This is Part 1 of a two-part series covering the Public Sector Innovation Day – Singapore. Read Part 2 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.
Strategies to Enable Health Data Optimisation and Usage in Singapore
After the opening remarks, the forum heard a keynote address by Sutowo Wong, Director, Analytics & Information Management Division, Singapore Ministry of Health. He discussed various strategies to enable health data optimisation and its usage. Sutowo started by giving an operating context concerning the data processes in the Ministry of Health, especially during the pandemic.
First, as governments and agencies shape their data strategy, they need to be mindful of external macro trends such as the democratisation of data and analytics, where self-service analytics and the rising demand for data visualisation requires a better user experience for both data and insights.
Second is the rise of analytics apps where role-based actionable insights are more easily consumed and deployed and the adoption of improved decision-making procedures. Leaders must have the ability to support decision making by realising the value from investments in analytics.
He strongly believes that user experience matters. An effective data integration strategy must cater to the user’s expectations and needs by making sure that services are efficient, usable, interactive and can deliver on their promise. Adopters must learn that a data lifecycle has four stages: acquisition, management, access and distribution and exploitation. However, adopters are troubled by several key pain points.
Data acquisition is burdened with issues like significant lead time and cost required to collect data from source systems, leading to delays and high cost, multiple duplicative requests from different divisions/entities to collect same/similar data.
Data management is hindered by data duplication across different repositories, no comprehensive data catalogue and lack of standard data definitions, a large amount of data cleansing and analysis done manually using excel, and by having no data quality monitoring and remediation processes in place.
Access and distribution are bothered by issues such as different entities and systems having their de-identification and anonymisation processes, tedious and varied processes to seek data access approval for different datasets, and fear of residual liabilities for data provider when data is shared.
Lastly, exploitation of data faces challenges such as organisations having limited processing scalability, the governance of data scattered across many endpoints are demanding, the lack of model development and deployment processes for operationalisation of POCs, and the lack of reusable analytics assets e.g., codes, datasets.
The Ministry of Health addressing these issues and improving its capabilities, policies, and legislation. The MOH Consolidated Data Repository (MCDR) allows MOH and authorised users to gain access to cleaned and concorded healthcare data to reduce the time and resources expended by consolidating and optimising the data from different sources to the MOH central platform.
A Data Management Workstream (DMW) standardises and automates data extraction, fusion, and pre-processing as well as utilises a team of data concierges to develop data catalogues and coordinate data requests to allow collected data to be cleaned once for multiple uses in the future. By pre-linking a wide range of datasets, the turnaround and readiness of providing data will improve significantly over ad-hoc and piecemeal efforts.
Data Governance works with the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) to clarify data accountabilities as data flows between MOH and Public Healthcare Institutions (PHIs) to centrally drive data governance and facilities for anonymised and identifiable data to improve data accessibility and distribution across the board.
Sutowo added that users are looking for actionable insights, which is why the MOH must be flexible enough to meet these differing needs. The ministry is making sure that data is curated, and a catalogue is being created to improve data discoverability. Requests for data and packages are to be addressed by using a standardised and streamlined process, providing access to the required tools in a sandbox to analyse the data, and deploying the output and monitoring the performance in operations continuously.
Sutowo touched on MOH programmes that utilise data analytics. The Nationwide Predictive Model for Admission Prevention – Hospital to Home (H2H), provides holistic care for patients who are at home via the common care model for Transitional Care. The predictive model was launched in all public hospitals in Singapore in April 2017. As of 6 May 2018, more than 15,000 patients have been enrolled on the H2H programme.
The ministry launched a self-learning retinal screening tech that cuts the time needed to spot signs of diabetic eye disease as well as an automated tool to diagnose uncertain cases of appendicitis to guide the optimal use of CT scans.
Sutowo emphasised that beyond data, the rapid growth in digital health presents opportunities to redefine our care and financing models. The Global and APAC digital health market has been growing rapidly and is poised for further growth. Singapore is home to 170 local start-ups, between 20 to 30 foreign start-ups and 40 multinational companies in the digital health space.
In closing, he noted that the nation’s public healthcare IT ecosystem has undergone significant shifts and will continue to transform for the better.
Fireside chat: How can the public sector leverage data revolution to respond, recover and reimagine next-gen citizen-centric services?
The session moved to a 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.
On being asked why he sees data as the heart of the COVID-19 recovery, Remco explained that data is the perfect element in terms of recovering from the pandemic because it 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.
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.
Applying real-world AI & Analytics to Improve Decision-Making and Provide Efficient Citizen Services in the New Normal
Following the fireside chat, the session heard from Deepak Ramanathan, Vice President – Global Customer Advisory SAS on how AI and analytics in the new norm have improved citizen services and transformed decision–making.
