The first Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative (SCI) Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) meeting was held today, helmed by the Ministry of Communications and Information’s Permanent Secretary, Yong Ying-I, and Shenzhen Mayor, Chen Rugui.
Eight Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were also inked at the meeting which will enable both enterprises and individuals to have greater ease of access to market opportunities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and Southeast Asia (SEA).
The Smart City Initiative signifies the commitment by both sides towards digital connectivity which has become even more pertinent amid COVID-19. The SCI is centred around three pillars– Digital connectivity, Innovation and entrepreneurship, and Tech talent exchange and development – to better support businesses and individuals as technological advancements in today’s digital economy have transformed the way businesses operate and how individuals consume services.
Permanent Secretary of MCI, Yong Ying-I said, “The Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Initiative has produced substantial positive outcomes just months after its launch last year, in spite of the COVID-19 situation. Indeed, COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of digitalisation in our economies. Singapore will continue to work with like-minded partners like Shenzhen, to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in digital economies, and to enhance trade and connectivity to create exciting opportunities for businesses, communities and individuals.”
New Asian SME Hub
A new Asian SME Hub will be set up to facilitate access to a larger ecosystem of buyers, sellers, logistics service providers, financing, and digital solution providers. Operational by July 2020, it will facilitate trusted cross-border partnerships as businesses scale up and expand into new markets to help businesses innovate and tap on growth opportunities.
To begin with the 50 SMEs are already selling industrial hardware, chemicals, safety, medical and office supplies on Eezee.sg, a B2B digital platform supported by IMDA and ESG under the Grow Digital initiative, will have access to a buyer base of 4 million SMEs in YiQiYe’s SME Ecosystem in China.
As more SME ecosystems are being developed in ASEAN, they will also be able to form partnerships for innovation and leverage business opportunities with SMEs in China through the new Asian SME Hub.
Through digital trade connectivity, businesses will enjoy greater efficiency with faster, digitalised insurance and financing processes with banks which are facilitated by expeditious validation of data.
Businesses can also benefit from seamless trade transactions with the streamlining of electronic documentations as both parties work towards the mutual recognition of these documents.
Co-operation for mutual benefits in Digitalisation
With increased international trade and business activities, businesses from both cities will soon be able to rely on an efficient and effective “mediation-arbitration” dispute resolution model offered by the Singapore International Mediation Centre in collaboration with the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration to resolve cross-border disputes.
This will help boost business confidence, allowing them to maintain relationships as there is assurance that settlement agreements can be mutually enforced.
In addition, both cities agreed to explore cooperation in talent exchange and work towards mutual recognition and interoperability of both parties’ digital identity platforms.
Mr Chen Rugui, Mayor of Shenzhen Municipality said: “This meeting has helped to elevate the Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative to a new level. Shenzhen will follow the principles of “cooperation for mutual benefits, government-guided, enterprise led and a market-based approach”, to comprehensively deepen the SCI cooperation between Singapore and Shenzhen, accelerate the implementation of cooperation projects in areas such as digital trade, digital payment, cross-border data management, and mutual recognition of digital identities.
We will actively promote exchanges between enterprises, research institutions and institutes of higher learning from both sides, with an aim to jointly create a new benchmark for global smart city cooperation.”
New Zealand has been a strong advocate of digital inclusion and this is reflected in their report on Digital inclusion user insights – Disabled people.
The purpose of this research was to understand the perceptions and feelings about digital inclusion from disabled people as they went about their daily lives. The goal was to understand the key pain points for individuals, what they liked about the current online environment and what improvements could be made to ensure a more equitable digital environment for all.
The report estimates that by the mid-2030s, 24% of jobs in New Zealand could be automated and a new range of jobs will have emerged. As digital technologies weave their way into lives, they impact society and the way things are done. It is therefore vital that everyone can participate fully in, and make the most of, an increasingly digital world: this is digital inclusion. There are four interdependent elements, which are all needed for a person to be digitally included. They are motivation, access, skills, and trust.
When digital inclusion is discussed in research papers such as Motu Research’s Digital Inclusion and Wellbeing in New Zealand, the following people are often identified as being most at risk of digital exclusion: Disabled people, Māori, Pasifika people, People in social housing, Seniors, Un- and under-employed and Remote communities.
Some of the key findings were:
- Need to enforce the Web Accessibility Standard and support better accessibility education
- More human-centred design and co-design practices required
- Need to reduce cost barriers and provide skills training
- Digital inclusion for disabled people should be prioritised
The NZ government is providing $3 million in one-off seed funding to help disabled people around New Zealand stay connected and access support in their communities according to an announcement by Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni.
