The Singapore government has developed a blockchain-based platform that will enable employers to verify the educational qualifications of employees and job candidates who have graduated from local universities, polytechnics and other educational institutions.
Starting from this year, all graduates will receive digital certificates for N, O and A Levels, ITE qualifications, diploma and degree qualifications from polytechnics, LASALLE College of the Arts (LASALLE), Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), Autonomous Universities (AUs) and the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC), as well as Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ).
These digital certificates will be stored in the Skills Passports of their individual MySkillsFuture accounts. When they use these certificates for job applications, employers will be able to quickly and easily verify these digital certificates through OpenCerts (opencerts.io). This was announced by Minister for Education, Ong Ye Kung, at Temasek Polytechnic’s Graduation Ceremony.
Jointly developed by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Government Technology Agency (GovTech), Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), and the Ministry of Education (MOE), OpenCerts is an initiative in support of Smart Nation, to develop deep tech solutions benefiting Singaporeans. This is the first time blockchain technology has been harnessed for use at the national level, and it was first piloted in 2018 by GovTech and NP, to develop and trial the use of blockchain technology for secure and reliable digital certificate verification. The first batch of digital certificates was issued to NP’s graduating cohort last year.
“OpenCerts is another example of how the Government is harnessing technology to deliver secure and easy-to-use digital services for citizens and businesses. We see enormous potential for deploying the OpenCerts technology to develop secure and reliable certificate verification and issuance regimes in other sectors. We look forward to collaborating with industry and government agencies to develop further use-cases,” said Mr Kok Ping Soon, Chief Executive, GovTech.
Blockchain provides secure and authentic certification
With OpenCerts, individuals will receive digital certificates which will each have a unique cryptographic proof embedded within for secure verification. They will no longer need to obtain certified true copies of their education and training certificates for job and academic admission applications. Individuals can instead provide potential employers with digital certificates issued by these institutions. These digital certificates can be easily verified by employers directly through the OpenCerts platform (opencerts.io), which will check the certificate data against its code on the blockchain for validity and to detect any signs of tampering. This automatic verification will simplify and reduce administrative processes and physical paperwork for employers.
Digital certificates will save time and costs
Local educational institutions will also save time and costs by not having to manually verify issued certificates from individuals. Upon completing and graduating from participating institutions and schools, learners and students will have their issued digital certificates automatically populated onto their Skills Passport, which is available on both the MySkillsFuture Portal and Mobile App, when the students graduate and their certificates have been issued by the schools. The Skills Passport will serve as a single digital repository for education and training certificates. It enables all Singaporeans to track their current skillsets and plan for future skills development.
The Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) on Information and Communications Co-operation between the Government of the Republic of Singapore and the Government of Malaysia had a strong digital theme. Both countries discussed digital transformation efforts and explored areas where bilateral digital cooperation could advance post-pandemic recovery.
Both parties discussed issues relating to enabling trusted data flows between the two countries, and to better connecting the respective innovation and technology ecosystems to support businesses and start-ups. In addition, both are committed to implementing projects to demonstrate the benefits of cooperation in this rapidly developing digital domain to support the recovery of our respective economies.
In addition, the JCM also discussed how media production, distribution and consumption are being disrupted by technologies and online platforms, including growing volumes of information and the rapid spread of falsehoods.
The JCM is a platform of increasing importance, to deepen the bilateral cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia. The pandemic has driven many companies to digitally transform and seize new opportunities. Through the JCM, we have initiated meaningful digital cooperation projects to increase the adoption and interoperability of digital technologies in both countries. Our collaboration will serve as a springboard to enhance connectivity between our businesses and people and to support our recovery from the pandemic.
– Yong Ying-I, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore
Malaysia continues to embrace digital technology and develop unique technologies and business models to assist the country in establishing new development engines. With the growth of the digital economy, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and ever-evolving technology, Malaysia looks forward to exploring potential collaboration in this sector in the future. Malaysia is stepping up efforts to assist Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and business owners in adopting digital technology, and will continue to advance plans to establish an inclusive and progressive digital economy for all.
