A new public-private trial in Singapore is taking place to test the use of autonomous robots in providing on-demand deliveries in a residential area in Punggol. The trial will pave the way for wider use of autonomous robot couriers in making on-demand deliveries to consumers.
The one-year trial is a multi-agency collaboration led by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in partnership with Housing & Development Board (HDB), Land Transport Authority (LTA), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), logistics service provider CM Logistics, supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice and technology provider OTSAW.
Robot Trial to Explore Deliveries in Live Environment
“With the growth of e-commerce, consumers have grown accustomed to expecting food, products and groceries to be delivered to their home in increasingly shorter periods of time. Autonomous delivery robots can play an important role in augmenting existing delivery infrastructure to enhance the consumer experience and drive productivity gains. We look forward to working closely with our partners in this trial to test the technology, safety, business model and user experience,” said Mr Kiren Kumar, Deputy Chief Executive, IMDA.
The trial will see two OTSAW robots delivering parcels and groceries to the lift lobbies of seven Waterway Woodcress HDB blocks to assess:
• Technologies such as AI for autonomous navigation, obstacle detection and avoidance
• Infrastructure such as communications systems and road networks (including connectivity and slopes)
• Business models for commercial viability.
Robots Pass Safety Assessment for Use on Public Paths
To ensure public safety, both autonomous robots have passed the LTA’s safety assessment for the supervised use of autonomous vehicles on public paths. The speed for each robot, which weighs 80 kg (unloaded), is further capped at walking speeds (about 5 kmh). Each robot is also accompanied by a safety officer during the trial period.
“Autonomous delivery technology has the potential to increase business efficiency and improve customer convenience. As paths are also used by other users, it is also important to ensure the delivery is carried out in a safe manner. We have worked closely with our partners to put in place safeguards to ensure public safety during this trial and the insights gathered will help improve future similar projects,” said Mr Lam Wee Shann, Chief Innovation and Transport Technology Officer, LTA.
Through a mobile app, consumers will be notified when the robot is on the way to its destination and will receive a confirmation notification that the robot has arrived. The robot will also provide a QR code for recipients to scan at the collection point via their mobile phones, ensuring that only the authorised person will be able to access the assigned compartment and its contents.
“Urban logistics keep the city going by delivering goods to people and businesses efficiently. Employing technology to explore alternate and innovative modes of delivery is one way Singapore builds a world-class urban logistics system that also enhances land and labour productivity. This enables our city to become more liveable, sustainable and connected,” said Mr Chiu Wen Tung, Group Director (Research & Development), URA.
The government has approved a national programme for smart rural development. The programme will focus on building new, modern rural areas through digital transformation. It is expected to boost the rural economy, improve rural living standards, and bridge the gap in service quality between rural and urban areas.
The initiative will be implemented in all rural areas across Vietnam by the end of 2025, including extremely disadvantaged communes in ethnic minorities and mountainous and coastal regions. By 2025, the government aims to have at least 90% of central, 80% of district-level, and 60% of communal public documents handled online. And at least 97% of communes should meet the new-style rural criteria on information and telecommunications.
Further, to boost the rural economy, the plan will promote the digital economy. Accordingly, at least 70% of communes will have cooperatives and 70% of districts will have agricultural business models, which will connect the production and distribution of key farming products using digital technology.
Additionally, at least 40% of communes and districts should be able to provide at least one essential public service in healthcare, education, community surveillance, security, environment, and culture. They must collect feedback on people’s satisfaction regarding rural development on a virtual platform. All centrally-run cities and provinces should have at least one trial smart rural commune model in the field, which holds advantages of, for example, economy, rural tourism, environment, and culture. The models will serve as a reference for the development of a new set of criteria for new-style rural building plans for the 2026-2030 period.
The government is also pushing for the digital transformation of urban parts of the country under its smart city initiatives. The overall goal is to accelerate digitisation in urban governance by building an electronic government including features such as digitised transport, energy, and society.
In January, Politburo issued a resolution on the planning, management, and sustainable development of Vietnam’s urban areas by 2030 with a vision until 2045. It is well established that smart cities can be effectively and successfully developed when digital transformation is comprehensively deployed across all areas of a city. Sustainable cities are built on a foundation of robust urban management that employs a host of digital and tech solutions. Simultaneously, both government employees and citizens need to be upskilled and trained.
As OpenGov Asia reported, Vietnam’s digital transformation is based on three pillars: digital governance, digital economy, and digital society, with an average point of 0.3 on a 1.0 grading scale. From a focus perspective, digital government is ranked higher point than both the digital economy and digital society primarily because of the e-government development process. As of June, a total of 59 out of the 63 localities in the country launched programmes on digital transformation, which will be rolled out over the next five years.
