Government and enterprises, in an unprecedented period in history, have been compelled to accelerate and bring forward their digital transformation strategies. The pandemic has vaulted the governments and businesses into the next stage of digital transformation and online services.
Personalisation, efficiency and effective services are only possible with a comprehensive, 360o view of citizens and customers. This understanding is built on and powered by data. More than ever, data has become integral for organisations interested to get ahead of the curve, gaining a competitive advantage and engaging their customers more effectively.
To become a truly data-driven organisation that operates in real-time, agencies must deploy multiple modernisation initiatives, including application modernisation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud, edge computing and analytics.
In that regard, Singapore has taken the lead in championing the use of data. Singapore has unveiled two new programmes to drive the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in the government and financial services sectors. It also plans to invest another SG$180 million ($133.31 million) in the national research and innovation strategy to tap the technology in key areas, such as healthcare and education.
The fund is on top of SG$500 million ($370.3 million) the government already has set aside in its Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 Plan for AI-related activities, said the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) in a statement in November 2021
These investments have been earmarked to support various research in areas that address challenges of AI adoption, such as privacy-preserving AI, and of societal and economic importance including healthcare, finance, and education. The funds also will facilitate research collaborations with the industry to drive the adoption of AI.
The future lies in harnessing data to deliver more effective and personalised services and the government has signposted the future with their policies. Agencies need a platform that draws together disparate applications, systems and teams with data being the backbone and making it easier to gain actionable insights. This platform should be able to unlock and repurpose the existing data for countless modern applications and use cases securely and efficiently.
The focus of the first day at the OpenGov Leadership Forum was aimed at unpacking the importance of data in empowering the public and private sectors to power mission outcomes, better serve citizens, ensure security and compliance, enhance IT efficiency and maximise productivity.
Powering a new world reality through data
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, kicked off the session with his opening address.
“We are in the age of Metaverse,” Mohit opens. “While cryptocurrency was once viewed with suspicion – banks denounced it and people called it a hoax. Yet in 2022, it has become the currency of the future.”
The fact is that the world is rapidly changing and there is a need to stay ahead of the curve and stay relevant – and people are capable of accelerating things. Organisations were able to rapidly change governance and personalise information for customers and citizens.
Today, responsive citizen engagement is more important than ever. Organisations can deliver faster, more personalised and interactive experiences for citizens and other agency stakeholders with event streaming. “Data, and universal access to it, is the key to transforming organisations,” Mohit asserts.
Citing the example of Regeneron, Mohit points out that after developing a COVID-19 treatment in mere months, Regeneron adopted a data catalogue and is developing a data governance framework to speed up its drug development pipeline.
“Information and insights are all there only if you have data at the drop of a hat,” says Mohit. Empathically, he points out that while organisations are talking about the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the key lies in utilising the new technology and truly embracing it.
“Habits are not shifting enough,” says Mohit. “The real challenge is getting people to truly understand how to make decisions through intelligence and not emotions.”
Mohit acknowledges that there are costs involved in having data in real-time but asserts that it is also the future. When the tools, people and technology are aligned, the big question is: what is the next step and how can organisations be more relevant?
In closing, Mohit urges delegates to partner with organisations that can help them strategise ways to leverage data. Data is the most essential ingredient and catalyst of our time and partnerships can allow organisations to transform their operations. Experts can assist organisations in delivering responsive citizen engagements and making their digital transformation journey smoother, cost-effective and impactful.
The value of connected data in digital transformation
Robin Fong, Regional Director – ASEAN, Neo4j spoke next on the use of graph data to contextualise and reveal connections, especially indirect connections among dispersed data.
“Having data and being able to run business intelligence and analytics is not enough,” Robin comments. “The next step is to be able to identify relationships.”
Data relationships create context and interrelationships create structure. Graph data adds context by capturing and storing relationships natively and processing them efficiently. That is how knowledge is created – when data is contextualised.
Governments and enterprises have been amassing lots of data and allocating large budgets to store them. It is now time to make sense of all the collected data to uncover hidden gems of insights, knowledge and wisdom by connecting them in a graph data platform.
Connectivity and networks require organisations to move from collected data to connected data, he explains. While organisations can take data and add some basic organising principles to create a knowledge base, the context is shallow and quickly ages because the underlying infrastructure is not built for relationships. However, if organisations can combine data, semantics and a graph structure, they will end up with a knowledge graph that has dynamic and very deep context because it is built around connected data.
Robin shares that Neo4j is in the business of helping the world make sense of the data. In fact, they are the founder of the graph data category and the world’s leading Graph Data Platform adopted by thousands of organisations globally. Moreover, Neo4j is the only Graph Data Platform vendor in the Govtech Data bulk tender for Data Science & AI.
Graphs are not new, Robin acknowledges. They are already deployed in a lot of situations today among leading companies – in banking and e-commerce. Graphs are extensively used across a wide range of sectors and use – fraud detection, supply chain management, customer experience, compliance and privacy management, personalisation and recommendations, employee or customer or patient or product 360, medicine research and cybersecurity.
Doctor.ai is a great use case from the healthcare industry as an example. Neo4j powers the Voice Chatbot for Doctor.ai in their work with Singapore Healthcare AI Datathon and EXPO 2021 with NUHS-NUS.
Graph Data enable fast access of patients to their private health records, monitor health and provide advice while it also creates alerts and makes doctor appointments. For doctors, Graph Data has enabled quick access to patients‘ health histories, assists in the decision-making process, makes machine learning predictions and pushes the newest research.
