Punggol Digital District will be Singapore’s first business park to offer businesses ‘plug and play’ digital infrastructure through the Open Digital Platform (ODP), a smart city platform co-developed by ST Engineering, JTC, the Government Technology Agency, Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, and Infocomm Media Development Authority.
Punggol Digital District has adopted the first-of-its-kind Open Digital Platform which promises to transform user and community experience in the future.
Open Digital Platform will enable different systems to work together and smarter
“Tech businesses often lack access and capability to reliable large scale data. They also face challenges when trying to integrate across proprietary systems as they are often in silo operations and are costly to integrate. In Punggol Digital District (PDD), the Open Digital Platform (ODP) is the solution. The interoperability layer in ODP allows district systems to work with each other. Without this layer, such “conversations between systems” will be impossible as they traditionally operate on different communication technologies” explained Mr Ryan Lee, Director, Smart District Division, JTC.
Mr Ryan continued to explain that “like operating systems in your smart phones, the ODP is the equivalent of the operating system in PDD. It is a secured platform connected to a network of sensors and systems in the District. This platform will collect the data from these sensors, make sense of it, and create quality experiences.
Examples of such data would include building data (e.g. lifts, lighting, mechanical & electrical systems, occupancy) and environmental data (e.g. temperature, rainfall). The data will be utilised to allow JTC to optimise its operations.
Beyond operational management, collected data in the ODP is also made available to companies, students & publics to test out new concepts of living, working and delivering services in PDD – a real world live environment. For those more conservative, there is also the PDD virtual environment.
With the repository of real-time district data, the ODP is also able to re-create a virtual PDD twin that allows businesses and students to perform simulations and rapid prototyping in a risk-free and lifelike environment, reducing the cost of experimentation and the Time-to-Market.
PDD is Singapore’s first business park to offer a plug and play digital infrastructure through the ODP. If successful, ODP can be adopted and scaled through other parts of Singapore, where relevant.
“Data Bus” within Open Digital Platform
The Open Digital Platform aims to integrate all the different systems by having a well-defined “data bus”.
Mr James Tan, Deputy Director, Smart Nation Platform Solutions Group, GovTech explained that the data bus within the ODP serves as a high speed interoperability information highway. It is relies on a “publish/subscribe” architecture instead of a standard request/reply communication.
A publish and subscribe architecture allows for high speed real time data streaming with low latency and overhead.
It also has an auto-discovery feature which provides the ODP plug and play capabilities similar to plugging in a USB device into a windows PC. (There are no requirements for a data publisher to negotiate data structures with a subscriber.)
Besides communication, the data bus also features a data schema that documents the relationship of assets within the district. For example, the fan coil unit is “part of” the aircon system. The fan coil unit “has control” over the compressor. This data schema allows the ODP to gain predictive and preventive capabilities.”
Punggol Digital District to be Sustainable and Smart
Punggol Digital District aims to achieve 30% higher energy efficiency than standard commercial buildings and zero water wastage among other things.
Mr James Tan, Deputy Director, Smart Nation Platform Solutions Group, GovTech highlighted that “Sustainability is high on the targets for Smart Cities. Other than installing smart systems that reduce carbon footprints, the ODP aims to link these smart systems together by making them even smarter.”
He gave the example of the same set of sensors within a system (eg, solar panel sensors) can detect atmospheric brightness and publish the information to the ODP. In turn the District Cooling System, Lightings, Blinds, Motorised Shades, can adjust their system accordingly. Water pressure sensors also reduce water wastage when they detect a leak automatically by turning off a valve automatically.
The ODP also features a digital twin where simulations can be conducted to optimise the solar energy harvesting, improve traffic flow within the carpark (reduce carbon footprint), optimise cooling and lighting requirements etc.
“As of March 2020, we have just finalised the system design and architecture, and established the data standards for ODP. In the next 2 years we will complete the development of the platform and test it at JTC Summit. Once the systems are installed in PDD, we will progressively integrate them to the ODP and commission the system before the launch of the district in 2023.”
