The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Johnson Controls, the global leader for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, will begin a joint collaboration on smart buildings research. Johnson Controls will commit S$5 million into this research programme, and teams from both organisations will work together to address industry-wide challenges.
“As Singapore advances its whole-of-nation movement on sustainable development, NUS is ready to seize the plethora of opportunities through our digital innovation activities and strategic collaborations with industry to drive the future of urban solutions. This collaboration between NUS and Johnson Controls will combine the University’s expertise in the science of cities and sustainability with Johnson Controls’ industry knowledge to co-create people-centric smart building systems to bring about impactful and radical changes to the lives of people in Singapore and the world,” said Professor Chen Tsuhan, NUS Deputy President (Research & Technology).
The NUS School of Design and Environment (SDE) will kick off with the first research project in April 2021, which will be led by Assistant Professor Clayton Miller from its Department of Building.
Machine Learning to Accelerate conversion of data to standardised data labels in buildings
The research will use machine learning to accelerate the conversion of Internet of Things (IoT) data into the BRICK Schema, a standardising model for data labels in buildings. This open-source schema describes smart buildings and their subsystems in a format that enables software to more easily and quickly connect into a larger number of buildings.
With the establishment of a consistent schema across buildings, the industry will be abke to better understand metadata usage across all building types, to improve overall wellness for its users.
“Our research collaboration with Johnson Controls will contribute to the built environment sector’s need for rapid digitalisation and enhanced collaboration across the entire industry value chain. The status quo is that each building speaks its own language when it comes to IoT.”
“With this research, Asst Prof Miller’s team seeks to create a type of ‘translation engine’ to convert these individual languages into the BRICK schema. This is a critical piece of enabling technology for Singapore to develop future-ready solutions for sustainable cities in line with Singapore Green Plan 2030,” said Professor Lam Khee Poh, NUS SDE Dean.
The research will leverage the Johnson Controls OpenBlue Innovation Center housed at SDE, which was launched in September 2020 as a testbed for a new breed of customisable, contact-free applications built on the Johnson Controls unifying OpenBlue digital technology suite. It will focus primarily on the four SDE buildings, with the possibility to expand the scope to include other buildings across the NUS campus.
“NUS is an important partner in our journey to transform the urban built environment, especially with the focus of ‘build back better’ in the recovery from the long pandemic. Tapping on the talents from both sides to research on artificial intelligence, sustainability as well as smart experience and wellness, we can innovate and scale from this NUS living laboratory. Singapore’s larger regulatory environment is also conducive for adoption of technologies to ensure our built environment is healthier and more sustainable,” said Mr Alvin Ng, Vice President, Digital Solutions, Asia Pacific, Johnson Controls.
The ‘connected firefighter’ package is a $57.4 million investment as part of the New South Wales (NSW) government’s response to the Independent Bushfire Inquiry following the Black Summer Bushfires of 2019/20. The package includes:
- Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), or drones that provide images and data from incidents in real-time, assist firefighters with incident planning.
- Cell on Wheels (CoWs), which are mobile modules that are equipped with communications technology and provide power for extended periods in remote parts of the state without coverage.
- Upgrades to Fire and Rescue NSW Mobile Command Centres for communications between incident management teams and firefighters.
- Vehicle as a Node (VaaNs), vehicles that have a built-in Wi-Fi hub to provide mobile 4G network in remote locations where satellite connection is limited.
The region’s Police and Emergency Services Minister said that the NSW Government is providing record funding towards initiatives that are bolstering the safety of the community. It is apparent is that the emergency services are entering a tech boom, one which rightly puts NSW ahead of the pack this bushfire season, he said. These assets will ensure NSW’s first responders are safe as they enter dangerous and volatile fire grounds to protect their communities.
A report from earlier this year noted that Emergency services and communities will be better prepared for disaster, with another record $1.9 billion budget in 2021-22 across the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS), Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW), and NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES).
