This is Part 2 of a two-part series covering the Public Sector Innovation Day – Singapore. Read Part 1 here.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in the world. It has ushered in a new normal, bringing a different era of governance and business operations. Technology is at the fore of this front, helping adapt to these disruptive changes in an unprecedented manner. The scale of this transformation is incredible – experts say CVOID-19 has driven two years of digital transformation in two months.
The public sector is at the heart of the response to COVID-19. The response has required action on multiple fronts, using technology advancements, not just for health measures, but to aid efforts to mitigate the economic effects on households, firms, and industries.
The crisis has drawn attention to the tools and technologies that governments need to have to protect their citizens and enterprises as agencies struggle to minimise associated negative impact, deliver public services, and ensure the continued development of critical national infrastructure.
A digitally enabled government must go beyond merely digitising processes and offering services online. It must also find innovative ways to raise productivity in workplaces and bring convenience and efficient services to citizens.
As the world prepares for the new normal and all the economic, social, and political question marks that accompany it, many are looking to the tools of data science to continue to inform this trajectory. Advanced data science, and the technology it powers, is rapidly becoming an essential component of nearly every industry.
The Singapore government, too, is looking to ramp up the adoption of digital technologies and the nation to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneously national tech agencies developing new digital tools and services to support citizens and businesses. This requires a comprehensive approach including the ability to rapidly integrate new data, make accurate, multilevel forecasts and provide data-driven insights for policymakers.
Now, even as the journey to a post-COVID-19 recovery has begun, the question is still relevant: does the public sector has the necessary tools and technologies to respond effectively, recover quickly, rebound efficiently and reimagine the future which is critical to national interests?
OpenGov Asia held a Public Sector Innovation Day 1 for Singapore at Intercontinental Singapore. The session aimed to impart knowledge on how public sector agencies can accelerate digital transformation and innovation to emerge stronger post-COVID-19.
Attended by key policymakers from the public sector and technology industry experts, the session served as a great peer-to-peer learning platform to gain insights and practical solutions to understand the value of cutting-edge technologies available to make better, faster, and more cost-effective, data-driven decisions that make a difference in the lives of the citizens post-pandemic.
How COVID-19 Accelerated Public Sector’s Digital Transformation
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered opening remarks.
As early as 2019, there was consensus on the benefits of remote working, but it did not happen in any significant way. Then, at the end of 2019 came a crisis so debilitating that it brought the world to a halt almost overnight and it kept going relentlessly.
but not all were equipped to do so and many just emulated what the other countries were doing. None the less, public services globally have been significantly boosted.
Countries from all over the world were looking to adapt to the challenge. Citizens needed access to government services more intensely and urgently. New information and data were being generated incessantly, necessitating new plans and decisions.
In the early stages, people were excited at the opportunity to work from home. Interestingly though, the step was considered a “pivot” – with the connotation of reaction rather than strategic. People and organisations were said to be “pivoting” to manage and mitigate the issues the pandemic brought like making people work from anywhere, anytime.
Beyond a doubt, the public sector did its job in terms of providing relevant services and initiatives throughout the age of COVID-19. But the question remains, were those initiatives innovative and intentional and sustainable? Were they just a good-to-have or a must-have?
The good brings with it the bad, the unsafe and the difficult. 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. Other measures are facing the same reaction. Lacking data, this so-called digital transformation is rapidly losing its sheen and is being considered a band-aid solution.
With COVID-19 seemingly waning and the economy starting to open, governments are looking for ways to boost their economy. In this sea of change and disruption, often reverting to the known is comforting. Knowing this penchant, Mohit asked the delegates, “Do we want to go back to the old norm because it was beneficial at that time? Or should we welcome the wider adoption of technologies that helped us adjust to the new norm?”
Mohit reminded the delegates that by staying true to the lessons learned from COVID-19 and by increasing the usage of technologies like AI, Cloud and Data Analytics, agencies can move further along on their digital transformation journey.
Governments must find the right balance in their digital transformation journey between technology, people, and processes. They must also find leadership and the will to empower the workforce with the right tools to achieve the ultimate end goal of a complete digital transformation in the new normal.
In closing, Mohit emphasised the need for agencies to find a suitable partner in this digital journey. They must find the right people who do what they do best for them to stay on the right path towards a full digital transformation.
Responsible and ethical use of AI in the public sector challenges, and best practices
After Mohit’s opening remarks, the forum heard from Dr Ian Oppermann, Chief Data Scientist and CEO, NSW Data Analytics Centre, NSW Government on how the public sector can use AI responsibly and ethically.
