Singapore is second in the world and top in Asia in terms of its readiness to adopt autonomous vehicles (AVs) on the strength of its government, infrastructure and consumer acceptance, according to a report by KPMG.
The KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI) provides an in-depth view of what it takes for countries to meet the challenges of self-driving vehicles, evaluating the preparedness of a cross-section of countries globally.
The Index evaluates each country according to four criteria that are essential to a country’s capacity to adopt and integrate autonomous vehicles. These include: policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure and consumer acceptance.
The most prepared countries for AVs all have: Governments willing to regulate and support AV development, excellent road and mobile network infrastructure, private-sector investment and innovation, Large-scale testing powered by a strong automotive industry presence and a proactive government that attracts partnerships with manufacturers
Report findings on Singapore AV readiness
Singapore tops two of the criteria of this index, policy and legislation and consumer acceptance, and is second only to the Netherlands on infrastructure. On policy and legislation, it received the maximum score on regulation, with a 2017 amendment to its Road Trafﬁc Act allowing self-driving vehicles to be tested on public roads, and a single entity to coordinate AV work, the Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative announced in 2014.
Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) takes a safety-ﬁrst approach with AV trials starting on lightly used roads and graduating to more congested environments only after they have demonstrated readiness. All test AVs will be required to log travel data to enable accident investigations and liability claims.
The Land Transport Authority introduced a regulatory framework that minimizes the occurrence of accidents. Operators are required to have a qualiﬁed safety driver who will be able to take control of the vehicle in an emergency, hold third-party liability insurance and share data from the trials with the LTA.
— Satya Ramamurthy Partner, Head of Government & Infrastructure KPMG in Singapore
On consumer acceptance, the entire city-state of Singapore is effectively a test area for AVs, meaning all residents may see the technology in development. Consumer research suggests they are more open to the technology than many other countries, including the Netherlands. The country’s strong scores for infrastructure, including very high road and mobile network quality, are only undermined by a low density of charging stations for electric vehicles.
Singapore just missed the top spot due to average performance on technology and innovation. It needs technology company headquarters, patents or investment and has a low usage of electric cars. But this is compensated for by a signiﬁcant number of industry partnerships, including MIT spin-out nuTonomy testing driverless taxis there since 2016, the fact that Uber is widely available and a good rating from the World Economic Forum on availability of the latest technology.
Singapore invested in developing AV
Singapore has been pushing hard on AV development – it opened the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles (Cetran) at Nanyang Technological University in 2017, which has a test town for driverless vehicles complete with traffic lights, bus stops, skyscrapers and a rain-making machine to offer realistic testing conditions.
In addition to this, it is also planning real-world field tests with driverless buses and shuttles in three areas (Punggol, Tengah and the Jurong Innovation District) for off-peak and on-demand commuting from 2022, and it is working with the Netherlands on an international standard for AVs.
Earlier this month Enterprise Singapore published a set of provisional national standards to guide the industry in the development and deployment of fully autonomous vehicles (AVs). The guide is called TR 68. The Technical Reference 68 was developed to promote the safe deployment of fully autonomous vehicles in Singapore.
As the world has entered an age of digitalisation, digital government, data governance, and strengthening of national development momentum have become the trend of governments of all countries, including Taiwan.
The concept of digital government refers to improving the government’s service to the people and enterprises by data and digital technology. Taiwan’s government uses data as the basis, makes good use of digital technology, strengthens government efficiency and national security, and combines government services with people’s needs to optimise the quality of governance decision-making.
Looking at the development trend of digital governments in advanced countries, the role of information and communication technology in Taiwan’s public governance has evolved from the early management of public affairs to the current innovative governance efficiency, and will gradually change to the development goal of creating public service value in the future. The use of emerging technologies to optimise the government service process, innovate the service style for the people, and meet the needs of the people has become the direction of continuous promotion of digital government.
Taiwan plans a state-level transformation strategy for the development of Taiwan’s government, industry, talent, and society. The National Development Council (NDC) has formulated the “Digital Government Program 2.0 of Taiwan (2020-2025)” to accelerate various response measures to promote the government’s digital transformation.
