be it busting congestion or improving health outcomes, the funding aims to strengthen communities. The government is calling on expressions of interest and encourages all relevant councils and place owners to bring forward ideas.
The seven best smart cities in Indonesia were announced at the Ministry of Communication and Informatics seminar and exhibition on the Movement Towards Smart Cities (Smart City) in 2022 in Jakarta. Representatives from 141 regencies attend the event in a framework for evaluating the implementation of the Smart City 2022 program.
District/city officials who have succeeded in developing a master plan under the Smart City development in their respective regions attended. The session was organised to showcase the commitment of all regional leaders so that the community see the benefits and progress, said Bambang Dwi Anggono, Director of Government Information Application Services (LAIP) of the Ministry of Communication and Information.
The five best cities and two districts took the Smart City award in the following categories:
- Smart Governance: City of Bandung,
- Smart Branding: Surakarta City,
- Smart Economy: Semarang City,
- Smart Society: City of Yogyakarta,
- Smart Living: Demak Regency,
- Smart Environment: Madiun City, and
- National Priority Tourism Area: Wonogiri
The Smart City initiative is a strategic step toward addressing development plans holistically. The programme aims to harmonise regional government sectors and regional initiative programmes with other regional governments, the central government, the business world, and even other countries. Local governments can work together with other local governments, businesses, academia, and the general public to launch various initiatives that will have a positive impact.
The Smart City Movement aims to guide regions and cities across Indonesia in designing digital-based development that considers each region’s potential and challenges. Furthermore, the Smart City programme can bring innovations from Jakarta to other areas, ensuring an even distribution of development programmes.
The Ministry of Communication and Information has facilitated interconnection with relevant parties in the Smart City development. In addition, the Ministry, through the LAIP Directorate, intends to include 50 regencies/cities in the Smart City master plan assistance in 2023.
“We hope that regional leaders (regents/mayors) will have the courage to innovate and make breakthroughs for the good of society. Correspondingly, we encourage regional heads to become change agents in these breakthroughs (SPBE),” said Bambang Dwi Anggono.
The Ministry intends to implement Smart Province next year. The Smart Province programme will select two provinces in 2023 to prepare the master plan. Smart Province development conceptualises development innovations at the provincial level and coordinates Smart City development at the district level within its jurisdiction. Two provinces will be selected to help prepare the master plan.
Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, Director General of Informatics Applications at the Ministry of Communication and Information, emphasised the importance of digital transformation as a foundation for building smart cities.
“Creating a Smart City begins with digital transformation; from there, every local government understands what is required. Because each Regional Government has unique characteristics. But, in the end, everything will point to the holistic Smart City that we taught,” he was quoted as saying.
He also stressed the importance of creating a master plan for the long-term development of Smart Cities as establishing a smart city would take 15 to 20 years. As a result, the Ministry has created a programme to educate local entities on constructing a Smart City.
Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang announced at a cabinet meeting that Taiwan’s contract chip manufacturing firms now have a 63% share of the global market. Furthermore, Taiwanese companies handle 58% of all global integrated circuit packaging and testing. As a result, Taiwan semiconductor manufacturing has emerged as a critical player in global supply chains.
Taiwan’s semiconductor industry has risen to first place in the world in chip manufacturing and integrated circuit packaging after four decades of hard work. Taiwan also ranks second globally in integrated circuit design, with a 22% market share. Furthermore, the domestic semiconductor industry is collaborating with foreign partners to serve global clients, demonstrating that Taiwan is an essential and irreplaceable partner due to the world’s most efficient and difficult-to-duplicate production model.
The achievement began three years ago when Taiwan took advantage of the global scenario. Taiwan persuaded related industry operations to relocate from China to Taiwan. Premier Su mentions the effort that resulted in three years of economic success.
According to recent data from global indexes, the premier also stated that Taiwan ranks among the top countries in the world on criteria such as investment environment and free democracy, with the country ranking among the best in Asia in many categories. These high marks enforce even more confidence in international partners.
Nonetheless, Su emphasises the importance of Taiwan remaining vigilant. The government is developing response measures to allow domestic chip manufacturers to maintain their competitive edge and vital positions in the industry. Premier Su stated that the government is consulting with the industry to develop a future development strategy. The strategy provides more generous tax incentives, encourages R&D investment, and eases restrictions on talent recruitment, in addition to delivering Taiwan-based semiconductor manufacturers with a high-quality investment environment, including the provision of water, electricity and land.
