The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has been progressively implementing more secure and efficient immigration clearance, in collaboration with the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX).
Since July 2020, all automated and manual immigration lanes and counters at the passenger halls of Singapore’s land, sea and air checkpoints have been equipped with iris and facial scanners.
Iris patterns and facial features will replace fingerprints as the primary biometric identifiers for immigration clearance. Fingerprints will be used as a secondary biometric identifier for travellers who are unsuccessful in their iris and facial scans.
Secure and Efficient Immigration Clearance
Since ICA implemented the enhanced-Immigration Automated Clearance System (eIACS) in 2006, fingerprints have been the primary biometric identifier for immigration clearance at our checkpoints. ICA started enrolling the iris images of Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents from 1 January 2017, as iris patterns have a number of strengths as a biometric identifier compared to fingerprints.
By using iris patterns in lieu of fingerprints for identification, issues with fingerprint verification, such as deterioration of fingerprints due to ageing, scarring or dryness, are avoided. This will enable travellers who currently have difficulty authenticating their identity using fingerprints to use the automated immigration
Second, iris patterns have a higher degree of variation and uniqueness than fingerprints, and are therefore more robust and reliable for use for identification purposes. An iris scan provides almost 250 feature points for matching, as compared to about 100 feature points for a fingerprint. In addition, specialised equipment is required to conduct the iris scan, which makes it less susceptible to misuse.
To further strengthen the identification process, authorities will employ iris and facial scans concurrently. Facial recognition provides a second check of a person’s identity. The use of two biometric identifiers – iris patterns and facial features, will provide even more reliable authentication of the identity of travellers, and further strengthen ICA’s ability to safeguard Singapore’s borders.
Transforming Immigration Clearance
For travellers, the new immigration system allows for simultaneous and touch-free capture of these two biometrics, and offers more hygienic, more convenient and more efficient immigration clearance.
Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents, long-term pass holders, as well as international travellers on our Frequent Traveller Programme (FTP) who have enrolled their iris and facial biometrics with ICA, are eligible for this new mode of clearance
When these travellers approach the automated immigration lanes, they will be prompted to use their iris and facial biometrics for immigration clearance. If authentication via iris and facial biometrics is unsuccessful or if they have yet to enrol their iris and facial biometrics with ICA, such travellers will be prompted to clear immigration using their fingerprints.
The use of iris and facial scans is part of Singapore’s plan to transform their checkpoints, to provide travellers with more secure and efficient immigration clearance. They aim to realise the New Clearance Concept (NCC) at checkpoints by 2022.
Beyond multi-modal biometric clearance, the NCC will eventually enable Singapore residents to clear immigration at checkpoints without the need to present a passport. They hope to enable the majority of foreign visitors, including first-time visitors, to clear immigration at the automated lanes on arrival, without the need for prior enrolment of their biometrics.
The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) on Friday launched a mobile application that can identify and block scam messages and phone calls.
The National Crime Prevention Council’s Year-End Crime Prevention Campaign was held virtually on 20 November 2020 whereby the NCPC unveiled the new mobile application – ScamShield. ScamShield compares an incoming call against a list maintained by the Singapore Police Force to determine if the number has been used for illegal purposes and blocks it.
The app uses artificial intelligence to identify keywords in messages from unknown contacts, these messages will be moved into a junk folder created on your phone by the app, just like what email inboxes do.
ScamShield has been jointly developed with the National Crime Prevention Council and Government Technology Agency, is available only on iOS devices and can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store for free.
The app blocks calls from a database of blocked numbers, managed centrally by the National Crime Prevention Council and Singapore Police Force (SPF). Users can report scam messages and calls through the app, which will be added to the database and shared with the police. The council added that ScamShield does not have access to the user’s contact list, location or personal data. The app does not require users to register with their mobile numbers either.
Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State for Home Affairs, was a special guest at the virtual event on Friday and said that the number of scam cases has been on the rise and asked people to be vigilant when giving personal information to anyone.