Robin strongly suggests delegates consider potential business problems/use cases where Connected Data (Graph Technology) may be useful and relevant. To get started, he provides steps on how organisations can get started and encourages delegates to contact Neo4j for a Discovery Workshop.
Before bringing the presentation to an end, he invited delegates to connect with him and the team if they would like to explore ways Neo4j can help and support agencies in transforming their organisation.
Harnessing Graph Data Technology in establishing a Smart Government
Damien Wong, Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan, Confluent elaborated on the use of Graph Data in powering smart governments.
Event streaming is a real-time infrastructure revolution that is fundamentally changing how governments think about data and build applications. Rather than viewing data as stored records or transient messages, data could be considered to be a continually updating stream of events. Event-driven architecture is the future of data infrastructure.
“The world is changing,” Damien opines. “The world has changed for the current generation because technology is shaping how businesses need to respond to these changing expectations. The younger generation has never walked into a bank branch, and likely will never understand why anyone would ever need to do so since everything can be done online today.”
Most organisations today, are “becoming software.” Ride-hailing, he said, was an excellent example. Not too long ago, people needed a taxi, they would call a taxi dispatch service, wait for the ride to be confirmed and look out for the vehicle to arrive – there was no information on how long the taxi would take to arrive or the ETA to destinations. Today, all that information is given almost instantaneously on apps.
Today, software is the interface, Damien is convinced. It was not that it was not there before but rather than being an adjunct to the business, it has become the business. However, to make this transition, organisations have had to move on from relying solely on traditional data architectures. New architecture needs to be fast and responsive while batch processing has moved to real-time processing.
“Data systems need to be connected not treated in silos,” Damien emphasises. “In the new reality, services would be fast, in real-time and connected.”
This transformation is happening everywhere, and it is drastically causing people to rethink their approaches and systems:
- Cloud: Rethinking Data Centres
The cloud has changed how organisations think about data centres and running technical infrastructure. Today, every company is moving to the cloud.
- Machine Learning: Rethinking Decision Making
Machine learning has changed how decisions are being made, and this happens increasingly in an automated manner, driven by software that communicates to other software.
- Mobile: Rethinking User Experience
Mobile devices and internet connectivity have dramatically changed the user experience of how customers interact with organisations and have raised the bar for expectations.
- Data in Motion: Rethinking Data
Event streaming has changed how people think about and how people work with the data that underlies all the other trends.
“Data in Motion is the central nervous system for today’s enterprises,” he asserts. “And Apache Kafka is the event streaming technology powering Data in Motion.”
For Damien, the traditional use of data at rest is to consolidate data into a warehouse and apply analytics. Data in motion is, on the other hand, understanding the predefined actions that will be taken when encountering a specific event or data stream.
The rise of event streaming can be traced back to 2010 when Apache Kafka was created by the future Confluent founders in Silicon Valley. From there, Kafka began spreading throughout Silicon Valley and across the US West Coast. In 2014, Confluent was created to turn Kafka into an enterprise-ready software stack and cloud offering, after which the adoption of Kafka started to accelerate. Today, tens of thousands of companies across all kinds of industries the world over are using Kafka for event streaming.
If Kafka is the engine (the core technology), then Confluent is the ready-to-use product around that. Confluent is a natural candidate for real-time operations like command and control, cyber security and other anomaly detection solutions. It can enable event-driven architecture that helps modernise IT applications and hasten the addition of new citizen services or capabilities. Apart from that, data infrastructure for data in motion, Confluent will help organisations move towards multi- and hybrid- cloud and DR operations.
In conclusion, Damien encouraged delegates to consider some questions as they navigate through the paradigm shift:
- Are you looking to become a real-time smart agency? If so, how mature are you in leveraging data-in-motion platforms to support this?
- What are some of the use cases you’re implementing around this?
- Are there challenges that are holding you back from successfully making this transformation?
Damien affirmed the need for organisations to embrace the importance of real-time data if they want to stay relevant. Data in Motion is the ultimate key when it comes to delivering better services and empowering business missions.
Throughout the session, delegates were polled on different topics.
In the first poll, delegates were asked to vote on their priority in 2022. Half of the delegates indicated digital acceleration as their priority, followed by workforce transformation (33%) and tech modernisation (17%).
On what their biggest challenge was, a majority of the delegates (35%) indicated the lack of skilled staff who understand big data analysis. The remaining were split between the lack of quality data and proper data storage (30%), not able to synchronise disparate data sources (15%), not able to derive meaningful insights through data analytics (15%) and the inability to get voluminous data onto big data platform (5%).
Concerning the maturity of their organisations in using data and analytics, (38%) indicated that their organisations use performance dashboards to slice, dice and drill down. Other delegates indicated that they distribute static reports regularly (24.8%), combine data with predictive modelling, AI and machine learning techniques (24%) and use self-service analytics (14%).
The delegates were asked if they are familiar with the advantages of graph technology and how it will enhance their daily decision-making process. Just over half (53%) were familiar but are currently not using this it while about a quarter (26%) were not familiar but interested to know more. The remaining delegates are familiar and currently using this technology (21%)
On the common Data Integration/Connection challenge faced by delegates, most (35%) indicated disparate data formats and sources as the main challenge, while others expressed that low-quality or outdated data (29%) was. The remaining delegates face the challenge of data that isn’t available where it needs to be (24%), followed by the issue of having too much data (12%).