The funding will allow disability service providers to develop digital and community-based solutions over the next two years for disabled people impacted by COVID-19, starting in 2021. The minister confirmed that 16 organisations would receive funding for initiatives that would help disabled people to access support, be independent and keep in touch with their friends and whānau in innovative and sustainable ways.
There have been a number of creative and innovative initiatives – from helping people with dementia to create their own digital storybook of memories, to online dance and music workshops for disabled people in rural areas, and online spaces for matching disabled people to mentors and volunteers. There is also a strong focus on initiatives that encourage community participation, which is vital for disabled people’s wellbeing and a sense of belonging.
The government was optimistic to see support for the disability community across New Zealand and its role in helping the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This seed funding is part of the Government’s response during the first lockdown for disabled people, which was allocated for the 2021 financial year. Regular progress updates will be required for the period of the seed funding.
The Disability Action Plan presents priority work programmes and actions developed through a co-design process by government agencies, disabled people and their representative organisations. The work programmes and actions will advance implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026.
From a digital perspective, several outcomes would significantly depend on and benefit from tech deployment
- Involving disabled people: When planning for and implementing their work programmes, each government agency is expected to engage effectively with disabled people.
- Ensuring data is disaggregated by disability: Statistics New Zealand and the Office for Disability Issues are joint leads for the Disability Data and Evidence Working Group’s work programme. All agencies are expected to promote the use of the Washington Group sets of questions on disability in government surveys.
- Monitoring and reporting progress: It is important to report on and monitor the Action Plan’s progress.
- Governance: The Ministerial Leadership Group on Disability Issues is the primary governance lever, together with ongoing engagement with agency chief executives and senior officials.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Industry has been very supportive of the efforts of other ministries and institutions that have been proactive in using industrial technology 4.0 to support their activities to be more productive and efficient. A prime example of this is the Indonesian National Police (Polri) who are implementing the Police 4.0 programme under the National Police Chief, Komjen Listyo Sigit Prabowo.
Speaking at a programme in Jakarta, Director General of Metal, Machinery, Transportation and Electronics Industry (ILMATE), Taufiek Bawazier reacted positively to the Police 4.0 programme plan, as it is in line with the Making Indonesia 4.0 road map priority program which also supports the electronics and telematics industry sector.
The minister was confident that digital transformation in the police department would have a positive impact on innovation and growth in the domestic industrial sector, especially industries producing hardware and software for artificial intelligence (AI).
The use of AI technology in the police, such as Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) goes a long way in reducing the burden on the police in monitoring road violations. Additionally, the use of surveillance equipment and drones can assist the police in reducing crime rates and providing effective services to the public more optimally. Deployment of technology not only facilitates better citizen-services but can be a driver for the domestic industry that produces and manages such technology solutions.
“This programme provides an opportunity for the nation’s citizens to make software and hardware applications in accordance with the needs of the Police,” said Taufiek.
The Director General of ILMATE said that the domestic electronic industry is committed in its support of the police create Police 4.0. He firmly believes that the Indonesian police would be able to take advantage of the tech developments in the Industrial 4.0.
For example, Thermal Imaging to assist in dark conditions, biometric applications to reveal fingerprints and DNA and the use of GPS for shot spotting in case of a shooting. In addition, he agreed that the use of facial recognition is to be able to speed up identification while analytics can aid in resolving problems in the field. The role of the camera and robotics industry, according to Taufiek, should also be strategically utilised by the police. Equipping cameras in the field that are connected to the head office will provide efficiency in the work of the police and to provide better community services. He believes that the readiness of big data and a secure cloud must be a priority if AI-enabled solutions are to be implemented by the police.
Responding to concerns that Police 4.0 would contribute to job losses and in a reduction of police personnel, Bawazier actually feels that the program would increase the number of jobs in the police and the nation.
He emphasised that the tech-readiness of the National Police would only be possible if supported by competent human resource. Relevant training must be made available so that the application of police technology is sustainable. Professionals, skilled manpower and experts in technology would be needed to implement and deploy Police 4.0.
Further, skilled tech workers are essential for providers in the industrial sector continue to innovate and effectively supply products, solutions and technology for the service needs of the police. New technology, digital products and solutions will create a large number of new job opportunities.
The Minister of Tribal Affairs, Arjun Munda, recently virtually launched ShramShakti, a national migration support portal. It was unveiled through a video conference at a programme held at Panjim, Goa. The portal will collect data related to tribal migrant workers and link them with the existing welfare schemes.
According to a press release, the portal will also aid the creation and development of state- and national-level programmes for migrant workers. The Minister launched a tribal migration cell, a tribal museum at Goa, and ShramSaathi, which is a training manual for migrant workers.
