Australia and Singapore yesterday signed a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) to harness digital transformation and technology to expand trade and economic ties in the region. Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham and Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing signed the DEA digitally via videoconference.
The SADEA is the second Digital Economy Agreement that Singapore has signed, following the signing of the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) with Chile and New Zealand in June this year.
At a time of global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the signing of the DEA demonstrates Australia and Singapore’s recognition of the value of digital trade in forging a path to a post-COVID economic recovery.
Mr Chan said, “The signing of the Singapore-Australia Digital Economy Agreement marks a milestone in the long standing and multi-faceted partnership between our two countries. The SADEA will facilitate digitalisation of trade processes and make it easier and more cost effective for Singapore companies to engage in cross border business activities with Australia.
“As COVID-19 forces businesses to consider innovative ways to reach customers and adapt to a new way of doing business, agreements like the SADEA will allow our companies to take advantage of opportunities in the digital economy and tap on new technologies to create new digital products and services.”
Singapore and Australia enjoy strong bilateral trade and investment flows and the SADEA builds on this foundation to enhance economic opportunities in the digital realm. With the SADEA, Singapore and Australia aim to create a seamless digital trading environment which is crucial for businesses during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Enhancing economic opportunities in the digital realm
It will also enable trusted cross-border data flows without unnecessary and costly requirements such as data localisation, while protecting consumers’ privacy and businesses’ proprietary information.
Australia and Singapore have agreed to set new rules to prevent unnecessary restrictions on the transfer and location of data, improved protection for software source code, and ensure compatibility between e-invoicing and e-payment frameworks.
Importantly, the DEA will also feature rules for enhanced business and consumer trust in digital trade and cooperation in creating a safe online environment, and protecting personal information and consumer rights.
The Digital Economy Agreement is further supported by MoUs on data innovation, artificial intelligence, trade facilitation, e-invoicing, e-certification for agricultural exports and imports, personal data protection and digital identity
The signing today follows the conclusion of negotiations by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong on 23 March 2020. The DEA will now undergo Australian treaty-making processes, including tabling in Parliament and consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties prior to ratification. When the DEA enters into force it will amend the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement to replace the existing Electronic Commerce chapter with a new Digital Economy chapter.
PHOTO CREDIT: dfat.gov.au
The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) will launch the SG Cyber Safe Programme to help Singapore enterprises to raise their cybersecurity posture.
The programme is part of the Safer Cyberspace Masterplan launched in October 2020, which aims to raise Singapore’s general level of cybersecurity.
In a speech by Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information at the MCI Committee of Supply Debate 2021, he said “Cybersecurity, therefore has to be a collective effort and a core part of our lives in this digital age-integrated into the products we use and the way that we behave online.”
“As more enterprises go digital, our exposure to cyber threats grows in parallel. Cyber attacks on companies have a far-reaching impact on our wider economy. So, as part of the Safer Cyberspace Masterplan, CSA will launch the SG Cyber Safe Programme to support companies in strengthening their cybersecurity.”
The SG Cyber Safe Programme is a concerted effort by the Government to help enterprises better protect themselves in the digital domain. Under this programme, initiatives to be introduced include:
The toolkits, targeted at key enterprise stakeholders such as enterprise leaders, technical teams and employees, will provide leaders with a deeper understanding of cybersecurity issues and threats. It will also enable them to implement cybersecurity measures, including employee training, within the organisation.
CSA will be rolling out the employee cybersecurity toolkit by the end of 2021. For a start, CSA has worked with Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) and Civil Service College (CSC) to adapt existing cybersecurity modules – originally developed for public officers – for employees in the private sector.
Tools for enterprises to self-assess their cybersecurity posture.
This includes the Exercise-in-a-Box Singapore incident response simulation tool, which will be launched in partnership with the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre in the later half of 2021. CSA will also develop assessment tools on enterprises’ Internet domain, connectivity and email health.
SG Cyber Safe Trustmark.
The Trustmark will serve as a mark of distinction for enterprises that have put in place good cybersecurity measures that correspond to their risk profiles.
CSA will start industry consultations on the SG Cyber Safe Trustmark from April 2021 to seek views on the concept and implementation. CSA intends to introduce the trustmark by early-2022.
As the trustmark is intended for companies or projects with higher cyber risk, a separate cyber hygiene mark will also be developed to complement the SG Cyber Safe trustmark. More details on the trustmark and cyber hygiene mark will be announced in due course.
Building Cybersecurity Talent Base in Singapore
The Minister added that “Our cybersecurity talent base is a key enabler of these efforts and we are working closely with industry partners and Government agencies to nurture and grow our cybersecurity workforce.
