Safeguarding water security and sustainability has been a driving force behind innovation for the island city-state of Singapore. Robotic swans are among the latest real-time spatial-temporal water monitoring technology being used in Singapore.
According to Channel NewsAsia on Jan 15, the Singapore national water agency PUB announced the Smart Water Assessment Network (SWAN) project which uses 5 robotic swans to monitor raw water quality in various reservoirs on the island. The robot swans will be deployed in reservoirs at Marina, Punggol, Serangoon, Pandan and Kranji.
According to its first media debut on Channel NewsAsia in July 2015, the technology was jointly developed by PUB, the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Environmental Research Institute and the Tropical Marine Science Institute.
Beneath the shell that is designed to resemble a real swan, the durable device is made up of propellers and water sampling equipment. As they float on water bodies, the robotic swans collect real-time water data while blending in with the natural surroundings in the reservoirs.
The robotic swans are to be used to collect data and monitor key indicators of fresh water quality, such as pH value, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and chlorophyll. They can also monitor reservoir condition and algae growth in case of an outbreak. According to NUS, the robot swan has the capability of performing simultaneous multi-node, high speed sensing for observing concentration gradients for better characterisation and detection of time varying hotspots.
As they float on water bodies, they could be remotely controlled to reach specific areas of the water body or explore different areas within the target water body autonomously. The real-time data collected will then be wirelessly sent back to analysts through cloud computing.
Using GPS technology, the robotic swan is able to track the dynamics of water quality as it will not re-visit monitored areas unless programmed to do so. Its large coverage will also improve the efficiency of current water monitoring methods that are both labour intensive and resource exhaustive.
This will help ease the burden of water authorities in deploying limited manpower to physically collect samples from water bodies across Singapore, especially to areas that are difficult to reach.
These robotic swans also are said to be durable even when they encounter recreational water equipment like kayaks and small boats.
An electronic marketplace to provide a platform that connects aquaculture farmers and potential buyers has been inaugurated by the Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. Through the portal, farmers will get better prices on their products. It also allows exporters to purchase directly from farmers, enhancing traceability, which is a key factor in international trade. The portal will act as a bridge between the fishermen and buyers, within the country and abroad.
The portal is called e-SANTA and stands for Electronic Solution for Augmenting NaCSA farmers’ Trade in Aquaculture. NaCSA or the National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture is an extension under the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
At the virtual launch, Goyal noted that e-SANTA will raise income, independence, quality, and traceability. It will improve standards of living and provide new options for aqua farmers. He said that the platform will “change the traditional way of carrying out business”.
According to a press release, e-SANTA is a “digital bridge” to end the market divide. It will function as an alternative marketing tool by eliminating the middleman. It provides a cashless, contactless, and paperless electronic trade method between farmers and exporters.
The farmers have the freedom to list their produce and quote their prices. Similarly, exporters have the freedom to list their requirements and choose the products based on the desired size, location, and harvest dates. This enables the farmers and buyers to have greater control over the trade, allowing them to make informed decisions. The platform offers detailed specifications of each product listing and is backed by an end-to-end electronic payment system, with NaCSA as an escrow agent.
After the crop listing and online negotiation, a deal is struck, an advance payment is made, and an estimated invoice is generated. Once the harvest date is fixed, the buyer goes to the farm gate and the produce is harvested with them present. When the harvest is completed, a final count is taken, the quantity of material is verified, and a delivery receipt is issued. After the material reaches the processing plant, the final invoice is generated, and the exporter makes the balance payment. This payment is reflected in the escrow account. NaCSA verifies it and accordingly releases the payment to farmers.
In the future, e-SANTA could become an auction platform by enabling the collective advertising of products that the buyers, fishermen, and fish-producing organisations are harvesting. People in India and abroad can know what is available through the website. The platform is available in several languages, making it accessible for the local population.
Goyal also outlined challenges for farmers in traditional aqua farming, including, market monopoly and exploitation. On the other hand, exporters often face inconsistency and quality gaps in the products they purchase. He claimed that e-SANTA has the potential to bring substantive improvements in farmers’ lives and enhance India’s reputation in global trade.