With regard to processing real-time data, most (65%) felt that they were emergent (some processes and knowledge, non-standardised), followed by limited: ad-hoc, unstructured, uncontrolled, reactive (29%), and structured: standardised, governance, scale, proactive (6%)
When asked about what would be important for a successful AI adoption in their organisation, an overwhelming majority (94%) indicated that starting small and building the business case by demonstrating initial wins would be important. The remaining delegates indicated aligning all departments on the single vision and garnering support (6%)
Inquiring about being the essential tenet for ethical AI to work, most delegates (40%) believe in the need for an effective and practical ethical framework/ Governance model for AI. The other delegates were split between AI solutions that should allow for auditability and traceability (26.7%), guaranteeing privacy by design in machine learning systems (26.7%), and the iimportance of training AI models with carefully-assessed and representative data (6.7%).
In the final poll for the morning session, delegates were asked what they would invest in, if they had an unlimited budget. Just over a third (35%) said they would spend on integrating disparate systems, followed by spending on resources to improve delivery timeline (29%), updating legacy technologies (18%), improving security and compliance (12%) and staff training / upskilling (6%).
Data Virtualisation in supporting advanced analytics
Elaine Chan, Regional Vice President Sales – ASEAN & Korea, Denodo spoke about how data virtualisation can help with advanced analytics and cloud modernisation.
As data analytics and data-driven intelligence take centre stage in today’s digital economy, logical data integration across the widest variety of data sources, with proper security and governance structure in place has become mission-critical.
Based on a Denodo Global Cloud Survey 2021, cloud adoption is on the rise with a 25% increase year-over-year in advanced cloud workloads. This indicates that more complex workloads are moving to the cloud and that COVID-19 has perhaps driven that increase.
Today, the hybrid cloud model remains in the lead, with more than one-third of users leveraging that architecture. Private cloud also saw some good gains, with nearly 25% of their workloads still being run on-premises.
One of the key benefits that cloud technologies provide is the ability to scale faster, although performance and ease of data management also provide strong benefits, identified by 31% and 20% of participants, respectively.
Data Virtualisation allows for flexibility, access from anywhere and lowers the costs of operations. However, there are also concerns about how the transition to cloud might create new data silos, security and latency.
Elaine believes that there is a need for logical data architecture. “Data Fabric is the best path to data management automation,” Elaine opines. In layman terms, it can be broken down as follows:
- “Integrate data” from disparate data sources, on-prem and in the cloud
- Securely deliver an “integrated view” of the different data objects
- Consume the “integrated data” for analytics and operational purposes
- Automate the entire process using AI/ML
According to Elaine, Denodo logical data fabric sits between the data sources and the consumers and have a few characteristics:
- Unified Data Integration and Delivery
- Allows reusing existing analytics systems
- Allows using the best system for each need
- Abstraction: No Lock-In
- Evolve / Optimise infrastructure without affecting data consumers
- Dramatically Increased Productivity
- Minimise data replication: virtual or smart, selective data replication
Breaking down the essential capabilities of data virtualisation, Elaine highlights five aspects
- Data Abstraction: Decoupling applications and data usage from data sources and infrastructure
- Zero Replication, Zero Relocation: Physical data remains where they are
- Real-Time Information: Most reporting and analytical tools can easily connect for real-time data
- Self Service Data Marketplace: A Dynamic Data Catalogue for self-service data discovery and data services available in the virtualisation layer
- Centralised Metadata, Security & Governance: Manage access across all data assets in the Virtualisation layer for enterprise data security and supports dynamic data anonymisation
- Location-agnostic Architecture: For hybrid and multi-cloud acceleration
Delving into the use case of Statistics Netherlands, Elaine elaborated about the requirements that the data management team was looking for:
- Create tailored reports for government agencies that want to change public policies for people who need extra support
- Add new data sources without affecting the continuity of other public service agencies and at the same time making them more agile in the process
- Expand the data services supporting more teams without increasing infrastructure costs for storage and servers.
With Denodo, the logical data warehouse created using data virtualisation enabled Statistics Netherlands to create one access point to explore and access all data, bringing data to its fingertips. It also created a self-service culture for data consumers that is easy to use, while enabling Statistics Netherlands to implement security and governance by centralising authentication and authorisation.
Summing up the presentation, Elaine pointed out good infrastructure in place is necessary to support more advanced analytics. Data virtualisation helps to complete enterprise information, combining Web, cloud, streaming, and structured data. It promises ROI realisation within 6 months, with the flexibility to adjust to unforeseen changes, and an 80% reduction in integration costs, in terms of resources and technology. Most importantly, there is real-time integration and data access, enabling faster business decisions.
She encouraged delegates to reach out to her directly if they have any queries about the journey towards data virtualisation.
Generating incisive insights through Graph technology
Tony Tan, Co-Founder & Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Imperium Solutions spoke about why graph analysis is possibly the single most effective competitive differentiator for organisations pursuing data-driven operations and decisions after the design of data capture.
“Optimising supply chain is tricky,” Tony opens. “Even after over 50 years with billions invested and R&Ds and building of complex ERP systems, and advancements in operation management, we are still facing a supply chain problem.”
For example, in Singapore, many people like to own cars, but the recent BMW models do not come with touch screens, satellite radios, digital keys and the stop-and-start engine. Manufacturers are good at supplying first-tier suppliers but many of the problems are further downstream.
This begs the question – is there a technology that will bring everyone closer to solving issues? And if so, where are the opportunities in the bottlenecks? Tony believes that creating a breakthrough in solving recurring issues requires methods outside of what has been tried.
Drawing a parallel to the issues with the supply chain, Tony says that fraud has many facades. PWC published a report last year based on a survey they conducted with over 5,000 respondents between 2019-2020. They claimed that 42 billion dollars were lost in financial fraud.
