Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Volvo Buses have launched the world’s first full size, autonomous electric bus. The electric bus is a 12 metre-long single-deck bus with a capacity of almost 80 passengers or 36 seated and is now undergoing field trials in Singapore.
The bus has been developed with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), in partnership with the land transport authority (LTA) who has developed and conducted autonomous bus trials for fixed route and scheduled services.
The autonomous bus is a Volvo 7900 electric bus equipped with sensors and navigation controls handled by an artificial intelligence (AI) system, and is the first of two buses which has undergone preliminary testing at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous vehicles at NTU (CETRAN).
Autonomous Bus features
The sensors include light detection and ranging sensors (LIDARS), stereo-vision cameras that capture images in 3D, and an advanced global navigation satellite system that uses real-time kinematics, says Volvo. These are connected to an inertial management unit (IMU) which measures the lateral and angular rates of the bus, aiding in navigation over uneven terrain and around sharp bends for a smoother ride.
The bus will be tested on NTU campus grounds, while the second autonomous Volvo 7900 bus will undergo tests at an SMRT-managed bus depot, and will assess the vehicle’s ability to autonomously navigate into vehicle washing bays and park safely at charging areas.
“This fully autonomous electric bus will play a role in shaping the future of public transportation that is safe, efficient, reliable and comfortable for all commuters. It will soon be tested on the NTU Smart Campus, which has been home to a number of innovations as a living testbed for technologies that impact the human condition and the quality of life,” said NTU President Professor Subra Suresh.
Volvo partner ABB will also be developing a fast-charge solution, one that is based on the OppCharge concept and is suited for autonomous charging in depots as well as in running traffic. It has been said that a Charge of 300 kW is offered via a pantograph on the infrastructure, and the setup will recharge a bus battery in three to six minutes.
The Volvo bus is the first of two that has undergone preliminary rounds of rigorous testing at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous vehicles at NTU (CETRAN). Plans are in place to test the bus on NTU roads and to subsequently extend the route beyond the NTU campus.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is the world’s fastest-growing internet region, with the user base now at 480 million people. Digitalisation in Southeast Asia has important economic implications. By 2025, online spending could rise more than six-fold to US$200 billion. Most of this consumption will be in the areas of electronics, clothing, household goods, and increased travel across the region and elsewhere. This all bodes well in terms of building a middle class and fostering job growth in the region.
At the same time, there are negative sides to the transformation to a digital economy, with cyberterrorism, cyber fraud, and identity theft increasingly threatening its potential. Bad actors are working fast and creatively to wreak havoc on countries, businesses, and people. Today, the quality of a nation’s technology backbone is likely to influence its economic success. If cybersecurity is threatened, investor confidence in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will begin to decay.
On a podcast by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), co-hosts Jim Lewis and Chris Painter talked with David Koh, Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA). They discussed progress in cybersecurity done by the CSA in its first six years, technical and policy cooperation within ASEAN, and next steps in cyber diplomacy after the conclusion of the current United Nations’ Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) processes.
Mr Koh stated that Singapore’s CSA is on a steady pace in the last six years, but it has been a frantic and hectic rollercoaster ride altogether. For him, they have made significant progress in Singapore in terms of cybersecurity. Firstly, by instilling the realisation that the country is tremendously dependent on digital infrastructures as a highly connected society. The way we work, the way we play, all kinds of things that we do depend on the internet today. This should make organisations and citizens realise that cybersecurity is an integral part of these practices. Mr Koh also sees cybersecurity as a key enabler for the nation to continue the way it lives, works, and plays.
From that perspective, CSA was born. Mr Koh said that he had the great honour of being selected to head up the organisation. He also noted that significant high-profile cyber hacks that occurred around the world helped in forming the agency. These cyber-attacks brought the message home to Singapore, a message that cyber risks are indeed real and must be taken care of.
Moreover, Mr Koh said that the CSA laid out the various cybersecurity strategies and the Singapore Prime Minister himself launched it. By doing so, it galvanised the domestic audience by showing a commitment from the national government that boosting cyber resiliency is something that needs to be done.
In the ASEAN, Mr Koh conceded that no man is an island, all more so in cyber issues. The nature of digital is cross border international. The country must realise that no matter what happens in Singapore, it would not be sufficient to curtail the widespread cyber threats. Singapore knows that its economic growth is tied to the ASEAN region thus building up the region’s cyber resiliency is vital. David noted that to do this, ASEAN countries should leverage ICT technologies in terms of economy, education and so on. The region can fully leverage these tech advancements if it can also deal with cyber risks as well.
The message is clear that nations are all dependent on each other and they can only reap the full benefits of digitalisation by dealing with cyber issues. Mr Koh is also glad that ASEAN members attend their meetings on cybersecurity at a ministerial level. That is how the ASEAN Ministerial Council on Cybersecurity (AMCC) was launched.
From a larger perspective, Mr Koh also mentioned that a rules-based framework must be implemented when dealing with cybersecurity. The United Nations’ Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) is the perfect platform to do so, as it is open and inclusive to all 193 countries, large and small have their place there. By conducting discussions on the forum, UN members can now see the importance of cybersecurity for their respective countries. The broadening of the conversation on cyber resiliency to a much wider body of the international community is a significant achievement. Mr Koh believes that the OEWG is the right forum to continue the discussion on improving cyber resiliency. He added that it is a welcome sight that the UN members came to an agreement and a consensus that the issue of cybersecurity is something that we should all work on together as a community.