According to Goyal, the government is committed to the welfare of farmers and NaCSA initiatives have the potential to change the map of marketing of aqua products in the country. NaCSA aims to encourage and uplift small and marginal farmers through the organisation of clusters and by maintaining best management practices in aquaculture.
An international tech company has launched its first internet data centre (IDC) in Indonesia. The cloud products and service provider aim to support businesses in the country and the region by strengthening its global footprint with established infrastructure spanning 27 regions and 61 availability zones.
To put things into perspective, Indonesia is one of the fastest-growing public cloud markets in the Asia Pacific with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25% and expected to increase its market size to US$0.8 billion by 2023. The new IDC in the country is positioned to fulfil the growing need for cloud services in Indonesia and the region.
The tech company said that with a population of 270 million, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and the largest economy in Southeast Asia. Given that its population structure is younger, it has a huge internet demographic dividend, and its mobile internet market is quickly developing. They added that the IDC can help the country reach its promising cloud computing potential.
The IDC is looking to provide businesses in Indonesia with a secure, reliable, and high-performance public cloud service. The tech developers also provide global access and a rich array of services to governments and organisations that need advanced infrastructure and a resilient cyber environment.
Located in the CBD of Jakarta, the IDC is now in full operation, completing the backbone access and networking of all major Indonesian and global internet services providers, and combining the tech company’s own high-quality border gateway protocol to cover the entire country. The launch of the IDC in Indonesia gives customers and users access to disruptive tech, reducing access delays to data and applications, and helping businesses and organisations in the country accelerate their digital transformation. It also helps customers meet regulatory and compliance requirements, providing more disaster recovery options in the whole APAC region.
With 24/7 security and infrastructure support, the new IDC in Indonesia attained certifications that prove its high-level safety and security standards, namely the Uptime Institute Tier III – Design & Facility, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, ISO 14001 and SNI (local standard).
The establishment of the new IDC will support the growing needs of a wide range of industries in the country, from financial services, internet and e-commerce to entertainment, gaming, and education.
Accordingly, reports from industry experts define data centres as facilities that centralise an organisation’s IT operations and equipment, and where it stores, manages, and disseminates its data. Data centres may be physical or virtual repositories of a network’s most critical systems, ensuring the proper, uninterrupted functioning of the network. Hence, the security and reliability of data centres and their information are of utmost importance to organisations; perhaps even more important than energy considerations, particularly for operators who have not fully metered the different parts of their operations.
In considering their functions, as in most more developed economies, data centres in Indonesia serve a wide range of sectors and industries from the internet, including manufacturing, government, education, traditional media, commerce, energy, transportation and logistics, finance, medical and health services, and others. Although each data centre has a unique design, they can generally be classified based on their location, ownership, energy use, and or availability. Typically, a data centre constitutes these elements: facility, support infrastructure, IT equipment, and operations staff.
However, reports say that data centres are among the most sophisticated industrial facilities in modern societies but are rife with inefficiencies. Data centres are said to be the crown jewels of global business as all international companies and governments must rely on them to deliver business value much greater than their costs. The leading information and communications technology (ICT) companies have mastered how to extract that business value, but for companies and governments whose primary business is not computing, the story is more complicated as the extent of inefficiency is not only great but mostly unknown.
ProrIISeTN, an indigenous software solution to automate the processes of protecting and translating intellectual property (IP), has been launched by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc)’s Director, Govindan Rangarajan.
The first version of the tool automates the legal and bureaucratic part of IP processes. It was released after three years of testing. The second version will automate the financial part and is set for release later this year. The third version will use artificial intelligence-based approaches to prior art searches required to evaluate a patent. It is scheduled for release in 2022.