China issued a guideline that detailed measures to promote the region’s economic growth, scientific and technological innovation, urbanisation, green development, opening-up, and people’s well-being. By 2025, the comprehensive strength and competitiveness of the region should be further enhanced, and marked progress should be achieved in innovation capacity, with its proportion of research and development input in the regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reaching the national average.
Regarding promoting advanced manufacturing, the guideline urges the building of industrial bases focused on sectors including intelligent manufacturing, new materials, new-energy vehicles and electronic information.
China also facilitates the major technological transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing sector, attaching importance to fostering the intelligent, green, service-oriented development of traditional sectors such as the coal, construction and steel industries. It also underscores accelerating the construction of national logistics hubs in Zhengzhou, Changsha, Taiyuan, Yichang and Ganzhou, and increasing the listed products of the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange.
In terms of environmental protection and pollution control, the guideline says compensation mechanisms for ecological protection and damage should be implemented, while prominent environmental problems in the region should be addressed by developing technological solutions.
To achieve inland high-level opening-up, the country should speed up the development of transportation in the region, including building high-speed railways, promoting the construction of an international logistics centre and international airfreight shipping centre, and improving the international air-traffic network.
The guideline also urges continued efforts to develop pilot free trade zones in the provinces of Anhui, Henan, Hubei and Hunan to a high standard, and optimise a business environment that is market-oriented, rule-based and internationalised.
The central region should accelerate the standardisation of hospitals for infectious diseases and centres for disease control and prevention, and improve the ability of urban and rural communities to provide medical services.
The supply of high-quality public goods, such as world-class universities and large-scale medical institutions, should be increased in the region, the guideline says, specifying that world-renowned universities will be encouraged to run schools in partnership with local institutions and conduct research and develop technology to solve problems. Large-scale comprehensive medical institutions are welcome to set up subsidiaries in the region.
In terms of fiscal and financial support, the central government will continue to increase transfer payments to the central region, and local governments can be allocated more bond issuance quotas on the condition that risks are under control.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has played an important role in China’s efforts to build a moderately prosperous society. China has taken a host of practical measures to promote science and technology in socio-economic development, foster innovation, support the transfer and industrialisation of research results, and encourage more investment in scientific and technological infrastructure.
The ministry has also made breakthroughs in its reform of the research system, created a better environment for innovation, improved the resource allocation system and has inspired creativity in science and technology workers.
The ministry has also worked with multiple provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions to encourage institutes in economically thriving areas to cooperate with their counterparts in less-developed western regions, and has also helped technology-intensive east coast enterprises establish presences in the west. The introduction of investment, business and talented people has helped less-developed areas build their own high-tech industries, train local professionals, and create more jobs.
Regarding the ministry’s targets in core technologies, the ministry will continue concentrating on basic materials, essential manufacturing techniques and high-end chips as well as industrial software so these fields can catch up with current world leaders.
In addition, cutting-edge disciplines like Artificial Intelligence (AI), quantum information, advanced manufacturing, brain sciences and aerospace technology will remain at the top of the ministry’s support list.
The U.S. Commerce Department is utilising bots to cut the time it takes employees to correct inaccurate forms and process records from hours to minutes – a game-changer that’s giving employees in the Enterprise Services (ES) time to focus on more complicated customer service tasks.
ES looks for a return on time, not necessarily a return on costs. As a shared-services contact centre, time is of the essence in responding to the customers and having folks available to respond to customers. ES is also providing Robotic Process Automation as a service to the whole department. RPA is the next level of basic automation that has been around for years.
The bot enables employees to take a business process and automate it from start to finish. I can have a bot that can do multiple functions, such as looking for things. One HR bot ingests 55,000 personnel records daily and processes them into ES’ service management system, which starts and ends employee services, updates information on employees, such as where they work, and drives workflows.
The bot also downloads data via an application programming interface from the Treasury Department’s HRConnect and looks for those records with differences. This “delta run” takes about 45 minutes to execute, while a full load takes about two hours. The bot stitches the information together and loads it into Commerce’s staging environment inside a ServiceNow platform.