Mr Koh said that if the approach in cybersecurity is in the same direction, whether it be for the potential impacts of cyber threats to the solutions that deal with them, countries can expect a positive outcome in terms of strengthening cyber resiliency. Leaders and decision-makers must recognise that cybersecurity is an issue, and they need to work together so everyone can move forward in this journey of full digital transformation.
The Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) launched nine new research projects on artificial intelligence (AI) that are intended to aid various sectors in the country, from agriculture to the education sector.
In a virtual launch, the DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) unveiled the AI projects to be undertaken by the DOST-Advanced Technology Science Institute (ASTI), along with various universities in the country.
First is the Autonomous Societally Inspired Mission Oriented Vehicles (ASIMOV) Programme, composed of two-component projects, to be handle by ASTI and a university based in Mindanao. It will take on the challenge of developing AI-enhanced, mission-driven robots working autonomously or with humans to help address society’s needs. In its initial phase, it will focus on laying the groundwork by developing and innovating these key functional modules of intelligent mobile robots: sensing, actuation, control, navigation, and communications.
They will also handle the Harmonised Aerial Watch and Knowledge-based Survey (HAWKS) Project, the aerial component of the ASIMOV Programme and will primarily conduct R&D towards the development of core technologies necessary for autonomous drone deployment.
Moreover, the Mindanao-based university will also spearhead the Philippine Sky Artificial Intelligence Programme (SkAI-Pinas). Its main research component is the Automated Labelling Machine – Large-Scale Initiative (ALaM-LSI), which will be conducted in partnership with the DOST-ASTI once again. SkAI-Pinas aims to bridge the gap between the availability of massive remote sensing data in the country. It is comprised of an AI knowledge base, including experts, protocol, and an AI repository for models and labelled images to accelerate the workflows of remote sensing applications and fill the gaps in past and present remote sensing projects.
Also, to help protect the environment and reduce marine pollution, the same team will also develop a simple, cost-effective technology to monitor and quantify the marine litter in shallow coastal areas. The developers will base their technology on an existing towed optical camera array system for deep-sea monitoring that has undergone sea trials. They will redesign and improve this by adding sensors and cameras to be efficiently used in shallow coastal water surveys.
DOST-ASTI, on other hand, will work on the Robot for Optimised and Autonomous Mission-Enhancement Response (ROAMER) Project. It will develop prototypes of unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) that will help increase the productivity of different industries in the country, especially agriculture. Techs under Project ROAMER are envisioned to monitor, survey, and map agricultural farms for better decision-making and management.
Meanwhile, another university intends to develop a low-cost, wireless structural health monitoring system with visualisation through the Intelligent Structural Health Monitoring via Mesh of Tremor Sensors (meSHM) Project. The system will be made up of less than 50 sensors, that will utilise internet of things (IoT) technology and mesh networks, and can be installed in buildings, bridges, or metro rail systems.
Another project from them is the Development of Multi-lingual Chatbot for Health Monitoring of Public-School Children Project. They will create a system that can interpret audio input and can converse with students using two major Philippine languages, Filipino and Bisaya. The information gathered by the healthcare chatbot will be extracted to update the health database of the students stored in the cloud.
On the other hand, a university based in Luzon is set to develop an automated software that accepts values from a standard Impedance Spectrometer and uses a machine-learning algorithm to identify electrical, mass, and temperature parameters. It also involves properly fitting a spectrum with sufficient parameters that minimise common errors in existing numerical fittings. Industries involving electronics, semiconductors, food, medicine, and agriculture, are targeted to benefit from this project.
Lastly, using an IoT sensor network and deep learning, another Mindanao-based university will design and develop an intelligent traffic control and management system. It will monitor traffic in a selected area by using various devices that can measure several physical traffic parameters like flow, density, volume, as well as pollution. The base station will be established and equipped with intelligent behaviour and direct policy search capabilities using reinforcement learning to manage traffic automatically and efficiently and to avoid congestion. They will also develop and test a prototype of intelligent mobile traffic lights and will design web-based or mobile-based applications that enable easy access to traffic conditions.
The DOST- PCIEERD said that AI is one of their priority areas as it can boost the country towards the fourth industrial revolution. The agency also said that AI can disrupt traditional processes and provide solutions and opportunities that Filipinos can maximise.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series covering the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition. Read Part 2 here.
COVID-19 has advanced digital transition by years and has foundationally altered the way both the public and private sector across the world deliver services, products and programmes. Government agencies and institutions have fast-tracked digitisation of internal operations and delivery of citizen services. Businesses made temporary solutions, that are morphing into more permanent ones, to meet changing and new demands – far more quickly than was thought possible before the crisis.
Yet, to stay relevant, competitive and, indeed, survive, in this new business and economic environment, requires adopting new technologies, formulating evolving strategies and deploying best practices. In this increasingly VUCA world, governments and businesses across the globe are looking to ramp up their digital transformation to better citizens and clients in the post-COVID-19 era. This was the focal point of the discussion during the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition Day 1 that brought the key decision-makers and influencers together for a strategic level discussion on the issues that matter the most.