Highlighting the importance of data, Ian said it now affects all aspects of citizen-focused outcomes, based on life journeys such as starting a family, education, jobs, serious illness and injury and retirement plans. In New South Wales (NSW), data has been empowering these social and community areas and will be used to assess the performance of future smart initiatives developed by the NSW Government and its partners.
NSW recently released a Smart Places Strategy with a citizen-centric view, building on years of work and enhanced by digital twins, data sharing, security and privacy. The NSW government Smart Places is is designed to deliver outcomes to benefit the citizens, businesses, employees and partners.
The outcomes span six key areas and were developed using insights from engagement with communities across regional and metropolitan NSW. The Smart Places Strategy focuses on:
- Skills, jobs, and development: grow knowledge capital of people and businesses in NSW to benefit from the transition of the global economy
- Safety and security: provide safer places for people and increase a sense of security
- Environmental quality: (increase sustainability by reducing emissions, resource consumption and environmental impacts
- Equity, accessibility, and inclusion: will improve physical and digital access for the people of NSW to participate in economic and civic life
- Health and well-being: improve the quality of life and well-being for the people of NSW
- Collaboration and connection: bring people, businesses and governments, their data, and services together in a seamless way
More recently the NSW government launched an AI Strategy programme to improve service delivery and government decision-making. Undeniably, AI can play a key role in automating inefficient and manual processes to deliver better services to citizens and free up staff time for more critical or frontline work. AI can also assist in decision-making concerning resource allocation based on community need.
However, Ian confirmed, AI will not be used to make unilateral decisions that impact citizens or their human rights. While can assist in decision-making and service delivery, any AI-informed decision remains the responsibility of the agency using the technology. The government will carefully monitor the consequences of such decisions.
Further, the NSW Government approach is clear that no AI-informed decision will be made without those impacted being able to access a quick and efficient review. Citizens should be able to understand how their data is being used and for what purpose. Additional safeguards will need to be in place to ensure the right questions are being asked of the technology and that the correct legislative interpretation is informing the AI solution.
Recognising the speed at which technology develops and the need to build AI maturity, the immediate implementation of a mandatory AI policy and user guide was necessary. The policy sets clear requirements that agencies must address before sourcing and using AI. It will ensure a consistent approach to privacy, security, transparency and procurement of AI solutions.
Ian felt it was important that AI adopters know the key points and phases to consider when deploying AI systems namely:
- Pre-deployment phase: choose a data set that closely resembles the production system, select tools to test data, identify and eliminate data biases, execute non-functional testing, and perform data sanity checks.
- Post-deployment phase: review output from continuous feedback, establish failure threshold, use AI-monitoring platform(s) to identify code progressions, classify any required changes, identify new data parameters.
Most AI systems are unable to determine whether a task is appropriate or ethical. For AI systems to be successful, testers need to define the operational boundaries of the system and monitor them periodically to pre-empt problems. AI assurance systems utilise both human expertise and technology monitoring to help improve AI performance.
Reliant on data for training, AI adapts over time and show sensitivities to the quality of outputs. The learning allows the tool to generate better / more accurate results than earlier. AI algorithm may be extremely sensitive to the quality of data sets much more than others; e.g. adult/ not adult versus date of birth. An algorithm may initially produce a high-quality result but drift over time once an initial supervision training period is completed.
Ian feels that, ultimately, agencies must ensure a solid framework to help understand the entire data lifecycle from its storage up to the point of knowing its purpose. As better tools are built and more precise data microscopes and AI programmes are created, they must be used to deliver value to citizens.
Fireside chat: How can the public sector leverage data revolution to respond, recover and reimagine next-gen citizen-centric services?
The session proceeded to the fireside chat segment where Mohit and Remco den Heijer Vice President – ASEAN SAS discussed how the public sector can leverage data revolution to respond, recover and reimagine next-gen citizen-centric services.
Mohit started the discussion by asking Remco den Heijer how he sees data as the heart of the COVID-19 recovery. Remco explained that data analytics and AI are the perfect elements in terms of recovering from the pandemic because data is everywhere, both in the private and public sectors.
The world should embrace technologies that are scaling and continuously evolving. Disruptive technologies can extract actionable insights from this data, which is why both sectors must use this development and advantage to recover from the pandemic. Software, hardware, and related skills must be enhanced to leverage technology and data for recovery purposes. Technologies that are scaling and continuously evolving should be embraced.
