In September 2018, Typhoon Mangkhut ravaged the area around the hillside near HKUST’s waterfront. Specifically, a tree located in the area was nearly cracked in half. Severely damaged, Prof. WANG Yu-Hsing, Associate Head and Professor of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering thought it might not make it. However, the tree survived miraculously.
What fascinates the Professor the most is the tree’s resilience and tenacity in withstanding adverse weather conditions that have become more rampant due to climate change.
Thus, to monitor the tree’s stability, Prof. Wang installed a smart sensor at its lower trunk to monitor its tilting angle.
The sensor mounted on the tree was developed by the Professor and his research team who originally conducted a student-oriented project of using sensing technology on slopes seven years ago.
A Civil Engineering postgraduate and also a member of the research team stated, “As engineers, we want to find an absolute method to ascertain the health status of a tree. By studying a tree’s physics, we can accurately assess whether a trees tilting is non-reversible and if immediate action is required.
In 2017, the team was approached by the Hong Kong government to look into the potential adaptation of using the sensing technology on trees. Conventional sensors in the market failed to fulfil the two basic elements required to make tree sensors work: data transmission without interference in extreme weather conditions, and long battery life.
After successfully obtaining external funding for one and a half year beginning February 2018, for developing smart sensing technology to monitor tree stability, the team worked tirelessly for a year to eventually achieve a breakthrough in their smart sensor that uses the Low-power, Long-range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) for transmitting data in real-time while consuming low energy.
The data would then be sent to the data centre for big data analytics and timely interventions. Three generations of sensors have been developed throughout the funding period that quadrupled the data transmission range.
Effective tree management has always been a priority to the Hong Kong authorities as old and valuable trees in the city, being inextricably connected to nature, are prone to damages brought by typhoons, thus pose a high risk to people’s safety.
At the end of August 2018, the Hong Kong Observatory forecasted that Typhoon Mangkhut, the strongest typhoon in Hong Kong history, would sweep the city directly, prompting the team to optimize program design of the sensor and install 32 generation-three sensors on trees in Tai Tong and some urban trees within a week.
Although typhoon Mangkhut left the city with 46,000 fallen trees, it provided the team much valuable first-hand science-based data to analyse how and why certain trees fell and some others survived.
“What we ultimately aim to achieve is let AI provide a more solid diagnosis for tree health,” the Professor stated. “Even a tree is seemingly unhealthy, our sensor can continue monitoring it to allow it to recover instead of killing it at once.”
The sensors can also ease the heavy workload of the city’s hundreds of arborists. The team will start educating arborists on how to operate the sensors, and in turn, with their feedback, help to fine-tune the device.
After the external funding, Prof. Wang participated in the University’s two-year Sustainable Smart Campus project commencing in July 2019. With this, the team can continue developing the fourth generation of the sensor that can harvest energy from solar panels and conduct data analytics by AI.
The Victoria University of Wellington’s division of Science, Health, Engineering, Architecture, and Design Innovation (SHEADI) will inaugurate a Centre of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence in the first half of 2023.
According to a statement from the University, the centre will offer areas of expertise in modelling and statistical learning; evolutionary and multi-objective learning; deep learning and transfer learning; image, text, signal, and language processing; scheduling and combinational optimisation; and interpretable AI/ML learning.
These technological themes will be applied across a wide range of areas including primary industry, climate change and environment; health, biology, medical outcomes; security, energy, high-value manufacturing; and social, public policy, and ethics applications. On top of traditional research, the centre will also establish a pipeline of scholarships/internships for Maori students, train early career researchers, and focus on industry, intellectual property, and commercialisation.
The centre will build on the current success and international leadership in this space at the University, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the division, Ehsan Mesbahi, stated. The institute is continuing to grow its national and international partnerships to create local and global value. The centre will provide a distinctive identity for the growing excellence and innovation in data science and AI research at the University, capabilities which domestic and global partners are increasingly demanding across a vast array of application domains.