The Chief Minister of Goa, Pramod Sawant, also launched a migration cell in Goa to facilitate and support migrants who come from different states. Speaking at the occasion, Minister Munda mentioned that the lack of real-time data on migrants is the biggest challenge for state and national governments to formulate effective strategies and policy decisions for the welfare of migrant workers at both source and destination states.
The migration of the tribal population is distress-driven, and the migrants are exposed to difficult and unsafe conditions. Sometimes they face trafficking or wage harassment issues including many occupational hazards at their workplace, the Minister said.
India has the world’s largest diaspora with about 18 million people born there now living abroad, according to the director of the United Nation’s Population Division at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The Minister explained that the tribal migration repository, ShramShakti will be able to successfully address the data gap and empower migrant workers who generally migrate in search of employment and income generation. It would also help the government to link the migrant population with the existing Welfare Scheme- under Atam Nirbhar Bharat. The data that will be recorded via Shram Shakti include demographic profiles, livelihood options, skill mapping, and migration patterns.
The government also launched the tribal training module ShramSaathi, which will ensure that the process of livelihood migration is safe and productive. Tribal migrant workers often have low awareness about their rights and entitlements and ways to access services and social security in source and destination areas, the Minister explained. After training using this module, tribal migrant workers will be able to demand and access services and rights related to livelihood and social security at their village before migration, as well after migration at destination towns and cities.
Chief Minister Sawant noted that Goa is going to be the first destination state of India to set up a dedicated migration cell to address diverse issues of migrant workers. The cell will address multiple needs of migrants, including legal support, skill development, job linkages, access to public services health, insurance, and financial inclusion.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs received the SKOCH Challenger Award for Best Performance in e-Governance for its initiatives taken during last year. The Ministry also received 3 Gold Awards for its initiatives. These included the eco-rehabilitation of tribal villages through innovative design in water management using ice-stupa; Swasthya: Tribal Health and Nutritional Portal; and the Performance Dashboard- Empowering Tribals Transforming India.
Australia Post is building a digital twin of its entire delivery network as part of continued efforts to use advanced analytics to detect and intervene on mail and parcel delivery problems.
The delivery network digital twin was revealed by Australia Post’s general manager of data science and strategy on a podcast earlier this month. Much of the work of the data science team that General Manager leads is well-documented.
The team, which was formed under finance but now sits in Post’s transformation and enablement function, is responsible for standing up several advanced analytics assets, including a data lake of sorts called Zoltar, named after the fortune-telling machine in the 1988 film Big.
More recently, it is responsible for Dexter, an “AI data bot” fed real-time data on mail movements that alert facility managers to potential issues.
The General Manager stated, “If your parcel is moving through the network and it’s due to be delivered today but we don’t see it get scanned onto a van by 6 am, the facility manager will start to receive emails from Dexter saying, ‘these are parcels we’re supposed to get out today, they’re somewhere in your network, go look for them’.”
However, it is the General Manager’s work on a multi-layered digital twin of the entire Post delivery network that is likely to be of substantial interest. Digital twins are digital copies of physical assets that are often used to plan and test future scenarios without impacting normal operations. The GM stated in the podcast that the big thing that the team is working on is a digital twin of the entire Australia Post network. That is huge.
The team is approaching it holistically. When people think of digital twins, they think of more scenario-based modelling but the team is thinking about it more like a grid, so three layers – an intervention layer, a forecasting layer and a simulation layer, and then interaction zones – an interaction with retailers, an interaction with ourselves in the network, and then an interaction with Australia Post customers.
AP’s data models have to fit within one of those grids, and then every model they develop now has to be part of what they are calling the digital twin ecosystem. “It has to have a life that contributes to that ecosystem, and then over time we will have eventually built a digital twin of the network,” the GM said.
The delivery network digital twin appears to be the second digital twin project at Australia Post. Having hinted at producing a virtual reality tool that could help posties complete difficult or unfamiliar delivery rounds back in 2018, a proof-of-concept emerged in October last year.
A professional services organisation said on its website that ‘Parcelbot’, as the proof-of-concept is called, also counted as a digital twin environment. It said it worked “in partnership with Australia Post” and used a mix of virtual reality technology, a virtual assistant AI technology an American multinational technology company and the Unreal gaming engine to create the tool.
The PoC: create a digital twin environment for posties to capture and surface important information along their delivery routes, including customer preferences like safe to leave a parcel unattended, locked gate, and protective dog.