The ability to focus on exceptions is crucial. ES is investing in automation that allows to put the routine stuff up on the shelf and let it run so that the team is really providing customer service toward those cases that are exception-based. Whereas many call centres have a goal of getting people on and off phones quickly, ES emphasises engaging in meaningful conversations because the routine stuff is taking care of itself. Employees in the call centres are now providing a much more personalised experience, which is what someone wants in an HR call centre.
The first bot ES built used screen-scraping technology to reduce the burden on employees who were reading service-request forms to make sure they were filled out correctly. One request can have five associated forms that must all have consistent data in fields such as name and contact information.
The bot can ensure the quality and accuracy of these requests in about 45 seconds, highlighting any forms with mismatched fields so that they can be copied and pasted from the log file, put into ServiceNow, and returned to requesters to fix within minutes or hours – a process that used to take two to three days.
Currently, ES is working on a bot that loads information coalesced across multiple systems and platforms into its service management platform. “This bot verifies every ounce of that data, so it’s coming from one system, being downloaded, loaded into a staging environment, transformed and hitting target destinations in our service management system. This bot quickly looks at that entire life cycle and validates that beginning to end.
The bot has looked through thousands of rows from a subsystem, verified the quality and will point to any failures in that process, allowing ES to quickly correct those exceptions. ES’ bot journey is not uncommon in the federal government, which is coming around to bots overall. Governments are starting to accept a lot more automation so they can use their resources more wisely.
To support human resources, a variety of digital tools have been created, such as workplace-experience apps. As reported by OpenGov Asia, with employees working in a variety of locations and varying their location day-to-day in some instances, simplifying their work experience and tools is critical. The goal is to give employees a great work experience regardless of their location. Hence, a workplace experience app does this and more by serving as a centralised hub to nearly all information and services employees need to do their job effectively.
Employees can use the app to reserve socially distanced desks, search for and book rooms that meet their spatial and audio/visual requirements, find and book seats near colleagues, navigate to colleagues and key destinations, order food, interact with news feeds and notifications, and submit a work order.
The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) recently approved a programme to build and test virtual assistants in selected government departments. Several state agencies, including the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, MIC, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade will be the first to use the technology.
Virtual assistants are the next generation of search engines that provide information from a specific field to users when they ask questions. Virtual assistants offer a concise, direct answer to the user’s question. According to a press release, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee was the first state agency to use the virtual assistant, which was deployed on 1 August. Other agencies including the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuracy will apply the technology later in August and September.
MIC assigned the Vietnam Institute of Software Industry and Digital Content to lead and coordinate activities related to deploying and testing virtual assistants for state agencies. This institute will connect stakeholders to build requirements for each specific field to have the right virtual assistant.
Large domestic technology groups including Viettel, the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), FPT IS, VNG, and Vbee will coordinate with the government agencies to implement virtual assistants. The release added that the virtual assistant in this pilot programme will focus on specialised knowledge in a specific field. This is also the development strategy of Vietnamese virtual assistants: focusing on each area of specialised knowledge. Like any other AI-based computer system, the more virtual assistants are used, the more intelligent they become.
Apart from introducing virtual assistants, the government has explored other ways to digitise government operations and the delivery of public services. In June, OpenGov Asia reported that the country’s Prime Minister approved an e-government development strategy for 2021-25, with a vision to 2030. This was the first time that Vietnam had issued a strategy to develop the e-government.
Six major viewpoints were highlighted in the strategy, which serves as directions and orientations for the development of the digital government, economy, and society. The first is developing a digital government with safe operations in the digital environment, a redesigned operating model, and operations based on data and digital technology. It will help deliver better quality services, make more timely decisions, formulate better policies, use resources more optimally, and aid socio-economic development and management.