The majority of this is based on 4 types of customer fraud – cybercrime, asset misappropriation and bribery/corruption. However, there are others such as accounting fraud, procurement fraud, deceptive business practices, AML / sanctions, tax, IP theft and anti-trust. The problems are aplenty, Tony claims, which takes up time and energy investment to resolve.
Problems also abound in the metaverse. While blockchain is here to stay, Tony feels, and decentralised finance enables the open and transparent exchange of digital currency. However, such a new system, unregulated, can also be a breeding ground for criminals and hackers, ripe for exploitation. With scammers on the rise, there is a need to establish relationships between users to identify scammers more efficiently.
Tony acknowledges that technology is the key towards solving many of the issues that companies faced – and data is at the centre of it. The operations of major companies, Linkedin, Google, Netflix and as well as the largest bank in the US are powered by Graph Technology. Gartner says it is the top 8 technologies of the near future.
With Graph Technology, relationships between data points are established which enables people to swiftly locate information and redefines the way we are looking at data today. It allows going deep into the relationship and can be used for a variety of problems and domains such as:
- Companies, markets
- Countries, history, politics
- Sciences, art, teaching
- Technology, networks, machines, applications, users
- Software, code, dependencies, architecture
- Criminals, fraudsters, terrorists
TigerGraph is currently deployed by 8 of the largest banks in the world, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Bank of America, and ICBC (China).
“The time to use graph is today,” Tony says. To face mounting challenges, there is a real need to harness the insights through graph technology which can amplify the connected data.
Polling Results for Afternoon Session
Throughout the afternoon session, delegates were polled on different topics.
In the first poll, delegates were asked to vote on their priority in 2022. Most of the delegates (48%) indicated digital acceleration as their priority, followed by tech modernisation (30%) and workforce transformation (22%)
When asked about what their biggest challenge is, a third (33%) indicated the lack of skilled staff who understand big data analysis as the biggest challenge. The remaining votes were distributed between not being able to synchronise disparate data sources (29%), the lack of quality data and proper data storage (17%), not able to derive meaningful insights through data analytics (8%) and the inability to get voluminous data onto big data platform (13%).
On organisation maturity in using data and analytics, a majority (41%) indicated that their organisations use performance dashboards to slice, dice and drill down. Other delegates have embedded visualisation into our process and transactional systems (23%), distribute static reports regularly (18%), combine data with predictive modelling, AI and machine learning techniques (12%) and use self-service analytics (6%).
The delegates were also asked if they are familiar with the advantages of graph technology and how it will enhance their daily decision-making process. Most (40%) were familiar but are currently not using this it while others are familiar and currently using this technology (33%) and the rest were not familiar but interested to know more (27%).
On the common Data Integration/Connection challenge faced by delegates, just over half (52%) indicated disparate data formats and sources as the main challenge, while others (18%) expressed that low-quality or outdated data was. The remaining delegates face the challenge of data that isn’t available where it needs to be (12%), followed by the issue of having too much data (12%) and the use of wrong integration software (6%).
On the maturity of their organisations in processing real-time data, the majority (44%) felt that they were emergent (some processes and knowledge, non-standardised). The rest were split between limited: ad-hoc, unstructured, uncontrolled, reactive (28%), and structured: standardised, governance, scale, proactive (28%).
When asked about what would be important for a successful AI adoption in their organisation, a huge majority (65%) indicated that starting small and building the business case by demonstrating initial wins would be important. The remaining delegates were split between aligning all departments on the single vision and garnering support as important (17.5%) and establishing clear lines of authority and ownership across the entire organisation (17.5%)
Asked about the essential tenet for ethical AI to work, about half (52%) believe in the need for an effective and practical ethical framework/ Governance model for AI. The others were split between the belief that AI solutions should allow for auditability and traceability (22%), the importance of training AI models with carefully-assessed and representative data (17%) and guaranteeing privacy by design in machine learning systems (9%).
In the final poll for the morning session, delegates were asked what they would invest in, if they had an unlimited budget. The majority of the delegates (35%) would spend on updating legacy technologies, followed by spending on resources to improve delivery timeline (36%), integrating disparate systems (21%), and staff training / upskilling (8%).
To conclude the day, Mohit emphasised the importance of understanding and harnessing data to derive insights that will help organisations stand out among competitors. Data is the new future that can help to improve services for an increasingly data-driven world.
SINGAPORE – February 2, 2023 – Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has collaborated with National Geographic CreativeWorks to unveil UNSEEN/SINGAPORE, a campaign that showcases Singapore as a travel destination from the perspective of intrepid photographers from Southeast Asia. Through photography, the campaign includes a virtual exhibition which encourages travellers to explore the city-state’s cultural diversity and hidden spots, by taking a moment to observe the unseen beauty of destination Singapore.
Running from 2 February 2023, UNSEEN/SINGAPORE will showcase a collection of photographic works through a virtual exhibition, captured and curated by six photographers from across Southeast Asia. UNSEEN/SINGAPORE features the works of:
- Amani Azlin from Malaysia
- Tino Renato from Indonesia
- Chanipol Kusolcharttum, better known as “Rockkhound”, from Thailand
- Phạm Gia Tùng from Vietnam
- Gab Mejia from the Philippines
- Jayaprakash Bojan from Singapore
In curating the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE collection, each photographer visited Singapore in mid-2022, covering areas in Singapore that showcase nature, heritage buildings, cultural sites, and art. Each presented their vision of an UNSEEN/SINGAPORE through ways that resonate with their passions and personal experiences.