In May, the University announced it would offer the first undergraduate major in Artificial Intelligence in the country. It provides students with knowledge of AI concepts, techniques, and tools. They learn how to apply that knowledge to solve problems, combined with programming skills that will enable them to build software tools incorporating AI technology that will help shape the future.
Students studying AI at the University are taught by academics from its internationally renowned AI/ML research group, which is one of the largest in the southern hemisphere. The major is designed to open doors for graduates to opportunities nationally and around the world. There has been an increase in the adoption of AI technologies globally, and a growing demand for people who can apply AI techniques to address a wide range of problems, which the University aims to address.
After completing their degree, graduates will have a wide variety of career options, such as AI scientist, business consultant, AI architect, data analyst, machine learning engineer, and robotic scientist among others. They will also have the option to further their study through the University’s Master of Artificial Intelligence.
OpenGov Asia reported earlier that New Zealand’s Education Technology (EdTech) is set to become one of the country’s key industries. Worth NZ$ 173.6 million in 2020, EdTech software is poised to grow to NZ$ 319.6 million by 2025. At the heart of the digital transformation of education technology has been the pandemic. COVID-19 is seen as the driving force behind the digital transformation of learning, permanently changing the way education is consumed and delivered — right from preschool through post-tertiary education and lifelong learning. The global EdTech market size was valued at US$ 254.8 billion in 2021. Experts believe the market will reach US$ 605.4 billion by 2027.
The Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW recently unveiled Our Vision for Regional Communities – a new strategy to ensure regional NSW remains an ideal best place to live, work, play and raise a family.
He noted that the release is a vision for the regional NSW we are building with local communities, backed by real action that will make a real difference in people’s everyday lives. Over the past decade, billions have been invested in the infrastructure NSW needs and in growing regional economies.
The vision shows how the Government plans to build on that foundation and ensure regional communities have access to the education and health services they deserve and attract the workforce needed to deliver these services. It will ensure families can find a home by tackling housing pressures and delivering the infrastructure and services they need in their local community, he added.
The strategy’s launch was also used to announce:
- A new welcome experience to be piloted across eight regional locations to support key workers to relocate to the regions and put down roots;
- An AU$5 million investment in scholarships to upskill existing health workers and attract new staff to regional communities;
- A trial of contactless payments on regional bus services in Dubbo and Bathurst to make services easier to use
Our Vision for Regional Communities is backed by a detailed three-year action plan that outlines key initiatives that will bring the vision to life. Initiatives already underway under the plan include:
- An AU$2.4 billion investment in strengthening the regional health workforce including innovative approaches to training and incentives;
- An AU$174 million investment in key worker housing that will deliver hundreds of new homes for teachers, police, and health workers over the next four years;
- An AU$98 million investment in a new AU$250 travel card for regional apprentices and university students to ease the cost of travel for training and classes;
- An AU$160 million investment in social and sporting infrastructure, and community programs like bike paths, playgrounds, and community centres through the Stronger Country Communities Fund;
- An AU$59 million investment in the next generation including $40 million for local initiatives shaped by youth for youth.
Our vision recognises that regional communities are diverse and need local solutions that work for them. Our Vision for Regional Communities and Action Plan 2023-2025 is a future-focused strategy with key priorities across healthcare, education, communities and places and regional homes.
Connectivity is the main pillar of the vision. Through the Vision, the Government will support high-quality physical and digital connectivity to enable access to quality services, delivered more efficiently, and with greater equity.
The global smart infrastructure market size was US$77.66 billion in 2020; it is projected to grow from US$97.20 billion in 2021 to US$434.16 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 23.8% during the 2021-2028 period. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the smart infrastructure market witnessed a negative demand shock across all regions.
Smart infrastructure projects require funding from public and private resources. These advanced infrastructure models use ICTs services to communicate or optimise resources. Due to constant interaction, big data plays a vital role in developing and building a smart infrastructure.
With the introduction of its Kooha Version 2.0 during the recently held 2022 National Science and Technology Week celebration, the Department of Science and Technology-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) showered photo enthusiasts with helpful tips on interactive smartphone photography.