The government’s comprehensive support for the domestic semiconductor industry will enable Taiwan to maintain its lead in advanced technology and efficient fabrication methods, secure a substantial competitive advantage, and continue contributing to the world. The country will also adhere to international norms while reassuring allies. Taiwan will maintain this stance in the future, displaying critical strengths to the world and being a team player who inspires international trust.
Meanwhile, Taiwan and Slovakia recently signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in Bratislava, pledging to increase bilateral trade, startup exchanges, and talent-nurturing collaborations in the semiconductor sector. The Memoranda of Understanding were signed by the Taipei Importers and Exporters Association and the Council of Slovak Exporters, Taiwan’s Startup Terrace and the Slovak Business Agency, National Sun Yat-sen University, and the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava.
The MoUs were signed during the second session of the Taiwanese-Slovak Commission on Economic Cooperation, which was attended by a Taiwanese delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Tsai Ming-yen. During the meeting, Tsai and Peter Gerhart, Slovak State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, discussed ways to expand bilaterally.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced the launch of a S$5 million Virtual Production Innovation Fund to support the local media industry in developing the capabilities needed to harness virtual production technology to maintain the local media industry’s competitiveness as the international partner of choice to create premium IP.
To enable the camera to capture actors and visual effects in real time, virtual production technology uses LED panels to produce realistic background landscapes for television or movie sequences driven by video game engines. The site, road closures, location costs, permits, weather, set construction, and space rental will no longer be necessary for production.
With the help of technology, Singapore has a rare chance to get over some of its physical constraints, like the lack of suitable locations for on-location filming and room for large sets.
The ability of the storytellers to reproduce historical sites or any other environment will allow them to generate content that was previously impossible. This will revolutionise the creative process of storytelling.
The adoption of virtual production by the media sector is further encouraged by the strong signals emanating from international media giants that this technology will be widely employed in the creation of movies and television shows and will become the standard in the next years.
To strengthen capabilities in virtual production and ensure that the media companies and talent can keep up with international production methods to remain competitive, IMDA will pursue a two-pronged strategy to prepare the media sector for the future.
The National Film and Television School (NFTS) in the UK has collaborated with IMDA to adapt the school’s Certificate in Virtual Production course to the requirements of the sector to train media professionals to use this technology.
From December 2022 to April 2023, fifteen professors, trainers, and media professionals from Singapore will participate in virtual lectures and undergo hands-on training at NFTS’s virtual production facilities.
Over the course of the following 12 months, several masterclasses and workshops given by professionals from the business will be offered. A Singapore-based firm that specialises in developing immersive experiences, held a display to exhibit how virtual production can enhance imaginative storytelling.
Hands-on demonstrations will be given by guest speakers from virtual production leaders. They will discuss and explore best practices in the workflow to inventive ways to use different technology in storytelling.
Local businesses can also test out virtual production to realise their creative ideas for brief pieces of content, such as music videos, short films, and brand advertisements, among others. Companies can submit their suggested content concepts from now until February 15, 2023.
The capacity to best utilise virtual production technologies to realise a project’s creative vision will be taken into consideration while evaluating proposals.
Additionally, IMDA is working to organise an industry challenge with an internationally renowned gaming company. This challenge will encourage organisations to experiment with and use the cutting-edge real-time 3D creation tool developed by this gaming company. Currently, the aforementioned tool powers globally popular video games.
Teams whose concepts are shortlisted will receive personalised coaching and training from the gaming company. In addition, they will receive prize money from IMDA to assist with content creation.
Since virtual production technology has advanced in recent years, the country is now able to produce visual effects in real-time without building actual sets, thereby overcoming the constraints of scale, complexity, and space.
In support of President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot mission to cure cancer, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the establishment of the Agricultural Science Centre of Excellence for Nutrition and Diet for Better Health also known as ASCEND for Better Health.
This new virtual centre will hasten research into diet-related chronic diseases such as cancer. The centre’s long-term mission is to integrate research into actionable solutions that improve public health and well-being, particularly in marginalised regions.
ASCEND will bring together scientists, partner organisations, and communities to develop and deploy science-based solutions that improve the health and well-being of all Americans, particularly those living in underserved areas. As a result, the virtual centre will link existing resources, such as people and programmes, to harness the expertise and improve coordination and cooperation.
