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Sarawak lauded for use of tech to combat COVID-19

Image Credits: The Borneo Post Online, News Article

The management of critical events is becoming an increasingly important and widespread practice. From significant weather events, natural disasters and global pandemics, critical events create operational disruptions and have an enormous financial impact.

The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps the aptest example of this. Some nations have buckled under the pressure generated by the economic upheaval and setbacks the virus has caused. Other nations, like Malaysia, have risen to the challenge and have employed technology in innovative and efficient ways.

For example, in March 2020, the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) rolled out a digital tracking device to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the state. The digital surveillance solution gave the state disaster management committee the “scalable capability” to monitor the disease at all points of entry in Sarawak.

Under the solution, all those entering Sarawak were issued a QR-coded wristband based on two categories: person under investigation (PUI) and 14-day stay home notice. Wearers were required to report their situation twice daily by scanning their wristband’s QR code to submit the information.

Data collated will allow the state disaster management committee to make informed decisions and to conduct random checks on the wearers. The wearers’ location enables the committee to establish hotspots, a key strategy to curb further spread of the disease, the SMA General Manager had said in a statement.

At the time, various tracker systems had been deployed in China, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong where the data collected was crucial in managing the shape and evolution of the virus’ spread.

The state disaster management committee had earlier enlisted SMA to develop a digital system to track persons undergoing self-quarantine for Covid-19. Ultimately, this solution will be integrated into the ‘Permission to Enter/Exit’ system to effectively monitor Sarawak’s entry points.

This move resulted in the state, and Malaysia, being lauded for its efforts in combating the virus. On 22 September 2020, the Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee’s (SDMC) utilization of technology to curb the Covid-19 pandemic was recognised as the committee was awarded the Malaysian Technology Excellence Award (MTEA) by Singapore Business Review 2020 in Kuala Lumpur.

SDMC’s initiative for the development of two key applications, namely i-Alerts and enterSarawak, and the seamless integration of both systems was acknowledged by the judging committee from Deloitte Asia Pacific, KPMG Malaysia, BDO, Crowe Growth Consulting as well as Ernst & Young Advisory Services as riding the disruption wave and leading the technological revolution by leveraging on technology as a key catalyst to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Sarawak.

The award was received by the General Manager of the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) on behalf of the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee. He stated that the agency aims to be the leader in the Digitalisation of Malaysia; being at the forefront, realising The Right Honourable Chief Minister of Sarawak’s vision of a robust Digital Economy.

As strategised by SMA, the applications, which focus on data interoperability, allows for the harmonised approach of collecting and transmitting data between stakeholders, decision-makers and the public. This empowered the State to channel all relevant information via a single and globally interoperable information structure thus avoiding the unnecessary complexity in systems and improve overall efficiency.

The uniformity of these platform creates speed, systemization and standardization which improves overall efficiency across the entire disaster lifecycle thus allowing enterSarawak to be seamlessly applied across 33 Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security centres (ICQS) in Sarawak immediately during MCO creating touchless border security while i- Alerts acts as the Core Integrated Disaster Management Platform for SDMC.

The open standards for the system also ensure enhanced scaling and improved efficiency of the timeliness of the transfer of information. Furthermore, by making full use of existing data in the disaster management sector, i-Alerts can adopt mechanisms that ensure resource verification, findability, accessibility, interoperability, reuse and leverage the growth of existing Government Open Data initiatives.

Critical event management has come to the fore with the pandemic. Forecasting, planning and management of critical events help organisations and authorities prevent disruption of life and damage to property.

Governments rely on several, specific systems for critical event management. Such programmes are essential to national well-being especially with the increase in natural disasters. But, more often than not, they operate in isolation of each other. According to world experts in Critical Event Management – Everbridge, this siloed approach can create duplication in information and processes, data contradictions and, when unchecked, could lead to loss of life and damages.

Everbridge’s Coronavirus Preparedness can make a significant difference in mitigating harm caused by the pandemic. They provide richer intelligence and correlating threats with locations of assets and people ensuring more rapid and comprehensive incident assessment and remediation.

With the pandemic forecast to be around for some time, planning responses to adverse events must continue alongside COVID-19 management. In light of this, it is expedient for governments to re-look at their systems, tools, processes and platforms they have in place to manage critical events.

October 28, 2020 | 10:30AM IST | 1:00PM SG/HKT | 4:00PM AEST


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