ScamShield is easy to deploy in 3 simple steps and has many security features.
Download from App Store
Search for Scamshield on the App Store or click on this link. Do not download applications that are not from the official Apple Store.
Block known scam callers
ScamShield compares an incoming call against a list maintained by the Singapore Police Force to determine if the number has been used for illegal purposes and blocks it.
- Open Settings
- Tap Phone
- Tap Call Blocking & Identification
- Enable Scamshield
Filter Scam SMSes
When you receive an SMS from an unknown contact, ScamShield will determine if the SMS is a scam using an on-device algorithm, and filter the messages to a junk SMS folder. Scam SMSes will be sent to NCPC and SPF for collation. This keeps the app updated and will help protect others from such scam calls and messages. To Enable auto spam SMS filter:
- Open Settings
- Tap Messages
- Tap Unknown & Spam
- Enable Scamshield
Report Scam Messages
You can also report scam messages from other chat apps such as WhatsApp, Wechat, IMO, Viber, etc. You can forward the messages via ScamShield’s in-app reporting function. The Council have also said that the app will be available soon for Android users once some issues have been resolved.
Photo Credit: www.scamshield.sg
The Infocomm Media Development Authority and IBM signed a Memorandum of Intent on Friday, where IBM will hire and train 300 Singaporean professionals over the next four years in emerging tech areas. The signing of the Memorandum of Intent was witnessed by Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S Iswaran.
They will be trained under the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Company-Led Training programme and the TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme, for roles such as Digital Consultants, Big Data Engineers, Data Scientists, Cloud Architects, UX Designers and Full Stack Digital Developers.
Future-Ready Intelligent Digital Workforce Programme
The “Future-Ready Intelligent Digital Workforce Programme” aims to meet the demand for technology consulting and deep technical skills needed to support the acceleration of digital transformation across all industries.
The programme will bring a diversity of talent with relevant skills and knowledge base, and provide them with opportunities to deepen their digital skills, technical expertise and hands-on practical experience.
240 Singaporean professionals will be under the TeSA Company-Led Training programme, and an additional 60 Singaporean mid-career professionals will join under the TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme. These participants will range from fresh graduates to professionals in the later stages of their careers.
“As we push forward with our national digitalisation movement, the ICT sector continues to hold promise for job creation. It remains important to provide opportunities for our professionals to build the necessary skills for tech jobs that power the sector. IMDA’s and DISG’s collaboration with IBM, to help 300 Singaporeans acquire advanced tech skills, is part of our investment in a pipeline of local tech talent as we make a decisive push for digital transformation in our country so that Singaporeans can continue to do well,” said IMDA Assistant Chief Executive and EDB Executive Vice President, Kiren Kumar. “I urge more companies to join our national effort to create jobs and training opportunities for all Singaporeans.”
Digital Transformation and Post COVID
The Programme emphasises continual learning and participants will be expected to keep up-to-date with their skills development through a variety of activities – such as self-paced online learning modules or instructor-led workshops – and qualify for specific certifications depending on their roles.
Programme participants will undergo intense, immersive exposure to emerging technologies such as AI, Advanced Analytics, Blockchain, Cloud, Cyber Security and IoT, and will be given opportunities to build technical skills through hands-on training. New hires will be assigned to work with crossfunctional local, regional, and global teams in a variety of projects, to gain practical experience.
There will be a focus on industry transformation, business reinvention, and delivering tangible business outcomes quickly, especially in an environment of uncertainty and charting the “new normal” post-COVID.
“The global pandemic has forced businesses to speed up their digital transformation – in many cases, completing in weeks what may have in the past taken months or even years. To accelerate that transformation even more and help companies in Singapore take full advantage of exponential technologies such as AI, Blockchain, Cloud and Cyber Security, IBM Services will continue to collaborate and co-create with our clients to go beyond “random acts of digital,” said Hui Li Lee, Managing Partner, GBS ASEAN, IBM Services.