Malaysia has a sustainable and solid economic foundation, comprehensive business-ready environment and dynamic skilled workforce. As an attractive cost-competitive investment location in the region, she is fast becoming a preferred centre for shared services and leading technology industries. Singaporean companies who are looking to expand into Malaysia should pay attention to the launch of the Future 5 Strategy, and evaluate how their businesses can fit into this plan in order to anchor a foothold into the market.
The five industry sectors that have been identified as key drivers are AgTech, HealthTech, Islamic Digital Economy and FinTech, CleanTech and EduTech. These industries are based on the strategic national industries for digitalisation and have also been mapped to Malaysia’s national priority sectors.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Singapore and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have also launched negotiations on a new Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA) last year. The agreement seeks to deepen bilateral cooperation in new emerging digital areas, such as in personal data protection and cross-border data flows, digital identities, fintech, as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI) governance frameworks. It also aims to support and foster greater collaboration between both countries’ SME communities in the digital economy.
Recently, Singapore and ROK have concluded negotiations on the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA). The KSDPA will be Singapore’s fourth Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), and the first with an Asian country. The agreement will deepen bilateral cooperation in the digital economy between both countries, by establishing forward-looking digital trade rules and norms to promote interoperability between digital systems. This will enable more seamless cross-border data flows and build a trusted and secure digital environment for our businesses and consumers.
The KSDPA is part of a series of DEAs that Singapore has embarked upon. These agreements are an inter-agency effort led by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Infocomm Media Development Authority, to advance collaboration in the digital economy and enhance digital connectivity.
Cross-border e-commerce has become an important driving force for stabilising China’s foreign trade and played a positive role in helping small and medium-sized enterprises hedge against the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The import and export volume of China’s cross-border e-commerce totalled Yuan 1.98 trillion (US$ 311.5 billion) in 2021, up 15% year-on-year. E-commerce exports stood at Yuan 1.44 trillion, an increase of 24.5% on a yearly basis. As a new form of foreign trade, cross-border e-commerce has witnessed rapid growth in China by making full use of its advantages in online trading and contactless delivery since the pandemic outbreak.
Digital transformation has emerged as a key pathway to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on traditional trade. More enterprises have attached great importance to cross-border e-commerce as it becomes a vital channel for foreign trade enterprises to open up new markets. Cross-border e-commerce breaks time and geographical barriers and enhances the digital management capacities of enterprises.
Digital tools and digital transformation are the key factors for global micro, small and medium-sized enterprises or MSMEs to survive and thrive in the unpredictable COVID-19 era. Relying on the resiliency of China’s supply chain, a leading Chinese cross-border B2B e-commerce platform has empowered global MSMEs with some capabilities like more data flow, a deeper understanding of customer demand as well as a more tailor-made product portfolio to help them succeed in the challenging business environment.
Relying on the resiliency of China’s supply chain, the platform has empowered global MSMEs with some capabilities like more data flow, a deeper understanding of customer demand as well as a more tailor-made product portfolio to help them succeed in the challenging business environment.
Cross-border e-commerce has become an important channel for China’s foreign trade during the pandemic period and accelerated the innovative development of foreign trade. The outbreak has posed a challenge to logistics and distribution. China’s cross-border e-commerce logistics companies have made efforts to ensure the timely delivery of commodities through charter flights and overseas warehouses.
Shopping via overseas live streaming services could offer detailed information about products to domestic consumers. Such services have gained wide popularity among the younger generation. There is an inevitable trend that more cross-border online retailers will cooperate with live streaming platforms.