The Minister for Police and Emergency Services has confirmed a record investment of $930 million for FRNSW and $240 million for NSW SES reflected the Government’s continued focus on safeguarding lives, property and supporting emergency management personnel. The budget includes more than $75 million over four years for the Stay Safe and Keep Operational program across emergency services, which will support the communication requirements of the emergency services agencies in areas not serviced by the Government Radio Network.
Fire and Rescue NSW will benefit from a nearly $23 million investment over four years for the rollout of new firefighting personal protective clothing. Almost $12 million will be spent over two years for the completion of FRNSW fire stations at Marsden Park and Oran Park, including trucks and equipment for each station.
The funding also includes an additional $268 million to continue the implementation of the recommendations of the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry, building on more than $192 million already announced since the 2019-20 bushfire season.
The funding package includes:
- More than $48 million for fleet replacement and vehicle safety retrofits for frontline firefighting agencies;
- $16 million for additional NSW RFS crews for hazard reduction and mitigation works;
- More than $34 million to accelerate the delivery of the strategic fire trails network;
- More than $18 million over two years to enhance coordination between emergency services, helping to fast-track integrated call and dispatch at FRNSW;
- More than $17 million over two years to operationalise two black hawk helicopters and to replace an existing NSW RFS helicopter;
- $20 million over two years for NSW RFS to upgrade Fire Control Centres, Emergency Operations Centres, and Station/Neighbourhood Safe Places;
- Nearly $7 million to enhance firefighter safety through fire ground tracking, training and accreditation of heavy plant machinery over four years; and
- More than $5 million to acquire additional drones for firefighting operations by FRNSW.
The NSW RFS will benefit from a $686 million budget in 2021-22, which will ensure it has the resources required to provide a world-leading bushfire response capability. The Budget also includes almost $790 million for Resilience NSW to coordinate and oversee whole-of-government disaster management, recovery, and build resilience to disasters.
The Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad’s (IIT-Hyderabad) Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation (TiHAN) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI). They will collaborate in the field of India-specific technology development, simulations, and the real-world verification and validation of advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving. TiHAN and ARAI will jointly promote research and develop and offer solutions, technologies, and practices to the industry to enable smart mobility in autonomous vehicles.
The collaboration will significantly contribute to safe and sustainable autonomous mobility solutions in India and provide greater insight into TiHAN activities. It will update testbeds on autonomous navigations (aerial/terrestrial) in the campus, the Project Director of TiHAN-IIT-H stated. The collaboration will also promote the innovation ecosystem, skill development, and entrepreneurship activities in the area of autonomous navigation systems.
According to an official statement, the partnership will further strengthen ARAI’s abilities and activities in the field of smart mobility. ARAI has been looking for avenues to disseminate knowledge in a structured way and is keen to offer joint programmes, the ARAI Director noted.
TiHAN at IIT-H focuses on the research, design, and development of autonomous navigation and data acquisition systems for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and RoVs (remotely operated underwater vehicles), etc. An official said that TiHAN aims to support activities related to autonomous navigation, which will make India a leader in the domain. TiHAN intends to be at the forefront in devising technology, protocols, testing, and validation through testbed, which will be inaugurated shortly.
Recently, IIT-Hyderabad announced it is investing more than IN₹10 million (US$133,406) in six start-ups that are working in the areas of autonomous navigation. A news report stated that these deep-tech start-ups largely work on building drones, an autonomous indoor logistics ecosystem for warehousing, and surveillance UAVs, etc. The prototype-ready start-ups, which are working on projects like building sentient drones, an autonomous indoor logistics ecosystem for warehousing, ecological monitoring using drones, would get IN₹2.5 million (US$33,351) each.
Apart from this, TiHAN is also investing up to IN₹1 million (US$13,341) in early-stage start-ups, including a project that is building surveillance UAVs, another that is making drones for video and photo applications, and a project that is working on passive thermal cooling systems for li-ion battery packs. In addition to the start-ups, these facilities will also be available for researchers and the industry at large, an official noted. TiHAN is going to support more deep-tech start-ups in the coming months.