Convening the brightest digital minds for a strategic level discussion on the issues that matter the most, the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum offered a unique way of tackling challenges in its virtual edition. Intentionally planned, every activity and facet of the event was designed to let delegates garner exclusive insights from the digital leaders as well as demonstrate their thought-leadership.
As always, the forum provided intimate interaction between key ICT leaders from the Public Sector and the Financial Services Industry who influence and determine digital strategies across agencies and organisations.
Apart from informative presentations from renowned speakers, this year’s Forum continued its award-winning OpenGov Gamification Table (OGT) format in the new OpenGov Gamification Virtual Rooms (OGVRs). Every OpenGov Gamification Virtual Room was a virtual heuristic exercise allowing delegates to learn from varying decision-making scenarios just as they would in the physical world.
Digital transformation in the new normal
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered his opening remarks.
As early as 2018, there was consensus on the benefits of remote working and discussion on how to bring this about effectively and securely – but it did not happen in any significant way. Then, at the end of 2019 came a crisis so debilitating that it forced the world to come to a grinding halt almost overnight. Hit by COVID-19, the virus respected no borders, industries or community – devastating all with equal ferocity.
The public and the private sectors worked independently and together to fight the pandemic, coming up with a slew of ad-hoc solutions. Digital initiatives and tech platforms were launched left and right. The demand on the public sector shot up dramatically as citizens, forced to stay at home, looked to the government for necessities to survive. Compounding the situation was the need to urgently manage the sick, the vulnerable and the inaccessible population.
In the early stages, people were excited at the opportunity to work from home, a shift that had been in the offing for a while. Interestingly though, the step was considered a “pivot” – with the connotation of reaction rather than strategic. People and organisations were said to be “pivoting” to manage and mitigate the issues the pandemic brought.
Beyond a doubt, both sectors did their jobs in terms of providing relevant programmes and initiatives throughout the age of COVID-19. But the question remains, were those initiatives innovative and intentional? Was enough done with the available tech? Additionally, as the initial euphoria of remote working wears thin, people, once happy about the shift, realise that the new normal disrupts their work-life balance and their well-being.
The good brings with it the bad, the unsafe and the difficult. Deployment, in normal circumstances, of technology like AI, Cloud and Data Analytics are accompanied by cybersecurity challenges. In the pandemic where almost everything has moved online, cybercrime has mushroomed astronomically.
Knowing this, Mohit challenged the delegates, if you put digital transformation at the heart of your plan, is everything going to be magically in place? Or do we need to take technologies more seriously?
Organisations and institutions must find the right balance in their digital transformation journey using technology. They must also find leadership to achieve the ultimate end goal of a complete digital transformation in the new normal.
In closing, Mohit emphasised the need for agencies and organisations to find the right partner in this digital journey. Not just from the tech sector, but also the government, banking and FSI, to ensure that everyone is on the right path to an ideal digital transformation.
Public services at the centre of digital transformation in the post-COVID-19 era
After Mohit’s opening remarks, the forum heard from Azih Bin Yusof, Deputy Director-General, Information and Communication Technology, Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit.
Confirmed by the World Health Organisation on January 12, 2020, Azih acknowledged that the pandemic took the world by storm. In Malaysia, the government enforced a Movement Control Order that started on March 18, 2020, to break the chain of COVID-19. As of February 28, 2021, the nation reported two waves of COVID-19, with the first wave being successfully suppressed in less than 2 months.
Right from the start, as would be expected, there was increased demand for services and rising expectations of virtual services. As remote working became a necessity, there was an urgent need to test the resilience of working virtually and the need to protect data. Additionally, other disrupted sectors were looking to the government to provide adaptive and dynamic regulatory models.
Making the best of the situation, the Malaysian government took the crisis as an opportunities to move towards digital technology to enable government service in the future, fundamentally reshaping the government’s workforce and reinventing the future of regulations.
Azih shared the various initiatives taken by his government to combat the effects of the pandemic. MySejahtera is an application to assist in monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. It allows users to assess their health risk against COVID-19 and provides the Ministry of Health with the necessary information to plan for early and effective countermeasures and registering for vaccination. The government also launched a National Data Analysis Centre (DOSM) and the Public Sector Data Sharing Policy.
The government has been strong on adopting emerging technologies such as Facial Recognition tech, AI and Automation, a National Digital ID system and big data analytics to improve efficiency and productivity. They improved the government service delivery system through increased digitisation of services.
Malaysia is also focused on digital infrastructure, including their Hybrid Cloud collaboration between private cloud and public cloud systems. The Cloud Service Provider (CSP) services cover Infrastructure as A Service (IAAS), Platform as A Service (PaaS), and Software as A Service (SaaS). MAMPU also implemented a Cloud-First Policy where the value of cloud computing is magnified by requiring agencies to evaluate safe, secure, cloud computing options before making any new investments.
Malaysia aspires to compete and succeed in this new world by ensuring ‘Kemakmuran Bersama’ (Shared Prosperity). The nation firmly believes that digital government plays a critical role in the new normal and should focus on its digital leadership, data, services, infrastructure, and innovation. To this end, it has empowered MAMPU as the sole agency to drive the public sector digital transformation agenda.
Azih conceded that a viable digital government must provide platforms for small scale innovations, improve existing business process, new solutions, develop talent and disperse capabilities. It must have a vision for the future that defines the leadership and collaboration needed between all stakeholders.