There are several reasons as to why leaders should take a new approach when it comes to decision-making, Deepak says. A new approach may result in a significant need to make better use of resources, improve the efficacy and efficiency of decision making and result in the right service delivery in a timely fashion, drive revenue, control costs and reduce risks. Any new approach should promote the idea of automating data acquisition and using analytics/AI that will drive these desired and needed efficiencies. All in all, decision making will increasingly get digitised.
Deepak cited several examples of augmenting decisions that drive digital transformation and deliver value. One of which was advanced mental health care with the predictive analysis used in California, USA. The project required the integration of data across country departments and information systems. It is focused on building a unified view of every client resulting in improved and effective services.
The Los Angeles country utilised a cross-agency service to measure the cost and benefits of serving the indigent adults in the country’s General Relief Programme.
In Amsterdam, the health sector used computer vision and predictive analytics to better identify cancer patients who are candidates for life-saving surgeries.
Automating real-time, transactional decisions can help in the long run. It can be vital in improving safety and emergency response using sensors to predict disasters, early detection of insider threats for public safety and national security organisations, transforming predictive maintenance for complex equipment and infrastructure, protecting tax revenue, and streamlining expenditure.
Technological advancements will help boost employee satisfaction and drive revenue fields while protecting resources.
Deepak and his team at SAS recognise several principles for responsible AI. They believe that AI should have inclusive growth capabilities, sustainable development and well-being, human-centred values and fairness transparency, robustness, security, and safety, and accountability.
Accelerating Singapore’s Journey Towards Precision in Public Health
Taking over the session, Terence Ng, Director – Policy & Technology Innovation Office Health Promotion Board, Singapore shared how Singapore’s Health Promotion Board innovates in terms of the population’s health using partnership, research, and data.
Today, Terence believes, is an opportune time to reimagine and further invest in health and wellness promotion, as these are the hottest points of discussion during the age of COVID-19. There is a growing need for early detection and preventive health interventions. This is because of the continued growth in noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) particularly chronic conditions & associated health risks, a rise in medical costs. Singapore medical costs are twice the global average and 10 times the inflation rate – and the -19 pandemic is amplifying the urgency for health promotion and disease prevention.
COVID-19 has accelerated the development and adoption of digital health and tech. Organisations and institutions are looking at data and technology to improve health knowledge and delivery. The ubiquity of smart devices allows for more continuous and granular data and more individualised approaches, while AI and machine learning are adopted for predictive and personalised health analysis.
Precision in public health is about delivering the right intervention at the right time, every time, to the right population. The approach must be holistic, precise, personalised, multi-channel, and continuous.
The desired outcomes for precision in public health are as follows:
- Drive better health-related outcomes: reverse risk factors and slow down growth in NCDs / chronic disease and encourage sustained health behaviours and improve mgmt. & outcomes for patients (e.g., diabetes)
- Increase scalability & reach: scale and maximise the reach of interventions to more and different segments of Singapore pop. through better customisation, and leverage technology as an enabler to increase scalability
- Measure the impact of interventions: Better measure outcomes and effectiveness of interventions (incl. programmes, policies), constantly refine and improve approaches to health promotion based on evidence; use tech as an enabler to measure outcomes
- Improve cost-effectiveness of the system: enable more efficient and cost-effective healthcare system using technology and focus on preventive health
- Create new economic value & innovation: further, establish Singapore as a global & regional public health innovation hub and create training opportunities to develop up-skill home-grown talent
Partnerships, research, and data analytics are key in achieving precision in public health, Terence says. Better data and data banks enable researchers and the entire government to access world-class data, data integration and interoperable systems. This has accelerated the development of a Health Data Hub for the population. Better research will come from creating an ecosystem of research partners for next-gen discovery and innovations and better partnerships in public health interventions and major collaborations with leading technology firms and researchers.
Singapore’s Ministry of Health is transforming the healthcare system to adapt to the new normal. The ministry believes that their services should be beyond healthcare and should focus more on prevention and wellness. Services that go beyond a hospital, resulting in less hospital-centric, more relative shifts to right-sited care and beyond quality to value, and by providing more cost-effective treatments and interventions.
Governments Leading Through Change
Jason Loh, Head of Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, Asia Pacific, Global Tech Practice SAS took over to talk on how analytics and AI machine learning helped organisations and government agencies face unprecedented challenges during the pandemic.
He acknowledged that COVID-19 changed working conditions and, essentially, life in general. In less than a year since the virus emerged and just over 6 months since tracking began, it upended day-to-day lives across the globe. The pandemic has changed how people work, learn, and interact as social distancing guidelines have led to a more virtual existence, both personally and professionally.