In September, ARAI indigenously developed a charger for electric vehicles (EV) to boost the EV ecosystem in the country. To promote EVs, charging infrastructure is crucial, since mobility chargers are imported, the association’s focus is to develop these indigenously, which will be cost-effective and boost the local economy, the ARAI Director noted. He was speaking at a press conference organised to announce the details of the Symposium on International Automotive Technology (SIAT 2021). Many EV components, including motors, controllers, and chargers are imported. ARAI has developed indigenous technology for EV charger AC001, which has been taken up for manufacturing and promotion by Bharat Electronics. The charging points will be set up by Bharat Electronics and parts for EV charger systems will be manufactured locally.
The post-pandemic world is entering a period characterised by restructuring and consolidation. Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), with the backing of Academia Sinica, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Welfare are focused on six key strategic industries: IT and digitisation, cybersecurity, precision healthcare, renewable and sustainable energies, national defence and strategy, as well as civilian affairs and military preparedness.
With the rising popularity of the 5G infrastructure, asset security will be the next global battlefield. The synergy between Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and many other emerging technologies related to 5G is yielding a plethora of innovative cross-domain applications. With the popularity of 5G, asset security has become a critical issue that cannot be ignored.
Healthcare and technologies join hands to pave the way for the rise of precision healthcare. As the ageing society is creating a growing demand for medical services and management of chronic diseases, precision healthcare has become an irreversible trend worldwide. A number of leading medical institutions are utilising advanced technologies to enhance their smart healthcare and smart hospital services.
Taipei Veterans General Hospital President said that he intends to make smart healthcare the centrepiece of the next stage of development at the hospital, with the goal of reaching a peak utilisation of cutting-edge technologies that combine precision healthcare and big data.
Science and technology help improve military power by speeding up the transformation of the defence industry. When it comes to defence and strategy, Taiwan has accumulated substantial experience as a result of having developed the FORMOSAT-5 satellite and the FORMOSAT-7 satellite constellation, in combination with its existing complete supply chains and manufacturing capabilities in the semiconductor, information communication electronics and precision machinery sectors
These technologies assure Taiwan an ongoing capability to develop and manufacture satellites, as well as serving as an important R&D and manufacturing base for global satellite components, ground communications, ground terminals and other equipment.
Taiwan has long held an edge in display technology, and the sector is an economic powerhouse. To take full advantage of the nearly limitless opportunity presented by internet-connected devices and application services, and position display technologies and related applications as the engine for Taiwan’s next wave of economic growth, the government has released an action plan for display technologies and applications covering the years 2020 to 2024.
This strategy will move the sector beyond mere displays toward the 2030 vision of a smart-tech lifestyle incorporating emerging display technologies and applications, thereby keeping Taiwan’s advanced tech industry at the global forefront.
Three are three essential Taiwan tech strategies:
- Encourage demonstration applications and field testing: Drive domestic demand by building demonstration sites for exemplary solutions incorporating domestic products. Build Taiwan into the world’s top supplier of display technology products and solutions by 2030.
- Develop new capabilities for smart technology: Develop emerging technologies like intelligent sensors, online-offline convergence, and cybersecurity, as well as advance new technology through multidisciplinary cooperation. Elevate Taiwan’s international competitiveness and position on the value chain by producing a range of specialised and differentiated products by 2030.
- Build an environment for industrial development: Construct communications mechanisms and experimentation platforms for smart retail, smart transport, smart health care and smart entertainment. Nurture new talent capable of synthesising multidisciplinary research to create future-oriented display technologies and innovative applications, and promote cooperation with international counterparts.
Taiwan researchers have been inventing novel advanced technologies, including a bendable water-enabled portable power bank — a device that generates power from a few drops of water. As reported by OpenGov Asia, a team from the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology said that the gadget utilises membrane technology to generate electricity from water.
A Chinese tech giant has opened up its self-driving robo-taxis to the public on the streets of Shanghai. Passengers are able to hail one of the autonomous taxis at around 150 stations throughout the city’s Jiading area, a residential and commercial part of Shanghai. As the system is currently in a testing phase, the service is free and will operate from 9.30 pm to 11 pm daily through an app.