He said that first of all, to meet near-term demand, the government will facilitate the training and upskilling of cybersecurity professionals, as well as fresh and mid-career non-cybersecurity professionals for cybersecurity jobs, through programmes such as IMDA’s Tech Skills Accelerator.
And secondly, to strengthen the talent pipeline for the longer term, the government encourages youths to pursue a career in the field through cyber outreach initiatives like SG Cyber Talent. There has been over 7,000 participants to-date.
The government has also launched the SG Cyber Leaders programme to create a community for current and developing cyber leaders to exchange ideas, and learn about global best practices.
The minister called on all Singaporeans to do their part to stay cyber safe. “All of us need to play our part to create a safer, more secure cyberspace. There are things we can do as individuals. We should enable two-factor authentication, update our software in a timely manner, choose a passphrase rather than a password and staying vigilant to spot signs of phishing.”
Leading digital workflow company, ServiceNow, launched the first of its’ global service offerings to Singapore organisations in highly regulated industries – with the Now Platform available on Microsoft Azure.
Singapore customers are among the first in the world to use the Now Platform on Azure, to deliver business-wide transformation, while meeting data residency requirements for how sensitive information is stored, shared, protected and used. The level of digital adoption and market readiness has been a catalyst for ServiceNow’s continued growth and investment in Singapore, supporting the nation’s digital agenda.
ServiceNow Managing Director and Asia Vice President Mr Wee Luen Chia said, “ServiceNow is highly committed to supporting Singapore’s Smart Nation agenda. This announcement is a major milestone in support of this agenda; and is an outcome of regular, open conversations on how to help Singapore organizations leverage digital transformation to deliver smart experiences and improve productivity.”
Country Manager for Singapore Karen Chong said highly-regulated customers won’t be getting a new platform, but rather a new option to scale digital offerings at speed and this has been adopted quickly by leading organisations in Singapore.
Karen said organisations in highly regulated industries can now access the same Now Platform – the platform of platforms – that is already helping so many Singapore customers scale their digital investments and make work better.
“For organisations to embrace this workflow revolution they need to leverage one platform, one data model, to deliver business efficiencies and drive productivity. Integrating software applications at scale means you can reach your business’ transformation goals, faster and without added complexity. ServiceNow offers a platform that connects all your workflow and software applications across customer service, IT, supply chains, ERP, finance, employee and more.”
To help Singapore’s highly-regulated industries better understand this opportunity, Karen shared that ServiceNow has teamed up with various agencies in the public sector.“We work closely with Singapore government authorities by having the Multi-Tier Cloud Security (MTCS) test-ready, we received level 3-certification, the highest in MTCS. We also achieved strict data security compliance in accordance with government regulations and standards to ensure we meet the needs of highly-regulated industries in Singapore.”
“Most organisations considering transformation investments look closely into the availability of physical data infrastructure when investing in technology,” Karen said. “ServiceNow’s investments in local data storage ensures that it can support seamless, secure workflows to meet the breadth of products and services offered by Singapore’s enterprises.”
ServiceNow’s collaboration with Microsoft Azure in Singapore will enable the city state’s public sector to be among the first in the world to take advantage of a potent mix of automation processes, connectivity and seamless experiences to deliver smart, simple ways to work. Several Governments, including GovTech, use ServiceNow’s Now Platform. Also, NCS, a ServiceNow and Microsoft technology partner to Singapore Government and highly regulated industries such as banking, healthcare and transport have a proven track record in digital transformation for government and enterprises.
NCS Managing Director, Global Delivery, Keith Leong said, “With ServiceNow and Microsoft, NCS is able to offer best of breed solutions for our clients to enable them to accelerate the implementation of secure, digital workflow automation, especially for highly regulated organisations that rely on local data residency.”
Healthcare providers can now access a new digital platform that will facilitate the upload of COVID-19 vaccination records to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).
The Clinician Vaccine Integrated Platform (CVIP) will support the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination program which started in February. It provides the technology needed for vaccination providers to meet their legislative requirements to report the vaccinations to the AIR.
Agency Chief Digital Officer Steve Issa said, “CVIP is expected to be particularly useful for vaccination providers who don’t currently have digital systems in place to report to the AIR.”
NT Health was the first jurisdiction to start using CVIP in their Alice Springs vaccination clinic. The Agency is having discussions with other jurisdictions about how it might be used at clinics within other states and territories, while they are upgrading their clinical systems to meet the new AIR reporting legislative requirements.
Vaccination information reported to the AIR is uploaded automatically to My Health Record.