New business forms and models, especially cross-border e-commerce, have become a vibrant force driving China’s foreign trade. They also represent an important trend in the development of international trade. China’s cross-border e-commerce has grown by nearly 10 times over the past five years. By both exports and imports, cross-border e-commerce has been expanding much faster than overall foreign trade, and its share in overall foreign trade has gone up significantly.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to support the development of key technologies while strengthening the regulation of the country’s tech giants as part of his strategy to expand the digital economy. The country needs to boost innovation in core technologies and step up research capabilities to achieve self-sufficiency as soon as possible. China also called for an acceleration in the development of high-speed, secure smart infrastructure that can connect all aspects of the online economy as well as for breakthroughs in key software technologies.
China has identified the digital economy as a key driver for growth over the next few decades and made achieving tech self-sufficiency a top national priority. To support that growth, Beijing has doubled down on funding for strategically important industries such as semiconductors and AI, while rolling out new legislation covering everything from data security to fair competition as part of efforts to bring the country’s once free-wheeling internet giants in line with the national agenda.
When it comes to digital democracy, democracy is the main idea, and digital is just an objective to assist democracy. Around the world, there is the other way of ideas that somehow democracy must give way to the public health measures, to counter disinformation measures. However, technology needs to adapt to the people’s will and the people’s norms, and people’s co-creation and real needs.
In authoritarian uses of technology, the main difficulty would be because of the lack of symmetrical communication. The real-time feedback of what is really going on is hampered. For example, if you can only download, it is more like television. If you can only download but there’s no way to upload, then emerging issues do not tend to get notified in time.
– Audrey Tang, Digital Minister of Taiwan
In Taiwan, the system has been successful in hearing younger people. A lot of the most impactful ideas came from very young people. To shorten the time that a genuinely good idea gets thought by a teenager or young people, and the time that it is understood by the senior people and implemented, is key to moving democracy forward. The younger people, because they are digital natives, they do not think that once every four years is sufficient to upload bandwidth, the latency is too high, they prefer to collaborate on a day-to-day basis.
When the coronavirus began spreading, Taiwan quickly established a mask map system that let people know if they could obtain masks if they went to certain pharmacies. The mask availability map was an idea from the civic technologists, not the government’s idea.
First, they already have a lot of experience building maps of this kind. All sorts of disaster response experiences, including earthquakes, typhoons, gas explosions, occupying of departments, various disasters, were met with this kind of real-time, map-based response by the civic tech people. The second reason is that people are very much willing to participate, because in Taiwan broadband is a human right. So, participating online does not cost any extra connectivity, money, for people.
In Taiwan, when people check-in the public venues, everyone chooses either to scan the QR code and send an SMS to 1922 (Taiwan’s 24-hour communicable disease reporting hotline), which is stored in their telecommunications carrier. But the venue owner learns nothing about their phone number. And the telecom carrier learns nothing about the venue code. de-centralized storage makes sure that nobody’s privacy gets compromised because the telecoms do not know what those digits mean.
There are two main reasons why Taiwan has changed from a very conservative to a democratic society. One is that the public service is really committed to working with the civil society leaders when it comes to gender mainstreaming in the gender equality committee to build the impact assessment, evidence-based projects together. And the civil society leaders always have one more vote than the ministers in the Gender Equality Committee.
The second reason is that the statistics, the dashboard, the gender impact dashboard just keep running. So even after the budgeted project runs its course, the gender impact it created is still being monitored for more than a decade for some projects now. Civil society is not just demonstrating against or protesting against something, it is demonstrating for something, demonstrating something works, and working with the people.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Taiwan encouraged other nations to consider Taiwan’s example of open digital development and privacy safeguards in countering digital authoritarianism and affirming democratic values. To elaborate on the tools Taiwan has used to foster transparency and public trust, the key is to work not only for the people but with the people.
When it comes to remote learning, students often feel they are struggling alone. Studying in a community can address this, but it is not easy to create a sense of togetherness in a remote learning environment. Hence, the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) has introduced an innovative approach to help students find belonging amidst the pandemic.