ProrIISeTN is an indigenous Indian software product created after IISc realised that Indian academia could not afford existing software solutions, which is why the software primarily targets Indian academia and small law firms. It will eventually go international, according to a news report. IISc expects that by reducing the effort spent on administering IP, resources will be shifted to focus on translation to industry. The software archives all exchanges, an essential component, as protected IP has both legal and financial implications. The processes implemented in the software are also expected to automatically serve as methods that academia can use to protect and translate IP. This will also help smaller universities where similar processes and resources may not exist to set up and streamline their IP offices.
IISc stated that in India, the owner of IP generated by employees is usually the employer. Publicly-funded institutions and universities, depending on their policies, give the inventors the freedom to either disseminate this intellectual property in open-source journals or choose to protect it in the form of patents before public disclosure. Protection is vital if the IP is to be translated to the industry for commercialisation, it said.
For instance, if a scientist developed a drug for cancer and if these findings were published openly, the chances of an industry picking it up for commercialisation are lower than if the drug was protected. This is because, from the time the invention is born in academia to the time it is commercialised, investments have to be made to get any IP market-ready. In the case of the cancer drug, this would be clinical trials. Industry players would be wary of making investments if they cannot be assured of patent protection that prevents indiscriminate copying.
The Intellectual Property and Technology Licensing Office (IPTeL) in IISc, and similar offices in other institutes in India, protect to enable further translation. The translation is of two types: the first is to start-ups from the institution itself and the second is technology transfer to an established industry. The track record of protection and translation in India is poor. A 2016 IISc evaluation showed that the amount of time spent on administering the patent process, instead of on translation, is a major reason for poor protections.
Monitoring this legal, financial, and bureaucratic maze manually makes for an inefficient system, which leads to the loss of rights, as inventors could lose interest in patenting. An automated system would address both these hurdles to protecting and translating IP.
A Kiwi-developed digital, business and learning tech hub has been launched in New Zealand to bridge the digital divide and help combat poverty in the country. The tech hub was developed by a team that provides the locals in the area with training, employment, and business leadership. The team said that they had to step up and develop the tech hub to increase digital connectivity to mitigate high poverty in the area.
At the opening, Regional Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash said the hub was vitally important, especially with the digital advances during the COVID-19 lockdowns. He added that it is not about the future, it is about the present, and if we do not get this right in our communities, they will fall behind.
The Te Kona tech hub offers meeting rooms for hire, 10 hot desks, video conferencing facilities, event spaces, and reliable Wi-Fi which is in high demand in the region. It also provides digital literacy training, coding classes, and a mobile hub, which will take a mobile version of these services to more remote parts of the region. The developers will offer their training courses in the hub, as well as offering job-focused education modules.
The developers said that citizens in the area have not had access to strong connectivity for some time, so they needed to develop a space that would allow businesses to flourish and for students’ educational needs. The development of Te Kona has been supported by the government’s Provincial Development Unit, as well as other private institutions and foundations.
Furthermore, reports say that New Zealand may be at the bottom of the world when it comes to geographic locale, but Kiwis are quickly approaching the top when it comes to lean start-ups and tech. The report added that historically speaking when faced with a problem, or a need, New Zealanders prefer to find or create, a solution themselves. This combined with the fact that New Zealand is a great place to do business as some investors may say makes for an exciting time ahead for the New Zealand tech industry. New Zealand’s economic quality, business environment, governance, education, health, personal freedom, and environment all helped to place it first on the 149-country list on the Prosperity Index for 2016.
Accordingly, as reported by OpenGov Asia, the New Zealand government is taking steps to protect and encourage small businesses from a tech perspective. Small businesses will now benefit from a government-funded Digital Boost skills training and support initiative.
The Digital Boost skills training is the first initiative to be launched from the Digital Boost programme, a partnership between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the private sector to support thousands of small businesses in realising the benefits of using digital tools and technologies in their business. The Small Business Digital Boost initiative will support more small business owners to realise the benefits of digitising their business. The programme aims to ensure small businesses acquire the right digital skills and online tools to help their business survive and thrive.
To deliver the training and support, MBIE is collaborating with a market partner who has extensive experience in helping business owners develop the capabilities needed to take advantage of the rapidly changing digital environment.