The latest upgrade to My Health Record delivered in late February included a consolidated immunisation view so people can easily see details of all immunisations, including their first COVID-19 vaccination, received, and next vaccination due date. Immunisation history statements are also available from Medicare Online and the Express Plus Medicare Mobile app.
There are also two complementary mobile apps, Healthi and HealthNow which can provide people with new ways to understand and use the information in their My Health Record, and ultimately, to make better-informed decisions about staying well or managing their health conditions. Both these apps allow people to easily view My Health Record and their immunisation status.
About the Australian Digital Health Agency
When it comes to improving the health of all Australians, the role of digital innovation and connection is a vital part of a modern, accessible healthcare system. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, digital health has seen exponential growth in relevance and importance, making it more pertinent than ever for all Australians and healthcare providers.
Better patient healthcare and health outcomes are possible when you have a health infrastructure that can be safely accessed, easily used and responsibly shared.
To achieve this, the National Digital Health Strategy is establishing the foundations for a sustainable health system that constantly improves. It underpins and coordinates work that is already happening between governments, healthcare providers, consumers, innovators and the technology industry.
About the National Digital Health Strategy
Digital information is the bedrock of high-quality healthcare. The benefits for patients are significant and compelling: hospital admissions avoided, fewer adverse drug events, reduced duplication of tests, better coordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions, and better-informed treatment decisions.
To achieve this, the National Digital Health Strategy is establishing the foundations for a sustainable health system that constantly improves. It underpins and coordinates work that is already happening between governments, healthcare providers, consumers, innovators and the technology industry.
The outcomes citizens can expect to see are covered by seven high-level strategic priorities or ‘pillars’ of digital health improvements detailed in the strategy. These outcomes will be delivered to all Australians by 2022, following the Framework for Action implementation plan.
They will form part of a new sustainable ecosystem of digital health technology well into the future. The National Digital Health Strategy was formed after detailed consultations with patients, consumers, carers, healthcare professionals, industry, organisations and innovators. It’s based on evidence of clinical and economic benefits identified from sources both in Australia and overseas.
The Australian Digital Health Agency is the custodian of the strategy, its role being to evolve national digital health capability by innovating, collaborating and leading.
The Ministry of Communications and Information has made building an inclusive digital society one of their main priorities for 2021. Their aim is to ensure that ‘all Singaporeans can reap the benefits of digitalisation.’
In order to reach this goal, the National Library Board (NLB) is transforming libraries into hubs for digital learning.
The Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025 (LAB25) looks at how NLB’s roles and priorities will evolve from 2021 to 2025, in response to social, economic and technological changes.
‘A key component of LAB25 is working with communities, individuals and industries to innovate and explore new solutions to address the needs of citizens.’
Since January 2020, NLB has carried out various types of public consultations to understand what Singaporeans would like to see in their libraries and archives.
The National Library Board has identified five areas to focus on:
Champion lifelong learning
NLB will prepare its patrons for a fast-changing world through programmes such as on career and personal development. These include the Future of Work series and the My Digital Life series, which promote public awareness of how technology affects our life.
NLB has also revamped its library makerspaces in 2020, with a rebrand from PIXEL Labs@NLB to MakeIT at Libraries, to reflect the need to shift Singapore’s DIY and innovation culture into the next gear. There are three makerspaces which comprise activities such as hands-on workshops in 3D printing and robotics, jointly organised by NLB and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
Bridge the digital divide
NLB will continue to partner IMDA and other government agencies to help communities, especially our seniors, to be comfortable and confident when using digital services and technology. For example, Library Learning Journeys will be conducted monthly at 25 public libraries from late February 2021, with capacity of four participants for each session. Led by digital ambassadors, these sessions teach seniors how to use the NLB mobile app and other digital services in libraries, such as connecting to Wireless@SGx, accessing eNewspapers and scanning QR codes.
Document and tell Singapore stories
NLB will continue to involve the community in its efforts to build the nation’s contemporary collection and collect its history. An ongoing “Documenting COVID-19” collection drive organised by NLB and the National Museum of Singapore has so far received over 740 submissions of more than 3,600 photos, personal stories, videos, ephemera, webpages, blog, diaries and creative responses.
NLB has also recorded 61 in-depth audio interviews as part of the oral history component of Documenting COVID-19. NLB aims to record at least 120 interviews from now until 2022. The public will be able to access them on the Archives Online website.
Strengthen citizen engagement
The NLB will continue to step up efforts to ensure that libraries are safe and inclusive spaces for the community to interact with one another. Communities are encouraged to pursue their passion in learning through setting up their own interest groups and reading clubs at the various libraries, where they can interact with like-minded people from all walks of life.