Remco touched on the topic of AI being used by governments in their processes. AI adopters, he advises, must continuously update their AI models with new and updated data to strengthen their predictive capabilities that will provide possible solutions for present endeavours. He is convinced that that AI functions at its finest when it is incorporated with human intelligence. Having that human lens on top of the tech will always be an important aspect.
Remco urged delegates to continue doubling down on networks and partnerships and to continue learning from each other in this journey.
Power Talk and Interactive Discussion
After the informative presentations from distinguished speakers, Mohit joined Benedict Tan, Group Chief Digital Strategy Officer and Chief Data Officer, Singapore Health Services, Jason Loh, Head of Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, Asia Pacific, Global Tech Practice, SAS, Dr Steve Bennett, Director -Public Sector and Financial Services Practice, SAS, and Dr Yemaya Bordain, Director – IOTG Global, Public Sector Sales, Intel in the session’s Power Talk segment aided with polling questions.
In this uniquely formatted session, the audience was asked to vote in real-time to a set of questions. Speakers reflect on the responses and share their perspectives, making it a highly interactive and engaging session.
In the first poll, delegates were asked what percentage of their workforce would continue working remotely for the next six to twelve months. Over 57% of the delegates said between a quarter to a half (26%-50%) of their workforce will continue working from home.
Continuing along this line, the delegates were also asked if they think public sector employees would be allowed to work from home for more than 60% of the time. Votes were almost evenly divided, with 37% saying no, 33% felt they would be allowed and 29% were not sure.
Reflecting on this issue, Dr Steve Bennett felt that the emotional attachment between workers and a feeling of connectedness was what was missing in this new working structure. Technology must fill in the void of informal/personal connections only attained by working on site. So, while the current set up is good, he believes, there are ways to go beyond what is being applied today.
Benedict Tan added to this discussion by pointing out the limitations of remote working for the healthcare sector. The medical and care arena is not likely to further adopt the new working set up as hospitals and healthcare facilities are designed to be utilised on-site. Beyond the healthcare sector, he believes new infrastructure should improve on these new processes.
Dr Yemaya said that the new normal and the adjustments it brought made people appreciate how much innovation helped in an impromptu manner. However, from a citizen’s perspective, she explained that not having visible on-site workers to deliver public services can be problematic. Citizens sometimes think that if there is no one to facilitate these services personally, they are sub-par, even though results are consistent for physical and digital setups.
On being asked about how well equipped is the public sector in supporting a 75% remote workforce, almost half of the delegates said there is a lack of collaboration tools for seamless remote work and the appropriate solutions are still be explored. The remaining group (42%) said they have the tools needed to allow remote work seamlessly.
Dr Yemaya Bordain firmly believes that if governments can find the right collaboration tools in this new working set up, it would boost the morale of their workers who will adopt this change in engagement.
In the new working environment, Jason Loh felt that people are more connected than ever before because remote working bridges gaps and crosses borders effectively.
Delegates were about the ways on how they measure the level of satisfaction of their hybrid workforce. Just over half (52%) indicated they have the tools but are not sure of the effectiveness. About a third (32%) said that they would like to measure the level of satisfaction and productivity of employees and are looking for appropriate solutions.
In light of the previous answers, delegates were asked if they felt they were in the right position to roll out new citizen services or initiative while having a remote workforce. An overwhelming majority (81%) felt they were well placed to do so but they have limited functionalities. Just under a fifth (18%) said they would like to roll out these new citizen services, but they need help to do it.
Dr Steve Bennett agreed that there was a wide range of positive outcomes when working remotely but the issue of burnout does come up. Governments and organisations must find the right balance in this new working environment.
Asked about data playing an integral role in recovery plans post-pandemic, 91% of the delegates agreed that data would be critical in the world’s recovery phase.
However, Dr Yemaya Bordain said that the usage of data needs to be in context and must apply to all backgrounds. It needs to have details attached to it to reap its benefits.
Exploring the obstacles, the agencies should overcome to make data science and AI useful and integral in crises, 45% agreed that the lack of skills poses the biggest challenge. A quarter (25%) considered the change in public sector policies as an obstacle while the remaining 25% felt that cultural shifts hinder the adoption of these technologies.
To round off the discussion, delegates were asked about the areas they plan to prioritise in terms of IT spending for the second half of 2021. Over a third (37%) said they would invest in advanced analytics and AI, while 12% indicated spending for communications technologies and automation workflows software was a priority.