NDC will follow the strategy of the plan to coordinate the implementation of various ministries, strengthen the transformation of cross-domain service processes from the needs of the people, and use a safe and reliable data transmission platform to share data across agencies. The government will continue to offer its efforts in the following tasks:
- Enhance digital infrastructure around all government agency: With the maturity of Internet technology and the popularisation and application of 5G wireless broadband communications, we will continue to inject resources to strengthen the digital infrastructure and support the government’s innovative service operations.
- Strengthen the release and application of data: NDC will actively promote the data management measures of public agencies, give priority to strengthening data standards, data interface standards, etc., and attach importance to the release of high-value data, such as map information, transportation and other data sets. It is necessary to establish a management mechanism for the public to apply to use and specify the rights and obligations of the use of data.
- Implement evidence-based governance decisions: The digital transformation of the government is demonstrated in the policy decision-making of using data to improve the efficiency of government governance. In the future, the applications of big data analysis in governance issues will be made to quickly respond to external challenges.
- Construct data-based public governance: Through data analysis to see the needs of the people, and integrate government resources to support the people in solving problems of life, and take the initiative to propose measures for the people. In the future, digital applications will use data to drive service transformation, making data the core of services.
Apart from formulating a digital government programme, NDC has also formulated the Action Plan for Enhancing Taiwan’s Startup Ecosystem. As reported by OpenGov Asia, Taiwan’s startup ecosystem has blossomed over the last few years, with good performance in the international arena. The good performance is partly because of the Taiwan government’s effort in pushing forward policies of innovation and entrepreneurship in recent years.
NDC proposes 5 major policies:
- Providing ample early-stage funding for startups
- Developing talent and adjusting regulations
- Building partnership between startups and the government
- Providing startups with various exit channels
- Helping startups tap into global markets
By putting this plan into action, they can effectively create an environment favourable to startups. To do this effectively, all agencies involved need to take initiative to implement this plan to demonstrate the government’s commitment and capability.
Under an initial 12-month pilot, Singapore’s 3rd largest bank confirmed that they had launched a programme allowing customers to sign electronic documents using the Singpass app. The bank said it will first test the use of electronic signature services with a set of its retail and corporate customers.
Some of the transactions the pilot will cover include forms for individual wealth planning services and other corporate applications. After the pilot ends, the service will extend to more of its products and services for retail and wholesale segments in Singapore.
The bank also plans to expand its electronic signature capability to the ASEAN region from 2022. Once rolled out across all markets, electronic signatures will cut down the use of more than 2 million paper forms a year, said the bank. This is in line with the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s green fintech push in recent months. For markets without a national digital identity platform, the bank will use electronic signatures and authenticate the customer through two-factor authentication.
The bank said it is the first in Singapore to pilot the use of the Government Technology Agency’s “Sign with Singpass” to confirm transactions or product applications using a customer’s digital signature. The digital signature is identifiable and uniquely linked to the person who signs. During the digital signing process, only a cryptographically random, indecipherable code will be shared with the bank’s document management platform to confirm that the customer has signed the document, thus ensuring the confidentiality of personal data, the bank added.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, since November last year, SingPass users can use the new “Sign with SingPass” feature to electronically sign contracts, agreements and other legal documentation. This feature will be progressively rolled out by GovTech’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Assurity Trusted Solutions Pte Ltd (ATS), in collaboration with eight digital signing application providers.
The signed document is platform agnostic, such that the validated signature can be viewed with the user’s preferred system. Digital signatures made with “Sign with SingPass” use certificates issued by ATS, the National Certification Authority. Upon ATS’ accreditation under Singapore’s Electronic Transactions Act, signatures made using “Sign with SingPass” will be regarded as secure electronic signatures.
The bank’s head of group technology and operations said that as more customers take to the convenience of managing their banking needs online, banks must ensure that they offer them a seamless and safe digital experience. She added that in 2018, they were the first bank in Singapore to digitalise all consumer banking product applications. Today, they are aiming to build on earlier efforts with their digital signature initiative. The initiative will not only increase the convenience for the customers but also remove one of the roadblocks – the need for physical signatures – in fully digitalising the documentation process.