COVID-19 impacts on Data Collection, Digitisation and Analytics
After the informative presentation from Azih, the forum moved to a presentation from J.R Helmig, Innovation Lead Global Security Intelligence SAS Institute on how the pandemic affected data collection, digitisation, and analytics.
J.R started by confirming that people, processes, tech, and data make up the ecosystem of data analytics. Analytical foundations, practical outcomes and future-focussed mindsets must take the helm in an effective ecosystem. While not all analytical opportunities apply to all locations, organisations or agencies every time, they are critical to success overall.
COVID-19 accelerated the need for a viable ecosystem of data analytics – not only in terms of healthcare, workforce, and public services but also to combat the rise of online fraud and cybercrimes. Data standardisation and modernisation with proper training would be key to combat these crimes in addition to automating investigative responses.
It was pertinent to note, pre-COVID problems still exist in current analytical efforts. Challenges such as the high volume of incoming data, low quality of incoming report data, a wide variety of data sources being manually integrated, inefficient ways to investigate and handle suspicious cases, limited resources with increasing pressure to perform more efficiently and effectively, manual checks of technical matches to identify the right business match, limited analytics capabilities to identify and analyse networks and relationships and so on.
Organisations must go from being reactive to being observant of what is happening to shape future outcomes. J.R and his team help create an analytical pathway that helps organisations identify their analytical baseline. This analytic continuum acts as the knowledge hub or library for organisations. This greatly reduces tech implementation risks as well as costs.
J.R suggested that organisations should adopt a case management system. An effective case management system must generate solutions whether be it automatically or manually. It must also be populated with any of the data available in the solution that is needed to successfully the desired result.
J.R encouraged everyone to predict and plan their new normal. They should be proactive with ongoing issues such as facial recognition efforts, fake personal protective equipment, news to manipulate stock prices, threats to military readiness or asymmetrical national security threats, just to name a few. Every organisation must anticipate criminality during COVID – both near term and long term – for both direct and indirect impacts, document and improve business processes during the recovery period, and plan for ongoing change – in business operations and consumer behaviour.
What makes Digital Transformation Successful and Sustainable
Moving on from the informative presentation of J.R Helmig, the delegates had an opportunity to hear from Dr Dzaharudin Mansor, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Malaysia.
AI and Automation kick-started during the 4th industrial revolution, and digital transformation is right at the centre of that change, was his opening premise. In today’s day and age, the competition between tech companies and organisations have changed because various transformative technologies are now democratised. Smartphones, drones, sensors, 3D printers, industrial robotics, solar-powered systems, mixed realities, and DNA sequencing are all made available to each user given by different companies, regardless of their structure.
With the increased adoption of these technologies, there are socio-economic trends that drive the need for digital government. The increase in expectations of digital culture is such that everyone expects the ability to interact and receive services in a fully digital operating model.
Cultural migration and urbanisation, where personal mobility creates multi-cultural urban centres, require new models to communicate and serve diverse populations. Citizen trust in government s fundamental – if citizens perceive a lack of digital maturity as an issue of competence it generates distrust in government.
Local and regional economies failing to effectively maintain public systems and infrastructure, create hurdles in attracting businesses and residents. Knowing all these factors, governments need to embrace digital transformation to stay relevant. To be efficient and effective in today’s complex, interlinked and fast-changing environment, governments need to redesign their structures and processes to capitalise on a new set of actors and tools.
Dr Mansor mentioned six tech trends that can enable an open digital government.
- Cloud provides an agile, flexible platform with unlimited scale for innovating quickly, maintaining compliance, and adapting to the latest security threats.
- Open data and advanced analytics paves way for new capabilities for analytics allowing significant improvements in decision making, performance analysis, policy development and financial management.
- AI maturity presents the capability to deliver and govern new models for community living, ranging from transportation optimisation to environmental stewardship.
- Service architecture with new design models allows rapid improvement of services by creating small applications that leverage an integrated data platform (moving away from silos).
- Cybersecurity implies governments can be trusted with public data.
- Mobility, where hardware tools and software platforms support the ability for many jobs to be performed in remote locations and with virtual communications.
Governments can adapt and become more resilient in the new normal by thinking in three basic phases. The first is to respond and navigate the flow of events. Adapt and respond to immediate challenges in real-time, enable remote work, maintain productivity and business continuity. The second is to recover and plan the comeback. Return business to scale quickly, adapt products, services, and business models, focus on value and cost reduction, restart customer demand. The third is to reimagine and shape the new normal. Reimagine and position people, processes, and technology for growth and new opportunities to build resilience post-COVID-19.
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
Taking over, Peter Buckmaster, Director of Digital Experience Design Department of Education New South Wales discussed how Artificial Intelligence has now a part of normal life and specifically education – where traditional methods are changing drastically.
Peter started by saying that AI began in classical philosophy to describe human thinking in a symbolic system. In Jungian psychology, symbols, (and is by interpreting these), symbols were a primary method for making sense of the world. They represented meaning, information and actions. In technology, AI is a machines’ ability to simulate natural intelligence (NI).
AI changing the way we interact and AI changing the way education is delivered. The evolution of AI and Automation has influenced the education sector in many ways. Cognitive Intelligence now plays multiple roles in the sector including grade assessments, improving personalised learning, facilitating connected analytics and programming.