Machine learning is an innovative approach that has extensive applications in prediction. This technique was applied to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic and predict the risk in healthcare. Machine learning analyses the risk factors as age, social habits, location, and climate as well as identifying patients at high risk, mortality rates and other critical parameters and trend lines.
The technique can be used to understand the nature of the virus and further predict the upcoming issues. This learning algorithm creates inferences out of unlabelled input datasets, that can be applied to analyse the unlabelled data as an input resource for the pandemic. It provides accurate and useful features rather than a traditional explicitly calculation-based method.
Organisations and governments have gravitated toward predictive analytics in the last several years, as they use data to anticipate future trends and needs, especially during the onset of COVID-19. But forecasting demand is difficult even in normal times, and the pandemic’s unpredictability has been challenging. Since the pandemic started, simple descriptive analytics using good data about the present and recent past has helped the public sector.
Jason cited examples of how governments from all over the world utilised AI and data analytics to adapt to the new normal brought by the pandemic. The Chinese used machine learning for epidemiology tracking and neuro-linguistic programming for contact tracing.
Another example was the development of a COVID-19 e-health hub for health professionals in Australia. The e-health hub is dedicated online and by an over the phone mental health and wellbeing network. Developed rapidly to meet an immediate need, the initial release of the platform aims to deliver mental health assessment and access to resources and digital self-help and self-management in times of lockdowns caused by COVID-19.
Jason exhorted leaders to develop better citizen outreach programmes through AI in social media and chatbots. They need to develop platforms and tools that understand what the citizens need in each household. Using the information, they should incorporate it into an advanced data management system using AI and machine learning to help deliver services more efficiently.
Responsible and Ethical Use of AI in Public Sector: Application, Challenges, and Best Practices
After Jason Loh’s presentation, the delegates heard a presentation from Lim Chinn Hwa, Senior Director Smart Nation Platform Solutions, Government Technology Agency, GovTech. He discussed how the public sector can apply responsible and ethical use of AI and the best ways to do so.
The public sector uses AI to make data-driven decisions, improve efficiency and productivity, bring convenience to citizens and personalise public services. That being the case, he notes, AI must be human-centric.
The National AI Strategy seeks to establish Singapore as a global hub for developing, test-bedding, deploying, and scaling AI solutions. The strategy is a key step in the country’s Smart Nation journey. It spells out the nation’s plans to deepen the use of AI technologies to transform its economy, going beyond just adopting technology to fundamentally rethinking business models and making deep changes to reap productivity gains and create new areas of growth.
The National AI ecosystem is made up of a triple partnership helix consisting of the government, the research community and industry. This supports whole-of-government applications with in-house capabilities in Machine Learning/Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing, Computer Vision, and IoT & Robotics. AI must be identified in national projects that deliver impactful social and economic benefits to citizens.
Moreover, Lim Chinn Hwa mentioned specific areas that greatly concern citizens. Areas like transport and logistics that can use AI for intelligent freight planning, smart cities and estates with seamless and efficient municipal services, healthcare facilities that can predict and manage chronic diseases, the education sector that AI can personalise through adaptive learning, assessment and safety and security that could use an AI tool for border clearance operations.
AI is vital to sustainability and food security and is fundamental to Singapore’s 30 by 30 vision to produce 30% of its nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030, including fruit and vegetables, fish and poultry.
One example is the challenge fish farms are facing. Fish larvae feed on large amounts of plankton called rotifers – every few hours. To ensure a constant healthy rotifer supply, samples need to be examined daily. A trained technician takes 40 minutes each day to manually examine samples under a microscope.
GovTech worked with the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) to develop an AI mobile app to automate the rotifer inspection process. Technicians upload photos of rotifer samples to a mobile app then the app automatically classifies healthy and unhealthy rotifers – reducing inspection time from 40 minutes to 1 minute.
Singapore is kept smoke-free by an AI-powered smoking activity detection unit. The tech has a deep learning pose estimation-based solution using security camera video feeds. It provides near real-time notifications to users on the detection of smoking activities. The cloud-based solution allows the exportation of data for trending analysis and optimises the deployment of National Environment Agency officers to targeted hotspots.
More recently, AI was also used in the country’s battle against COVID-19. One example is the Smart thermal scanner with deep learning face detection of up to 10 faces at once. It is lightweight, affordable, and works both indoors and outdoors. The software licensed to the private sector is for free.
Another example is Access Control with Video Analytics. The tech is a fully automated, contactless gantry system for temperature screening and optimises temperature screening process duration to 2 seconds per visitor.
Lim Chinn Hwa ended his presentation by emphasising that the public sector can scale the usage of AI by making timely collection, analysis and sharing of data and by building reusable components and scalable, interoperable platforms. He also sees wider adoption of augmented analytics, robotics, smart devices, autonomous vehicles, smart facilities management, more real-time AI services, and open digital platforms soon.