The Senior Director for National Digital Identity of GovTech said that they are delighted that a bank will be piloting “Sign with Singpass” for its suite of digital services. The bank’s integration of “Sign with Singpass” is a significant step towards offering a more secure and efficient process for customers. The agency affirmed that it would continue to work with industry partners to build more beneficial services and establish new digitally enabled ways of doing business.
Today, SingPass has evolved to provide seamless and convenient access to over 1,000 digital services offered by some 250 government agencies and private organisations. There are now over 2.1 million users of the SingPass Mobile app since its launch.
U.S. programmers further developed their ai enabled housing solution, an application to help automate Dallas-Fort Worth’s Section 8 voucher program. The app uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), and automation to help voucher holders find rental units, property owners complete contracting and housing authorities conduct inspections. The software and mobile app were released in partnership with the Dallas Housing Authority, which gave access to data from some 16,000 Section 8 voucher holders.
AI has been used in a host of algorithms in medicine, banking and other major industries. But as it has proliferated, studies have shown that AI can be biased against minorities. In housing, AI has helped perpetuate segregation and discrimination. The creators of the app were worried that the AI would promote bias, so they tweaked it so that tenants could search for apartments using their voucher number alone, without providing any other identifying information.
As AI is adopted by more industries and government agencies, U.S. lawmakers want to strengthen and update laws to guard against racially discriminatory algorithms – especially in the absence of federal rules. Since 2019, more than 100 bills related to AI and automated decision systems have been introduced in nearly two dozen states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This year, lawmakers in at least 16 states proposed creating panels to review AI’s impact, promote public and private investment in AI, or address transparency and fairness in AI development.
A bill in California would be the first to require developers to evaluate the privacy and security risks of their software, as well as assess their products’ potential to generate inaccurate, unfair, biased or discriminatory decisions. Under the proposed law, the California Department of Technology would have to approve software before it could be used in the public sector.
A lawyer described algorithms such as the ai app as a gatekeeper to an opportunity that can either perpetuate segregation and redlining or help to end them. He also praised the developers for their decision to omit a person’s name. However, the government cannot rely on small groups of people making decisions that can essentially affect thousands. The government needs to audit these systems to ensure they are integrating equity metrics in ways that do not unfairly disadvantage people.
The app’s developers are sure it would pass any state-mandated test for algorithmic discrimination and it has already been a huge success in Dallas and beyond. The Dallas Housing Authority has used the app to cut the average wait time for an apartment inspection from 15 days to one. Since its launch, Dallas and more than a dozen other housing agencies have added some 20,000 Section 8 units from landlords who were not participating in the program because of the long inspection wait times.
Dallas Housing Authority partnered with the developers to come up with some technology advancements to their workflows and automation so that they could respond in a more timely manner to business partners. The housing authority wanted to ensure that their partners the dealy as a lost lead in terms of working with the voucher program.
The real promise of AI in the housing space is that it may eventually produce greater fairness and equity in ways that we may not have possible before. Lawmakers are keen to make sure that the biases of the analogue world are not repeated in the AI and machine-learning world.
U.S. researchers have been creating AI for a multitude of purposes, such as an AI that can have free-flowing conversations. As reported by OpenGov Asia, the newest conversational artificial intelligence (AI) model, called Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) aims to replace artificial, robotic conversations with AI, with more natural dialogues. LaMDA can engage a conversation in a free-flowing way about a seemingly endless number of topics. It is an ability that could unlock more natural ways of interacting with technology and entirely new categories of helpful applications.
The researchers are developing several qualities in LaMDA, including sensibleness, specificity, “interestingness” by assessing whether responses are insightful, unexpected or witty. They also want LaMDA to stick to facts and are investigating ways to ensure LaMDA’s responses are not just compelling but correct.