The photographers ventured across Singapore, going beyond its famous attractions and iconic skyline, to discover spots equally captivating – from charming neighbourhoods to lush and thriving offshore wetlands and a lighthouse at the island’s edge.
“We aim to inspire travellers to Singapore to rediscover the joy of travel once again. One way is to portray our destination in a different light, by helping visitors to see it afresh through another person’s eyes. UNSEEN/SINGAPORE set out to do this, through the lens of talented photographers from Southeast Asia, who tell their journey of discovery through photography. We hope they will inspire a new wave of visitors to discover a Singapore reimagined,” said Mr John Conceicao, Executive Director, Southeast Asia, STB.
“If you want to experience a country, you have to go down a layer below into the more local stuff to get a feel of what the country is. For people who’ve already visited Singapore, they should try and look for some of the unorthodox locations which they probably missed in their previous visits because
there’s a lot more to Singapore with the culture and heritage,” shared Jayaprakash Bojan, a full-time photographer and documentary filmmaker who advocates conservation via visuals and participated in the campaign.
UNSEEN/SINGAPORE is part of STB’s efforts to boost travel recovery through SingapoReimagine, a tourism campaign that highlights new, innovative and unexpected experiences in Singapore to audiences worldwide.
Between January to December 2022, Singapore recorded 6.3 million international visitor arrivals. Visitor arrivals were driven by strong demand from Singapore’s key source markets, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.
Get to know the photographers
Amani Azlin from Malaysia
Amani is a multi-disciplinary visual artist who expresses her passion for minimalism through her work for various local brands. When Amani is taking pictures, she goes in with her camera and doesn’t give it too much thought. It’s all about taking pictures in the moment and only scrutinising them afterwards. For her, it’s about capturing candid, unscripted moments in daily life, even when she’s travelling in a different country. As the only female photographer in the group, she offers a fresh take on travelling to must-visit sites with her passion for slow travel rather than touch-and-go experiences.
Jayaprakash Bojan from Singapore
Jayaprakash Bojan was National Geographic’s Nature Photographer of the Year 2017. He is a nature-wildlife conservation artist whose work focuses on wildlife photography abroad. As someone who has lived in Singapore for around 7 years, the pandemic has pushed him to explore his own neighbourhood (particularly Pasir Ris Park) rather than places abroad. With this project, Jayaprakash rediscovers his home, Singapore, from a different perspective.
Tino Renato from Indonesia
A self-taught travel, food, portrait and still life photographer, Tino started his journey when he was younger, starting out with a film camera, and it remains his favourite medium for taking his pictures. For him, it’s all about capturing the raw moments of a place and its people and making them the focus of his pictures. It is what makes his photos appear simple while adding depth to the story as we can witness in the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE project.
Chanipol Kusolcharttum, also known as “Rockkhound”, from Thailand
After a few years of working as an air steward and travelling the world, Rockkhound decided to pursue and kickstart his passion for photography as a career, enabling him to continue exploring the world. The photographer-cinematographer from Bangkok started his photography journey about 10 years ago on Instagram while embracing the philosophy of slowing down to truly live in the moment and enjoy the scenery all around him when he is out and about. His style is to deliver motion and emotion, such as looking for an interesting composition to give some movement to still architecture in Singapore. He runs a production company in Bangkok, holds workshops and shares photo and filmmaking tips on his YouTube channel.
Phạm Gia Tùng from Vietnam
Tùng enjoys the photographic process – from scouting a location to finding new angles and setting up his shots, no matter how long it takes. The Hanoi-based photographer focuses on taking photos from angles people rarely consider, and constantly learning ways to improve his photography. Even though he has visited Singapore many times before, this project gave him the opportunity to appreciate and capture Singapore’s nature and people differently.
Gab Mejia from the Philippines
Gab is a National Geographic explorer and is passionate about wildlife photography and conservation. In 2021, he was awarded the World Wildlife Fund For Nature International President’s Youth Award and was also listed on the 2021 Forbes Under 30 List for The Arts in Asia for photography. His story started when his dad took him mountain climbing, sparking his interest in the natural world and the stories he could discover and capture behind it. His vision for this project is to show a different side of Singapore, capturing moments of the wild and pockets of nature.
UNSEEN/SINGAPORE will be open to the public on www.nationalgeographic.com/unseensingapore from 2 February 2023 inviting visitors to reimagine Singapore. The virtual exhibition will showcase each photographer’s ‘room’ based on their thematic-led collections. Viewers will be able to virtually visit many parts of Singapore including locations such as the Sim Kwong Ho shophouses, Pulau Ubin, Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle, Jurong Lake Gardens, Changi Chapel and Museum, and more.
To view the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE virtual exhibition, visit
To watch behind-the-scenes of UNSEEN/SINGAPORE, visit www.facebook.com/VisitSingaporeMY.
Singapore’s Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, S Iswaran, and the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, signed the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership (EUSDP), a comprehensive framework for all areas of bilateral digital cooperation between the EU and Singapore.
The partnership covers various aspects of the cross-border digital economy, including digital trade facilitation, secure data transfers, electronic payments, and standards and compliance. It also addresses cutting-edge areas like artificial intelligence (AI), digital identities, and 5G/6G. The partnership aims to enhance broader participation in the digital economy by collaborating on digital skills training for employees and the digitisation of businesses and public services.
The EU-Singapore Digital Trade Principles, the first outcome of the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership, were signed by Iswaran, as stated in a press release. This marks the beginning of a legally binding digital trade agreement between the two sides. The principles facilitate cross-border data transfers, reduce costs through electronic trade documentation and authentication, and enhance online consumer protection for people buying goods and services online.