“IBM is delighted to partner with IMDA and DISG to fulfil our clients’ demand for deep digital and technical skills and also to support Singapore’s nation-building efforts to uplift the overall local talent pool. Singapore as the headquarter of IBM ASEAN, IBM Services is well placed to be the Advanced Digital Talent and Future Skills Competency hub to support IBM clients in Singapore and the region,” added Hui Li.
To accelerate the country’s national digital transformation programme, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) organised the Vietnam Open Summit, last week.
The summit gathered 200 participants, including senior officials of ministries and agencies, as well as IT experts from large high-tech corporations. MIC Minister Nguyen Manh Hung noted that IT and digital technology are penetrating every corner of social life. Digital technology needs to be cheap and the key to this is open technology – open architecture, open standards, and open culture.
A press release explained that a lot of countries have announced they plan to only buy open technologies, especially technologies used to build national infrastructure platforms. Vietnam is also following this trend. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, apps like Bluezone and CoMeet were open-source or developed with open-source software.
MIC has also launched the national open data portal, which has registered over 10,000 data sets. Vietnam’s 5G network will also use the open standard Open RAN. Vietnam has chosen to develop open technology, open-source software, and open data for individuals and businesses to join the creation of new values.
Hung called on agencies, businesses, and training establishments to work together to build policies and strategies and develop open platforms and communities.
Open technology strategy
Nearly 3 million organisations and businesses from 70 countries have joined the open-source community. 35 out of 50 top companies in the world sent their teams to participate in the open-source projects in the forum. Vietnam ranks third in Southeast Asia and is among the top 20 in the world in open-source applications, after Singapore (17), and Malaysia (18).
Vietnam began approaching the open technology trend early in the 2000s, but it is still behind some countries, which is attributed to the closed culture, the localisation of data, and lack of interest from large corporations.
Nguyen Trong Duong, the deputy director of the Authority for IT Application, under MIC, said that developing open source projects is a technology trend around the globe. Vietnam should aim to be listed in the top 10 in the rankings on the growth of open-source software.
Talking about the development orientation for the time to come, he noted that Vietnam should develop open technology with a focus on three pillars – developing a Make-in-Vietnam open ecosystem, promoting open culture, and developing an open community.
“In addition to promoting education, training, research, and community development, we also need to develop an open technology ecosystem, accelerate the implementation of policies, and prioritise [the] use of digital products that use open standards,” Duong said.
In the field of training and research, there should be large projects and topics on open-source software. The assessment of the quality of research works will be made based on the contributions of the works to the international community. Regarding the development of the open technology ecosystem, technology firms, especially large ones, need to prioritise the allocation of research and development budgets for open-source projects, the release stated.
The Philippines is among the countries who were the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It forced organisations, especially in the public sector, to adopt and deploy technologies rapidly to meet the demands of a post-pandemic world.
In this digital age and the new normal, there is increased dependence on cloud and service providers. However, these data storage and management models have wide-ranging and, often, unclear data security levels. This has become a big challenge for organisations today.
To help our digital executives address the constraints and complexities and simplify their data management systems, OpenGov Asia organised an OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight with delegates from the Philippines public sector on 20 November 2020.
The insight witnessed 100% attendance from the registered delegates who whole-heartedly participated with a high level of engagement.
Citizens are becoming increasingly tech-savvy with higher expectations
The session was opened by Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, with a quick round of introductions and overview of the time ahead.
Mohit pointed out that the new normal and the rapid digital transformation of all sectors of society, citizens are becoming increasingly tech-savvy with higher expectations. As a result, the demand for efficient and quick citizen-service delivery from the public sector is on the rise.
Comprehensive and rapid transformation combined with greater demand poses significant challenges for the public sector.
With digital citizen expecting effective and reliable 24×7-services a mouse-click away, public agencies need to be able to continuously transform, upgrade and secure delivery mechanisms.