The unlisted video accompanying the PoC shows how a postie can ‘look’ at an address and immediately see an overlay of information, such as recorded notes about the residents, how many parcels they receive, and how often missed delivery cards need to be left at that address.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) will launch a digital asset trading platform in the second half of 2021 to allow trading on all types of digital token assets excluding cryptocurrencies. According to the SET, cryptocurrencies do not meet its product qualifications and could facilitate money laundering, while causing harm to the bourse’s image as a “high trust” exchange.
The Executive Vice-President of the SET stated that the digital asset platform will be similar to other popular e-commerce marketplaces but all products on SET’s platform will be digital token assets. He said tokens traded on the platform must meet at least one of three conditions. First, the token must have an underlying asset that investors can analyse on value. Second, it must be a valuable product that supports economic activities. Third, the product must have benefits to society and the environment.
The bourse also formulated a fully integrated distributed ledger technology (blockchain) and digital asset investment service in 2020 to link various digital asset exchanges, digital wallets and initial coin offering (ICO) portals in Thailand under one platform via a collaboration with an arm of a banking group in Thailand.
The bank will be responsible for sourcing and screening products entering the SET digital asset marketplace. The SET is looking to sign an agreement with other partners with an aim to achieve exponential growth through tech innovations and investments via its three arms.
The SET also has studied several ICO cases. Most projects being studied have the possibility of making profits in the future. In order to protect investors, the digital asset must meet at least one of the three conditions set by the SET but cryptocurrencies don’t meet any of them. Thus, they cannot be counted as the SET’s product even though some countries accept payments in cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrencies are currently used in some countries which are experiencing high inflation and currency fluctuations such as Zimbabwe and Venezuela as an equivalent of fiat money. Thailand has a strong economy. As inflation has remained low and the Bank of Thailand’s measures to keep the baht stable have worked in the past, the SET has no reason to support cryptocurrencies at the moment.
However, the Executive Vice-President said some stock exchanges in Europe currently provide cryptocurrency trading to attract digital asset investors before launching other digital token assets via their platforms.
He said one of the measures to prevent money laundering is to do “Know Your Customer” (KYC) with clients who open trading with the exchanges. KYC will filter and screen unusual investors who come to open trading accounts. Cryptocurrency is just one digital asset product among others, he added.
The bank and other ICO portal firms will search for new products and evaluate the ICO project before putting them on the trading platform. As each product has different characteristics, the bourse must employ experts from different areas to help screen the products.
Digital token assets can be many valuable things such as diamonds and title deeds.
The SET expects that the digital asset marketplace will grow faster than today’s stock market as it emerges in the 4.0 era, while the traditional markets were established in the 1.0 or 2.0 eras which had less technologies to facilitate trading. The stock and bond markets are also governed by regulations that are far less flexible than the digital asset law and usually need intermediaries such as brokers and banks to make transactions.
An anticipated change in food consumption patterns during the post-pandemic recovery period is pushing the Indonesian government to try innovations in ramping up existing food and beverage production methods.
The Indonesian government in a statement encouraged agencies and key figures in the food and beverage industry to prepare for an increase in public demand by developing more technologies. The announcement comes as this strategic sector is expected to recover and bolster growth in the coming months.
Abdul Rochim, Director General of Agro-Industry of the Ministry of Industry, explained that the health crisis has made a huge dent in the economy and also stirred a substantial change in people’s consumption patterns. For one, fewer people are lining up to shop and shift towards getting their needs through online delivery services. He added, “meanwhile, people who are used to eating food in restaurants prefer to pack food or order food online.”
Because of these changes in consumer behaviour, the food and beverage sector needs to be more proactive in utilising innovation to cater to consumer demands in a modern way. The adoption of innovative tools also allows consumers to pay more attention to health and safety protocols during the new normal. The Director General noted that this sector which is closest to society should be able to take advantage of the benefits of tech to provide ease and convenience to customers.
Some of the proposed changes are not mainly in the delivery phase but are found also in the marketing, logistics and production systems of the industry. He mentioned that in marketing, digitalisation tools are key in reaching out to both producers and consumers. Hence, new digital tools must be implemented in this sector.
The vision of the Ministry of Industry is in keeping with efforts set forth under the Industry 4.0 concept in online marketing. The logistics sector can also be able to reap the benefits of using modern systems. To explain, the Director General noted that, “marketing that was previously carried out conventionally has shifted to using online marketing innovations. Meanwhile, the logistics sector also needs to be introduced to contactless logistics or a system that reduces human interaction so that consumers feel safe.”