Minister Iswaran and Commissioner Breton agreed to exchange best practices and/or develop projects in AI governance and standards and digital identities. The two sides will facilitate cross-border digital transactions and support SMEs’ digital transformation and digital skills. They also said they anticipate more joint projects between Singapore and the EU, including the EU Member States, in partnership with the private sector.
Iswaran stated that the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership strengthens connectivity and interoperability between the digital markets of the EU and Singapore. It will enable Singapore citizens and businesses to transact digitally more seamlessly and at lower costs. As a first deliverable, the officials launched a set of Digital Trade Principles, marking the first step towards a bilateral digital trade agreement that provides legal certainty for cross-border digital trade.
Digital infrastructure, such as data centres and submarine telecom cables, plays a crucial role in enabling cross-border connectivity between countries and regions. To create a secure, resilient, and sustainable digital environment for individuals and businesses, both sides will work together to promote digital infrastructure.
Furthermore, to support trusted cross-border data flows and data sharing, Singapore and the EU will work on the application of model data protection contracts and provide guidance for their use. They will also exchange information on the infrastructure and governance frameworks needed to facilitate data sharing.
The two sides will also cooperate on information sharing in platform governance and regulation. To drive the development and uptake of 5G and beyond 5G technologies, they will research use cases and possible areas of collaboration on R&D pilots. To support the deployment of AI, Singapore and the EU will encourage interoperability on AI governance, standards, and testing frameworks. Both sides will also explore cooperation on AI testbeds and research collaboration on AI.
Singapore and the EU have a strong economic partnership, built on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA), which came into effect in November 2019. The EU is Singapore’s fourth largest goods trading partner globally, with bilateral trade in goods totalling SG$ 102 billion (US$ 78.1 billion) in 2021, which accounted for 8.8% of Singapore’s total goods trade. The EU is also Singapore’s second-largest services trade partner globally, with bilateral trade in services exceeding SG$ 67 billion (US$ 51.3 billion). Investment relations are strong, with the EU being Singapore’s second-largest foreign investor and largest overseas investment destination.
The Ministry of Communication and Informatics carried out the Digital Leadership Academy (DLA) Programme to educate regional leaders and managers of commercial firms. The course seeks to improve the digital leadership capabilities of governors, regents, mayors, and business leaders. The government offers 500 training scholarships to public and commercial sector digital leaders.
This year, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics’ Human Resources Research and Development Agency cooperates with the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Human Resources Development Agency to organise the training.
“We will conduct training and visits for 20 regional heads in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, and we have already decided on Korea,” told Hary Budiarto, Head of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics Research and Development, at the Press Conference of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics Digital Talent Provision Programme in Central Jakarta.
Hary noted that the DLA programme’s training and visitation in 2022 had been fully completed for 20 regional head participants, with Singapore serving as the destination country. The initiative will introduce another 20 regional heads in 2023, with the Ministry of Home Affairs determining the regional head qualifications. The chosen region will be picked based on various criteria, such as districts and cities with low inflation or high digital community indexes, among many others.
Last year, the ministry cooperated with the BPSDM West Java Province to host a Smart Digital Leader for the West Java Champion course. They have agreed with the Regional Secretary to choose the theme of Dignified North Sumatran Smart Digital Leader for North Sumatra, which will be completed in March.
Apart from the public sector, the DLA programme collaborates with the business sector, including the Indonesian Telematics Society (Mastel) and a U.S. tech company focusing on digital infrastructure. The event will have 200 attendees.
The DLA programme is one of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics’ digital training programmes meant to address the needs of national digital talent. President Joko Widodo has declared this programme a priority to advance the country’s digital transformation.
According to Abdullah Azwar Anas, Minister for Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB), digital leadership has become crucial in today’s increasingly connected society. He mentioned that leadership would become one of the options for success in managing foundations and organisations. In terms of digital leadership, it is expected that a public leader is more responsive and technologically literate to capture messages from the public and guide the organisation in the proper direction.
Digital skills are also required to assist the government in implementing an Electronic-Based Government System (SPBE). The SPBE architecture is intended to facilitate thematic bureaucratic reforms, such as the RB eradicating poverty, the RB raising investment, and the RB accelerating the President’s genuine priorities. He emphasised five talents required for digital governance. Digital leadership skills, digital professional skills, digital socio-emotional skills, digital user skills, and 21st-century skills in society are among them.
Furthermore, when it comes to digital leadership, leaders must possess two digital talents: hard and soft skills. Mastery of public sector theory and methodology on hard skills such as organisational theory, public sector human resource management, and public policy analysis, he stated, needs to be revised. As a minor subject, it requires help for mastery of theory and methods from other disciplines, particularly competence in digital technology.
Meanwhile, leaders must have analytical skills to analyse critically and propose problem-solving ideas. A leader must also be proficient in public speaking, English, coding, creativity, dispute resolution and negotiation, and teamwork.
Two tech companies operating under Hong Kong’s Smart Government Innovation Lab have rolled out solutions that are now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution I – Heritage Conservation Platform
The company under the Lab has proposed a comprehensive solution for heritage conservation that encompasses data capture, 3D modelling, and online visualisation of realistically rendered models. It supports a variety of capturing sensors and raw data types, including camera images, LiDAR point clouds, and RGB-D data, and can be used with stationary, handheld, robotic, or UAV platforms. With high-precision modelling, realistic texturing and rendering, and a lightweight web-based visualisation platform, this solution is ideal for archiving, exhibiting, renovating, and educational purposes.