Other tasks include operating specialised network infrastructure securely, connecting four administrative levels from central to commune level, and building a government cloud computing platform. Under the strategy, the government will develop the National Data Exchange Platform and application platforms on mobile devices for all e-government services. It will also complete the National Public Service Portal, build the National Data Portal, and a platform for collaborating on the digital environment. The strategy will develop and complete the government reporting information system, the National Document Communication Axis, and the national bidding network system. Further, it will build a system for analysing and processing big data to ensure national cybersecurity as well as a support system to coordinate and respond to cybersecurity incidents. The strategy outlines the roles and responsibilities of ministries, industries, and local governments in leveraging digital technologies like cloud computing, big data, mobility, the Internet of things (IoT), AI, and blockchain.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently to collaborate in the areas of innovation and enterprise.
The MOU underscores the two universities’ shared efforts to cultivate new ideas; nurture entrepreneurial, research translation and innovation talents; and create opportunities for technology commercialisation and co-sharing of facilities and expertise. This is the first such partnership entered by both universities to collectively groom the next generation of talents to further build momentum in innovation and enterprise.
The NUS President, who signed the MOU on behalf of NUS, said that for entrepreneurs to realise their full potential, universities need to provide support for a dynamic ecosystem and help these budding entrepreneurs catalyse ideas and bring them to fruition.
By opening up the programmes, this collaboration will help to foster greater vibrancy in Singapore’s start-up ecosystem and facilitate sharing of information, resources and access to technology innovation. Through this initiative, is it hoped that new ideas are seeded and nurtured, talents in research translation are groomed, and innovation in Singapore and beyond is advanced.
Meanwhile, the SUTD President Professor, who signed the MOU on behalf of SUTD said that the institution has partnered with NUS in the past to establish education programmes such as the SUTD-NUS Joint PhD Programme and the SUTD – Duke-NUS Special Track.
Through this new partnership, the two universities will capitalise on their individual strengths in entrepreneurship and innovation to provide an enriched ecosystem for students to cultivate their interests, knowledge and skills in these areas.
This will help develop the next generation of talents who have the technological know-how and business acumen to identify gaps, challenge the status quo, seize opportunities and chart the way forward for Singapore and the world using technology and design.
From Academic Year 2022/2023, SUTD students will be able to take credit-bearing entrepreneurship- and innovation-related electives offered by NUS Enterprise. SUTD undergraduates will also get to participate in the NUS Overseas Colleges programme to promote stronger cross-institutional start-up teams among NUS and SUTD students.
In addition, NUS and SUTD faculty members will co-supervise students in the NUS PhD by Innovation, NUS Master of Science in Venture Creation and SUTD Master of Engineering (Innovation by Design) programmes. There will also be an increase in the number of exchange students between the two universities under the Singapore Universities Student Exchange Programme.
Research and innovation
SUTD faculty members will participate in translational research and commercialisation at the NUS Guangzhou Research Translation and Innovation Institute (NUSGRTII) in China.
Located within Ascendas OneHub Guangzhou Knowledge City, NUSGRTII was established in November 2019, in collaboration with the People’s Government of Guangzhou Municipality and the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City Administration Committee. The Institute conducts research translation, pioneers technological innovations, incubates start-ups and offers education programmes to train R&D talents in Guangzhou and the Greater Bay Area.
Both universities will collaborate on the research translation and commercialisation of SUTD’s technology and intellectual property through the NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme, the University’s flagship programme for producing deep-tech start-ups.
Facility and expertise sharing
Both universities will leverage each other’s equipment and facilities for innovation and product development. In particular, SUTD’s signature advanced rapid prototyping facilities and interdisciplinary maker spaces will provide good infrastructures for the NUS-SUTD enterprise ecosystem as well as undergraduate and postgraduate students. SUTD students and start-ups looking to venture overseas or require incubation support may also tap NUS Enterprise’s BLOCK71 network that currently has seven locations in five countries – Singapore, United States, China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
In addition, budding student entrepreneurs and start-ups can look forward to tapping a wider pool of mentors from among NUS and SUTD faculty members who have the relevant experience and expertise.
The Delhi government is planning a major security audit of all its information technology (IT) systems, websites, web-enabled applications and services, and mobile applications. The move aims to identify and prevent cyberattacks/threats.
