Singapore’s Punggol city sector will now be treated to smarter and more sustainable services for public waste collection and recycling under a new contract awarded by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to a waste management service provider.
As part of transformation efforts in the waste management industry, NEA encourages the use of innovative concepts and technologies to improve productivity and sustainability in the collection of refuse and recyclables in public tenders.
The waste management service provider will expand the scale of its digitalisation and automation initiatives to the city-Punggol sector. Technologies with the Internet of Things (IoT) attributes will be used to capture real-time information on the amount of refuse and recyclables collected and generate fault alerts for the provider to carry out corrective maintenance on its refuse storage equipment. This will minimise any inconvenience of faulty equipment to the public.
Also, a new fleet of trucks will be introduced for the collection of refuse, recyclables and garden waste. This includes 14 electric vehicles (EVs), which make up almost 20% of the fleet that will be deployed. The service provider will be rolling out ergonomic trucks for better worker comfort and safety. These trucks are fitted with a two-step low entry cabin which makes getting in and out of the truck much easier and safer for the crew. In addition, three recycling trucks will be fitted with side-loaders, which increase collection efficiency as larger 2,200L side-loader recycling bins will be deployed in HDB estates. The lower number of collection rounds and truck trips enhances productivity and reduces the overall carbon footprint of waste collection services.
A key sustainability initiative for households by the waste management service provider is its ‘ezi’ mobile application with engagement-based programmes to encourage and incentivise household recycling. Residents in the City-Punggol sector can make use of the ‘ezi’ mobile application to locate the nearest Cash-For-Trash stations. The app also has other features such as tips on recycling, educational games and information on upcoming recyclables collection events.
They will also provide an on-site food waste treatment system at Geylang Serai Market to treat food waste generated there. The centre was selected as it has sufficient space to house the food waste treatment system and generates a sufficiently large quantity of food waste to reap economies of scale. The food waste collected from the premises will be converted into non-potable water, thereby reducing the amount of food waste sent to the incineration plants.
The city-Punggol sector covers the Hougang, Macpherson and Punggol-West Single Member Constituencies (SMC)s, parts of Mountbatten and Potong Pasir SMCs, Sengkang Group Representation Constituency (GRC), and parts of Aljunied, Ang Mo Kio, Jalan Besar, Marine Parade, and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRCs.
There are about 266,800 premises – comprising 250,000 households and 16,800 trade premises which include hawker and market stalls, shops, places of worship, and government buildings.
Households living in HDB flats, condominiums that have not opted out of the public waste collection scheme and landed homes in all sectors of Singapore, will continue paying the same monthly household refuse collection fees of S$8.25 and S$27.47 (both fees inclusive of GST), respectively. The next review will be carried out in the second half of 2021, with fees to be effective for the period from 1 January 2022.
As for trade premises, the waste management service provider will write to business owners to inform them of their new refuse collection fees, which will depend on their daily refuse output. Owners of trade premises can also reach out to the company for queries.
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) introduced a code of conduct on social networks to create a safe online environment. The new regulations address organisations and individuals that use social networks and social network service providers in Vietnam. It is designed to ensure civil liberty and freedom to run businesses and prevent discrimination between domestic and foreign service providers. This is in line with international standards, practices, and treaties to which Vietnam is a signatory.
According to a press release, the code of conduct encourages organisations and individuals to share information from official and reliable sources and behave in ways that match Vietnam’s “traditional moral and cultural values”. The document also requires organisations and individuals not to use words that incite hatred or trigger violence and gender and religious discrimination. Not to publish content that violates legal regulations and information defaming others, not to spread fake news and untrue information, and not to conduct illegal advertising.
Users should use their real name when registering for social networks and register with the service provider to certify their names, website addresses, and contacts. The code of conduct on social networks only offers recommendations, and individuals and organisations committing violations will be punished in line with the law, according to Do Quy Vu, the Deputy Director of the National Institute of Information and Communications Strategy under MIC.
In an interview, after the code of conduct was issued by the MIC, Vu noted that punishments for illegal violations on social networks have been prescribed in Vietnam’s laws. The code of conduct gathers rules on behaviours, moral, and cultural standards on social networks, which are recommended for individuals, organisations, and social network service providers. It targets three major groups, including social network users; officials, cadres, and employees in state agencies; and social network service providers.