Every individual has their own approach to learning. A surface learner, for example, mainly cares about achieving a grade or impressing someone, not about educational growth. The university can then provide personalised materials based on their learning profile to help them develop learning approaches suitable for higher education. For example, these could help a surface learner look past material achievements and learn for their personal growth.
Students at SIT have to complete the Freshmen Survey when joining the university to find out what kind of learner they are through a gamified platform named AdventureLEARN. Personalising the recommendation of educational content to a student’s profile and needs helps them to learn more effectively. Students have a limited attention span, so this window of time should be spent focusing on key areas.
– Associate Professor May Lim, Director, Centre for Learning Environment and Assessment Development, SIT
A learning community can be built while personalising online learning. A good example is QUEST – a platform featuring adaptive online courses. The platform helps SIT students get up to speed in core competencies such as Math, Physics, and Chemistry in preparation for university courses.
QUEST helps students through hints and advice indicated in pop-ups while they are answering questions. Learning with real-time feedback is a new method of education, complementing traditional methods such as watching short video lectures. Students are also provided with an online collaborative space to learn from one another. Working together can help reduce procrastination, which is a common challenge in remote learning.
Technology offers a range of other benefits on top of collaborative work and personalised information. Through AdventureLEARN, students earn virtual coins by completing assignments. Students can take part in team challenges as well, in which four to five students work as a group. Together, they can watch videos, collaborate to create learning resources or provide useful tips for well-being to earn more virtual coins.
applying ‘high tech’ alone is insufficient to transform education in this current climate. ‘High touch’ is needed for students to feel connected and supported. SIT believes in building a culture and an ecosystem where academic staff are equipped with skills to coach students effectively. While the e-learning platforms can help students personalise their learning and learn new concepts, the ‘high touch’ from academic staff is vital for supporting students who may be at-risk or struggling.
Analytics from e-learning platforms can help spot students who are struggling. By identifying coachable moments, SIT educators can reach out to such students to coach them on goals such as effective time management, improving group dynamics or better learning approaches. With high tech and high touch, a learning community can be built to facilitate effective learning for the future.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, students enrolling in the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) can now sign up for two new courses in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital supply chain. The Bachelor of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence (AAI) and Digital Supply Chain (DSC) being launched in the new academic year are three-year direct honours programmes. AAI emphasises implementing artificial intelligence (AI) within software systems, while DSC focuses on emerging technologies in the digital transformation of the logistics and supply chain sector.
The digital economy is expected to play a bigger role in bolstering China’s high-quality development and accelerating digital transformation and upgrading traditional industries. Innovative digital technologies like big data, cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence are increasingly being integrated into all other sectors of economic and social development. This trend is injecting new impetus into global economic recovery as well.
By 2025, China will establish a market system for data elements and see the digital transformation of industries reach a new level. Moreover, digital public services will become more inclusive and a sound governance system for the digital economy will be established.
Facilitating the growth of the digital economy is of vital importance to cultivate new driving forces, boost high-quality and innovation-driven development and effectively address the unbalanced development in society. Technologies like big data, cloud computing, AI and the internet of things are evolving fast and finding a wide range of applications across industries and other economic sectors, speeding up their integration with the real economy
– Long Haibo, Senior Researcher, Development Research Center, State Council
China also needs more efforts to make breakthroughs in core and basic technologies, expand the industrial application scenarios of leading technologies as well as strengthen the protection of data security and personal information. China’s digital economy was worth nearly $5.4 trillion in 2020, up 9.6% year-on-year, ranking second in the world.
Moreover, the plan details key tasks in eight areas, including optimising and upgrading digital infrastructure, pushing forward the digital shift of enterprises and expanding international cooperation on the digital economy. It stresses enhancing innovation of key technologies in strategic and forward-looking fields like quantum information, network communications, integrated circuits, key software, big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain and new materials, as well as fostering new business forms and models.