A wastewater treatment plant being built to service a smart city development in western Sydney will use digital twin systems that monitor temperature and moisture to produce recycled water on demand for greening, cooling and household uses.
Construction of the Sydney Science Park recycling plant started last week at Luddenham within the planned Western Sydney Aerotropolis. The plant will eventually be able to produce 2.4 million litres of recycled water a day, enough for 40,000 people, but that has the capacity to be scaled up, according to Sydney Water’s growth planning and community frameworks manager.
The official stated that while water recycling is traditionally done at large centralised plants, the SSP plant will be located in the community it will service and sit within the urban form of the Science Park. The plant will use a membrane bioreactor system, which the official makes for a smaller footprint and less noise and smell.
Sydney Science Park’s smart systems include digital twins which will allow the plant will interact with the environment via moisture and temperature sensors to inform the amount of recycled water that will be produced and deployed. “So if you’re coming up for a heatwave on Sunday, you’re not sitting there storing the tanks in the water for Sunday, you’re getting it into the ground now,” the official said.
The system’s computer modelling coupled with real-life environment predicting what’s going to happen to determine the operation of the plant and how it’s producing its water. Excess wastewater that isn’t used for the Science Park will be piped to Sydney Water’s St Marys treatment facility.
Urban living lab
The Science Park, being delivered by a private firm on 287 hectares of land as a mixed-use smart city, has been designated as an urban living lab by the CSIRO. The Urban Living Lab concept is based on using local community knowledge coupled with scientific expertise to try new ways of doing things and measure outcomes in a real place. As a designated CSIRO Urban Living Lab, Sydney Science Park aims to create a more liveable, sustainable and resilient city, and water is at the forefront of this.
To partner with Sydney Water and have recycled water being used not only in homes but in public spaces is a first for greenfield development and will create a much greener and cooler environment at Sydney Science Park.
Sydney Water’s Managing Director noted that the partnership meant Sydney Water would be able to provide sustainable and resilient water services as well as trialling new smart technologies for future use.
Sydney Water currently has 14 water recycling sites and is investing $1.3 billion on infrastructure projects in the Western Sydney Aerotropolis Growth Area between 2020 and 2022. It and will have invested about $3 billion in infrastructure across Western Sydney Parkland City by 2026.
The Smart city strategic framework of Sydney identifies the 5 outcomes to be achieved with smart, ethical and secure use of data and technology, underpinned by smart infrastructure:
- Supporting connected and empowered communities. The city government co-creates the design and provision of city services and facilities with local communities. And empowers them to make more effective decisions by using open data and having the skills and tools to innovate and thrive.
- Fuelling global competitiveness and attracting and retaining global talent. Digital disruption is embraced to foster an innovation ecosystem, cultivate a culture of experimentation and sustain Sydney’s position as a global magnet for talent.
- Futureproofing environment and bolstering resilience. Data is used purposefully to monitor, predict and manage city conditions and the impacts of shocks and stresses on our city and community. New technologies that accelerate the city’s progress to a carbon-neutral future are embraced.
- Cultivating vibrant, liveable places. Data and technology are used to help optimise street space allocation and prioritise active transport, improve the planning, building and maintenance of infrastructure, assets and systems, and enhance the experience of the physical city.
- Providing customer-centric efficient services. Data is used to understand the community’s needs and preferences to enable the provision of joined-up, personalised and responsive services. Smart technology and operating models are embraced to provide the efficient services local communities expect.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) plans to use Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technologies to limit road accidents and improve passenger safety in buses. According to a report, the corporation recently floated a tender for the implementation of an AI-powered Collision Warning System (CWS) and Driver Drowsiness System (DDS) for 1,044 buses. CWS will provide features like forward-looking collision warnings (FLCW), lane departure warnings (LDW), and virtual bumper. It will also generate real-time alerts. This is probably for the first time in the country a state-run bus corporation is using technology on a large scale to reduce accidents. Other state-run bus corporations are also waiting to adopt this system.