Future of Digital Government: Anticipatory, Intuitive, and Invisible
After Lim Chinn Hwa’s presentation, the session welcomed Dr David Hardoon, Senior Advisor for Data and Artificial Intelligence, UnionBank Philippines. He shared how the future of government must be anticipatory, intuitive, while government officials are invisible to the public eye.
David feels that a digital government must be citizen–centric and perceived from an engagement point of view. Citizen experience should be at the heart of a digital government. A digital government must not retrofit programmes and processes to digital, instead, they must make programmes and initiatives that are digital by design.
Beyond citizen centricity, governments must provide safe experiences for their citizens. Digital transformation will be accompanied by cybersecurity across the board, and not just in financial transactions. Governments must learn how to create safe experiences by using data and available technology.
Governments and agencies must learn to be non-visible at times and create seamless experiences for their citizens or customers. Too much visibility, like transferring from one agency to another just to avail of a service, can result in unrest from a citizen’s point of view. Governments must be made aware that users just want to avail the service and avoid the tediousness of varying processes. Expanding on his view that the future of digital governments is invisible, he felt that cutting down on the approvals from various agencies when trying to access a service is the way to go.
Governments must be motivated by the results and outcomes, not by the money they are going to make. Leaders and decision-makers must find the right tools to measure these underlying outcomes. The more agencies use technologies like AI, machine learning and data science, the more it is critical to make a direct link between the effort that has been put in and the outcome that is derived from it.
David ended his presentation by saying that governments must move on from sandbox treatments and trials to the actual production of programmes for their citizens using disruptive technologies such as AI, machine learning, and data science. Building a digital future must be made in a scalable, robust and secure manner.
Mohit joined Dr Adam Chee, Chief – Smart Health Leadership Centre, Institute of System Science, National University of Singapore, Dr David Hardoon, Senior Advisor for Data and Artificial Intelligence, UnionBank Philippines, Jason Loh, Head of Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, Asia Pacific, Global Tech Practice SAS, and Christopher Tan, Partner Revenue Acceleration, Director – APJ, Intel in Power Talk to discuss how the public sector can further adapt to the changing times.
Jason Loh believes that the personalisation of services will be more prominent in the new normal. He reiterated that the world should continue to embrace technological advancements and new policies and not return to the old norm.
Dr David Hardoon does not feel transformation is about changing culture; it is about how to incorporate technology within the context of culture.
Christopher Tan argues that leadership and the building of digital infrastructure are critical in the changing times.
Dr Adam Chee emphasised the need for digital training and data and information dissemination within governments and organisations in the new normal.
The OpenGov Public Innovation Day – Singapore Day 1 ended with the closing remarks from Mohit. He strongly felt that the change must come from the top so it can trickle down to the workforce and communities.
Change must start from people who understand technology because these technologies use data and data gives you insights; that is the driver behind everything else. Governments should be an example to everyone and by doing that, the desired outcomes will follow.
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 2 here.
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) is recently unveiled the Experience Centre as an immersive sensory journey to showcase Hong Kong’s world-class innovation and ambition in Biomedical Technology, AI & Robotics, FinTech and Data & Smart City.
Visitors to Science Park today can explore and be inspired by HKSTP’s thriving I&T ecosystem of over 1000 partner companies, who are fuelling Hong Kong’s rise as a leading global I&T hub within the Greater Bay Area.
The Experience Centre will be the new premier touchpoint at Science Park for local and global visitors to get a full sense of Hong Kong’s largest and most advanced I&T ecosystem, while also opening new I&T career possibilities to young talent in Hong Kong. The standout innovations on show are a testament to HKSTP’s impactful support across the entire I&T value chain – from R&D to commercialisation and re-industrialisation.
The 370 square-meter immersive experience features an inspirational and interactive journey of seven zones, 300+ tech components powering 30+ multimedia exhibits to present Hong Kong’s innovation stories in truly original and stimulating ways. The state-of-the-art thematic space uses innovative technological tools such as facial recognition, panoramic video, hololens, real-time data dashboards, spherical projections and transparent touch-screen technology to create an immersive visitor experience.
The CEO of HKSTP stated that the Experience Centre is the ideal multi-dimensional showcase of the Park’s thriving world-class I&T ecosystem that sits at the heart of the huge GBA innovation and technology opportunity. The tech-inspired experience is a reminder of the remarkable achievements and the powerful co-creation potential of HKSTP’s partner companies, but is also a taste of the transformative innovation yet to come from the city’s brightest talent and proof that HKSTP is where innovation starts and Hong Kong’s future is being forged”.