Kooha is a photo-sharing app derived from the Filipino word “kuha,” which means “to take.” It capitalises on the Philippines’ status as “the selfie capital of the world,” with thousands of photographs shared on various social media platforms every day.
With the help of the camera app Kooha, users may take pictures that go beyond simple snapshots. Multiple sensors are embedded into mobile devices; Kooha uses these sensor data while users snap pictures and embeds them in the image.
Users will be able to quickly learn the location where the photo was shot, the background noise when they shoot a selfie, the network provider’s signal strength, the device battery level, camera settings, environment sensor data, motion sensor, and more. All the photographs captured by the app are shared on Kooha Community. Users’ photos become more than just images when they post them to the community; they become contributions.
When the sensor data from the images is combined with the large pool of sensor data from other users, the data becomes societally important. The data can assist data scientists in generating insights and fresh knowledge that can be used by decision-makers across the country. Kooha is a free app that can be downloaded from Google Play.
According to the DOST-ASTI, Kooha uses the built-in sensors of a mobile device to gather real-time data like sound level, temperature, and humidity and embeds it into a snapshot, making it particularly valuable in research operations across industries thanks to the fresh knowledge it produces.
It added that even more useful Kooha features include the ability to contribute images to the community section, rate shared photos based on “awards” from other users, map the locations of pinned photos, and unlock “badges” by completing specific “achievements.”
As a useful tool application, Kooha reflects the reality that science and the arts may collaborate effectively to produce meaningful results. In addition, the DOST- ASTI’s Quality Management System (QMS) was recertified in accordance with the ISO 9001:2015 standard.
Director of DOST-ASTI Franz A. de Leon stated that the ISO recertification demonstrates the DOST-ASTI’s dedication to continuously enhance its operations and assure successful service delivery – bringing science and technology closer to the people.
He added that their partners and stakeholders can be confident that the institute will constantly offer high-quality products and services because they adhere to the quality policy of developing relevant, timely, and impactful ICT- and electronics-based innovations.
The ISO certificate was the result of the DOST-ASTI management and staff’s collaborative efforts to expand its technologies and ensure the smooth execution of its mandate and functions. Reviewing and improving processes is critical to achieving the agency’s purpose of contributing to the achievement of national development priorities and the growth of Philippine firms through the provision of creative solutions centred on ICT and electronics technology.
This is DOST-ASTI’s second recertification since transitioning to the ISO 9001:2015 standard in 2018. Subject to regular surveillance assessments, the certificate is valid until November 2025.
Two tech companies operating within Hong Kong’s Smart Government Innovation Lab announced the roll-out of solutions that are now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution I – AI Autonomous Disinfection Robot
The solution, called Bubble Fish, is a disinfection robot that can effectively purify the air and precisely eliminate the coronavirus as well as a variety of common epidemic bacteria. It is equipped with a precise radar for automatic navigation and obstacle avoidance, based on the construction and data communication.
Robots can connect through a phone application, realise the transparency of work data (this includes disinfection logs, machine states, etc.), database storage, and remote control the robot. With this system, users can manage and trace the current and previous disinfection work in a closed loop.
The solution was developed to be applied across the areas of City Management, Commerce and Industry, Development, Education, Employment and Labour, Environment, Housing, Recreation and Culture, Social Welfare as well as Transport.
The solution employs the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The disinfection robot can be set to schedule and after the disinfection tasks are finished, the robot will be returned to the charger automatically. In this way, disinfection tasks can be conducted when the user needs them and the robot can be operational for 24 hours. Employing the disinfection robot can reduce the costs of janitor head counts and a janitor can be shifted to other cleaning tasks. Thus, productivity, efficiency and cleanliness would be increased.
Solution II – Certificate Creation and Authentication Management System
The second solution is a Certificate Creation and Authentication Management System. The process of certificate-making and issuance consists of the following pain points:
- Certificate issued by the institution
Traditionally, when issuing certificates, it is necessary to first design the content. This includes the trademark and certificate, which is usually handed over to the designer. After the design is completed, it is handed over to the printing factory to set the quantity and generate inventory. More certificate types will generate more inventory. To print the inventory certificate, the applicant’s name, date, and certificate number must be entered. Then, this is sent to the applicant via mail or self-pickup.