The tender is likely to be finalised by the end of June 2021, the report said. KSRTC officials said the FLCW system will identify an impending collision and inform the driver that they have entered an unsafe distance zone. An official noted that this would help the driver prepare to take the necessary action to avoid a collision. The system will provide real-time alerts to warn the driver against impending collisions. AI-based camera sensors will provide the detection of a vehicle from a sufficient range of at least 150m at any speed so that it can effectively warn the driver.
When minimum safe distance is not maintained, an alert will be generated. This minimum safe distance is based on a calculation of the time-to-collision (TTC) with the vehicle ahead including 2/3 wheelers, pedestrians, and cyclists. The officials added that the alarm will be initiated at a TTC of up to 2.5 to 3 seconds, be operational at a vehicle speed range of up to at least 120kmph, and generate both visual and audible alarms. It will also notify the driver when lane marks are not available.
DDS will check its drivers from dozing off at the wheel. It will monitor the driver’s eye movements and sound a warning alarm in case they appear sleepy. AI-based CCTVs will watch the facial behaviour of the driver. It will also alert the KSRTC central control room if the driver ignored the alert. This will be helpful for night services, said an official.
In April, OpenGov Asia reported that the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar (IIT-Ropar) had developed an algorithm for driver drowsiness detection using machine learning and computer vision. The researchers said they used computer vision algorithms to extract facial features such as eye closure and yawning as well as machine learning techniques to effectively detect driver’s alertness. It is an industrial and academic challenge to develop drowsiness detection technologies.
Multiple techniques have been developed in recent years. One method is where the driver’s operation and vehicle behaviour can be monitored by the steering wheel movement, accelerator or brake patterns, vehicle speed, lateral acceleration, and lateral displacement. Another set of techniques focuses on monitoring the physiological characteristics of the driver such as heart rate, pulse rate, and electroencephalography. The third set is based on computer vision systems, which can recognise the facial changes occurring during drowsiness.
The first method is limited by the type and model of the car. The second method though with more accurate results has widely been downplayed due to the impracticality in deploying it on a large scale, as well as its intrusive nature. The third method is a very promising one, which the researchers have followed and developed a model on the same.
As the e-payments rise in popularity, fewer banknotes are being issued, ATM withdrawals are declining and fewer cheques being used, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) via news reports. These come amid efforts to promote e-payments, such as online fund transfer services as a convenient alternative and a way to reduce the environmental impact of using physical notes and cheques, said the MAS in its first sustainability report.
The number of S$2, S$5, S$10 and S$50 banknotes issued fell 24 per cent last year from the previous year. Cash withdrawals at ATMs also dropped by 16 per cent to 172 million transactions, while 36.4 million cheques were cleared, a 23 per cent decline.
The agency emphasised that they are promoting the adoption of e-payments in Singapore that will help to slow the demand for physical currency, whose production and processing have a significant environmental impact. The MAS is also reducing the issuance of new notes during festive periods.
Around 100 million new notes are issued for the Chinese New Year and other festive periods every year. However, most of them are not needed by the public for daily use, especially the S$2 note, and the majority are returned to the MAS after each Chinese New Year. This is a waste of resources and results in unnecessary carbon emissions, the central bank said. Around 330 tonnes of carbon emissions are generated by producing new notes each Chinese New Year.
Looking ahead, MAS said it is progressively reducing the issuance of new S$2 notes for the Chinese New Year. It will also continue to promote e-gifting as an alternative and is encouraging financial technology firms to develop such solutions.
Other efforts to be more sustainable include working with its vendors to manage the carbon and environmental impact of printing currency notes. Steps taken by appointed printers include sourcing for renewable energy and printing carbon-neutral notes through carbon offsetting.
In the inaugural report, the central bank also laid out its carbon footprint over the past three financial years. It had engaged an external consultant to establish its carbon profile, which covers three areas:
- direct emissions primarily from fire extinguishing agents.
- indirect emissions from electricity usage by its offices in Singapore and overseas and,
- emissions from corporate activities like business air travel and waste incineration.