Earlier this month, the Prime Minister approved an e-government development strategy towards the digital government in the 2021-2025 period, with a vision to 2030. This is the first time that Vietnam has issued a strategy on developing the e-government, as OpenGov Asia had reported. The strategy outlines several tasks, including operating specialised network infrastructure securely, connecting four administrative levels from central to commune level, and building a government cloud computing platform. The government will develop the National Data Exchange Platform and application platforms on mobile devices for all e-government and digital government services.
Further, the government will complete the National Public Service Portal, build the National Data Portal, and build a platform for working and collaborating on the digital environment and a virtual assistant platform. 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 to analyse and process big data that will ensure national cybersecurity. It will also build a support system to coordinate and respond to cybersecurity incidents. It will develop and perfect the government’s specialised digital signature authentication system.
The strategy also 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), artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain. The release said that the strategy will create a breakthrough in the development of e-government, contributing to the successful implementation of Vietnam’s digital transformation goals, which are based on three pillars: a digital government, economy, and society.
A company spun out of the University of Wollongong (UoW) to commercialise breakthrough Australian hydrogen electrolyser technology, officially opened its doors today with $5 million in funding led by a British-based Intellectual property firm, with support from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
The company is developing a new hydrogen electrolyser that has the potential to significantly shift the economics of green hydrogen production, bringing the Australian Government’s $2/kg target within reach.
The technology has been proven at lab-scale and the company, which has strong scientific, engineering and commercialisation experience, is now focused on developing and commercialising a full-scale system. The firm is based at UOW’s Australian Institute for Innovative Materials.
Electrolysers, which use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, are the key technology for producing green hydrogen. The electrolyser is based on breakthrough Australian technology developed by a team from the UOW headquartered ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), led by chemical catalysis and characterisation expert Professor Gerry Swiegers.
Professor Swiegers has an outstanding track record in commercialisation, as the inventor of over 50 patent families and the founder of six start-ups, which have received an estimated $100 million in investment.
Inexpensive green hydrogen is needed for the decarbonisation of multiple industries to put Australia on a path to net-zero by 2050. Years of work from a great team at the University of Wollongong, along with great facilities and government funding are coming to fruition in a company that has the potential to have a global impact, he added.
The Head of Physical Sciences at the Australian branch of the IP firm and the Interim CEO at the tech company stated that the firm represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape an industry. “I’m delighted to be working with Professor Swiegers and the team at the University of Wollongong to bring this technology to market. This will have an impact both economically and environmentally on our path to net-zero” he said.
The Managing Director of the IP firm’s Australian arm noted that they have been looking globally for new technology that can unlock the trillion-dollar opportunity in hydrogen. He added that the UOW spin-off firm’s technology is truly world-leading and that the IP group looks forward to helping the team in their mission to make green hydrogen a reality for Australia and the world. These developments are based on significant fundamental research that is taken from the translational pathway by a team with technical and commercial skills fully integrated.
The UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) noted that the innovative technology developed by Professor Swiegers and his team exemplifies the University’s ambition to deliver fundamental research that leads to impactful change. “UoW’s research and innovation strategy is focused on creating knowledge for a better world, underpinned by our prioritisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which include the goals of affordable and clean energy, and climate change mitigation,” he said.
Green hydrogen is widely acknowledged to be a crucial part of reaching net-zero emissions globally, with the potential to meet up to 20 per cent of energy demand in a net-zero global economy. It enables deep decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors, with potential applications including steel, heavy transport, shipping, aviation, chemicals, seasonal storage in the electricity sector, and gas grids.
It also presents an enormous economic opportunity, with the global demand of trillions of dollars expected by 2050. Hydrogen and derivatives like ammonia represent a multi-billion-dollar export opportunity for Australia, due to its excellent renewable energy resources, ample land and established status as a leading energy exporter.
What is The Digital Academy?
The Digital Academy by the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech Singapore) is a “Practitioner for Practitioner” academy that operates at the unique intersection of technology and public service. The Academy aims to groom future-ready digital leaders to be well-versed in the technology ecosystem to accelerate the public sector’s digital transformation.