In conclusion, Mohit advised delegates to not try and do everything on their own as, often, this results in poor quality and limited outcomes. Public sector agencies would be wise to partner with the right people who can help them transform quickly and deliver effectively.
Transforming amid the pandemic was exceptionally difficult for the public sector
After Mohit’s presentation, Joshua Au, Head, Data Center, Agency for Science, Technology, and research shared his insights.
Joshua acknowledged that the pandemic took everyone by surprise – its magnitude was far beyond what people had imagined. No one was prepared to deal with the sheer scale and scope of COVID-19. None the less, organisations that were already on their digital transformation journey were able to tackle it better than the rest.
Furthering Mohit’s point, he agreed that this time has been exceptionally difficult for public sector agencies. They had to continue delivering normal citizen-services while catering to the additional needs the pandemic had created. Managing a wide range of stakeholders with limited funds and, often, with constrained digital infrastructure at their disposal, was a colossal undertaking.
Delivering urgent assistance, coping with stay-at-home orders and managing lockdowns while migrating online and simultaneously ensuring digital and physical safety and security was no small task. The public sector had to push itself to do something exceptional.
Joshua pointed out that making a rapid transformation, on any given day in the best of circumstances, is a herculean task for public sector agencies. Not only because they do not have sufficient infrastructure but also because they do not have the business savviness of an enterprise. Their primary goal is the serve the citizens and ensure their wellbeing.
He concluded his presentation by urging the delegates to think outside the box and go beyond what they have been doing to adapt to the new normal.
The rapid digitisation has led to more complexity in data centre ecosystem
After Joshua’s insightful and challenging presentation, Tony Kang’s, Business Vice President, Secure Power, Schneider Electric Philippines, offered his perspectives.
After briefly introducing the origins of Schneider, Tony reiterated that digital transformation must be the top and most critical priority of all organisations. This is closely followed by data security and customer experience.
The pressure to digitise everything at such a quick pace leads to a lot of complexity in the data centre ecosystem. Connecting all the devices in the local edge, regional edge and a centralised location can be cumbersome and confusing for organisations. The situation is exacerbated and complicated as the ecosystem expands further.
Schneider’s eco structure, an open IoT enabled system architecture platform for offices and data centres, helps connect and control apps and analytics.
In closing, Tony encouraged the delegates to reach out to the Schneider team to can help them overcome some of these challenges.
After the speaker presentations, Mohit engaged the audience in an interactive Q&A session.
On the first question about current plans for IT expansion and deployments in near future, most of the delegates voted that they plan to deploy hybrid IT infrastructure leveraging on cloud while still deploying on-premise data centres (75%)
A senior delegate from the Department of Health shared the sensitive nature of the data they collect does not allow them to store all their data on cloud. They have to maintain an on-premise data centre in addition to the cloud.
On the next question about the importance of data centre modernisation and local edge computing, a major chunk of the audience voted that it is very important to them and they are currently undergoing transformation (68%).
An executive from the banking industry shared that digital transformation is the topmost priority of banks today and, keeping that in mind, they are also undergoing digital transformation actively.
On the final question about the most important factor when choosing solutions for your IT physical infrastructure most of the delegates voted for product reliability and efficiency (72%).
A delegate from a government agency in the Philippines shared that factors like after-sale services, delivery time, price etc. are all important to consider but the primary factor of consideration is quality – and it should never be compromised.
After the interactive discussion session, Tony addressed the audience to bring the Breakfast Insight to a close.
He shared that Schneider is dedicated to rigorous research and development to produce the best possible products and solutions for its customers.
He thanked the speakers for sharing their insights and the delegates talking about their pain points and challenges. He was confident that such discussion and debate would go a long way in understanding and solving their problems.
Tony urged them to reach out to him and the Schneider team continue to talk through their digital transformation journey.
The Tasmanian Government has committed $4.9 million over four years to develop its Whole-of-Government Cyber Security Program as part of its $135.4 million investment in government IT service delivery.