Peter agreed that the academic world is becoming more convenient and personalised thanks to the numerous applications of AI for education and as educational material becomes accessible to all through different technologies.
The usage of bots and automation in the education sector has become widespread while AI and automation are being increasingly used in transcription. AI automates administrative duties, minimising the need for staff to complete mundane, repetitive tasks thus freeing educators to spend more quality time with students.
Customers, (citizens, customers or students), in the new normal expect to engage with service providers 24/7. Digital transformation is the way to be always on and its efficiency is moving us past simple automation to RF and cognitive intelligence. It changes the way education is developed and redefines the way we teach.
Increasing Your Agility with Multi-Cloud Flexibility
After Peter Buckmaster, the delegates were given a presentation from Ryan Tassotti, Enterprise Architect and Principal Engineer, Dell Technologies on how organisations can increase their agility by utilising multi-cloud systems.
Ryan defines the cloud as an on-demand self-service that has broad network access, resource pooling capability, rapid elasticity and can measure services. The cloud has four deployment models – private cloud, community cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud. The Top 3 objectives driving cloud spending for Asia Pacific’s customers are New technology, Digital Transformation and Cloud-First Strategy.
As an example of Cloud-first policies, Ryan pointed to Malaysia’s MyDigital blueprint. This framework accelerated innovation in the country, allowed eCommerce imperatives for micro and SMEs and promoted better experiences for its citizens.
The fact is, Ryan noted, that the pandemic ushered the world into a new era. The new normal brings new demands and the cloud is set to provide solutions to these new necessities. The world has made a paradigm shift and digital transformation must accelerate with it. Close to three-quarters (74%) of all organisations are investing in on-demand digital services, two-thirds ( 65%) of global GDP will be from digital by 2022 and on-demand models by 2023 will be 15%, up from less than 1% in 2019.
A recent survey of 900 IT leaders across verticals and regions found that 96% of organisations have an executive mandate to leverage cloud technologies. While 89% plan to deploy private cloud infrastructure in the next 12 months, 76% of organisations will leverage multiple clouds environments over the next two years.
Utilising a multi-cloud strategy caters to different workloads. Some organisations value performance, some prioritise data services, while some look at costs and data sovereignty. While hybrid-cloud seems to be the way forward, a hybrid-cloud platform must bring stability. It must stabilise workloads, apps, and data spread across multiple clouds – all in all, a consistent cloud experience for everything.
Ryan advised organisations to find partners in cloud adoption. “There are experts who can help you migrate without pain – why do it alone?”
Cloud adopters must ensure that the platform is consistent throughout. They must avoid hiccups throughout an application’s lifecycle with platforms that extend seamlessly, End-users do not want to be surprised by a new management interface so they must be informed.
Ryan and his team in Dell Technologies promote consistency. They facilitate consulting services, deployment services that accelerate technology adoption, managed services realising digital transformation value for client systems, storage, backup, and converged infrastructure, and education services that develop and retain valuable IT talent through continuous learning.
Ryan is firmly convinced that the future is hybrid, the future is multi-cloud and the Malaysia MyDigital blueprint embraces these advancements.
Cloud Computing for Service Innovation
Ryan Tassotti’s presentation was followed by one from Prof Eric Tsui, Professor and Co-Chair on Deployment of E-Learning, Hong Kong Polytechnic University who discussed how organisations must use the cloud for service innovation.
Using the cloud to manage data is no longer an option, it has become imperative for organisations today. This is more so for the public sector that is striving to stay agile and ensure seamless service delivery to the citizens while continuing to innovating concurrently.
Prof Eric felt that the cloud was the perfect knowledge storm; meaning, data growth from IoT and social media, application and tools in the cloud are growing as time goes by. However, software and hardware alone are not enough to create a successful cloud system. Organisations must know that the people accessing services via the cloud are as important as the tech itself. A trusted network of people and computational resources must be integrated to mix to make the cloud the best digital business model available.
Pertinently, there are different types of cloud connections. First is the machine-to-machine, where hardware is king; second is people-to-machine, where people are utilising services; and lastly is the people-to-people connection where users create their networks using the cloud.
Eric reiterated that The Knowledge Cloud is more than just hardware and software. It encompasses people that invest their trust in the technology and involves the storage of data vital to organisations conducting their digital transformation. People build communities for problem-solving, utilising social media for marketing, exploring, and building new business models, executing strategies at low risk and in real-time, and delivering personalised services.
In light of this, organisations must think outside the box. Cloud technology is disruptive. Adopters must perceive the cloud as a massively scalable backend resource with low upfront costs. They must perceive the cloud as an intelligent knowledge centre with massive data and problem-solving skills such as processors and human integration needs, that has a dynamic computational power.
Eric stressed the key concepts in service innovation – the co-creation of value, dynamic capabilities, enabling vs disruptive, open business models and customer experience. Cloud technology is the perfect digital adjustment to these key concepts.
Organisations use the cloud for cost reduction and data integration, innovation and transforming new segments using the knowledge cloud. But there must be a collaborative effort to achieve higher rewards from the tech. The integration of humans to solve complex problems using the cloud, letting the computer do the problem solving that it is capable to do, and the integration between humans and computers to create solutions.