The Academy offers a robust suite of information and communications technology (ICT) programmes that are contextualised to the public service, anchored on the ICT & Smart Systems (ICT&SS) Competency Framework and guided by competency gaps identified by ICT&SS practice leads and agencies’ needs through Digital Maturity Index and Ministry Family Digitalisation Plan. The curriculum will start with 55 programmes in various categories including Applications Development, Data & Analytics, Digital Leadership and Technology & Operations Management, with another 40 to be available by end of FY2021 (March 2022).
Why The Digital Academy?
While there are many learning providers offering technical programmes in the market, The Digital Academy sets itself apart by offering programmes specially curated by a strong in-house team and delivered by reputable content partners for public service officers and leaders, particularly those in the ICT&SS profession seeking to advance their current skills. Industry partners who work frequently with the Public Service may also benefit from these programmes, as they work in tandem with the Public Service to strengthen the skills and know-how of the tech ecosystem supporting Singapore’s digitalisation efforts. The Academy will focus on both Workforce Transformation and Capability Development.
Who is The Digital Academy for?
The Digital Academy is designed to raise the digital literacy of all public service leaders and officers, particularly those in a tech capacity, by:
- Deepening their ICT skills to achieve digital excellence in various innovation pillars, such as agile development, artificial intelligence & robotics, cybersecurity, sensors and Internet of Things, and more.
- Equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills required to deliver digitalisation outcomes and lead digital transformation in their agencies.
- Enabling them to be digitally confident by building up their capabilities.
How does Digital Academy work?
Driven by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group, The Digital Academy is supported by an operations partner, currently the Institute of Systems Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS-ISS). The curriculum is curated by an in-house team, in close partnership with nine leading industry players – Amazon Web Services, Coursera, Google, Microsoft, Qlik, Secure Code Warrior, SingTel TrustWave, Tableau and ThoughtWorks – as content partners. More will be onboarded in due course.
All public service officers and leaders would be able to access up-to-date information and course offerings via The Digital Academy website (thedigitalacademy.tech.gov.sg).
Courses at The Digital Academy are designed to be both blended and hybrid – delivered using multiple formats; beyond the typical in-person or virtual lectures, participants can expect to attend instructor-led workshops, tech talks, exchanges with the Community of Practice, hackathons and even be offered opportunities for on-the-job training. The programmes will be constantly refreshed to address the fast-changing tech landscape and equip officers with current skills to help them be digitally confident.
The emergence of cloud services in the digital era is progressing at an incredible pace. Businesses have begun to use cloud services to improve their operations, and other businesses will soon follow suit. A research report indicated that cloud computing is expected to account for 13% of the Philippine IT services market by 2020, driven by government agencies and SMEs.
In a country prone to national disasters, coupled with the current pandemic, and with MSMEs serving as the backbone of the economy, it only makes sense that cloud computing is a key solution to achieving not just business continuity, but a better recovery for the economy in the Philippines. Medium and SME enterprises have reiterated the importance of adopting cloud technology to minimise operational disruptions and ensure data safety amidst uncertain times for businesses in the financial services industry.
Recently experts were brought together from the central bank of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Business Continuity Managers Association of the Philippines (BCMAP) and other SMEs enterprise to introduce other businesses the fundamentals of building an organisation’s business continuity program and harnessing the power of cloud technology, to back up crucial data and enable swift recovery from any disaster.
The Philippines, along with the rest of the world, have fallen into recession, as mobility restrictions due to the pandemic and the lockdowns have slowed down, if not stopped, business operations. In fact, research published in Q4 of 2020 shows that 71% of MSMEs surveyed in the country were forced to halt operations, while the Department of Trade and Industry reported that an estimated 90,000 MSMEs remained closed.
The pandemic emphasised the importance of strengthening financial institutions under the supervision of the BSP in order to meet the increased demands of both customers and employees. BSP-supervised financial institutions augmented their technological capacities by migrating to cloud-based platforms and solutions, in order to address the increased digital demands of their customers and support remote work from home arrangements of their employees.
If the Philippines adopted a cloud computing model, there are numerous potential opportunities. As this cost of new technology would be shifted to service providers, IT users would no longer have to bear it. The country would be able to harness the power of the internet to democratise its access to new technology while making significant economic strides.
With cloud computing, businesses can store and access files and software, especially large ones, without necessarily buying a physical server, saving them office space and cost. Office personnel can also work from home or anywhere else other than their usual workplaces.