Art-Tech crossover explores human-tech relationship
Beyond acting as a showcase of inspiration, the Experience Centre provides a practical shared space for HKSTP partner companies and the larger I&T community to co-create. The centre will act as a “digital den” to take this innovation spirit into new areas of potential growth. One area is Design and Art Tech which is a prominent theme throughout the Experience Centre and highlights technology’s potential to drive cross-sector collaboration opportunities that transform culture and industry.
Each exhibit zone in the centre features thoughtfully curated art pieces that tell timeless stories of the human experience through modern, tech-enabled media platforms. Inspired by technology but made by man, the Art-Tech exhibition “Man-Made”, features a selection of art pieces from six Chinese artists, represent the convergence of culture and technology and the vision of technology as a dynamic man-made tool that drives the world forward.
HKDI is partnering with HKSTP to nurture new ways to fuse design and technology in new expressions while also nurturing new talent.
It was noted that the launch of the Experience Centre and this partnership with HKSTP is a prime example of how design, art and technology create a powerful synergy that fuses two distinct communities and sectors, the Principal of Hong Kong Design Institute Vocational Training Council said.
Initiatives arising from the HKDI partnership include The “Master x Students” Talent Nurture Programme within the HKSTP Ecosystem; The Co-creation Charrette–Hackathon to promote academic-industry knowledge exchange; Design Competitions to bring to life design concepts stemming from HKDI talents; and Student Attachment and Internship to match qualified students nominated by HKDI with HKSTP partner companies.
The Seven Zones of the Experience Centre include:
- The “Reception” greets visitors via the virtual personal assistant in an automated welcome experience
- The “Immersive Room” highlights via immersive visuals HKSTP’s mission to spearhead Hong Kong’s I&T development by supporting the entire I&T value chain – from R&D to re-industrialisation.
- The “Hall of Fame” showcases standout achievements and ecosystem highlights from the 1000+ partner companies and 2 unicorns within the HKSTP ecosystem
- The “Discovery Area” is where visitors take a deep dive into our four strategic focus areas where Hong Kong is leading the way: Biomedical Technology, AI & Robotics, FinTech and Data & Smart City, and
- The Visionary Table is a showcase of the innovation culture at HKSTP told through innovators and industry pioneers
- Flexible Space is a place for co-creation and networking in groups of up to 30 people
- The Infinity Room is an interactive close to the experience where we celebrate Hong Kong’s incredible I&T journey to date and future potential
U.S. Gasoline Pipeline learned it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack on May 7 and has since determined that the incident involved ransomware, code that holds computer systems hostage. In response, the pipeline company proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat. These actions temporarily halted all pipeline operations and affected some of their IT systems, which they are actively in the process of restoring.
According to another article, The US government has declared a state of emergency after the ransomware attack. The emergency status enables fuel to be transported by road. Experts say fuel prices are likely to rise 2-3% on May 10, but the impact will be far worse if it goes on for much longer.
Multiple sources have confirmed that the ransomware attack was caused by a cyber-criminal gang, who infiltrated Colonial’s network on Thursday and took almost 100GB of data hostage. After seizing the data, the hackers locked the data on some computers and servers, demanding a ransom.
The co-founder of a London-based cyber-security firm says that that the pipeline company’s cyberattack has come about due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is because of the rise of engineers remotely accessing control systems for the pipeline from home. He believes that the cybercriminal gang bought account login details relating to remote desktop. Third-party cybersecurity experts were also immediately engaged after discovering the issue and launched an investigation into the nature and scope of this incident.
The pipeline company remained in contact with law enforcement and other federal agencies, including the Department of Energy who is leading the Federal Government response. The company’s highest priority is to maintain the operational security of its pipeline. Their personnel have taken additional precautionary measures to help further monitor and protect the safety and security of its pipeline.
The pipeline company’s operations team is developing a system restart plan. While their mainlines remain offline, some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational. They are in the process of restoring service to other laterals and will bring our full system back online only when they believe it is safe to do and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations.
This incident highlights the increasing risk ransomware is posing to critical national industrial infrastructure, not just businesses. It also marks the rise of an insidious criminal IT ecosystem worth tens of millions of pounds. It is unlike anything the cyber-security industry has ever seen before.
According to an article, cybersecurity experts say that the consequences of an infection spreading to the pipeline’s deeper layer are dire for any energy company. Many machines that control pipelines, refineries and power plants are well past their prime. The machines have few protections against sophisticated attacks and could be manipulated to muck with equipment or cause damage.
Security experts say that the energy industry is a big target. The U.S. has roughly 2.5 million miles of pipelines. Across that vast network are hundreds of thousands of devices, sensors that take myriad readings, valves that help control flow and pressure within a pipeline and leak detection system. They are vulnerable to attack.