Eric concluded his presentation by sharing various cloud service providers that organisations could partner with on their journey in cloud adoption and digital transformation in the new normal.
Embracing Big Data and Analytics Today for a Resilient Tomorrow
Brett Aimers, Adjunct Associate Professor, James Cook University Australia followed Eric with a presentation about Big Data and Analytics, exploring how to embrace big data and analytics today for a more resilient tomorrow.
Setting the tone for his session, Brett said major disasters would occur more frequently as time goes by. While COVID-19 has, undoubtedly, been the most disruptive global event since World War II, climate and weather patterns are changing adversely. Therefore, thinking about a resilient society is simply not enough.
In 2019, 396 natural disasters occurred across the globe. Costing more than US$ 146 billion, over 12,000 people lost their lives in these disasters. In a more regional context, Asia experienced 40% of natural disasters and 45% of all attributed deaths in the same year.
With data and information on hand, organisations must utilise big data and analytics more effectively to predict critical events and their impact; and must share this information. Big data, analytics and information sharing are key to survival and economic recovery.
Major disasters lead to major disruptions, loss of life, a sense of helplessness and lack of trust. Big Data and Analytics can create countermeasures to help mitigate these – early detection, advanced warning, maps and layers, decision making and effective communication – creating confidence within the community.
Decision-makers get relevant and timely insights about possible disasters, enabling early decision making that can protect critical assets, (including relocation of their resources) contribute to impact assessment and support economic recovery.
Brett urged the public and private sectors to acknowledge the significant drivers for change. The first is that research indicates that two-thirds of the global population will live in cities by 2050. Another is that spending on disaster recovery is nine times higher than spending on prevention…literally, a stitch in time saves nine.
Brett concluded his presentation on a positive note. While COVID-19 may have an end date, climate change and natural disasters – of the scale critical events are inevitable. But big data, analytics and efficient information sharing can save lives and promote economic recovery.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series covering the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition. Read Part 2 here.
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has launched the Vietnam digital technology challenge forum as part of the activities to introduce Vietnamese-made platforms to serve national digital transformation.
It is a continuation of the programme entitled “Technology Friday” held throughout 2020. During which, MIC promoted 38 digital platforms that were “as good as or even better than similar solutions provided by foreign companies”, according to a report. Platform providers can register to participate in the program through the official website or send documents to the Department of Computerisation, or the Institute of Software and Digital Content Industry.
With a new name and format, the programme now takes the form of a forum where guests will be invited to express their opinions about the solutions presented at the event. This is in addition to the usual introduction of solutions by their developers.
The first episode of the programme featured a smart solution by An Vui, which is expected to help long-distance bus service companies in optimising management and enhancing their competitiveness. An Vui CEO Phan Ba Manh said the platform is being used by 150 transport companies with 4,000 vehicles.
Speaking at the forum, MIC Deputy Minister Nguyen Huy Dung said that if 2020 was the year when the idea of digital transformation was popularised, then in 2021, digital transformation will focus on seeking solutions to social problems.
According to the Department of Computerisation, the AI technology field has the most Make in Vietnam products and services, followed by cloud computing, and online conference. These platforms allow organisations, individuals, and businesses to immediately use digital technologies instead of investing in research, development, and operation by themselves. Make in Vietnam is a slogan initiated by MIC. The ministry explained it is a term to convey the strategy, the call, and the shift in the development direction of Vietnamese digital technology.
Another programme to honour the digital transformation achievements of individuals, enterprises, and government agencies was unveiled last week. The Vietnam Digital Awards 2021 are hosted by the Vietnam Digital Communications Association (VDCA) under MIC.
The awards will be presented across four categories:
- Outstanding products, services, and solutions in the field of ICT.
- Enterprises with successes in digital transformation.
- Government agencies with remarkable levels of digital transformation.
- Products and solutions that serve the disadvantaged.
VDCA Chairman Nguyen Minh Hong said the awards are organised annually to look for notable Vietnamese-made digital products and promote them in both the domestic and international markets. They are also designed to encourage government agencies and enterprises to invest more in technologies to help achieve success in the nation’s overall digital transformation.
Speaking at the launch ceremony on 6 April, Da Nang Vice Chairman Le Quang Nam said the city has determined digital transformation as the key to dealing with existing bottlenecks and transform Da Nang into a modern, smart, and liveable city. Entries for the awards can be submitted until July, after which a jury panel will select the best individuals and groups, who will be honoured at an awards ceremony scheduled for October.
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) formally launched the InnoCell, a smart living and co-creation space at Hong Kong Science Park on 7 April 2021.
The purpose-built space provides the ideal environment for local and overseas innovation and technology (I&T) talent to live, co-create, innovate and forge a thriving community to fulfil Hong Kong’s I&T potential.
Located at the city’s largest research and development base, InnoCell brings together a talented community, with a shared passion for innovation, to exchange ideas and pursue the next I&T breakthroughs. The 17-storey InnoCell will provide residential units with flexible design and ancillary facilities at affordable rents.
With integrated smart living technologies, InnoCell offers diversiﬁed communal and private living spaces that aim to foster personalised experiences and collaboration among its residents. The building is a prime example of the “Work.Live.Play.Learn.” innovation culture being nurtured across the entire I&T ecosystem at the Science Park.