This process results in the wastage of paper, film, time, and money. The process of third-party verification inquiry and certificate re-issuance also requires labour to ensure that the certificates of institutions and brands will not be plagiarised.
- Certificate applicant
For most courses, exams, and activities it is very unlikely the certificate will be received on the same day. For lost documents, an applicant will need to file for a reissue, and store all previous certificates.
- Third-party verification
If the authenticity of the certificate cannot be identified, it needs to be checked with the issuing authority, and the result cannot be known immediately.
Thus, aimed at addressing these three pain points, the company has developed a set of clear, convenient, and practical ideas. This innovative approach can make the three aspects more coordinated. The following are the key points of change in the eCertApp:
- Certificate Management System
This application streamlines issuance, verification, storage and sharing. Each certificate is independently coded, and the block certificate has a fast authentication function. It can also convert old paper certificates into smart certificates, systematically archive them, reduce workload, and change the global traditional paper certificate issuance and verification ecology.
- Certificate collector
The company’s certificate platform cooperates with mobile applications. Through this, users can apply for and receive certificates issued by multiple institutions, store them permanently, never lose the certificates, facilitate management, and share them with people who may be interested at any time.
- Third-party Verifier
A QR code is assigned for code scanning and NFC authentication for quick authentication. All certificate codes are unique, and it takes less than a second to check the authenticity of the certificate, the background of the organisation’s registration and contact information.
This two-dimensional code is a non-contact way of using quick response code, while two-dimensional code (QR Code) and NFC use “near field communication” tags and radio frequency technology to implant chips into products without damaging their appearance. The encryption program can read the authenticity of the product and transfer it to the product owner.
The solution was developed to be applied across the areas of City Management, Development, Education, Employment and Labour, Environment, Health, Infrastructure, Law, and Security as well as Recreation and Culture.
The solution employs the latest in Blockchain, Cloud Computing and Mobile Technologies.
The Platform has a wide range of uses. In addition to certificates, it can also be used for certification documents, recommendation letters, membership cards, certificates with expiration dates, including product repair and warranty certificates, product certificates, ownership transfers and the app will update users when an expiration date is reached.
The platform can set up and open multiple branches and administrators and can manage certificates for each branch worldwide. Moreover, all future and currently issued certificates and design templates can be managed through an at-a-glance dashboard.
New Era of Partnerships, Building Talent Pipeline
Cleveland train users will be the next to benefit as the rollout of the Smart Ticketing system continues. Customers travelling from Central station and Cleveland station will have access to the system from 30 November 2022. Queensland’s Minister for Transport and Main Roads stated that the AU$ 371 million project continued to gather pace, with Cleveland line customers now having more ways to pay.
He said that delivering better public transport services for Queenslanders is not just about acquiring more trains or buses but about making it easier for people to use the trains without barriers. This trial allows adult customers to use their credit card, debit card, smartphone, or smartwatch to pay for their train journey – meaning you do not need to think before hopping on a train, you can just tap and go.
The Member for Capalaba stated that the system would put Queensland on par with major cities like London, Singapore, and New York. He said that record levels of investment in the region mean that commuters can get home safer and sooner, spending more time with family and friends.
Meanwhile, the Member for Lytton encouraged commuters to use the new system. She said that there is no doubt this trial is proving to be immensely popular with public transport users. She looks forward to seeing the rollout extend onto local buses, which is set to take place next year.
The project will replace 1300 fixed devices and 12,000 onboard readers to bring 18 different payment systems across the regional bus network together under one Smart Ticketing umbrella. Whether commuters are visiting family and friends in Cairns, Bowen, Rockhampton or Bundaberg, there will be one seamless way to pay.
The Member for Bulimba praised the success of the trial, which had already clocked up more than two million trips. She said that commuters and tourists alike are finding it easy to use, and we’ve seen incredible numbers tap on and off using the system since it began.
The region will continue to develop the system to bring concession card holders onboard while also encouraging those who travel at a discounted rate to continue using the go card for the time being.