Indirect emissions from outsourced currency operations, such as currency production, processing and transportation, are excluded as MAS is still working to obtain and review emissions data from its vendors. It expects these emissions to contribute significantly to its total carbon footprint when they are eventually included. Preliminary estimates indicate that they could account for up to 40 per cent to 60 per cent of MAS’ overall carbon profile.
For now, indirect emissions from electricity usage and business air travel form the bulk of MAS’ carbon profile. It generated 8,968 tonnes of carbon emissions in the 2018/19 financial year, before trimming that to 8,225 tonnes in the following year. For both financial years, electricity and business air travel accounted for more than 90 per cent of these emissions. Total carbon emissions fell by nearly 50 per cent to 4,383 tonnes last year but the agency noted that it was an aberration due largely to air travel being a no-go during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moving forward, the central bank said it will continue to track its usage of electricity, water and paper. Since 2013, it has managed to cut energy and water consumption by 23 per cent and 5 per cent, exceeding or meeting the respective public sector targets of 15 per cent and 5 per cent. MAS is positive that they will continue with ongoing efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their currency operations.
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is poised to boost Indonesia’s economic growth this year and in 2022. The nation has had a digital transformation strategy in place for a while, but the COVID-19 pandemic has driven faster-than-expected take-up of digital services. It has also pushed both the public and private sectors to accelerate the implementation of their plans.
By 2025, Indonesia’s digital economy is expected to contribute US$ 150 billion to the Gross Domestic Product. To achieve the target, the Indonesian government has put in place massive infrastructure development including the Palapa Ring Project that will provide a 4G network to all Indonesian cities and regencies. The project is estimated to have cost US$ 1.5 billion and comprises 35,000 km of undersea fibre-optic cables and 21,000 km of land cables, stretching from the westernmost city in Indonesia, Sabang, to the easternmost town, Merauke. Additionally, the cables also transverse every district from the northernmost island Mianagas to the southernmost island, Rote.
The Association of Indonesian Cellular Operators (ATSI) is now working on establishing its first 5G coverage by 2023, with major cities and tourist attractions expected to be among the first to adopt the technology. ATSI plans to perform frequency auctions next year in order to set up 5G networks in 2022.
Despite its relatively low fixed broadband teledensity, Indonesia is poised to become one of the world’s most important digital economic powerhouses, and 5G will be essential not just in accomplishing this aim but also in unlocking digital opportunities and growth.
From supporting the Indonesia 4.0 program to building a new technology-infused AI city in Kalimantan, the country could see its economy transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based one. In fact, this increased reliance on IoT, automation, cloud-powered software, and data analytics are what will improve Indonesia’s digital economy, which is expected to reach US$ 133 billion by 2025.
With improving digital and communication infrastructure a top priority in Indonesia right now, 5G preparations will begin promptly to ensure that the archipelago’s 17,000 islands are able to support these digital ambitions.
The development and integration of 5G infrastructure to support the bandwidth required for digital applications to function are crucial to Indonesia’s digital transformation. The adoption and deployment of these applications will lead to an increase in the number of interconnected devices, sensors, and systems, as well as an exponential growth in data volumes.
To obtain the actual benefits of 5G, the move to a 5G-enabled smart nation necessitates strategic shifts on multiple fronts. This includes management of spectrum, the availability of 5G-enabled devices, as well as a concerted effort between regulators, telecom operators and users. For Indonesia, spectrum is anticipated to be the most significant limitation. In a 2018 report, the GSMA had recommended Indonesia release the 700MHz analogue TV spectrum, noting operators are mostly using 1800MHz for 4G. In Indonesia, mobile operators are mostly utilising the 1800 MHz spectrum for their 4G rollouts. Despite the geographical challenges, allocating the 700 MHz band quickly and in sufficient quantities would enhance their initiatives to extend coverage and help solve the prevailing digital divide.
However, the government does not want to rashly hurry the implementation of 5G. The Ministry of Information and Communications recently confirmed that 4G cellular connection speeds are sufficient for the moment and serve their purposes adequately. In addition, the ministry said that its focus is on rolling out internet access to some 13,500 remote villages that were still offline since 2020.