Vietnam is in the early stages of applying smart city services. There is still much more to be added in terms of smart urban planning and smart urban construction management. Smart city projects must have a comprehensive approach with the goal of not only solving urgent problems of cities but also striving for long-term socio-economic development.
Singapore is well-known for incorporating science and technology into its economic and social fabric. The nation is typically glad to accept the technological revolution that they are now synonymous with, from planned self-driving buses to Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).
However, the country must cope with the issue of an ageing population, a cohort that may not be as digitally savvy as its younger counterparts. With this, the Smart Nation initiatives in Singapore include those that have used technology to address healthcare concerns.
As part of their Year 3-course work, a group of students tagged as SITizens from the SIT-University of Glasgow Nursing programme recently collaborated on an applied research project to discover how older Singaporeans are coping with the digital urge.
The group conducted a study to identify the factors that promote and inhibit older individuals’ digital health literacy. According to them, there is an urgent need to equip senior citizens with greater cyber capabilities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, internet communication was crucial for disseminating updates on the fast-evolving situation, thus, it was time to take a fresh look at how to engage elderly Singaporeans in the digital sphere.
As part of the team’s three-year initiative, students participated in an initial study over the course of three months in the first half of 2022. Two groups of six students each designed and implemented a digital health education programme for seniors at local Senior Activity Centres (SACs).
By interacting with SAC clients who serve the elderly in the locations where they are located, students had the chance to gain a greater understanding of the requirements of this demographic. In addition, it provided a unique opportunity to participate in real-world applied research, as it is an integral element of the nursing curriculum.
Elders welcomed the student, but not the health apps they introduced. It turned out to be difficult to encourage the elderly to be enthusiastic about using the HealthHub app because the older generation believed they had no demand for creative approaches because they were nearing the end of their lives.
Others couldn’t utilise the programme because they couldn’t speak English well enough. The elders are taught how to use the HealthHub app to schedule, change, and cancel appointments by the researchers-students.
Certainly, a Health Promotion Board leaflet was utilised to explain each step at the elders’ pace since the example film was too quick for them, yet, some elderlies were unable to log in during the hands-on attempt because they could not recall their Singpass accounts.
Likewise, the language barrier was an additional obstacle. The materials were also in Chinese, and most of them spoke Mandarin. But the total experience ended up being enjoyable and meaningful due to gestures and kind interactions.
On the other hand, the teaching package will be fully developed through an iterative approach that incorporates the nurses’ experiences. Students benefited from first-hand exposure to the actual process of data collection, which is challenging to simulate in a classroom setting.
Furthermore, health literacy is the motivation and ability to seek and utilise health information. It empowers a person to make choices that will improve their quality of life; and expanded to encompass media and computer abilities.
Across the globe, including Singapore, the elder population has a low propensity for digital health literacy. With this, students from various universities set out to develop instructional materials that would encourage senior citizens to access health information via mobile phones and the internet -initiatives supported by the government.
The Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) recently launched a ground-breaking Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology that incorporates technology modules with psychology, in an emerging field known as cyberpsychology.
According to the Programme Leader, “Cyberpsychology is the study of human behaviour and mental processes in the context of human-technology interaction. The focus of this module is on the psychology of online behaviour, to uncover how the internet and digital technologies affect attitudes, emotions, and the societal impacts of living in a digital age, such as the exploration of the motives and psychological makeup that contribute to Cybercrime, she said.
While psychology professionals work in human domains, students in this field must now develop a strong grasp of technological aspects, especially when the line between cyberspace and the real world is becoming increasingly blurred.
Globally, the adoption rate of emerging technologies – including cloud computing, connected devices, mobile, robotics and blockchain, have grown at an exponential rate over the past 10 years. As of April 2022, there were five billion internet users worldwide, which is 63% of the global population. Of this total, 4.65 billion were social media users.
Further, the arrival of the Metaverse will even reinforce the blurring of the lines between the physical world and the virtual one, the physical world will eventually merge with the digital – in fully immersive virtual reality.
As technology reshapes the way people live, think, and behave, the transformation of psychology studies has introduced new ways to provide treatment or therapy. This has affected the dissemination of knowledge and how research is conducted.
Within the programme’s modules, students will also be exposed to Psychotechnology, to understand user experience (UX), cognitive workload and use these results to solve practical problems. These updated, relevant modules allow students to develop vital skills and knowledge, enabling them to work in various sectors, such as e-sports, advertising, and more that require further study to determine their psychological impacts.