The OpenGov Public Innovation Day 2 – Singapore – Virtual Edition ended with the closing remarks from Remco den Heijer.
At the end of the day, Remco said, the public sector exists to serve citizens. If anything can be done to improve, or even save lives, that is rewarding enough. He added that the digital age is an exciting time to be in, and governments must utilise this era to improve more lives. The promise of data analytics, AI and other disruptive technologies are real. To reap their full benefits, everyone must be open to partnerships, collaborations, sharing data, technology choices, and exploring new ideas – connectedness must be promoted if the world is to learn and improve as a society.
For more on OpenGov Asia’s Public Sector Innovation Day – Singapore: “Accelerating Digital Transformation, Resiliency, and Innovation for Public Sector in Post-Pandemic Recovery”, read Part 1 here.
The Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) once again announced that it fully supports the Philippine IT and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector through its various initiatives to establish a nurturing ecosystem for innovative development.
The DICT’s Digital Cities 2025 Programme aims to develop the potential of the IT-BPM sector as an engine of growth to bridge the progress gap in the countryside and strengthen local economies. Previously termed Next Wave Cities, the Digital Cities 2025 programme aims to strengthen the industry-readiness of new centres by creating and developing ICT hubs in identified locations.
The programme is being implemented in cooperation with the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) and Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC).
The IT-BPM posted remarkable employment and revenue growth for 2020 despite the challenges brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The IBPAP reported a growth of 1.8% compared to 2019 and revenue of $26.7 billion in 2020, amounting to a 1.4% increase from 2019.
Additionally, the IT-BPM sector also recorded an increase in the number of full-time employees in the sector by 23,000, bringing the total to 1.32 million employees in 2020.
With the Digital Cities 2025 Programme, the agency invests in the identified cities and provide all the necessary institutional development activities to prepare them for the demands of the global digital economy. The DICT is helping these cities grow into established ICT business hubs outside Metro Manila.
Through a collaborative approach with their partners, local government units (LGUs), regional clusters and ICT councils, the agency aims to develop these areas as focal points for the revitalisation of the country’s economy, and for sustained growth in the long-term, the DICT added.
To intensify these efforts further, as reported by OpenGov Asia, DICT said that the plan is for industry experts to be ambassadors through various interventions to help reinforce the role of the IT-BPM industry in economic growth.
The IT-BPM Ambassadors will be resource speakers in various events and awareness fairs, sharing their professional expertise as part of an industry marketing campaign, assisting in content creation to promote Filipino talent and working alongside the DICT and IBPAP to implement related initiatives.
To be potential ambassadors, persons must be currently holding managerial positions in the IT-BPM industry with at least a 5-year tenure. The role seeks IT-BPM leaders who can effectively build and manage stakeholder relationships. Applicants who had previously worked on countryside operations are preferred.
The IT-BPM sector continues to be a priority for DICT, and it is ready to support and take the lead in making the necessary interventions to ensure that these digital cities achieve their potential. By working together with other executive agencies, LGUs, industry leaders, and academic institutions, which will enable each location to grow into centres of excellence that spur the development of other business sectors, de-risk Metro Manila concentration, create jobs, and boost the local economy. This will involve the strengthening of ICT councils in the region.
The Department continues to provide the 25 Digital Cities for 2025 with the necessary support in four key areas: institutional development, talent attraction, infrastructure development, and marketing and promotion. These interventions aim to help these localities achieve their full potential because of the government’s pursuit for countryside progress and inclusive growth.
Additionally, the digitalcitiesPH portal will provide investors and locators with essential information on cities and municipalities all over the Philippines. It will help assess each location’s potential as a global business centre. The IBPAP said that it recognised locations that have been crucial to the continued and growing relevance of the Philippines as a global investment destination.
Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Pham Minh Chinh, recently urged the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to finalise and submit a national strategy on developing the digital economy and society by August this year. According to a press release, several other countries have already introduced strategies and programmes on digital transformation in a bid to optimise opportunities from the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
In Vietnam, the digital economy and society have been growing rapidly, supported by the well-developed telecom and IT foundation, high Internet coverage, and a huge number of Internet users. The country is located at the centre of the Southeast Asian region and is poised to be a global hub of digital technology and the digital economy.
However, the country is coping with several limitations, including a favourable legal system for the digital economy, and especially a strategy on digital economy and digital society. The new strategy is expected to set a sound direction for ministries, sectors, and localities to get involved in the field.