The CEO of HKSTP stated, “InnoCell represents a major step forward in our ambition to build a vibrant I&T ecosystem for Hong Kong which brings together talent, culture and infrastructure in an environment geared for innovation. The state-of-the-art space is a shining example of innovation at work, delivering a space with affordable rent and custom-designed for like-minded innovators to harness and hone their talent. InnoCell sets new standards for a smarter lifestyle which goes beyond just living and working.”
Open to the founders, mainland and overseas employees of HKSTP’s park companies, as well as visiting academics, scientists, and technology talent, InnoCell is a showcase of unique technology-infusing experiences, offering four room types including THE SOLO, THE TWIN, THE SUITE and THE POWERHUB.
For project teams on a mission, THE POWERHUB, with 8 individual studios plus a private working area, is an ideal space for members to assemble, focus and race through their sprints.
Partnering with various global corporations, InnoCell combines modern living with cutting-edge technology to deliver a frictionless, personalised way of blended living and working in the digital era.
Tenants can easily access key facilities and services with the InnoCell Living app integrated by Chevalier, and also complete transactions within the building using an e-payment application powered by a major global bank. Other key features include personalised online butler services, a multi-lingual chatbot and a host of online services all enabled with cashless payment.
To support the community experience, a UK-based global commercial real estate services company delivers an array of community cum hospitality management services such as organising innovation-inspiring events and community-centric activities.
Developed and built by Hip Hing Construction, space provides approximately 30,000-sqft of tailored communal facilities, including 392 units of studios and suites and 511 bed spaces in total, installed via 418 modules with high-performance materials.
The ground-breaking construction is also Hong Kong’s first high-rise building using the innovative Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) methodology winning international recognition at the Rethinking the Future Awards 2020. This serves as a blueprint and modernisation path for Hong Kong’s construction industry.
The InnoCell application will be open from 20 April to 21 May. Successful applicants will move in from July 2021 onwards.
The Government released the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong 2.0 (Blueprint 2.0) on 10 December 2021 with more than 130 smart city initiatives.
Blueprint 2.0 includes initiatives that are under implementation or of an ongoing nature such as open data and on-street parking meters supporting remote payment. In addition, over 60 new initiatives were implemented after the first Blueprint was published at the end of 2017.
These include Smart Living under which the Government aims to:
- Use the “iAM Smart” platform to streamline the Transport Department’s licensing services;
- Explore the use of telehealth, video-conferencing and remote consultation in Hong Kong;
Blueprint 2.0 has also put forward the idea of smart village pilot initiatives to explore the use of technologies to address daily life issues faced by residents living in the countryside and further remote areas, such as medical consultation for the elderly and traffic arrangements.
Transport for NSW has enlisted the help of a Sydney-based quantum computing start-up to tackle transport network management and congestion problems across the state’s public transport network. The research project with the University of Sydney’s first quantum spin-off company will investigate ways the technology can be used to “create and manage a more resilient transport network”.
The region’s Transport Minister stated that the partnership was a “rare opportunity” to work with quantum experts to “tackle complex future network management and congestion problems”.
While details on the project are scarce, one of the possibilities being considered is dynamic scheduling, whereby schedules are updated in real-time based on crowding across the network. TfNSW is already using native machine learning technology in the Web Services ecosystem provided by the world’s largest e-commerce platform to predict delays across the network using weather, Opal card and special event data.
The Transport Minister stated, “Future applications… could include mapping all transport modes and crowd movements simultaneously in real-time, and automatically updating the schedule to solve disruption issues. We could see all trains, busses, ferries, trams and motorways essentially ‘talking to each other’ to find out where customers are and deploy resources where needed. It could be used for massive public events, like New Year’s Eve or Vivid Festival.”
Speaking at the launch of NSW’s future transport technology roadmap last month, the quantum tech firm’s Founder stated that the project will involve building a “world-first prototype of a product [called] Fire Opal”.
The Founder said the work would “take all of the capabilities that we have developed and validated on real world-leading quantum computers, and deploy this to give completely new tools to data scientists and analysts at TfNSW”.
“As the industry evolves, and as we cross the threshold of quantum advantage, we find ourselves in a position where TfNSW is in an enviable position of being quantum ready,” he said.
“So right now we’re moving forward with this relationship. We’re very excited to see the way that the government has embraced the role of an enabler of advanced technology.
It was noted that quantum could solve problems that are “endemic” to transport such as when “you get off one mode of transport… [and] you end up waiting for 15 minutes for the next bus because you just missed the bus that was scheduled before.”
Technology’s use to create safer roads is something that the Australian government is looking into. According to another article, Professor Michael Milford, a robotics expert and Acting Director of the QUT Centre for Robotics, believes that high-definition (HD) map creation could be Australia’s chance to lead a core aspect of the autonomous vehicle technology space, supported by government-industry collaboration.
Professor Milford has conducted research projects into mapping for autonomous cars and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to see how autonomous cars could handle Australian roads.
“Map updating is a major challenge to autonomous vehicle adoption everywhere, including Australia, but it’s not yet a mature field globally so there’s [an] opportunity for us to catch up quickly,” he said.
Professor Milford noted that current European mapping solutions don’t recognise unique Australian signs or infrastructure and require customisation. He noted that although widespread autonomous vehicle use is some time away, the primary aim now is to ensure that the digital, physical and regulatory infrastructure is ready to go.