To create a conducive learning and studying environment mirroring the professional setting that supports both counselling and clinical psychology needs, APU has invested significantly to set up the Centre for Psychology and Well-Being at its campus.
The Head of the School who oversees the setting up of the Centre, explained that as a tech-centric and industry-driven university, APU has blended technology elements into conventional psychology teaching and learning. The University’s Centre for Psychology and Well-Being is an innovative facility that houses advanced equipment embedded with state-of-the-art technology that supports psychology learning and research – which itself has set us apart from our competitors.
The Centre aims to develop a professional-like high-tech centre which attracts students towards experiential learning coupled with a comfortable learning environment.
According to the Programme Leader, by placing psychological tools infused with modern technology to better predict and understand human behaviour such as Electroencephalogram (EEG), Eye Tracker, and Computerised Psychological Assessments, students can learn to make data-driven decisions.
Together with Eye-Tracking Laboratory, the design of the Centre includes Psychobiological Laboratory; Psychoanalysis Therapy Suites for both individual and group therapy; Psychological Testing and Measurement Room; Psychology Group Observation Suite that is complimented with a one-way mirror and AV capture equipment; Activity and Discussion Rooms; and teaching classrooms that are tied to instructional learning and research activities.
Some highlights of the training using the advanced setting and facilities mentioned include:
- The DSI-24 Electroencephalogram (EEG) – a wireless dry electrode EEG headset in the Psychobiological Lab enables students to learn about cognitive processes like attention and memory by placing conductive electrodes on the scalp which measure the small electrical potentials that arise outside of the head due to neuronal action within the brain.
- In the Psychological Testing and Measurement Room, the latest state-of-the-art Tobii Pro Fusion Eye Tracker which focuses on information processing such as scene perception, and visual searching, provides students with a first-hand experience in using the equipment.
- The Psychoanalysis Therapy Suite features the famous Freud psychoanalytic couch. This help students learn role-play skills or to conduct any activity relating to counselling or psychotherapy.
- The Psychology Group Observation Suite is equipped with a one-way mirror (semi-transparent mirror), brightly lit from one side, allowing students to inconspicuously observe people’s behaviour on the other side while maintaining privacy.
- Individual (and Group) Therapy Rooms are designed to provide a quiet, comfortable, energizing, and soothing space ideal for conducting individual or group counselling. Registered counsellors and educators will use the rooms to provide their respective services like consultation, teaching, and intern-related training.
With proficiency in using advanced technology, especially digital assessments, APU’s psychology graduates become tech-savvy and well equipped for the competitive world of the psychology industry.
Marsdya TNI Donny Ermawan Taufanto, Secretary-General of the Indonesian Ministry of Defense formally inaugurated the ongoing 2022 Defense Research and Development Week with the theme “Research, Development, and Innovation of Defense Technology in Realising the Independence of Defense Equipment Tools.”
The Secretary-General urged all citizens to love, appreciate, and be proud of the innovations created by the nation’s youth. He cited that the activities have an important role in publication and scientific information to understand and produce the best solutions in the form of constructive and innovative suggestions for R & D development in the defence sector.
The activity was organised by Indonesia’s Ministry of Defense – Research and Development Agency in the form of an exhibition that displays defence equipment resulting from research and development of universities, R & D agencies, and domestic industries.
On the other hand, the Secretary-General acknowledged the exhibits of the innovative defence types of equipment, and his attention was focused on the Moto EV, a two-wheeled vehicle with an electric engine. The Moto EV is perfect for silent operation because the noise level has been minimised.
Also, the activity exhibited innovative creations in the IT sector like the Pasupati, a Pindad Simulation Product of Virtual Reality, which is a technology for digitally simulating shooting activities using weapon products.
Using VR principles, users will be invited to interact with the virtual world environment using the console, as if they were using and shooting with real weapons. With a level of ease that has a sensation like playing video games, Pasupati offers easy and real use of weapons while minimising the level of danger.
The activities of the 2022 Defense R&D Week honour the 27th National Technology Awakening Day, which aims to accommodate brilliant ideas from academics and researchers to contribute to the development of defence technology and attain future defence equipment independence.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Information and Communication Technology Training and Development Centre Research and Human Resources Development Agency of the Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo) held a Regional Workshop On Digital Diplomacy with the theme “The Essence of Information and Communication Technology for Government Leaders.”
The activity is intended for Government Officials for the e-government implementation of countries and territories in the Pacific region such as the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Hence, the activity was a follow-up to the International Conference on Digital Diplomacy (ICDD) with the theme “Unmasking Digital Diplomacy in the New Normal” which was held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2021.