The autonomous taxis feature a combination of lidar, radar, cameras and GPS — similar to set-ups used by other self-driving technology companies, making them capable of Level 4 autonomy. This would mean that, in most cases, the vehicle does not require human interaction and can fully drive itself. A human overseer will, nevertheless, be on standby at all times during the Shanghai trials.
Autonomous vehicles have accumulated over 8.7 million miles of testing. Its goal is to put around two hundred vehicles on Shanghai’s roads in the near future and says that it is either testing or deploying five hundred vehicles across thirty cities. Shanghai is the fifth city in which the service has been rolled out after Guangzhou, Changsha, Cangzhou and Beijing, all cities with populations over 6.5 million.
The service has also expanded to Beijing as fully driverless robo-taxis began operating last April. The robo-taxis have an operator sitting in the passenger seat, rather than behind the wheel, in order to reassure passengers. Rides in Beijing cost 30 yuan (around £3.40), though elsewhere journeys remain free, as the system is still in its testing phase.
Apart from self-driving taxis, a leading Chinese autonomous driving firm has also unveiled its latest L4-level unmanned delivery vehicles and smart solutions recently, as self-driving commercialisation is revving up in the country with faster-than-expected driverless applications.
The latest unmanned delivery vehicles have already offered delivery services in communities in foreign markets, and are able to cope with complex scenarios of open roads in urban villages, urban-rural junctions as well as downtown areas. The unmanned delivery vehicles have been applied to sectors like automobile manufacturing, hazardous chemicals, food processing, agricultural breeding, civil aviation and industrial parks.
In China, a sound unmanned distribution business model has been formed with technologies able to support different needs. The overall industry is expected to eventually enjoy large-scale commercial applications.
For some time now, domestic tech companies have been gearing up efforts in unmanned delivery services, which are expected to generate huge commercial value in a variety of businesses like express delivery, food takeaway orders, fresh produce ordering and retail pharmaceuticals.
Beijing also issued temporary self-driving license plates to 99 vehicles from 15 companies including online food delivery giants, self-driving firms and ride-hailing platforms, which marked a milestone for the commercialisation of autonomous driving.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Ministry of Science and Technology jointly issued a guideline mapping out key transport technology based on innovation for China through 2035. The guideline emphasises making technological breakthroughs in the transport sector. It sets the goal that self-reliance on key transport technology will be achieved by 2035. Mechanisms will optimise to spur the vitality of innovative entities as much as possible. Legislation in artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous driving, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be studied and drawn up.
Though the smart public transport service is currently limited to selected areas, they have been tried in a variety of application scenarios such as residential communities, commercial areas, and industrial parks to increase transportation efficiency and save fuel consumption.
The demonstration pioneers have been constantly fine-tuning and upgrading the systems while extending the mileage of safe operation, increasing the number of passengers, pouring investment in technology upgrading, and infrastructure construction to cope with the demand for intelligent public transport.
Singapore’s Tampines Polyclinic, this month will use robots instead of nurses to monitor patients’ temperatures and remind them to put on their masks. The Healthcare Assistive Robot for Frontline Infection Control (Hiro) was developed by researchers at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) and is currently being tested at the polyclinic. The robot uses UV-C light to kill bacteria and viruses and can direct visitors to service points.
NP’s Robotics Research and Innovation Centre assistant director said, “the robot is meant to help cut down on the possibility of infection in the polyclinics and also reduce the burden on healthcare staff doing laborious tasks like cleaning hard-to-reach areas and temperature screening, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
We want this facility to be a platform for collaboration with the industry as NP moves towards our vision of helping to develop technology for the future in the healthcare, transportation, construction and sustainability industries.
– Assistant Director, Robotics Research and Innovation Centre, Ngee Ann Polytechnic
The Healthcare Assistive Robot is part of the NP’s joint effort with healthcare provider SingHealth, which operates eight of the 20 polyclinics in the area. The robot’s development began last year, with plans to deploy more at various SingHealth polyclinics the following year. NP also announced the launch of the Robotics Research and Innovation Centre, which is divided into two wings and located on NP’s Clementi Road campus. The centre will house students pursuing a new Specialist Diploma in Robotics Engineering, which is geared toward adult learners and will accept 40 applicants in April of next year.