USDA is focusing more on precision nutrition science research to better understand the needs of marginalised groups. This study adds to the agency’s initiatives to enhance food and nutrition security, which involves having consistent and equitable access to good, safe, and affordable foods that are critical for optimal health and well-being.
In addition, the World Cancer Research Fund estimates that adopting a healthy diet and way of life can prevent 30% to 50% of all cancer cases. As part of its efforts to comprehend the links between nutrition and illnesses like cancer across various communities, the USDA is using fresh and ongoing research to inform its equity lens.
By 2030, hunger will be eliminated, and diet-related diseases will be reduced, all while reducing disparities, according to the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health of the Biden-Harris Administration. In conjunction with the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in more than 50 years, the National Strategy was unveiled.
The work of the USDA, which focuses more on resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, developing new markets and sources of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart forestry practises, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and more, benefits every American.
Meanwhile, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Programme for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has made changes to the meals that are recommended to participants, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. These scientific updates include suggestions from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).
The WIC food packages are specially made to complement the meals and drinks that participants already eat and drink while completing important nutritional gaps to support normal growth and development.
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is recommending modifications to the food packaging to bring it into line with the most recent nutritional research and enable equal access to nutrient-dense foods during key times of development.
When taken as a whole, the modifications will raise the level of assistance while giving WIC state agencies more freedom to customise the packages to meet the needs of special dietary requirements, and cultural food preferences, and an increase in variety and choice for WIC participants, making the programme more alluring to both current and potential participants.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS) released the MICE Sustainability Roadmap, which outlines specific goals and plans for raising sustainability standards throughout the MICE sector in Singapore over the coming years.
The Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry is a type of tourism travel in which groups of people are brought together for a specific reason, usually well in advance. On the other hand, the MICE market refers to a subset of people who plan, arrange, and facilitate conferences, seminars, exhibitions, and other events.
Part of STB’s overarching plan to develop a sustainable tourism sector is the use of such roadmaps, which direct businesses in the sector to achieve specific sustainability goals. Following the launch of the Hotel Sustainability Roadmap earlier this year, the MICE Sustainability Roadmap is the second such project.
The Singapore Green Plan 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (UN) serve as the roadmap’s guiding principles. Three goals are listed in the MICE Sustainability Roadmap to help Singapore become one of the most environmentally-friendly MICE destinations in Asia Pacific:
- By 2023, create a set of industry-acceptable sustainability standards with the goal of having them recognised internationally by 2024.
- For all six purpose-built MICE venues and 80% of SACEOS members to get internationally or nationally recognised sustainability certification, or both, by 2025.
- To attain net-zero emissions by 2050 in accordance with the country’s net-zero aim, the Singapore MICE sector must first track waste and carbon emissions by 2023, reduce waste in line with the Singapore Green Plan by 2030, and reduce waste overall by 2050.
The MICE Sustainability Committee (MSComm), established by STB and SACEOS in August 2022 to advance sustainability capabilities and create awareness of sustainability initiatives and best practices, will help the industry adopt sustainable practices and meet these goals.
The dedication to sustainability follows a robust MICE rebound in the wake of Singapore’s borders being reopened in April this year and a rising desire for environmentally friendly business travel. More importantly, the industry is aware of how crucial it is to lessen the environmental impact of MICE events.
With STB and SACEOS leading the charge and offering support as necessary to further develop a sustainable business events landscape in Singapore, the MICE Sustainability Roadmap will ensure that MICE players move forward in pursuing relevant and achievable sustainability goals that are tracked at appropriate milestones.
Meanwhile, OpenGov Asia recently reported that the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore is working with a large American technology company to address climate change-related challenges and enhance the sustainability of digital technologies.
The cooperation aims to hasten the local and international development of software applications and solutions to assist businesses in using their resources more efficiently.
The tech giant and IMDA will exchange best practices, standards, learnings, and certification pathways for accurate measurement and reporting of carbon emissions resulting from software applications. Through this relationship, the nation hopes to speed up the application of the ideas and resources needed to create green technologies.
According to IMDA, Southeast Asia is well-positioned for the region to take the lead in digital sustainability. This collaboration will produce cutting-edge digital sustainability solutions that can be used by multinational corporations, bringing about positive change for the environment worldwide and ensuring a sustainable future for all.