The solution was designed to be applied in the areas of City Management, Education, Infrastructure, Recreation and Culture as well as Tourism.
The solution employs the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics, Deep Learning, Mixed Reality as well as Virtual Reality.
In Hong Kong, there are 132 declared monuments and over 1000 historic buildings with significant heritage value. To safeguard and preserve this archaeological and architectural heritage, a comprehensive 3D surveying record is essential for future preservation and monitoring against potential damage or destruction.
Currently, LiDAR scanning and image records are widely used for digital preservation, but the disorganized data and large size make them difficult to use and constructing 3D models from raw scanning data is time-consuming and labour-intensive.
The company has developed a cutting-edge AI-assisted algorithm that can accurately convert raw captured data into 3D models at a cost-effective price. The structured 3D models have the advantage of low data volume, ease of access, and meaningful information for engineers. The solution offered is modular and covers the entire process from data collection to 3D model generation and online visualization, offering great flexibility.
To raise public awareness, promote participation, and enhance cultural tourism, the company provides a realistically rendered 3D model and a lightweight, web-browser-based visualization that can be accessed from anywhere and on any device.
Solution II – LifeOnline: Smart Personal Emergency System for Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers face various dangers on a regular basis. LifeOnline is a tool that keeps officers, especially those working alone in remote areas, connected with their team. In emergency situations, officers can seek help from their supervisor by pressing an SOS button on their smartphone. If they encounter danger, such as falling from a height or a medical emergency, the smartwatch will notify their team.
Using long-range wireless communication technology, LoraWAN, officers can stay connected even in remote areas covered by the government’s GWIN IOT network. If necessary, portable LoraWAN gateways and concentrators can further extend network coverage. The compact size of the smartwatch allows it to be used as standard equipment for law enforcement officers in their daily operations.
The solution was designed to be applied across the areas of Health as well as Law and Security.
The solution employs the latest in Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as Mobile Technologies.
The officers are connected with their teams and could get help in dangerous and emergency situations.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology (MeitY), Alkesh Kumar Sharma, inaugurated the G20 Cyber Security Exercise and Drill for over 400 domestic and international participants as part of India’s G20 presidency.
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) held the Cyber Security Exercise and Drill in a hybrid format. International participants from over 12 countries participated online. Domestic participants from various sectors like finance, education, telecom, ports and shipping, energy, IT/ITeS, and others attended both in person and virtually.
Speaking at the event, Sharma highlighted the fact that cyber incidents are becoming increasingly sophisticated and disruptive. They have transnational impacts and there is a pressing need for collaboration to build collective resilience against cyberattacks.
Sivagami Sundari Nanda, the Special Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), stressed the importance of a government-wide response to address cyber challenges, including cooperation with law enforcement agencies both domestically and internationally.
The event held a strategic tabletop exercise (TTX) and an operational drill using a CERT-In exercise platform. The first tabletop exercise catered to board and top management and was themed Synergy to counter Global Cyber Crisis. It focused on crisis management and crisis communication.
The second tabletop exercise, an operational drill was designed for CISO and mid-management, themed Building Collective Cyber Resilience. The scenario for the exercise, which included cyber extortion, data breach, supply chain attacks, and disruptions was derived from real-life cyber incidents, in which domestic-level (limited impact) incidents escalated to a global cyber security crisis. The exercises were successful in meeting their objectives and provided insights on enhancing and improving crisis management, crisis communication, incident response, and global coordination and cooperation.
Cybersecurity plays an increasingly important role as the world becomes more reliant on technology. Cybersecurity forms the backbone of a strong digital society, providing a trusted environment necessary to grow digital transformation and the confidence needed to advance digital adoption. Concurrently, strong cyber capability protects the economy from losses due to cybercrimes and builds the foundational capability to grow the emerging digital technology sector.
India has worked with several countries to build resilience against cyberattacks. Last year, CERT-In and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) designed and conducted the cybersecurity exercise “Synergy” for 13 countries. The initiative was part of the International Counter Ransomware Initiative-Resilience Working Group, which was led by India under the leadership of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS).
The theme of the exercise was ‘Building Network Resiliency to counter Ransomware Attacks’. Similar to the G20 cybersecurity drill, the exercise scenario was derived from real-life cyber incidents. As OpenGov Asia reported, the specific objective of the exercise was to assess, share, and improve strategies and practices among member-states to build network resiliency against ransomware and cyber extortion attacks.
The exercise ‘Synergy’ was hosted by CERT-In on its exercise simulation platform. Each state participated as a National Crisis Management Team, which was made up of different government agencies including National CERTs/CSIRTs, law enforcement agencies (LEA), communication and IT/ICT ministries, and security agencies.
CERT-In was launched in 2004 by the Department of Information Technology and is currently run under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. CERT-In responds to cybersecurity incidents, reports on network vulnerabilities, and fosters effective IT security practices throughout the country. Under the provisions of the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, CERT-In oversees the administration of the Act.
Market merchants in Quezon City, Philippines, can now apply for and book spaces and booths online using the Market One-Stop Shop platform (MOSS). According to City Administrator Michael Alimurung, the portal would identify “legal” vendor spaces free of impediments. It is also part of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte’s ambition of making the city a desirable business location.
With the new system, the city government promises a smooth application process for renting a stall, including payment and collection of market rentals. This will also make the city treasurer’s office’s job easier because they will no longer have to collect rent in person.
To ensure that the new system is widely adopted, the local administration put free Wi-Fi connection points in barangay halls and hundreds of other public venues. A caravan will be launched to assist existing and prospective vendors in registering with the platform.