In 2020, Vietnam kicked off a national digital transformation programme, under which the country will renovate management and administration activities of the government, production and business activities of enterprises, and the overall way of living and working. It aims to develop a safe, humane, and wide digital environment. The national digital transformation programme has the dual purpose of both developing the digital government and economy and establishing Vietnamese digital businesses with a global capacity.
In a press statement, MIC Minister, Nguyen Manh Hung, said that if Industry 4.0 is considered an institutional revolution, with changes in management and business models, Vietnam has many opportunities. It will be the revolution of new technologies in physics, biology, artificial intelligence, big data, IoT, and 3D printing, which can create landmark changes in the way people live. The Politburo has issued Resolution 52, which defines eight groups of policies for Vietnam to actively participate in the Industrial Revolution 4.0:
- Renewing thinking, unifying awareness, strengthening the Party’s leadership, State management over the Industrial Revolution 4.0
- Perfecting institutions to facilitate the 4th Industrial Revolution and digital transformation
- Developing essential infrastructure, especially digital infrastructure
- Developing the national innovation capacity
- Human resource development
- Developing priority industries and technologies
- International integration
- Promoting digital transformation
Vietnam’s digital economy will likely reach US$52 billion in value by 2025, as OpenGov Asia had reported. With the gross merchandise value (GMV) of its Internet economy accounting for over 5% of the country’s GDP in 2019, Vietnam is emerging as the most digital of all economies in the region.
Last year, the Vietnamese internet economy continued to record double-digit growth, at 16% year-on-year, the highest in Southeast Asia. All sectors except travel continued to grow in 2020, of which transport and food, and online media grew 50% and 18% compared to 2019. Only online travel dropped 28% in terms of GMV but is expected to grow 25% by 2025. This year’s seismic consumer and ecosystem shifts have advanced the Internet sector in unimaginable ways, putting it in a stronger position than ever.
2020 was a year of transformation and accelerated disruption brought on by the pandemic. A critical lesson people learned was that every business needs to be a digital-enabled one. With this understanding, it is imperative to drive a sense of urgency among organisations towards accepting digital transformation.
During these testing times, empathy played a key role in the leadership style as it was critical to authentic and transparent communications. Ensuring the safety and well-being of the employees and looking out for their mental health became the foremost priority. Engaging teams effectively through frequent check-ins and reviews intermingled with fun engagement that encouraged sociability and bonding was fundamental to sustainability and continuity.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Olivier Croly, Senior Vice President APAC, Barco to discuss how the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a cultural shift in the workforce across sectors and industries.
Barco develops visualisation and collaboration solutions to help companies work together, share insights and wow audiences. In his current role, Olivier is responsible for leading and growing Barco’s APAC portfolio across its three core segments: enterprise, healthcare and entertainment. He leads the company’s commercial strategy and works with his team to deliver great customer outcomes and sales growth. The global development of the education business for Barco is also under his purview.
For Olivier, the pandemic has, in many ways, altered priorities – new offerings are being developed, and new go-to markets being explored, all while ensuring remaining connected with the consumer and listening more intently to what they want. Going forward, the role of a manager/leader should focus on the 3C approach: Compassion, Coach and Care while encouraging the team to upskill and reskill.
The foundation to counter the effects of COVID-19 in the initial stage was survival. To make it through the storm, Olivier and Barco’s strategy involved ensuring the safety and well-being of their employees while driving business continuity to the extent possible. Primarily this was done through the adoption of virtual conferencing and other telework tools.
Their internal teams adjusted quickly to the work-from-home model and were able to weather several challenges because of the robust digital infrastructure already available within the company, like Microsoft Teams, One drive, Yammer, etc. Most of the teams were used to working from home and flexible work hours.
The lockdown led to some disruptions in the supply chain, which impacted manufacturing output and resulted in shipment delays. However, strong IT support enabled the company to maintain continuity and productivity.
Olivier explained that they focused on employee reskilling, retooling supply chains and go to market strategies to enable a more sustainable, future-proof growth model that can withstand such black swan events in the future. While they have opened their office now, they are strictly following all guidelines with regards to social distancing, site disinfection and others to ensure employee health and safety during this time.
Technology will define success or failure in the new normal
2020 has been a transformative year for organisations. Across the globe, people had to adapt to remote working, with only essential service providers being allowed to work on-site. This successful transformation to a digital workplace requires effective team collaboration, and trust, supported by real-time collaboration solutions to deliver results. Any business is as good as its people and Olivier believes that empowering them with effective tools not only brings out the best results but also gives them a competitive advantage.