The emerging digital technologies represented by 5G, big data and AI have played a critical role in enhancing operational efficiency, cutting costs and improving the core competitiveness of traditional industries amid economic downward pressure. China’s intensified efforts to develop the digital economy will inject fresh impetus into the country’s economic growth and speed up digital and intelligent upgrades in enterprises. The in-depth integration of digital technologies with the real economy will further reinforce China’s advantages in global supply chains.
The digital economy has become a major driver of economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic and network security provides a good foundation for boosting the digital economy. internet-driven companies should collaborate with traditional industries, and leverage their advantages in technologies, talent and capital to support the latter’s digital transformation.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, China will further promote the development of a digital economy during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, according to a circular issued by the General Office of the State Council. By 2025, the digital economy should be in full expansion mode, with the added value of core industries in the digital economy accounting for 10% of GDP.
According to the plan, efforts will be made to accelerate the construction of the information network infrastructure, and a national-level integrated big data centre system coordinating computing power, algorithms, data, and application resources. High-quality data elements will be provided.
The plan also emphasised industrial digital transformation. To accelerate digital transformation and upgrading in enterprises, qualified large-scale enterprises will be encouraged to build integrated digital platforms. Efforts will also be made to deepen comprehensive digital transformation in key industries, including the all-around and full-chain digital transformation of traditional industries and higher digitisation level in the agricultural industry.
While data is an important factor in the digital economy, more effort should be made to bridge the digital divide to benefit more user groups. To be specific, we need to improve infrastructure construction and the sharing of computing power from leading companies to smaller ones
Vietnam Airline officially launched two e-commerce platforms VNAMAZING, VNAMALL as well as its Vietnam Airlines Gift Card. The services were unveiled on 7 January and are the first of their kind in the domestic aviation sector. VNAMAZING offers online tourism services including tour and accommodation bookings. VNAMALL provides a wide range of aviation and non-aviation goods and services. As these are the first e-commerce platforms run by an airline in Vietnam, they have significant advantages for the carrier’s air logistics and partner networks worldwide.
According to a report, the Vietnam Airlines Gift Card is a product available on VNAMALL, which can be used to exchange airline tickets or avail of business class upgrade benefits on flights operated by Vietnam Airlines, Pacific Airlines, and VASCO. The General Director of Vietnam Airlines, Le Hong Ha, noted that as the carrier aims to become a digital airline, it considers e-commerce development one of its top priorities.
Vietnam’s digital economy has been growing at the fastest pace in ASEAN, about 38% annually compared to the region’s average of 33% since 2015. The country expects the digital economy will make up 20% of its GDP and at least 10% in each sector. Recently, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Nguyen Sinh Nhat Tan, informed that local e-commerce has been thriving, playing an important role in economic development. E-commerce development is an inevitable trend in the country, and the COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed it.
As per the Vietnam E-commerce White Book, e-commerce expanded by 18% in 2020, reaching US$11.8 billion, making the country the only one in Southeast Asia to post a double-digit growth rate in this regard. Estimates by some major businesses indicate that the digital economy of Vietnam is likely to top US$52 billion, which would place the country third in ASEAN by 2025.
Amid the resurgence of COVID-19 in 2021, e-commerce proved to be an increasingly useful tool for enterprises. Local consumers are rapidly moving from traditional in-person shopping to online platforms. A survey by the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that Vietnam had 49.3 million online shoppers in 2020, compared to 32.7 million in 2016. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are among the largest cities in terms of digital economic development in the region. In HCM City alone, there are currently 567 e-commerce platforms, over 20,680 websites, and 134 apps. Although the lingering COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the flow of goods, many e-commerce platforms and websites still posted fast growth.