“Imagine treating the entire city as a public market. This method allows us to locate vendor locations online. It’s thinking broader by allowing us to treat the entire city in terms of how to assist our vendors,” Alimurung told at a press conference at Quezon City Hall.
Margarita Santos, director of the Quezon City Business Permits and Licensing Office, stated that the system would not replace any positions, such as market masters or market managers, but would make their tasks easier.
She stated that the MOSS would use a “first in, first out” queuing system and offer a five-year contract to the first vendor that applied for the space or stand. However, if they cannot satisfy the requirements within a specific number of days, they will be returned to the bottom of the queue,” Santos noted.
Market inspectors will check IDs supplied to registered merchants to guarantee that the correct renters occupy registered booths. Currently, over 12,000 sellers occupy public market stalls in the city. Those are our objectives. In addition, we want to incorporate 43 private markets.
According to Santos, the MOSS would also assist in eliminating red tape and corruption, such as those who reserve marketplaces and then rent them out to other merchants. Because this is an online system, we have a digital trail that allows us to see where the application took too long, who is at fault and admonish them.
Santos added that the system would also record vendor transgressions, which might result in losing their registration area or stall. She stated that registered vendors would be queued online once these areas are full until free space becomes available.
Procopio Lipana, Programmes and Projects Officer, stated that the site would make it easier for the city government and other law enforcement agencies to identify and apprehend unlawful sellers. Quezon City has an anti-hawker division and market inspectors who verify stall sizes and look for illicit merchants.
Indonesia is also working to improve digitisation in the conventional sector. Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade has targeted digitising 1,000 traditional markets and one million MSMEs as part of its digital transformation strategy. There are now 2,047 traditional markets that use local market websites through the Trade Facility Information System (TFIS), ten traditional markets that use digital marketing, and 51 conventional markets that operate QRIS for non-cash transactions.
According to Vice Minister of Trade Jerry Sambuaga, 326 traditional markets in 42 sub-districts have implemented e-retribution, 106,702 local traders, and 9.7 million MSME dealers have made non-cash transactions through QRIS.
The government of Indonesia’s digitalisation efforts have helped the country attain IDR980 trillion (US$ 63 billion), or 5.7% of GDP, by 2021. Indonesia’s GDP is predicted to reach IDR24 trillion (US$1.5 trillion) in 2030, with the digital economy accounting for 18% of GDP, or approximately IDR4,531 trillion (US$ 290 million).
Indonesia’s Central Bank (Bank Indonesia/BI) worked with five ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand, to provide cross-border payment through QR. In a series of events at the G20 Bali Summit, the five ASEAN countries agreed on Regional Payment Digital Connectivity. The collaboration will make the Indonesian Standard Quick Response Code (QRIS) more widely available in five ASEAN countries.
The Ministry of Communication and Informatics welcomed the discussion. Usman Kansong, Director General of Information and Public Communication at the Ministry of Communication and Information (Kemkominfo) asserted that the ministry supports efforts to integrate payment systems through QRIS ASEAN.
“Because it is related to the digital economy, Kominfo is very supportive; we will provide the infrastructure. For example, we are also putting together an internet network,” said Usman on the sidelines of Jakarta’s 2023 ASEAN Indonesia Chair Kick-Off event.
The five countries’ central banks have held discussions on various occasions to implement cross-border payment system connectivity in the region. Bank Indonesia began payment system connectivity cooperation with other central banks in the area, initially with five countries in the region.
The agreement will be documented as a memorandum of understanding (MOU). At the same time, this initiative demonstrates Indonesia’s regional leadership in implementing the G20 agreement.
Regional Payment Digital Connection among 5 ASEAN Countries, according to Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Perry Warjiyo, is a physical representation of how digital connectivity in ASEAN is an example for other countries to help economic recovery in each country regionally.
“Wherever we go in these five ASEAN countries, we can utilise QR payment, QRIS in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, and it will be a rapid payment system, instantly,” Perry explained.
Meanwhile, according to Esther Sri Astuti Soeryaningrum from an economic and finance NGO, the introduction of QRIS will aid financial integration in ASEAN. At the same time, there are still some hurdles to tackle. However, she mentioned that QRIS, as a non-cash transaction method, can help collaborating countries make cross-border payments easier without needing a money changer.
“With QRIS, we don’t have to worry about converting rupiah currency for other currencies, and we don’t have to do cash transactions, which are riskier and require a higher level of security,” she explained.
Moreover, the Indonesia Central Bank (Bank Indonesia/BI) expanded its payment cooperation network with Japan in December. The signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation (NK) addressing QR-based payment by BI and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). Dody B. Waluyo, Deputy Governor of BI, stated that the partnership on QR-based payment between BI and METI Japan would be a key concern for regulatory authorities and industry, given that the NK in question has the potential to strengthen economic relations between Indonesia and Japan.
The QR-based payment collaboration aims to accelerate cooperation on the implementation and interoperability of cross-border or country payments using QR codes, specifically the QR Code Indonesian Standard (QRIS) and the Japan Unified QR Code (JPQR). Furthermore, this collaboration will create a framework that permits QR-based payments between the two countries and other parties, such as payment system operators (SP).
The agreement marks the beginning of BI and METI Japan’s collaboration to carry out various activities related to the interconnectivity of QR-based payment systems, such as policy dialogue, technical cooperation, and the formation of working groups to ensure goals are met, such as efforts to implement QR-based cross-border payments to support people-to-people transactions in both countries. This collaboration is expected to promote payment system digitisation in both Indonesia and Japan.