The facilities, which include workshops, showcase areas, and laboratories, will provide students with real-world robotics experience, according to the NP deputy principal. Moreover, other projects in the works with the National Parks Board include a park patrol robot and a plant health monitoring robot (NParks). Last year, in collaboration with Hougang Primary School, CoDDiE, a teaching assistant robot that assists students in learning to code, was developed. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a variety of unmanned robots have begun to appear in public roles across the country.
OpenGov Asia in an article reported that two robots have been patrolling the Toa Payoh Central neighbourhood in Singapore as part of a three-week trial, looking for errant smokers, unlicensed hawkers, motorbikes and e-scooter riders on sidewalks and gatherings that exceed the current group size limits. The robots are designed to alert public officers in real-time to these offences since they will be equipped with cameras that have a 360-degree field of vision and can see in the dark. They will also be able to broadcast and show warnings warning people about the dangers of such behaviour.
The patrolling robot, developed by HTX in collaboration with the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, will contribute to enhancing efficiency while reducing the need for manpower for foot patrols, according to the company. This is particularly true for labour-intensive operations like monitoring illegal hawkers. The latest patrolling robot is a refresh of the police’s Multi-purpose All-Terrain Autonomous Robots, or Matar, which have been deployed at large public events such as the National Day Parade, Marina Bay Countdown, and Chingay.
The fourth industrial revolution’s technological innovations are radically transforming the economy. The self-sufficient economy is becoming a reality. AI, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) advancements are ushering in a new era of automation.
Workplace automation in Singapore is expected to increase more than double in three years, covering 29% of all work done by businesses, up from 14% in 2018. This could result in at least 5% of Singapore’s full-time workers losing their jobs.
Singapore must adopt new strategies to keep up with global technological advancements to avoid falling behind. The automation of the economy will be critical to Singapore’s growth and competitiveness. According to a report, automation could boost global productivity growth by up to 1.4% per year. However, for the Singaporean workforce, automation may pose significant challenges and disruptions to current jobs and skillsets.
A report from the Jacobs Institute’s Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech showed that the main aspects that shape the future of urban technology are sustainable neighbourhoods, a supercharged infrastructure and inclusive innovation that strikes back at surveillance capitalism.
For the report, the research team conducted a 10-year horizon scan, scouring thousands of published journals, news articles and blogs to identify the most relevant and important trends. The raw data were synthesised to reveal 217 unique perspectives and 49 trends that describe the direction of urban tech in the next decade.
The Horizon Scan is meant to create a conversation across the many areas that are a part of urban tech. The report describes the innovations that the field could produce in the coming decade. But it also lays out the ‘technical debt’ that’s already on the books due to hasty decisions about sensing, AI, and tech governance.”
– Anthony Townsend, Project Lead
Though the report covers a number of technological advances, from mobility solutions to the complexities of privacy related to facial recognition, the research team homes in on six key themes that will likely have the biggest impact on the future of cities.
First, smart city concepts have seen steady progress over the last decade, with more municipalities equipping their buildings with digital sensing. Improved real-time tracking of energy, waste and water has led to increased control and savings.
The report cites scaling sustainable building technology as another theme, as cities look to cut carbon emissions in efforts to contain the effects of climate change. Technology will play a critical role as political and financial capital is focused on megacities, where street-level solutions will be key in extracting the maximum value.
City infrastructure is also expected to play an important role in shaping the future of urban technology. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how understanding the urban ecosystem can help anticipate outbreaks, as scientists used sewage sampling and microbiome sequencing in city transit systems to track the spread of the virus. Many cities are even wiring up waterways and parks to calculate the vitality of these ecosystems.
Artificial neural networks, which power some of the cities’ most sophisticated machine learning efforts, can provide incredible value to governments by predicting the movements of goods, people, resources and information. At the same time, by deploying such powerful tools society risks giving up individual freedoms, the report states.