Businesses can continue to perform their tasks from any location and conveniently access necessary data as long as an internet connection is available. In addition, cloud tech enables employees to better manage their workflows through improved communication and team collaboration while accessing data from a centralised location. This can prevent organisations from halting operations even in challenging situations such as work suspension and calamity.
The Philippines is a country that believes in IT. Filipinos have a high interest in technology and are eager to learn new computing systems. This positive attitude gives a lot of hope to the future of cloud computing. It also helps that the country already has a talented IT workforce that is comfortable with the predominately English language that dominates the internet.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) received a HK$100 million donation from the Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation Limited (the Foundation) for the promotion of the University’s academic and research development.
In a ceremony officiated by the eldest son of the Foundation’s Honorary Chairman, HKUST named the University’s Robotics Institute the “Cheng Kar-Shun Robotics Institute”. The gift from the Foundation seeks to enhance the University’s research capabilities in areas such as robotics and autonomous systems; deepen student learning in innovation and design thinking competency, as well as advance entrepreneurship and knowledge transfer.
HKUST Council Chairman expressed gratitude to the Foundation’s long-term support of the University’s academic and research work. He noted that the Cheng Kar-Shun Robotics Institute is a key research facility at HKUST and perfectly marks the University’s longstanding partnership with the Foundation. The donation signifies a vote of confidence in the University’s capabilities. He noted that it is crucial for the University to pool its strengths and develop new solutions to the grand challenges of the time.
Prof. Wei Shyy stated, “HKUST is deeply grateful to the Foundation’s trust in our academic and research work, which is internationally respected and recently reaffirmed in the Research Assessment Exercise of University Grants Committee. With the Foundation’s generous gift, we will keep up the good work, break new grounds and nurture the right talent to assist the economic and social development of Hong Kong and beyond.”
On top of supporting activities organized by HKUST’s various institutes, the donation will also be used as start-up funds for new faculty – in particular those from the School of Science and School of Engineering, to set up laboratories, recruit research assistants and purchase equipment. In appreciation of the Foundation’s support, the University has named its Robotics Institute with presence in Hong Kong and future Guangzhou campus after Dr Cheng Kar-Shun.
Growing market for robotics
According to the report published by a US-based market research firm, the global robotics technology market generated $62.75 billion in 2019, and is estimated to reach $170.08 billion by 2027, witnessing a CAGR of 13.5% from 2020 to 2027.
An increase in the requirement of automation and safety in organizations, the presence of cost-effective and energy-efficient robots, and the rise in deployment of robots in different industries propel the growth of the global robotics technology market.
However, high costs incurred in implementation and less awareness regarding automation among SMEs hinder the market growth. On the other hand, the adoption of robotics technology in developing countries offers new opportunities in the industry.
The COVID-19 scenario
- Due to the lockdown issued by many governments, the demand for automated machinery from automotive, construction, and other industries has been dried up considerably. In addition, disruptions in the supply chain have impacted the demand as well.
- The research and development activities have been paused in some of the countries due to lockdown. However, many countries have eased off restrictions. So, manufacturing plants have begun their operations and R&D activities have been resumed.
Based on region, Asia-Pacific contributed to the major share in 2019, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total share of the global robotics technology market. This region is estimated to grow at the fastest CAGR of 14.4% from 2020 to 2027. However, North America is expected to witness a CAGR of 13.3% during the forecast period.
The Queensland government will invest almost $40 million in cybersecurity and digital service delivery over the next five years as the state’s COVID-19 recovery gets underway. The region’s Treasurer unveiled the state budget recently, revealing a 2021-22 deficit that is $800 million lower than what was forecast just six months ago.
However, despite the significant improvement in the bottom line, budget papers reveal only a handful of IT initiatives for a second year in the wake of the pandemic. While budget papers show that the government achieved $750 million in savings in 2020-21, there is no indication of just how much of this is down to the paused projects. The government has, however, attributed $17.7 million to a reduction in ICT contract costs over four years, including savings in telecommunications contracts.
Funding boost for cybersecurity
Of the new IT initiatives, one of the largest is an $11 million investment in “whole-of-government cybersecurity enhancements” over two years. The funding builds on the $20 million allocated to the state’s cybersecurity protection unit in 2019 over four years, effectively doubling the government-wide spend over the next two years. Cyber security-related initiatives were one of only two areas unaffected by the six-month IT project freeze last year, the other area being critical safety-related initiatives.