U.S. Commerce Secretary says that the type of attack that occurred against the pipeline company is becoming more frequent and is something that businesses need to be concerned with. She adds that the attacks are here to stay and they have to work in partnership with businesses to secure networks, to defend themselves against these attacks.
The transaction value in Vietnam’s science-technology market posted an average annual growth of 22% during the 2011-2020 period, according to data from a recent conference reviewing the ten-year development of the market.
The conference focused on assessing the achievements and shortcomings in the development of the science and technology market over the last decade and set orientations for the next ten years. Vietnam currently has over 800 market intermediaries and the number of transaction platforms rose from eight before 2015 to 20 in 2020.
Along with traditional intermediaries, new-style organisations have developed strongly, with 69 business incubators and 28 business promotion programmes. In the 2020 Global Innovation Index (GII), Vietnam ranked 42nd among 131 economies. Among those making the most significant progress in their GII innovation ranking over time, Vietnam led 29 lower-middle-income countries and was third in Southeast Asia. Last year, it moved up 13 places from the previous year to 59th in the rankings of 100 economies with the best start-up ecosystems.
According to a news report, Tran Van Tung, the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, said that during the 2021-2030 period the Ministry will focus on completing the legal environment and promoting scientific and practical research for the development of the science and technology market. It will also work to remove barriers facing development, improve human resources training, and develop national infrastructure for the market.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) plans to accelerate the implementation of the national e-commerce development master plan of 2021-2025 to keep up with the growth of digital trading activities. Recently, the Head of the MoIT’s E-Commerce and Digital Economy Department said that by 2020, 53% of the population participated in online shopping. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, local e-commerce revenue grew 18%, reaching US$11.8 billion, accounting for 5.5% of total retail sales, consumer goods, and services nationwide.
With the support of electronic payments, the Ministry will focus on developing e-commerce infrastructure, building, and perfecting institutions and legal frameworks for e-commerce, creating a transparent and favourable legal environment for businesses and consumers in the country.
Vietnam is considered one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in Southeast Asia. Industry insiders say that e-commerce will continue to strongly grow this year. It will create a new impetus for economic growth, creating an opportunity for Vietnamese businesses to build new business strategies, and approach modern distribution channels to expand markets to recover from the pandemic.
MoIT’s E-Commerce and Digital Economy Department plans to implement the GoOnline programme this year to accompany local businesses. The programme will include telecommunications, technology, and e-commerce systems, manufacturers, traders, and individuals nationwide.
The Ministry will strengthen the coordination, inspection, examination, and violation handling in e-commerce. It will step up training for State management officials and owners of e-commerce exchanges on protected trademarks to solve disputes. This will also help detect counterfeit products, goods of unknown origin, and goods infringing intellectual property rights.
Last year, the MoIT applied blockchain technology to trace the origin of goods for some agricultural products to improve the brand and promote exports of agricultural products to developed countries as the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) was ratified.
The Ministry also built a total solution for logistics service exchanges between logistics businesses and shippers to facilitate e-commerce delivery services. It supported businesses to apply technology in digital transformation. Along with the national master plan, the MoIT will submit to the government an amended decree on e-commerce to enhance the integration, connection, and sharing of data between it and cities through the National Public Service Portal.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia’s lead agency in digital transformation, in collaboration with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) had recently called on tech companies from both countries to participate in a virtual event that outlined programmes and initiatives which aim to boost bilateral digital trade and investment via the Australia-Malaysia Tech Exchange (AMTX). The webinar took place on 6 May 2021.
The announcement follows the comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in December 2020 which is a core component of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) jointly announced as the elevation of diplomatic relations between both countries at the Australia-Malaysia Leaders’ Virtual Summit in January 2021 by both our Prime Ministers.
The MDEC CEO stated, “Australia is an important trading partner and we are looking forward to building closer bilateral trade relations in the areas of digital trade and investment via this programme. We are committed to providing our utmost support to strengthen the tech ecosystems in both countries for mutual success. Effective collaboration will improve innovation as we look to stimulate the growth of the digital economy in line with the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDIGITAL).”
To further enable the entry and expansion of Australian tech companies into Malaysian markets, MDEC offers the Malaysian Tech Entrepreneur Programme (MTEP) which provides a one-year pass to new entrepreneurs and a five-year pass to established ones. Moreover, the Malaysia Digital Hub (MDH) programme is also available to provide support with co-working spaces, thereby easing the market entry process.
MDEC and Austrade have also set up a one-stop platform to provide assistance and guidance to tech companies looking to make Malaysia their base for expansion into the wider ASEAN region and beyond. Interested companies will only need to fill up a form here and MDEC will revert accordingly to provide the necessary support.