The ICDD 2021 activity was attended by 20 countries and produced the Bali Message on ICDD which has identified five focus areas, namely:
- Government Policy Framework to Support Digital Diplomacy;
- Crisis Management Through Digital Diplomacy;
- Data Management to Support Digital Diplomacy;
- Innovation to Support SMEs; and
- Capacity Building and Digital Inclusion.
The ICDD follow-up series will continue to be carried out by the nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the cornerstone of Digital Diplomacy. In the next activity, the Ministry will hold a Regional Government social media (GSMS) Conference, a scientific discussion forum on the use of digital media among governments to share new perspectives and experiences, which provide solutions to challenges in digital diplomacy through government social media.
The Ministry of Heavy Industries (MHI) launched an Automated Online Data Transfer system to collect critical domestic value addition (DVA) data from a Production Linked Incentive scheme (PLI) applicant’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
The PLI scheme was launched to boost domestic manufacturing, investments, and the export of telecom and networking products. The PLI Scheme for Automobile and Auto Component Industry in India (PLI Auto) proposes financial incentives to boost the domestic manufacturing of Advanced Automotive (AAT) products and attract investments in the automotive manufacturing value chain.
Through the new automated online data transfer mechanism, MHI’s PLI Auto Portal will receive data from the applicant’s ERP system. All approved applicants under the PLI scheme have their own ERP system, which is software that enables organisations to manage business activities.
According to a press release, the application programming interface (API) will be embedded with the applicant’s ERP system, making processes in the scheme automatic and paperless. An API is a set of rules that lets different programmes communicate with each other, exposing data and functionality across the Internet in a consistent format. It is an architectural pattern that describes how distributed systems can expose a consistent interface in a secure cyber environment.
Through the previous system, PLI applicants were required to file voluminous claims. The new system eliminates a large amount of paperwork through automation. It reduces the compliance burden for applicants and speeds up claim processing. The release stated that it was created after exhaustive stakeholder consultations with leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and auto component manufacturing companies.
MHI Minister, Mahendra Nath Pandey, noted that the system is an important step in enhancing transparency, ease of doing business, faceless and self-certification-based assessment, and the paperless delivery of services.
The government approved PLI Auto to enhance the country’s manufacturing capabilities for AAT with a budgetary outlay of US$ 3.9 billion. The scheme has been successful in attracting a proposed investment of US$ 8.5 billion against the target estimate of US$ 5.3 billion over five years. FY 2022-23 is the first financial year for which an approved applicant can claim incentives on the determined sales. Sales of AAT products with a DVA of 50% minimum, with sales from 1 April onwards, for a period of five years, shall be eligible for incentives.
Applicants should maintain a detailed DVA calculation for all their eligible products in their own ERP system. It will record the DVA calculation for each batch, product, and model with details of component-wise values, component-wise DVA, and final DVA at the AAT product level. Applicants’ ERP will push the product-wise DVA to the PLI Auto portal on a quarterly basis through the API.
Over the past year, the government has launched several portals and applications to automate the delivery of public services across several sectors. For example, in May, it launched a single national portal for biotech researchers and start-ups that seek regulatory approval for biological research and development projects. The Biological Research Regulatory Approval Portal (BioRRAP) allows stakeholders to see the approvals accorded against a particular application through a unique BioRRAP ID, as OpenGov Asia reported.
In June, the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare launched a mobile phone version of Bhavishya, an artificial intelligence-enabled common portal for pensioners and elder citizens. The portal aids the seamless processing, tracking, and disbursal of pensions.
In response to the need for indoor urban farming solutions, the National University of Singapore (NUS) officially opened the Research Centre on Sustainable Urban Farming (SUrF) to bring together the diverse expertise of principal investigators from across the University to develop new science and technology-based solutions for urban farming in the country.
“NUS is committed to making significant contributions towards Singapore’s food policy agenda, together with partners in the public sector and the industry. We aim to create a globally competitive research programme in sustainable urban farming that incorporates smart agriculture solutions for diverse stakeholders,” says Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS President.
A core team from the domains of science, engineering, and computing makes up SUrF, a research organisation that focuses on sustainable urban farming. This exclusive group of researchers has experience in a variety of topics, including plant science, genomics and gene editing, microbiomes, food science, materials and polymer science, sensor technologies, data science, and artificial intelligence (AI) for indoor farming.
The team will start multidisciplinary programmes to build a cross-boundary, sustainable platform for improving plant performance both before and after harvest, including harvest yield, nutritional profile, and safety assurance.