Promote information literacy
NLB has been actively promoting information literacy through the Source. Understand. Research. Evaluate. (S.U.R.E.) campaign, which promotes the importance of information evaluation and discernment. Over 25,000 participants have benefited from S.U.R.E. programmes in the last three years, with increased interest during COVID 19.
In the coming years, NLB will step up its efforts on S.U.R.E. and will weave the campaign into programmes across interest areas, such as combining a love of reading with being wise consumers of information at NLB’s Read Fest 2021.
Revamping libraries – part of Libraries of the Future Masterplan
In line with the Libraries of the Future Masterplan, NLB will continue to develop public libraries with seamless access, both physically and digitally. Since 2015, six revamped public libraries have been launched. The revamped Choa Chu Kang Public Library will reopen in the second half of 2021.
Choa Chu Kang Public Library will be the first Libraries of the Future library to be redesigned with sustainability as its main theme, and will feature digital services which aim to encourage the appreciation of natural landscapes and biodiversity.
Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) is leading the city’s efforts to implement a global solution known as cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology which is a communication system that enables a vehicle’s smart sensors to interact and exchange data with other smart vehicles, infrastructure, mobile networks and devices – could help tackle road safety problems, such as accidents and congestion.
Since 2017, ASTRI and its partner (Hong Kong’s flagship mobile network provider) have been working together to fine-tune the technology. Their latest endeavour is called the 5G V2X project, the first trial run of C-V2X on public roads in Hong Kong.
The journey will involve a 14km-stretch between the Science Park and Sha Tin town centre. The 30-minute drive will see connected vehicles collect road intelligence data as they pass 14 sets of Road Side Units (RSUs) on lamp posts and traffic lights. The RSUs will provide real-time warnings and data for 10 different driving conditions on the road.
Any vehicle equipped with an on-board unit can communicate with different elements along the road, forming an ecosystem powered by 5G technology.
Various devices can collect real-time traffic data and use it to provide warnings to drivers of hazardous driving situations, traffic light changes, pedestrians on a road crossing, and alternative travel routes in the event of a nearby accident or traffic congestion ahead.
In the future, the ecosystem could accommodate autonomous vehicles, allowing actions – like closely grouping cars together in busy areas – to alleviate traffic jams.
The Road Side Unit is a small radio unit installed on top of the traffic light post, about 12 metres in height. It a coverage radius of 100-200 metres; every vehicle coming into this area will communicate to the radio of this Road Side Unit.
Every second, the unit communicates 10 times about its location, direction and its speed. With this exchange of information, the computer onboard the vehicle will calculate what will happen after four seconds. It will alert the driver through this analysis.
C-V2X involves the “Internet of Vehicles”, which has been made more efficient and reliable through the development of 5G which is 20 times faster than 4G, and five times shorter in latency. It can connect one million vehicles or sensors within one square km.
The layered design of the C-V2X system means it can be used in different parts of Hong Kong and also across Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.
ASTRI and HKT’s work on C-V2X has consisted of several demonstrations and trials, including the first C-V2X live trial at Hong Kong Science Park, in Sha Tin, in 2017, a field trial in Wuxi, mainland China, in 2018, and a 2019 demonstration of autonomous driving at Hong Kong International Airport.
This site was chosen for the variety of traffic scenarios it provides: regular public roads, roundabouts, hotspot cross junctions, and even intersections without traffic lights. The aim was to prove that C-V2X can be used to improve traffic safety and efficiency in real-life conditions.
This trial will see ASTRI and HKT working with a vehicle partner – a Swedish manufacturer of commercial vehicles, which has considerable expertise in driver behaviour testing as well as a global database of best practices.
The business development director in Hong Kong and China for the vehicle manufacturer stated that its existing Advanced Driver Assistance System already includes blind-spot detection, lane-departure warnings and an automated electric brake system.
This has drastically improved vehicle safety, but communication remains one-way within the vehicle, she said. The company’s collaboration with ASTRI on C-V2X will increase the range of detection of outside elements and subsequently improve safety further.
The road trial would help test the interaction between ASTRI’s on-board unit, the manufacturer’s vehicles and the infrastructure set up along the road to see whether they can correctly access the data while the vehicle is moving.
Augmented reality can be used by anyone including mentally and physically disabled individuals. It blurs the line of difference between the virtual and real-world, thus increasing its usability and effectiveness in application either for business or recreational purposes.
Now, a Māori-owned (New Zealand indigenous people) digital technology company has created an app for people to upload their stories for others to discover when they visit specific places in New Zealand. The platform would allow people to bring their tales to life with audio, video, or augmented reality, which can only be experienced at the location related to the story.