Engagement in the online export-import system and stages of transboundary e-commerce will generate opportunities for Vietnamese firms to increase product quality, improve capacity, and make Vietnamese brands popular among consumers around the world. To help boost the sale of Vietnamese goods internationally, the Vietnam E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency (iDEA) has launched the Vietnam National Pavilion, a worldwide e-commerce platform. It has several industry partners and has formulated policies related to marketing, transport, and lending interest rates to support Vietnamese manufacturers that are carrying out the programme. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has been developing and applying an array of measures such as a certified e-contract authority, guaranteed payment infrastructure for e-commerce, and a platform for managing the e-commerce product flow.
Last November, the Prime Minister approved a plan to step up the application of IT and the development of digital transformation in trade promotion. Further, to create a legal framework for protecting consumers in the e-commerce market, the government issued a decree that amended and supplemented another on e-commerce released in 2013. According to the new decree, sellers must publicise information about products as well as business licences and related certificates when doing business on e-commerce platforms.
Apart from that, business activities on major social networks were also placed under management. The ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce, which was signed in Hanoi in January 2019 and took effect in December 2021, set up common principles and rules for facilitating e-commerce development in the region and enhancing the rule enforcement capacity.
Medical and nursing students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine will be using three-dimensional holographic technology from Microsoft to help them learn certain medical procedures and study anatomical structures. The collaboration, which spans NUS Medicine, the National University Health System and a tech company add mixed reality to the learning experience.
Through holographic technology, medical and nursing undergraduates can expect to better hone their skills through training. This progressive use of mixed reality in healthcare education stems from the tech company’s work with the National University Health System, which is embarking on Holomedicine research in Singapore to enhance patient care.
The holographic technology will be used to project three-dimensional holograms to give medical and nursing students a visual appreciation of actual clinical scenarios in practice. The suite of instructional software developed by the team from NUS Medicine and Microsoft Industry Solutions provides 3D, mixed reality technology that will be used to help students practice clinical procedural skills.
We are continually pursuing new and innovative teaching methods to help medical and nursing students better understand the medical curriculum and gain a new appreciation for healthcare and health, while striving to maintain a balance with time-tested traditional approaches. This incorporation of holographic mixed-reality learning fits in well with our teaching initiatives
– Associate Professor Lau Tang Ching, Vice-Dean for Education, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
The project comes with three levels of difficulty, with a goal to train and provide sufficient direction to allow students at varying levels of competence to achieve the highest standards of clinical practice in a safe. With the ongoing pandemic, virtual reality and mixed reality has been identified as a must-have tool for teaching and learning in onsite and remote environments.
The project aims to train students in clinical soft skills and clinical anatomy respectively, positioning NUS Medicine as the first in Southeast Asia to introduce holographic mixed reality as a teaching tool to train medical and nursing students. The medical and technical expertise of NUS Medicine and the tech company will pave the way for the development of a niche technological competency, in which clinical training tools can be developed to introduce realistic clinical scenarios for use in medical education.
From delivering better healthcare experiences at the frontlines to helping neurosurgeons keep patients better informed of what could happen during their surgeries, technology has been an empowering tool for healthcare workers as they protect and save the lives of patients. As one of the few hospitals in Southeast Asia that has a tertiary education arm that collaborates with a training hospital, NUS Medicine is in a unique position to use mixed reality solutions.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, a team of researchers from the NUS Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as the NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology has invented a smart suture that is battery-free and can wirelessly sense and transmit information from deep surgical sites. These smart sutures incorporate a small electronic sensor that can monitor wound integrity, gastric leakage and tissue micromotions while providing healing outcomes that are equivalent to medical-grade sutures.
In future, the team is looking to develop a portable wireless reader to replace the setup currently used to wirelessly read out the smart sutures, enabling surveillance of complications even outside of clinical settings. This could enable patients to be discharged earlier from the hospital after surgery.
The team is now working with surgeons and medical device manufacturers to adapt the sutures for detecting wound bleeding and leakage after gastrointestinal surgery. They are also looking to increase the operating depth of the sutures, which will enable deeper organs and tissues to be monitored.