The funds will be used to expand the cybersecurity program, which seeks to help the state government more rapidly detect and mediate vulnerabilities in Tasmanian government services. The expanded program will also include support for government departments to train staff to better recognise threats that may occur in their day-to-day work, as well as a cybersecurity upskilling program for the state’s public sector.
As part of these efforts, the government will soon advertise for additional experts to the Whole-of-Government Cyber Security Team as part of a recruitment guide.
The Tasmanian Minister for Science and Technology said in a statement that the Tasmanian Liberal government is determined to protect its information and ICT systems from malicious cyber activity which is increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication and severity.
The expanded program aims to reduce the impact of malicious actors and aid rapid remediation by detecting vulnerabilities in Tasmanian government services at the earliest opportunity, further integrating our incident response capacity with national arrangements.
Tasmania reveals $135M IT infrastructure overhaul
Tasmania announced that it aims to invest $135.4 million into a government-wide IT infrastructure upgrade to ditch its “20th-century technology”. As part of the state’s 2020-21 budget, the government will spend $26.5 million this year alone on upgrading its legacy systems, which will take an estimated four years in total.
Alongside this Tasmania plans to spend $57 million on its Digital Transformation Expenditure Program until 2024. This includes $1.5 million in funding towards the state’s digital health transformation project, split between $500,000 in 2020-21 and $1 million in 2021-22.
Over the next four years, the project’s 2020-21 spend is expected to be the smallest at just $379,000. Following on from this, $1.7 million is scheduled for 2021-22, then $1.6 million in 2022-23 and then $1.3 million in 2023-24.
As part of the digital transformation program, funding will be pulled into a strategy and business case for the state’s Health ICT Plan 2020 to 2030. With this plan, the state aims to digitally transform hospitals, improve patient information outcomes and better manage the Department of Health’s workforce.
The third stage of the state’s Justice Connect program, which was established to address the ageing systems at the state’s Department of Justice, is also taking a slice out of the Digital Transformation Expenditure Program at a price of $6 million, split into equal parts between 2021-22 and 2022-23.
This will see current case management systems will be replaced with a single integrated system, which is expected to support the case management needs of a combined Single Tribunal.
Past the Digital Transformation Expenditure Program, the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management’s Project Unify saw $46.1 million, which is set to be distributed over the next four years, for the upgrade of ageing policing operations ICT systems.
The Department of Health’s human resources information system (HRIS) is set for an overhaul in what the budget documents describe as an “urgent upgrade”, with $21.6 million set aside for the project over the next three years.
The new system will enable the Department to move away from paper-based systems, improving the delivery of critical human resource management systems, the budget noted. Of the spend, $2.1 million is due to be spent in 2020-21, followed by $11 million in 2021-22 and $8.5 million in 2022-23.
The Vietnam Public Health Portal was officially launched by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on 20 November, aimed at facilitating liaising with services provided by the healthcare sector.
According to a news report, the portal was developed as a joint effort between the MOH and military-run telecom group Viettel to publicise medical information towards an open, transparent health sector as well as providing the best health care for the people. The portal provides information across five public areas, including pharmacy and cosmetics, medical equipment, food safety, examination and treatment, and public administration.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Health, Nguyen Thanh Long, emphasised that the portal is the official channel of the ministry for people and businesses to look up information on drug and medical equipment prices, medical examination and treatment fees, information on circulating or recalled products and the results of administrative procedures.
He said that through the Public Health Portal, people can exercise their right to inform themselves and monitor services provided by the health sector, certain aspects are revolutionary in the medical sector, such as the portal, which will make public a huge amount of information, including medical service fees.
Currently, 1,490 medical facilities and hospitals nationwide have publicly announced their service prices. Shortly, the ministry will require all clinics to publicise their medical service fees and their quality levels, as well as patients’ satisfaction assessments, according to Long.