It was noted that Austrade sees AMTX as a business-focused platform to support and enhance public-private partnerships between tech service providers and larger corporates with support from both Australian and Malaysian governments. The MDEC Vice President of the Digitally-Powered Businesses division noted that the agency is confident they can mutually benefit and grow both nations’ digital economies by creating an equitable, inclusive and technologically integrated society in line with Malaysia 5.0.
AMTX was introduced to drive digital collaboration among tech companies from both nations, facilitate and create pathways for bilateral trade and investment in the digital economy, provide platforms and avenues for collaboration and innovation in the digital economy reducing digital trade barriers and promote consistent and open digital trade rules in the region.
Both nations have cooperated closely on digital trade and investment for decades. Australian investments in Malaysia from 1997 to 2018, via the Multimedia Super Corridor, totalled RM2.53 billion (US$617 million), with 41 active companies in the market. Australian tech companies are drawn to Malaysia by its strategic location, attractive business environment, and reliable infrastructure.
Australia is a key market for many Malaysian tech companies for expansion, with the country being a key market for testing products before a European or North American expansion. In recent years, 11 Malaysian tech companies having been listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), making the country an appealing business destination.
Since its inception, MDEC’s market access programme has formed partnerships with over 200 parties globally and forged over 800 business matching opportunities for its portfolio companies. All of this has resulted in over US$1 Billion in digital export revenue. This new MoU will build upon that success and further strengthen the digital relationship between the two countries.
To date, MSC Malaysia has attracted a cumulative RM345 billion investments, creating close to 185,000 jobs. This mostly came from multinationals that have opened their global business services and regional operations here in Malaysia. Malaysia is also ranked second in ASEAN and 26th globally in the recent IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2020.
Malaysia’s diversified multi-lingual and digitally-skilled talent pool; ready infrastructure and thriving digital economy ecosystem has led it to be recognised as a first-mover for the high-value digital business services in the region.
An Indonesian ride-hailing tech company has announced plans to make every car and motorcycle on its platform an electric vehicle (EV) by 2030 in an ambitious three-pronged sustainability strategy.
Dubbed the “Three Zeros” agenda, the company aims to reach zero emissions, zero waste and zero socio-economic barriers by the end of the decade. The plans will see the 11-year-old company invest in a series of EV pilot programmes across Southeast Asia, as well as launching a “world-first” in-app carbon offsetting feature. However, the tech company said the plans would also require external support, highlighting the need for public and private collaboration to build the supporting infrastructure.
The tech company has seen strong interest from battery manufacturers, nickel providers and Indonesian authorities keen to assist with the shift to green energy in the world’s fourth most populous country and the surrounding region. Indonesia is one of the largest motorcycle-based transportation countries, so there is a lot of interest around this from a range of parties; the tech company sees itself as a primary facilitator in making this happen.
In addition, the company announced a series of social mobility initiatives, including establishing an employee-led council to push corporate diversity, equality and inclusion programmes as well as helping micro and small businesses digitise. It also pledged to only partake in gender diverse panels for speaking events.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Indonesia plans to roll out new regulations that offer tax breaks for hybrid EVs, in the latest effort to promote the development of electric vehicles in the country. In a meeting with Parliament, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said that investors who build electric cars in Indonesia feel that the current framework is unfair as there is no difference in the tax rates between hybrid and fully electric cars.
While battery-powered EVs continue to be exempted from the luxury tax, the plug-in hybrid EV will see an increase to 5% from 0%. Full and mild hybrid types will be taxed at a rate of 6% to 12%, from a previous range of 2% to 12%. Also, the government will provide tax holiday incentives for up to 10 years if EV manufacturers make at least a USD 346.2 million investment in the country.
President Joko Widodo has expressed his interest in making Indonesia a top player in the global electric car market, especially given that the country is the world’s largest producer of nickel, an essential component to produce lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries that power electric vehicles. Indonesia aims to be a regional EV hub in 2030 and it has been rolling out various initiatives to boost its production in the country.
Tech companies have also expressed their commitment to the initiative. An international ride-hailing giant put over 5,000 electric cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and scooters across Indonesia. Meanwhile, another tech unicorn is planning to test electric motorcycles this year and is working with the state-owned gas and oil company for the commercial pilot in Greater Jakarta.
However, it will not be easy to make consumers switch on a large scale due to its high price, said the association of Indonesian automotive industries. Most consumers are buying cars at prices between USD 10,386 to USD 17,310, while electric cars are currently selling for about USD 34,620. According to the Association, there is a huge potential for electric cars, but prices must be lowered significantly so they will be more affordable for the wider communities.