A news report has stated that thanks to improved e-governance, many public services are available online, saving time and resources. However, the move to online modes of service delivery has also left data susceptible to cyberattacks. The Delhi eGovernance Society, run under the city’s Department of Information Technology, has floated a request for proposal (RFP) to select a cybersecurity agency to conduct the comprehensive security audit. The audit will cover the government’s departments, local bodies, and autonomous bodies. It will also find vulnerabilities in the government’s IT system and ways to secure the system against related threats. The RFP defines a deliberate attack as a malicious attempt to gain unauthorised access to an IT system, such as through password guessing to compromise systems and data integrity, availability, or confidentiality. It could also be a benign, but purposeful, attempt to circumvent system security.
New threats evolve as technology does and organisations struggle to maintain information security. Organisations often leverage new technologies to extend their functionality and reach more clients and partners but simultaneously, their exposure to risk grows. The RFP explained that a rapid growth in discovered vulnerabilities in applications makes it easier for an attacker to find a path into a network. In-house and commercially-developed applications often put speedy development and convenience over security, which results in vulnerabilities such as authentication bypass, SQL Injection, and cross-site scripting. The RFP added that applications are also preferred targets for attackers, as they almost always allow access to internal resources through the firewall.
The vulnerabilities and security issues could include broken authentication and access controls, weak passwords, cryptography, and session management; forceful browsing, ‘cookie poisoning’, denial-of-service, and parameter tampering; improper error handling, third party misconfigurations, and information leakages; server misconfigurations, form/hidden field manipulation, back doors and debug options, errors triggering sensitive information leaks, and GI-BIN manipulation.
Recently, India was ranked 10th in the Global Cyber Security Index (GCI) 2020, which was released by the United Nations specialised agency for ICT, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The United States ranked first, followed by the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. Estonia was ranked third, South Korea, Singapore, and Spain shared the fourth spot. Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia shared the fifth spot, Lithuania came in sixth followed by Japan, Canada, and France. The countries were measured along five pillars, namely, legal measures, technical measures, organisational measures, capacity development, and cooperation to generate an overall score. The countries were asked 82 questions where 20 indicators were measured. India answered questions on legal measures for data protection of its citizens and its Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT), which is responsible for coordinating responses to computer security events on a national level. India’s overall score was 97.49. It placed 4th in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Indian government will release a new cybersecurity strategy this year, according to the National Cyber Security Coordinator, Rajesh Pant. He announced this at an event organised by the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI). He said the strategy would holistically cover the entire ecosystem of cyberspace in India. The new strategy would serve as a guideline to cover various aspects, including data as a national resource, building indigenous capabilities, and cyber audits.
China aims to nurture 560 million 5G mobile subscribers by the end of 2023, and grow the penetration rate of fast wireless technology among big industrial enterprises to 35% by then, a three-year plan jointly unveiled by 10 government bodies disclosed on July 13.
The announcement of the twin goals reflects China’s vigorous promotion of the comprehensive and coordinated development of 5G and its efforts to further widen the use of 5G to empower a wide range of industries. The three-year plan was published by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and nine other government bodies.
The application of 5G in different sectors, it said, is important to promote the digital, networked, and intelligent transformation of the economy and society. China has built 916,000 5G base stations so far, accounting for 70% of the world’s total. The number of 5G connections has exceeded 365 million, accounting for 80% of the world’s total.
According to the three-year plan, China aims to grow the penetration rate of 5G among individual consumers to 40% by the end of 2023, with 5G data accounting for more than half of overall online traffic. In the enterprise market, the plan called for efforts to popularise the use of 5G in big industrial enterprises, and to scale up its application in grid mining and other sectors.
The scope of pilot projects involving 5G plus connected vehicles will be further expanded and efforts will also be made to accelerate the digital transformation of the agriculture sector. To lay sound telecom infrastructure, China will accelerate the rollout of 5G networks to have more than 18 5G base stations per 10,000 people by the end of 2023.
China is likely to achieve several breakthroughs in its technological evolution, network construction and applications over the next five years. By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), China will have built the world’s largest and most extensive stand-alone 5G network and achieve full network coverage in urban and rural areas.