In the production industry, the Ministry admitted that this industry needs new digital solutions, particularly in processed food technology and product diversification. Innovations in the production of frozen food and packaging methods to ensure item durability should receive an upgrade from tech. Food manufacturers also have a lot on their plate in ensuring that they improve finished products that are readily processed at home.
To support manufacturers, the Ministry announced that it has teamed up with the Association of Indonesian Food and Beverage Entrepreneurs (GAPMMI), Under the partnership, the Ministry shall help in compiling a book called ‘Guidebook for the Adaptation of New Habits in the Food Industry’. The project is expected to help manufacturers and other players in the food industry as they embrace their digital transformation.
These developments are all part of government efforts to boost economic growth on the back of significant contributions from the food sector. This is in line with directives laid out under the Making Indonesia 4.0 roadmap, where, In addition to the food and beverage sector, the government aims to foster economic growth by strengthening the electronics and manufacturing industries.
The results of such efforts were seen in the third quarter of 2020 when the food industry was recorded to be the biggest contributor to Indonesia’s gross domestic product, locking in an increase of 7.02%. Food and beverage also had the highest export value in manufacturing, as it reached US$ 27.59 billion in the January-November period last year.
To further ramp up food production techniques, the government has earlier said in a statement that the Agricultural Research and Development Agency is on the lookout for technological advances in agricultural methods to drive an increase in food production.
The pandemic has been seriously affected Vietnam’s economy in general and the tourism industry in particular. Data at the end of last year shows that COVID-19 has had a negative US$1 trillion to tourism worldwide and a reduction of 61% to Vietnam’s tourism revenues compared to 2019.
Clearly, traditional management and business methods cannot adequately cope, globally and in Vietnam as well. The pandemic has required the tourism industry to implement digital transformation solutions and establish a smart tourism data integration and sharing system. Various cities and provinces of Vietnam plan to leverage technology to boost their tourism sectors. This is in line with the governments overall emphasis on digital transformation across the board.
Vietnam’s northern province of Ha Giang is looking to promote the local tourism industry through digital transformation and smart services in partnership with the National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and a mobile carrier. Under the agreement, VNAT and the mobile carrier will assist Ha Giang to use the carrier’s Smart Travel system to ramp up promotion of tourism as well as to provide useful information to potential travellers.
Ha Giang authorities will provide relevant data about local destinations, scenic spots, historical sites, culture and food to be incorporated in the Smart Travel system. The provincial authorities will also facilitate connection with local organisations and businesses to develop tourism through digital transformation.
The platform features advanced technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, big data and e-commerce. The portal has been designed to meet the needs of tourists, businesses, service providers and regulators alike. The data collection and analytic tools will give tourism authorities an overview of their local tourism’s advantages and challenges, allowing them to formulate and introduce policies and provisions.
VNAT has also signed an agreement with Ha Giang to assist the province create and develop tourism products, promote the brand of Ha Giang tourism and develop the workforce for tourism. VNAT Director Nguyen Trung Khanh said the cooperation will open new opportunities to boost the tourism of Ha Giang and Vietnam at large in a more effective manner. He added that digital transformation and smart travel development are the inevitable processes, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of life. Ha Giang Vice Chairman Tran Duc Quy was confident that the agreement would significantly drive the growth of the local tourism industry and harness its full potential.
Vietnam has been eager to boost its tourism sector after it was hit by the pandemic. In November 2020, Việt Nam International Travel Mart (VITM) finally took place after being postponed three times. Thousands joined the annual Việt Nam International Travel Mart, one of the tourism industry’s most anticipated annual events.
Vũ Thế Bình, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said that while the event was smaller, the content is more profound and discusses how we overcome the consequences of the pandemic and also other kinds of crises. Bình stressed that the theme for the event was digital transformation for tourism development, “All of our economic sectors will gradually transform with digital technology. But tourism is one of the first economic sectors to have a chance to transform with digital technology.”
The platform featured over 300 stalls of tourism enterprises, airlines and tourism service providers from 47 cities and provinces throughout the country and six foreign countries and territories, namely Thailand, Peru, Japan, South Korea, Colombia and Taiwan. The exhibition had a separate zone for digital transformation exhibition, where companies could introduce new products at a hall for four days – the very first time the tourism sector got close to technology.
Recently, Vietnam’s tourism industry launched the online tourism mobile app “Du Lich Viet Nam An Toan” (Safe travel in Vietnam) that integrates electronic payment and the monitoring of public health in just one card. The app is aimed at more than 43 million smartphone users. This is a useful tool for travellers in recommending safe destinations and advertising destinations to tourists, as well as effectively serving the second domestic tourism stimulus programme. The app is also considered to be one of the practical digital transformation activities of state management agencies in the tourism industry.