With the ongoing wave of technology adaptation and the ensuing culture shift, organisations are increasing their reliance on innovative solutions to enable seamless visualisation and collaboration between on-site and remote employees. Adoption of emerging technologies within the workplace was already a part of the digital transformation process that companies were exploring to reinforce future preparedness and competitiveness. With the advent of social distancing, these technologies have become enablers of business delivery and continuity, while adhering to safety protocols.
The office but not as we know it
As hybrid becomes the new normal at workplaces and changes the way we meet, collaborate, engage and impress our workforce, and inspire and communicate to crowds, it led Barco to rethink the physical office. The company transformed its Singapore office into a hybrid workplace. The office is designed and furnished with the latest video technology to accommodate the new normal of hybrid working. Barco Singapore has invested in safe, efficient, and fully-equipped offices and meeting spaces that will enable better engagement between in-house and remote employees seamlessly and in the most effective way. At the same time, the company’s India software team has also moved to a state of the art, hybrid work environment.
Step into tomorrow’s new hybrid way of working with Barco
As companies redefine their digital capabilities and physical workspaces to facilitate hybrid collaboration and visualisation, Barco has you covered with its premium solutions to enhance workplace agility and efficiency, ensuring that enterprises are primed for the new normal. Barco’s premium visualisation and collaboration solutions transform enterprises by enhancing productivity and continuity for businesses while facilitating a hybrid and resilient model that can withstand future challenges.
Barco’s innovative solution ClickShare Conference boosts team collaboration by enabling seamless and secure communication and ensuring that all members of the team feel included in the meeting. It enables personalisation and efficiency in hybrid workplaces and users are not tied to any specific video conferencing apps as ClickShare Conference is software-agnostic. The solution offers the flexibility to “Bring your own meeting” as it supports the use of a wide range of cameras and speakerphones.
Another technology enabling hybrid workspace is Barco’s media streaming solution SecureStream, which makes sharing content from control rooms to external stakeholders simple and secure. The solution allows control room operators to simply drag and drop content into a SecureStream channel and then provide the needed link to the receivers.
The company also facilitates efficient training and team collaboration through weConnect, a virtual classroom software dedicated to distance learning in real-time. With hybrid training and reskilling of employees being necessary for the new normal, employee engagement in training sessions can also be boosted through weConnect. The solution enables bright outcomes for learners as it optimises class engagement and boosts seamless contact between trainers and employees.
Work is not a place but rather, results and outcomes
Organisational leaders need to inculcate a sense of urgency in driving digital transformation which is now a necessity. A key reinforcement has been that the world can do more with less – less space consumption, less travel – and still drive efficient results.
Olivier acknowledged that the pandemic taught the world that profitability and sustainability are not necessarily conflicting goals; they can effectively come together to achieve equitable economic growth. Considering this, innovation, agility and flexibility are a must for business continuity and resilience.
In closing, Oliver shared his core belief that an organisation’s and its leadership’s outlook must be holistic, inclusive and equitable. Ultimately people will remember organisations that took care of ALL their stakeholders – not just employees, customers or shareholders.
A tech firm operating under the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that it has launched new solutions which are now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution description – factory-terminated optical fibre tip-to-tip network infrastructure cabling for offices and data centres
Thanks to fibre optics, invented in the firm’s lab in 1970, enormous amounts of data, phone calls and video can move around the planet. That movement of data has, in turn, enabled innovation after innovation, including the internet, cloud, mobile boom, streaming TV, autonomous cars, bitcoin, AI – and whatever comes next.
The firm’s solutions create an optical fibre tip-to-tip solution for LAN and data centres consisting of housings, modules, panels, trunks, harnesses, and jumpers. IT operators have an exhaustive list of desirable parameters they employ to ensure their facilities’ smooth and efficient operation the firm strives to exceed their expectations.
The company interviewed over 3,000 operators, and the outcome remained the same – the infrastructure must be reliable, high-quality, flexible, manageable, scalable, and visible to support a 24/7 year-round operation without question.
The tech firm’s award-winning EDGE™ solutions are high-density pre-terminated optical cabling solutions that simplify installation and improve performance in the office LAN and data centre environment. EDGE solutions provide increased system density when compared to traditional pre-terminated systems and offer the highest port density in the market.