“We need to plan and design technology that is fit for purpose from the very beginning, not shoehorn it in at the very end when we realise the tech doesn’t do what it’s meant to do,” he said.
Collaboration between map creators, localisation services and governments for infrastructure updates and privacy regulation would be the ideal solution. Current maps do not have all the information necessary to be full HD maps or links to information about infrastructure changes. Unless a car knows explicitly about environmental changes like road works, for example, positioning systems will find it hard to work well, he said.
Government notifications around these events could be very important, with Professor Milford adding that meaningful government involvement or oversight is vital due to the significant data and privacy implications of these maps.
While positioning is a core part of the technology offering from autonomous vehicle companies, it may also need improving to provide accurate services in Australia. Professor Milford notes that while current positioning systems work well most of the time, there are failure points, like heavy rain and tunnels, where the technology is not reliable enough.
QUT, which specialises in robotic and autonomous vehicle positioning research, is working with the government and industry on the future of HD maps and investigating the ideal models for government-industry collaboration.
“If we started a staged approach toward this collaborative model now, within two years we would have a working prototype for how information from private map providers, the government, and possibly from vehicles on the road could be shared between all of those key stakeholders to ensure maps are as accurate and up to date as possible,” Professor Milford said.
A pregnant mother wanting to test for Down’s Syndrome in her unborn baby without invasive testing. A doctor trying to make a call on the optimal drug and dosage for a safer and more effective treatment. These are some of the people that the Singapore National Precision Medicine (SG-NPM) programme aims to help.
Established in 2017, the vision of this 10-year effort is to enable a healthcare strategy that is tailored to Singapore’s population diversity through precision medicine – a move that can revolutionise how healthcare is delivered.
Precision medicine takes individual variations in genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors into account, allowing doctors to more accurately predict which treatment and prevention strategies will work in different groups of people. Enabled by tools to analyse data on a large scale and with DNA sequencing becoming more affordable, precision medicine can improve healthcare by giving doctors a more detailed understanding of each patient.
Central to the effort is the Centre for Big data and Integrative Genomics (c-BIG), a collaboration between four A*STAR research institutes – the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), the Bioinformatics Institute (BII), the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) and the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R).
These efforts are coordinated under A*STAR’s Artificial Intelligence, Analytics And Informatics Horizontal Technology Programme Office (AI3 HTPO), which catalyses the development and application of A*STAR’s broad range data science, AI capabilities and technologies for a wide range of industry sectors.
“The first step was to build an IT infrastructure to securely store, analyse and share genomics data at scale to produce and distribute a reference catalogue that captures the genetic variation of 10,000 healthy Singaporeans,” said Dr Shyam Prabhakar, Associate Director, Spatial and Single Cell Systems at A*STAR’s GIS.
This first phase of the NPM has been completed, where the researchers have created the world’s largest genetic databank of Asian populations, which has three Asian populations: Chinese, Indian, and Malay represented. The time is now ripe for Phase 2, which will be to scale up the database.
“The next step is to extend the generation of genetic and phenotypic diversity data to 100,000 healthy Singaporeans in NPM Phase 2, drawing on the capabilities of A*STAR and our ecosystem partners,” said Prof Patrick Tan, Executive Director of GIS, and Executive Director of PRECISE (Precision Health Research Singapore).
“The richness of the data provided by the database, combined with our knowledge of Asian genetics accumulated over the years, means that the clinical applications of genomics are vast.”
This genetic databank is useful for analysis to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, and especially to identify millions of novel Asian-specific genetic variants. Understanding the actual genetic makeup of the Asian population allows the tailoring of products and medicines for this specific market.
For example, genomics can be found at the core of diagnostic tests, such as the use of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) in pregnancy to identify children who may be born with debilitating or fatal genetic defects. Similarly, knowing the genetic variants that an individual carries can be used to estimate their likelihood of suffering from diseases such as diabetes or schizophrenia. Genomics can also be used to guide targeted treatments, such as administering the right drug in the right dose, relevant in pharmacogenomics (PGx), the study of how genes can influence responses to drugs.
The c-BIG initiative has contributed to delivering that vision through a variety of technologies and ecosystems. Leveraging the data storage and computing power capability from the National Supercomputing Centre, the team was able to deploy state-of-the-art genome analytics algorithms at an industrial scale to uncover the genetic variants of each individual.
A custom-built secured cloud-based big-data infrastructure has also been developed to enable and facilitate controlled programmatic and web-based graphical interface data access and analysis capabilities to Singapore’s biomedical research community. As the programme grows in the next phase, c-BIG will continue to scale by building on next-level data management, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).
“The custom data sharing services built by c-BIG will enable secure mining of the resource, and thus pave the way for the discovery of new research insights and actionable clinical findings,” said Dr Nicolas Bertin, Chief Architect of the c-BIG’s NPM infrastructure.
As the team looks to tackle the new scalability challenges posed in NPM Phase 2, researchers are already working to source new types of data to enable richer integrative analyses, including methylation and single-cell expression signals.
The addition of new data types and scaling up of the databank will empower researchers and medical professionals to better understand the inherited diseases in Asian populations. This would pave the way to develop new treatments and ways to predict and diagnose diseases and enable more effective and efficient healthcare services for both Singapore and Asian populations.