According to the developers, there was a growing desire to hear the stories of all people living in the country, and as per locals, they are fascinated by their past, no matter how painful it is, because it is what shaped them as individuals and as a nation collectively.
They added that many locals saw an opportunity to pass on stories to young people who did not visit the historical places much but who engaged a lot with digital technology, and ultimately would become the protectors of those stories.
Each region would have its own stories, which could be linked up into a form of a game. The app would alert users when they entered, for example, Kirikiriroa/Hamilton, that there is a story waiting to be told nearby. The tech company also hopes that local businesses would sign up so users would receive rewards such as a discount at a local café, or a cultural experience.
The company has developed several augmented reality storytelling apps based in South Auckland locations, but it wanted to have a national, and ultimately, a global reach. They also created an app for Auckland Council using the same concept to tell the stories of Maramataka (the Māori lunar calendar), Māori astronomy, seasons and other aspects of nature, using an augmented reality layer on a series of large rock carvings.
Since then, the company said that they had explored options on how to use digital technology, augmented reality, and games to engage people and bring stories about life places. For them, every stream, every hill, every mountain around the place always has a story, and a lot of people do not realise that – particularly in Auckland or South Auckland, it is all built up, so people do not realise under all that concrete, there is a rich history.
The developers are also hoping that people will be able to fill all these different locations with stories, with their own stories – and obviously, there has got to be protection around that. They are currently working with the locals to see how that goes. They said that there are going to be stories that some people do not want to be told, and it is important that those stories are kept safe, and that natives have some kind of “security management” around it
Moreover, the tech company is still looking for ways to make a profit out of the tech to be sustainable. At the end of the day, they are ultimately aiming for global recognition and to encourage young people to engage with the environment and its rich history.
The tech company intends to launch the app at the end of the month and had received some interest from overseas – including Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan.
Accordingly, virtual reality and augmented reality is an emergent industry tipped to be worth around NZ$205 billion globally in the next five years, says the executive director of New Zealand’s first-ever VR/AR Association. She explains that this is a chance for top innovators in the country’s booming virtual and augmented reality sector to join forces and take stock of where they are at, and what needs to be done, to represent and promote New Zealand’s VR, AR and mixed reality tech sectors both nationally and internationally.
The Vice-Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, Duong Anh Duc, recently approved a programme on artificial intelligence (AI) research and development in the city for the 2020-2030 period.
It aims to make the city a hub for AI research, implementation, and technology transfer in Vietnam and among the leading such facilities in Southeast Asia at large. Nine projects and tasks will be carried out to 2030, with a detailed timeline. AI is hoped to play a major role in building innovative urban areas and smart city development in the southern metropolis, facilitating sustainable economic growth.
According to a press release, HCM City aims to complete a portal for AI solutions and conduct a survey on demand for the application and development of the technology for 2021-2022. It has set a target of concluding projects on building digital infrastructure and AI-related policies and establishing centres for AI research, technology transfer, and human resources between 2021 and 2025. A day for information technology and AI businesses will be assigned in the time to come.
The HCM City Department of Information and Communications will be the coordinator of the programme. The budget will come from the city and sectors in science-technology, along with social sources.
The city is also working to develop more 5G products to meet the demand, which has been growing since the successful launch of 5G piloting programmes by Vietnam’s three major mobile network providers Viettel, VinaPhone, and MobiFone.
During a recent interview, the Deputy Director of the HCM City Department of Information and Communications, Le Quoc Cuong, explained that the programmes have opened the door for the city’s IT businesses to develop corresponding apps that use the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI. It is expected that more and more software pieces in the field of healthcare, traffic, and education will be introduced to the public shortly.
Currently, HCM City has nearly 10,600 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) for 3G and 4G networks, ensuring the quality of calls and Internet access on mobile devices for users. Based on this, the city will be able to help telecom businesses install the 5G network in 2021. The new BTS for 5G will be eco-friendly and modern and will be shared among related businesses.
However, Deputy Director Cuong mentioned that not all areas in HCM City are the focus of 5G development. The priority should be in places like Saigon Hi-tech Park and the urban areas near Vietnam National University – HCMC, where high interactions and real-time communications are vital.
The municipal authorities encourage IT enterprises to invest money and labor in developing applications for smart traffic, construction management, environment monitoring, and tasks in the city’s AI programmes. State agencies can then hire available apps or order new ones to use.
The Deputy Director noted that the availability of the digital infrastructure is a critical factor that decides the success of both the digital transformation process and the creation of a smart urban area. Therefore, the city needs to make sufficient investment in this field to be ready for the use of 5G technology in forming internet connections and accessing data. These investments include a wider coverage of 4G and 5G networks, appropriate telecom equipment, powerful computers, and useful software.