The firm’s ClearCurve® bend-optimized optical fibre is the core element ensuring reliability when designing custom-engineered components thanks to its significant reduction in macro-bend loss even in the most challenging bend scenarios.
This technology enables the company to provide significantly greater density across the range combined with simple design and integration for LAN and SAN areas of cabling infrastructure. Infrastructure performance management is a traffic monitoring method being transmitted and received along with a link in a network providing real-time visibility.
This method can be done actively through electronic devices that can replicate and send the link’s data to the monitoring device (also called mirroring or spanning). Alternatively, it can be done through passive optical taps or port taps, transmitting all the data to the intended recipient and a monitoring device simultaneously. It can also filter the data and send it to various software tools for analytics, where it is then sent to an application-layer software for use by network administrators.
All EDGE solutions products, except TAP modules and 24-fibre MTP® single-mode assemblies, are manufactured with the firm’s proprietary CleanAdvantage™ technology, a new cleaning process implemented at the factory that uses residue-free cleaning fluids.
The firm’s proprietary nozzle design enables a focused and directed spray to the end-face, virtually cleaning the entire ferrule. All CleanAdvantage products are also shipped with optimized dust caps engineered to maintain the end-face cleanliness until the first mating connection. CleanAdvantage eliminates the need for scoping and cleaning before the initial field connection, reducing installation time and cost.
The solution was developed to be applied across the areas of City Management, Commerce and Industry, Environment, Finance, Housing, Infrastructure, Recreation and Culture as well as Transport.
The solution employs Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, Mobile Technologies and Virtual Reality.
The company’s EDGE factory-terminated solutions have been deployed by finance institutes, technologies enterprise and government in the global marketplace.
The factory-terminated tip-to-tip optical fibre components allow for reduced installation time and faster moves, adds, and changes (MACs). Corning factory-terminated solutions provide improved system performance, ensure component compatibility, and yield consistently high quality.
EDGE solutions consist of an extensive range of housings, trunks, modules, adapter panels, harnesses, patch cords, and accessories for extended flexibility. The universally-wired modular system components provide simplistic management for quick-and-easy networking MACs with none of the polarity concerns associated with special polarity-compensating components.
The deployment of a scalable optical connectivity solution allows infrastructure to meet current and future data rates’ requirements. Scalability enables the physical expansion of the cabling infrastructure to additional servers, switches, or storage devices and flexibility to the infrastructure to support a migration path for increasing data rates.
As technology evolves and standards are completed to define data rates such as 40/100/400G Ethernet, Fibre Channel (32G and beyond), and InfiniBand (40G and beyond), the cabling infrastructures installed today must provide scalability to accommodate the need for more bandwidth in support of future applications.
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.
Since 1987 the Edison Awards have recognised and honoured some of the most innovative new products and services as well as business leaders from around the world and recently announced this year’s winners.
Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) collected two awards under the support of the Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA). With these accolades, ITRI has delivered again with MetabColor as well as the AI-Based High-Density Shuttle Rack Delivery System.
The ITRI is a government-funded applied technology research institute with more than 6,000 employees. ITRI’s AI-Based High-Density Shuttle Rack Service System wins a gold medal in the Innovative Services, AI Applications category. The institute also took home a silver award for its MetabColor microbial textile dyes produced via a non-toxic, environmentally friendly and renewable process.
The Director-General of DoIT stated that it was no easy thing that ITRI’s AI technology won a gold medal in the Innovative Services, AI Applications category. The automated vertical warehousing system is developed for space-starved cities and the rack can be 14 stories high, saving at least twice as much space storage. Moreover, ITRI has been working with several companies to develop AI technology. The AI-based warehousing system optimises logistics efficiency to meet the increasing needs of e-commerce, cutting shipping time by 60% and helping to increase logistics performance during peak season.
The silver winner, MetabColor, uses modified microbes and the fermentation, separation, and purification processes to create natural dyes that are more environmentally friendly than chemical dyes. ITRI has been cooperating with leaders in textile manufacturing and speciality chemicals on the preliminary verification of the technology.
ITRI President also stated that the honour demonstrates that the institute’s technological vision aligns with top global trends. ITRI will continue collaborating with industry leaders to offer efficient solutions aimed at minimising environmental impact while ensuring Taiwan is an integral part of green global supply chains. He also pointed out that the Edison Awards focus on the “real-world applications” of innovative R&D results. Winning two awards is a big achievement for their R&D teams.