Additionally, the entire medical licensing process will be made public, he informed, adding that the ministry is promoting artificial intelligence (AI) in licensing for the pharmaceutical industry. The MOH has developed a software system to support the price disclosure, allowing enterprises to register and to be granted accounts for self-implementation and are responsible for managing information posted publicly regarding the medical equipment price on the portal.
Hoang Son, Viettel Group Deputy General Director, pledged that his corporation would improve the features of the portal with the application of new technologies such as AI and virtual assistant (chatbot) in the interactions with users, as well as automatically answering questions and ensuring absolute safety and confidentiality for the effective operation of the portal.
Further, the ministry plans to launch the Vietnam medical network, connecting over 500,000 health workers across the country, and electronic operating software at 12,000 commune health stations.
Despite having to fight against COVID-19, the MOH is determined to promote administrative reform, IT application, and digital transformation in the sector. At a meeting last week between the MOH and the working group of the Prime Minister, the ministry informed that it has strengthened the application of remote medical examination and treatment this year, connecting 1,500 venues with foreign countries who have applied to join the network.
The health sector has applied AI in the diagnosis and treatment of a number of lung diseases and film screening, according to a report. Speaking at the meeting, Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung suggested the relevant agencies, departments, and units support and coordinate with the MOH to perform their assigned tasks.
The ministry should continue promoting remote medical examination and treatment to contribute to maintaining the successful results regarding COVID-19 and helping people enjoy high-quality health care at the local level. The two sides also signed an agreement to boost coordination between the Government Office and the MOH.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Luzon Cluster 3, through the Free Wi-Fi for All Programme (FW4A), has recently completed setting up 80 newly activated free Internet sites within 20 locations in the island provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro.
According to a press release, the DICT Secretary, Gregorio B. Honasan II, noted, “It is this administration’s strong stand that Internet is a right. Access to data is a right – much like food, water, shelter, education, and healthcare, among others. Thus, it is the duty of the government to ensure that this right is afforded to every Filipino citizen—that every Filipino is connected to the Internet, regardless of where they are in the Philippines,”
Institutionalised through the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, DICT has been fast-tracking the rollout of the programme in light of the pressing connectivity demands of the new normal. The launching of the Internet hotspots in Mindoro is expected to enhance accessibility to the Internet and to bring digital opportunities closer to the residents.
“I hope that this will be the first step in forging a productive partnership as Wi-Fi connectivity is now considered as an essential need, more so in this challenging time of the pandemic crisis when quarantine measures compel our students to study through online learning and employees to work from home,” said Mayor Arnan C. Panaligan of Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.
In reopening the economy and when transacting business online becomes a compelling necessity, the Free Wi-Fi for All Program is an important step in the right direction in ensuring the people’s access to Wi-Fi connectivity, he added.
The press release said that, presently, the modern Filipino’s life revolves around technology, however, due to poverty and challenging circumstances, many citizens are deprived of the opportunities provided by new technology. Thus, it is part of the mandate of the DICT to bring technology closer to the public. The Free Wi-Fi for All Programme allows people, particularly students, to access the Internet and limitless digital opportunities.
Government representatives and partners from the province of Occidental Mindoro also noted how the programme is a welcome development for the community, especially for the education sector. “This programme will be helpful for our citizens, particularly our students with little or no access to Internet services. Through this program, we expect that their educational burdens will be eased. Again, we are thankful for the support.”
Further, free Internet connectivity and access are now available at the Relief Operations Centre of Cagayan under the same programme. The centre is located at the Capitol Compound, Tuguegarao City.
The free Wi-Fi aims to provide support to the provincial local government unit of Cagayan in information dissemination and coordination as they provide relief assistance to families affected by Typhoon Ulysses and the subsequent flooding in Cagayan and Isabela.
More than 100 families have already benefitted from the free Wi-Fi and charging services since 14 November; citizens have to follow standard health protocols. 60 government sites are connected to the Regional Government Network (GovNet) in Tuguegarao City and DICT is taking other initiatives to boost connectivity services in affected areas including the deployment of a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) flyaway antenna equipment.