A new facility for the Centre, with around 200 square metres of indoor plant growth area for research, is planned to be completed by early 2023.
There will be three growth rooms and an additional precision growth room where environmental parameters such as temperature and light spectrum can be changed to promote better plant growth with potentially improved phytonutrients.
PlantEye, a non-destructive phenotyping device for monitoring plant development and recording plant health, as well as many analytical tools for studying nutrient content, will be part of the research equipment.
The Centre will also have access to NUS’s cutting-edge laboratories for molecular genetics research, including gene editing.
Furthermore, SUrF’s research focuses on three stages of food production: before, during, and after production. The goal of the Centre is to come up with solutions for growers and work with local businesses to meet their needs.
Post-harvest interventions can also help improve the nutritional value and microbial safety of food. According to preliminary findings, LED lighting not only removes organisms that cause spoiling but also increases the nutritional quality of green crops.
The team’s next steps will be to develop LED illumination technology specifically for green vegetables typically consumed in Singapore, as well as to test their technique in simulated retail circumstances.
In addition, there are 16 principal investigators in SUrF from the NUS Departments of Biological Science, Food Science and Technology, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science. They oversee about 10 research projects.
One of these projects is trying to make it easier to grow leafy greens in cities. Most crops grown on indoor farms aren’t good for controlled environments because they were grown in the field. This makes growing plants indoors ineffective and unsustainable, with a low yield.
Researchers are looking into new ways to breed plants, such as genomic selection and gene editing, to make leafy vegetable varieties with traits that work well in controlled environments. This is done to improve the quality and productivity of agriculture.
On the other hand, the team made bio-inoculants of bacteria that help plants grow. These can be used in different farming situations, such as when plants are grown in soil, peat, or coconut fibres, or when hydroponic systems are used.
This could help crops grow better and be more resilient in a way that isn’t harmful to the environment. It could also reduce the need for chemical fertilisers.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has launched CovidInArea, a privacy-preserving mobile-friendly app which integrates and visualizes open data. It includes a list of buildings visited by cases who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus in the past 14 days (hereinafter referred to as “incident places”), from the Department of Health (DoH) of the HKSAR Government as an easily accessible heatmap, providing a free location-based tool for users to understand their risk due to proximity with the incident places.
Making use of big data mining and machine learning techniques, a team led by Prof. Gary CHAN Shueng-Han from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering has designed and developed the app, which consists of a real-time heatmap for browsing the locations of the incident places at a glance.
Unlike other existing platforms and apps which mostly require users to check the locations manually, CovidInArea runs the check automatically by providing real-time GPS support for mobile users. It is the first public COVID-19-related app available in both Google Play Store and Apple App Store developed by a university for city-wide use anywhere in Hong Kong.
The heatmap pinpoints incident places given by DoH, based on data updated continuously as per the government’s related daily information release. By zooming in and out on the heatmap, users can immediately gain a complete picture of the incident places, which are indicated by hues of different temperatures, hence able to make informed decisions in their daily routine, path planning and keep safe distancing.
User privacy is ensured in CovidInArea, which requires no user registration and collects no personal information beyond GPS location. All computations are carried out with results presented locally on the user’s phone, while the GPS location, once consumed, is immediately discarded without storage at any time.
In addition, with GPS on, users are enabled to easily visualise in a chart – over several days – the number of incidents placed in their proximity in real-time. Taking into consideration the distance, users’ dwell time, and number of places of incidence in proximity, the app also indicates the overall proximity risk using a colour radar chart:
- Red: Overall high sustained contact with incident places. Recommended to reduce high-risk places, manage health and take voluntary testing if needed.
- Yellow:Medium risk. Be cautious. Plan safe paths to reduce risk.
- Green:Low risk. Stay vigilant.
Prof. Gary Chan stated that because the number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong has remained high as of late, the app provides a timely and user-friendly reference on incident places to help citizens stay vigilant of their surroundings and take precautions if necessary to proactively reduce the infection risk while commuting.
He added that with CovidInArea, users can take appropriate actions to plan daily routes, manage their health, and keep a safe distance from the incident places. The professor also thanked the government for opening up the data for public use to fight against COVID-19 together.
Prof. Gary CHAN Shueng-Han is an expert in the development of novel and precise sensing and positioning technologies for smart applications. The government has worked alongside him to develop a geofencing technology applied in the StayHomeSafe app to enforce local home quarantine orders. He has also innovated a privacy-preserving mobile app that senses registered Bluetooth signals to efficiently search for missing dementia patients in the city. His indoor navigation technology has also been deployed in many malls and venues.