2030 Technology Strategy and Roadmap
To innovate a better future, ITRI has drawn up its 2030 Technology Strategy and Roadmap, in which it enhances the development of “intelligentisation” enabling technologies and focuses on three application domains: Smart Living, Quality Health, and Sustainable Environment. The Institute strives to use technological innovation to shape new lifestyles, develop market-oriented solutions, and find uncontested spaces.
Digital transformation has become a driving force for global economic innovation. With the prevalence of IoT and AI, people are seeking a faster, easier, and smarter life with the introduction of intelligent devices/services and new business models.
Therefore ITRI is developing personalised devices and services, autonomous mobility systems, and smart industries and services for the Smart Living domain. ITRI is also working on human-machine interaction, enhanced imaging and perception systems, autonomous decision-making and control, and smart business technologies and services.
As many countries are moving towards hyper-aged societies, demands for medical personnel and healthcare resources are increasing. New business opportunities in the emerging diagnosis and treatment market are also created through integrated solutions that include smart long-term care systems, personalised/precision medicine, and healthcare models.
In the domain of Quality Health, ITRI leverages Taiwan’s strengths in ICT and medical care systems to develop smart medical and healthcare technologies. The R&D scope includes smart medical electronics, regenerative medicine, wearable devices, digital healthcare services, and many more.
Due to the current climate change, greenhouse effects, and limited energy sources and resources, how to coexist with Mother Nature has become an important issue when developing new technologies. A sustainable environment can be maintained by creating a circular ecosystem, cutting downtime and energy-consuming production processes, and discovering green energy sources.
ITRI is thereby enhancing the technology development in the circular economy, smart manufacturing, and green energy and environment fields by exploring high-value circular materials, smart manufacturing systems, and supply chain management to achieve ecological symbiosis.
As the pandemic propels restaurants and other businesses to keep their distance from customers, a Shanghai-based robotics firm looks to bring its automated helpers to Singapore and other markets across the globe. The robotic servers wait by the kitchen for meals to come out. Staffers load them up and tell them which tables to go to via touchscreen. Then they roll off, deftly avoiding obstacles in their way.
The AI company focuses on indoor intelligent service robot, in the field of indoor autonomous d and providing intelligent unmanned delivery solutions. They have developed a variety of commercial service robots to meet different customers requirement. Their products are mainly applied in fields such as catering, medical care, hotels, entertainment, retail, venues, government affairs, offices, real estate, communities, banking, posts, finance, insurance, airports, stations, etc.
The robots’ features are the following:
- Touch sensor. The robot can return quickly with a single tap
- UI that makes the human-robot interaction more friendly
- Smart voice recognition receives users ‘orders accurately and gives response quickly
- An infrared perception system that detects the status of goods in the pallet, the robot returns automatically as quickly as humans and help customers take away the empty disks
The robots are also equipped with an autonomous localisation and navigation feature. The multi-sensor fusion technology, based on LIDAR, machine vision, depth senor, etc., that can locate and navigate precisely. It can run smoothly and stably indoors even in a complex environment. The tech also has a vivid expression show that is based on an AI interactive engine, several bionic and vivid expression packages can be customised. The human-like emotions as happy, angry, sorrow etc., making communication more interesting.
Lastly, it has a multi robots collaboration programme. With a planning system, multiple robots can cooperate smoothly in the same working environment, elevating efficiency,
The tech company shared that they are responsible for roughly 85% of food-serving robots ever sold in China. The country has been a pioneer in service robots, thanks partly to relatively relaxed regulation that benefits budding businesses, and it already uses robots commercially in such fields as food delivery and security.
Production capacity was roughly doubled in 2020 to prepare for overseas expansion. The tech company stated that their factories all have extra space, and they plan to increase capacity to up to 200,000 units.
The tech has also gotten a big boost from the push to minimise the person-to-person spread of COVID-19. Its unit sales likely more than tripled to over 10,000 in 2020. Sales of service robots were to increase 34% to USD 2.94 billion in China in 2020, roughly twice as fast as for the world, according to one industry forecast.
The tech company and developer aim to have local units set up in at least 10 countries by the end of 2021. It opened a Japan arm in March with just under 10 staffers and is looking at South Korea and Singapore, as well as markets in Europe, North America, and the Middle East.
However, challenges are still at hand. While the developer is a relatively well-known company at home, it has little name recognition abroad. Clients appear more concerned about features than the price at this point. Many foreign markets also tend to focus heavily on the quality of customer service, meaning that robots and other automated solutions might not gain much traction among consumers seeking a more conventional experience.