The Member for Greenslopes noted that the expansion added new destinations to the Smart Ticketing map, adding that this is another crucial step toward rolling out the system across the South East Queensland heavy rail network, following on from trials already underway.
Next, the South Brisbane and South Bank transport hubs will begin the rollout of the Smart Ticketing system. This will connect the area to the hospital and health precinct as well as South Bank businesses.
Smart Ticketing is already operational on the Ferny Grove, Ipswich/Rosewood, Springfield Central, Sunshine Coast/Caboolture, Redcliffe Peninsula, Doomben and Shorncliffe train lines. Next, it will launch at the Airport, Beenleigh, and Gold Coast lines, enabling customers to interconnect from the Gold Coast Light Rail through to Brisbane CBD and the airport, with buses and ferries set to follow next year.
Train users who prefer to pay with their go card will be able to continue doing so. Customers travelling on a child or concession fare should continue to use their go card for now, as should customers travelling to or from destinations not yet using the trial, or anyone using a connecting bus or ferry service.
What is smart ticketing?
Smart Ticketing is an innovative ticketing technology that enables more ways to pay for public transport across Queensland. Over time, more Queenslanders will be able to pay for travel with contactless payment methods using a Visa, Mastercard and American Express debit card, credit card, smartphone, or smart device. As a long-term project, the aim is to have more Queenslanders tap on and off to conveniently pay for everyday travel on train, tram, bus, and ferry.
The Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Tan See Leng, and the Republic of Korea (RoK) Minister for Trade, Dukgeun Ahn, have signed the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA).
Under the agreement, the two sides will work to establish digital trade rules and norms to promote interoperability between digital systems. This will enable more seamless cross-border data flows and build a trusted and secure digital environment for businesses and consumers. A government press release wrote that KSDPA will also deepen bilateral cooperation in new emerging areas such as personal data protection, e-payments, artificial intelligence, and source code protection.
The Ministers also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Implementing the Korea-Singapore Digital Economy Dialogue, which will act as a platform to promote digital economy collaboration between industry players and academic experts from both sides. The MoU is part of bilateral efforts to develop cooperative projects to implement the KSDPA. Key features of the KSDPA include:
Facilitating end-to-end digital trade
Electronic Payments (e-payments): The two sides will adopt transparent and facilitative rules (e.g. encouraging open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)) to promote secure cross-border e-payments.
Paperless Trading: Singapore and RoK will accept electronic versions of trade administration documents to support the digitalisation and seamless exchange of key commercial documents.
Open Government Data: Both countries will ensure that government data will be publicly available in a machine-readable and open format, with easy-to-use and freely available APIs.
Enabling trusted data flows
Cross-border Data Flows (including for financial services): Businesses in Singapore and RoK will be allowed to transfer information, including those which are generated or held by financial institutions, across borders if the requisite regulations are met and with adequate personal data protection safeguards in place.
Prohibiting Data Localisation: The two nations will establish rules against data localisation requirements so that businesses can choose where their data is stored and processed, and their cloud technology of choice.
Facilitate trust in digital systems and participation in the Digital Economy
Artificial Intelligence (AI): The countries will promote the adoption of AI governance and ethical frameworks that support the trusted, safe, and responsible use of AI-based technologies.
Cryptography: Neither country will require the transfer of or access to private keys and related technologies, as a condition of market access.
Source Code Protection: To ensure software developers can trust the market within which they operate and ensure that source code is protected, neither country will require the transfer of, or access to, source code as a condition of market access. This includes the algorithm expressed in the source code.
Online Consumer Protection: The two sides will adopt laws that guard against fraudulent or deceptive conduct that causes harm to consumers engaged in online commercial activities.
Small and Medium Enterprises Cooperation: Singapore and RoK will promote jobs and growth for SMEs. They will also encourage their participation in platforms that help link them with international suppliers, buyers, and other potential business partners.
Digital Identities: The countries will promote interoperability of digital identity regimes, which can lead to reliable identity verification and the faster processing of applications. This will enable businesses and consumers to navigate the digital economy with ease and security.