This year, China will build more than 600,000 5G base stations, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. 5G is no longer for early adopters as it is improving people’s daily lives. 2021 will be the first year with large-scale 5G industry applications. Operators will need new capabilities in network planning, deployment, maintenance, optimisation and operations, to achieve zero to one, and replicate success from one to many.
5G applications have already been deployed in more than 20 industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, education and logistics. The technology has already proved its worth in coal mining, steelmaking and manufacturing by making production safer, more intelligent, and more efficient.
China has applied 5G technology in various areas, including deploying 5G applications in parks. As reported by OpenGov Asia, Nanshan District installed three smart solar panel benches which can store electricity through the absorption of solar energy in the daytime. The smart 5G bench is equipped with free WiFi access, phone-charging ports and wireless charging.
People can place the mobile phone on the bench and it will automatically charge the phone. They can also use the free WiFi to listen to music while exercising nearby. The benches have become parkgoers’ favourite for leisure and exercise at Sihai Park in Nanshan District, Shenzhen city.
For the deployment of 5G applications in parks, Nanshan has piloted 12 scenarios at Shenzhen Talent Park, Dasha River Ecological Corridor, Shenzhen Bay Coastal Belt and Sihai Park. The scenarios include colour frequency, low-light 5G video cameras, 5G flexible screens, driverless cleaning vehicles and smart toilets.
Hanoi authorities have announced a new postal telecommunications infrastructure development plan for 2025 with a vision for 2030. It aims to serve the city’s digital transformation programme. It defines postal infrastructure as an important factor of the digital economy, which contributes to promoting the development of digital government and digital society.
Under the plan, the city targets 100% of communes to establish a post office with staff; all households register digital addresses; 4G/5G services and smartphones universalised, and fibre-optic broadband covering 80% of local households and every commune. Meanwhile, 80% of local industrial parks, high-tech parks and higher education facilities, hospitals, and public departments will be covered by 5G services. Also, about 95% of total households in Hanoi are expected to own and use at least one smartphone by 2025.
According to a recent news report, the city will prioritise high-quality broadband telecommunication infrastructure in high-tech parks, concentrated IT parks, industrial parks, export processing zones, R&D and innovation centres, schools, state agencies, hospitals, and tourism sites. Hanoi will also develop free WiFi networks in all tourist sites across the city. Apart from this, the city will speed up activities to promote the universalisation of smartphones and help local residents to access digital services easily. To this end, the municipal People’s Committee is encouraging economic sectors to build postal and telecommunication infrastructure systems and diversify telecommunication services.
A recent study showed that Vietnam’s digital economy reached a total value of US$14 billion last year, US$2 billion higher than that of the same period of the previous year. Out of the total number of digital service users in Vietnam, new users account for 41%. Vietnam has the highest rate of new digital service consumers in the region. Moreover, data from the General Statistics Office show that the country is one of the three Asian countries with positive growth with the size of the economy is more than US$ 343 billion. Singapore recorded US$338 billion and Malaysia US$336 billion.
The Vietnamese government has defined one of the pillars of the digital economy as telecommunications infrastructure, including both mobile and fixed broadband. The development of technology has paved the way for all other economic sectors to grow over the last few years. The total number of fixed broadband subscribers in Vietnam exceeded 17.2 million, and the total number of mobile broadband subscribers reached nearly 69.5 million by the end of last month, according to the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority.
Further, the country will test 5G on a large scale with indigenously-developed devices from this year. A study by the National Institute of Information and Communications Strategy said that the contribution of 5G to the national GDP growth is forecast to reach 7.34% by 2025. The government’s socio-economic development strategies for the 2021-2025 and 2021-2030 periods have repeatedly mentioned digital transformation, telecommunications, digital technology, digital government, and digital skills. Over the next decade, science, technology, innovation, and digital transformation are some of the strategic breakthroughs that will help Vietnam develop and be among the top middle-income countries by 2030 and high-income industrial countries in 2045.