Another challenge is the supporting infrastructure like charging stations. The state electricity company PLN currently only runs 37 stations across the country, although it targets to have 2,400 by 2025. Addressing these two major problems will get consumers more interested.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the process of digital transformation in businesses and has urged companies to consider their own resources and conditions to ensure and increase efficiency, according to a news report. For instance, workers at a construction site in Hanoi use FaceID on their smartphones to register their arrival at work making it faster and more convenient to clock on. In the logistics sector, the application of technology is growing as drivers use their smartphones to track routes and shipments.
A recent study showed that the participation of SMEs in Vietnam in the digital transformation process could contribute US$24-30 billion to the country’s GDP by 2024, and significantly help with post-pandemic recovery. According to the Vietnam Logistics Association, 50%-60% of logistics enterprises are applying technology in their operations. At Sai Gon Newport Corporation, the application of an advanced management system helped reduce the time shipments stayed at the port by 55% and reduce delivery time by 75%.
An industry analyst noted that digital transformation is an inevitable trend of enterprises, especially during the current pandemic. If enterprises were slow in digital transformation, they would face difficulties when competing with others, especially in the rapid international integration. Digital transformation is not simply buying software or technology. Enterprises must pay attention to their resources and conditions to ensure the efficient process of digital transformation.
Under the digital transformation programme during the 2021-25 period, the Ministry of Planning and Investment wants 100% of enterprises to receive training in digital transformation to enhance their digital awareness. Micro and small enterprises, despite accounting for 96.7% of the total number of enterprises in Vietnam, contributed 40% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and provided 60% of jobs. However, due to their limited budgets, they had not benefited much from the digital transformation, the report said.
Digital transformation solution providers often paid more attention to government agencies and medium and large enterprises that had a greater budget and were often located in major cities. Nguyen Van Khoa, CEO of FPT, said that there were about five million household businesses in Vietnam who were also subject to digital transformation at different levels. Statistics have revealed that 50% of SMEs went bankrupt in the first five years and 90% in the next five years, stressing that the competition would be much fiercer in the digital transformation.
Digital transformation is accelerating the transition to a digital economy, which is enabling enterprises to develop platforms to promote their operation and business. It is more convenient for big enterprises to digitally transform because they have their own ecosystems while SMEs do not have a budget to digitise their operations.
The government aims to be in the top 40 performers in the Global Innovation Index (GII), the top 30 in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), and the top 50 in the United Nations’ e-Government Development Index (EGDI) by 2030.
The country also aims to raise the proportion of the digital economy in national GDP to 30% and boost productivity by 7.5% annually on average. Other targets for digital transformation are to achieve universal access to fibre-optic internet and 5G services; complete digital government development; and establish smart cities in key economic zones as well as connect with regional and global networks of smart cities.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced the launch of the 6th edition of the Global FinTech Hackcelerator, with the theme “Harnessing Technology to Power Green Finance”.
The competition aims to unlock the potential of FinTech in accelerating the development of green finance in Singapore and the region. FinTech firms and solution providers around the world are invited to submit innovative solutions to address over 50 problem statements that have been collected from financial institutions and green finance industry players.
These problem statements focus on three key challenges: Mobilising Capital, Monitoring Commitment and Measuring Impact.
Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS said, “Green FinTech can be an important enabler to accelerate Asia’s transition to a low carbon future. It can provide much needed innovative solutions, and develop the crucial technology stack, which can help promote green financial services, catalyse efficient allocation of green capital, and facilitate trust in the green data value chain. I encourage all innovators to make use of this platform and showcase their Green FinTech solutions to the world.”
Up to 15 finalists will be shortlisted for a virtual programme where they will be paired with a Corporate Champion (Corporate Champions are teams from Singapore-based financial institutions or organisations that mentor finalists during the Hackcelerator, working with them to refine and contextualise the solution) to develop customised prototypes on the API Exchange (APIX).
APIX is a product of the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network and is a not-for-profit entity formed by the MAS, the International Finance Corporation and the ASEAN Bankers Association, with the objective of supporting financial innovation and inclusion around the world
Each finalist will also receive a S$20,000 cash stipend and be eligible for a fast-tracked application for the MAS Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme Proof-of-Concept Grant of up to S$200,000. Finalists will pitch their solutions at the Demo Day held at this year’s Singapore FinTech Festival.
The Singapore FinTech Festival is the world’s largest FinTech festival and a global platform for the FinTech community comprising FinTech players, technopreneurs, policymakers, financial industry leaders, investors including private equity players and venture capitalists and academics.
It will be held on 8 to 12 November 2021. Up to three winners will be selected, with each receiving S$50,000 in prize money. All FinTech firms and solution providers should submit their applications for the MAS Global FinTech Hackcelerator by 11 June 2021.