The shift toward doing things remotely, from learning and health care to work and entertainment, reveals wealth and power disparities. Fostering technologies that empower the disempowered can help ensure an efficient, tech-powered future.
Finally, the researchers predict that in the decade ahead, “big tech will crack the code of the city and stitch together a planetary supply chain for urban innovation.” Governments are getting a clearer picture of the problems they want the industry to solve, and the challenges of realising smart city innovation is becoming clearer.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, a new report also revealed the trends shaping the future of local U.S. governments which include data, technology and Customer Experience (CX). “The Future of Local Government” report states that because the public interacts with local governments the most, those agencies are best poised to make a for constituents and businesses.
Using data to drive decision- and policymaking is becoming increasingly crucial. Historically, government data has been stored across an array of sources, databases, systems and departments; one in four local officials surveyed by Forrester Consulting said public datasets housed in multiple databases and lines of business systems are a significant obstacle to executing new customer-focused strategies. Bringing disparate data sources together to tap into the immense power of analytics and data-based business insights will play a critical role in reshaping local government for a new era.
According to new data released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the University of Oxford, COVID-19 vaccine inequity will have a long-term and profound impact on socioeconomic recovery in low- and lower-middle-income countries unless urgent action is taken to increase supply and ensure equitable access for all countries, including through dose sharing.
Despite lower growth projections for the next two years, Asean+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) economists in the Philippines said what is important is that the government has increased its vaccination programme against Covid-19. Whereas the Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) stated that an increase in the number of people vaccinated against coronavirus will address the country’s pandemic-related unemployment.
Increased vaccination drive would help the country gradually win the war vs. the unseen enemy, which is Covid-19. Full vaccination sharply reduces the risk of Covid-19 infections, severe cases or hospitalisation, and deaths, thereby reducing the burden on the health care system and correspondingly reduces the risk of lockdowns, going forward.
– Commercial Banking Corporation
“I think it’s very important but to me, the key here really is our vaccine turnout and we have been doing very well now,” he said during a virtual event. The country’s unemployment rate rose to 8.1% in August, up from 6.9% in July. Economic managers predicted the increase due to the implementation of stricter quarantine restrictions following the increase in Covid-19 cases caused by the Delta variant. However, they reported that labour force participation increased to 63.6% in August from 59.8% the previous month as more people rejoined the labour force.
The chief economist of Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) noted that the continued vaccination drive and reopening of the economy bode well for the country’s economic recovery prospects in the coming quarters or even years, albeit gradually, given the need to reduce new COVID-19 cases amid risks associated with the unvaccinated.
“The country’s economy could return to pre-COVID levels as early as the latter part of 2022 or by 2023, but the recovery of other businesses/industries, especially those hard-hit by the pandemic last year, would take much longer,” he added.
In addition, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) recently launched the National Digital Vaccine Certificate to unify all LGU-issued vaccination cards across the country (VaxCertPH). VaxCertPH is a component of the DICT’s Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS), and its ultimate goal is to enable the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Centre to vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.
The system is claimed to be reliant on data given by the LGUs to the central VIMS data warehousing for the purposes of generating a digital certificate. All data is safeguarded by the relevant encryptions and can be validated by authorised agencies, groups or countries cryptographically.
OpenGov Asia reported in an article stating that the government is also intensifying the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Recover (PDITR) strategy during the lockdown periods to facilitate the reopening of the economy. To strengthen the ‘detect’ and ‘isolate’ pillars, NEDA, the Department of Health (DOH), and other local government units (LGUs), with the help of data scientists from the Asian Institute of Management, are working on a solution to automatically determine likely close contacts of COVID-19 positive cases and immediately notify these people via text message.
Speaking at the recent Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum, Denis F. Villorente, Undersecretary for the National Information & Communications Technology Assets Index, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), spoke about the potential of a robust national ID system that could facilitate multiple types of transactions necessary for digital ecosystems and societies, saving people, government and businesses time and money and unlock new drivers of economic value and growth.