The budget also allocates $11.3 million for the ongoing delivery of Smart Service Queensland’s Covid-19 call centre and online services including quarantine compliance and wellness checks. A further $17.3 million, including $4.4 million in 2021-22, will go towards the completion of the digital archives program, which will enable the preservation of digital government records.
The region’s Digital Economy Minister noted that the funding for digital services would ensure “Queenslanders remain connected in the digital world”. She said that the pandemic had “highlighted the ongoing necessity for remaining connected digitally and the growing need to enhance the digital economy”.
Law enforcement upgrades
In addition to the Department of Communities, Housing and the Digital Economy, the budget allocates just under $20 million to Queensland Police across several IT-related initiatives.
More than half of the funding will be spent on general “ICT technology”, while $4 million will be used for new and replacement body-worn video (BWV) cameras. A further $4.1 million will go towards the Queensland Police’s QLiTE tablet program, including $2.7 million for the development of new apps and $1.4 million for 1000 additional devices.
Last year, the government announced it would invest $35 million over five years deploying a further 5000 QLiTE iPads and 4500 BWV cameras to frontline police officers. The force will also receive $4 million to support “information systems development” at Queensland Ambulance Service and $3.7 million to support Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
Queensland Ambulance Service has separately been allocated $5 million in 2021-22 for “information systems development” aimed at enhancing patient care and service delivery. The Department of Justice and Attorney-General will receive $7.4 million to expand and upgrade audio-visual capacity, including “video conferencing and in-custody court appearances”. The Attorney-General stated that the upgrade would “provide for the streamlining of some matters, enabling cost savings in both time and resources”.
The government is also investing $7.7 million in tranche three of the Department of Environment and Science’s government science platform over three years. The platform, which will make “data more accessible, integrated and reliable”, is expected to be used by the department to respond to environmental challenges.
Due to limitations on physical movement that are imposed amidst the pandemic, more Filipinos are turning to digital channels for transactions and shopping for necessities and other commodities. Some consumers claimed that they were not given sufficient customer care support either making a transaction or receiving an item that has been purchased. This led to a “significant” increase in the number of consumer complaints related to online transactions in 2020 till today compared to previous years.
To address this, The Department of Trade Industry (DTI), through its Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB), had announced that they will begin the pilot run of the online complaint software to boost up the country’s improved online system to receive and resolve consumer complaints.
The highest number of complaints of 8,045 were during the months of April and May when the strictest level of Community Quarantine was in effect in major areas of the country. Due to the limited movement of people, consumers heavily relied on online shopping for their basic and essential needs.
The online system will be piloted by the DTI and will eventually serve as the Web-based consumer complaints portal of the country. The online complaint software will automate the entire consumer complaints-handling process of the government by interlinking all the member agencies of the Consumer Network (ConsumerNet), or the group of government departments with consumer protection function, to provide redress to those consumers who will file a complaint through the system wherever they may be in the world.
To operationalise the system, the online complaint system will undergo three phases, including assessment; functional specifications and workshop; and compliance with data privacy, security, risk management and systems development.
The first phase is the development and operationalisation of consumer complaints filing, tracking, ageing, reports generation, and status updating to be put by the DTI. Phase two is the development of virtual mediation conference and possible online resolution of complaints and Phase 3 is linkage with the online complaint system for effective resolution of cross-border consumer complaints.
The DTI is responsible for ensuring that the process of handling and resolving consumer complaints and disputes is streamlined and harmonised through the online system, as well as providing dedicated channels of communication for easy access to consumer queries and complaints, such as but not limited to telephone, e-mail, and social media platforms. When executing and implementing such a system, there must be checks and balances in place so that, as consumers and consumer groups, can act as watchdogs and ensure that the process is completed effectively, efficiently, successfully, and on time.
The system also aims to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of personal data stored via the online complaint system, as well as strict compliance to the Philippines Data Privacy Act of 2012.
Many businesses have discovered that deploying a software application to track complaints from submission to resolution is the most efficient way to do so. Considering complaints are sensitive, having a software tool allows companies to outline procedure and then focus on keeping customers happy and safe while protecting the company’s reputation and compliance status. Not only would companies profit from implementing these techniques but so would the country’s digital sector and its economy would be improved.