The Digital Boost programme is an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together for New Zealand small businesses. Industry Leaders, small business owners and MBIE have designed this programme to meet the needs of the country’s SMEs. This is more pertinent as New Zealand, and indeed, the world is looking to come out of the pandemic more resilient and future-focused. Adapting to a digital world that is increasingly going online, contactless, and remote will be key.
Cybersecurity has risen to the top of both national and international agendas. Government leaders from all over the world said that without cybersecurity there is no real national security. The boom of the digital economy and the digitalisation of businesses and society especially during the COVID-19 pandemic has now put the private sector at the centre of cybersecurity debates. Recent data mismanagements, or the revelations that social media sites compromised the data of millions of their users, highlight the central role that the private sector plays in cybersecurity. Undeniably, corporations are key players in the digital realm whether it is as distributors of malicious software, victims of cyber-attacks, or first responders to security breaches.
In the issue of cyber insecurity, the question lingers; what is the role of the private sector in cybersecurity policies, and how can this co-exist with the traditional responsibilities of government?
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 the integration between the private and public sectors in improving cybersecurity capacities.
Mr Koh recalled that the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) hosted consultative meetings with 100 States, 114 non-governmental stakeholders from the private sector, civil society academia, as well as the technical community. He said that he was fundamentally shocked as to how many people from all over the world, from many dimensions, were committed and so deeply involved and had such great ideas on cybersecurity. For him, this only shows that dealing with cyber requires a multi-stakeholder strategy. Solutions cannot be made without the help of other sectors because a lot of internet infrastructures are not controlled by the states’ government alone, as most of them are operated by private industries.
A lot of the technologies coming out are from industry, academes and civil societies. Therefore, a multi-stakeholder engagement is an ideal method to improve cyber resilience on a bigger scale. Mr Koh noted that at an intellectual level, everyone understands cyber so everyone must also be committed to trying to find viable solutions. He also emphasised that cybersecurity is the key factor in achieving an open and secured internet environment that can help boost domestic and international economies.
Mr Koh acknowledges that countries have different perspectives and angles about cybersecurity. Therefore, the UN OEWG gave both private and public sectors the platform to voice their varying ideas regarding cybersecurity within their respective jurisdictions. The forum also helped in terms of building the cyber capacities of ASEAN and other developing countries.
Mr Koh and the CSA view cyber capacity building as a collective effort. For the agency, cybersecurity is only as good as its weakest link. Singapore has made it a point to include ASEAN countries in this endeavour to fully improve cyber resiliency in the region.
First, they want to raise awareness of cybersecurity among their neighbours. Secondly, they are looking to help these countries build capacity in a uniform manner between concerned parties. Likewise, non-member countries of the ASEAN can also do dialogue with the association so there will be a broader agreement that cyber resiliency is an urgent concern for everyone. The CSA believes that things will be much more effective if they are properly coordinated on a much larger scale.
To support these coordinated cybersecurity efforts, Singapore launched the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE), an extension of the ASEAN Cyber Capacity Programme (ACCP). It aims to build more secure and resilient cyberspace through capacity building programmes for ASEAN senior policy and technical officials with decision-making responsibilities. The ASCCE seeks to fulfil three principal functions:
- Conduct research and provide pieces of training in areas spanning international law, cyber strategy, legislation, cyber norms, and other cybersecurity policy issues.
- Provide CERT-related technical training as well as facilitate the exchange of open-source cyber threat and attack-related information and best practices.
- Conduct virtual cyber defence training and exercises.
The ASCCE undertakes a modular, multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach to deliver these programmes. The ASCCE engages top cyber experts and trainers and collaborates with ASEAN member states, ASEAN dialogue partners and other international partners including Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in designing and delivering cybersecurity capacity-building programmes.
The ASCCE delivers programmes in consultation with the International Advisory Panel (IAP) comprising senior representatives from key partner countries and international organisations. The ASCCE will also review and further develop its training curriculum with the support of the International Programme Committee (IPC), which comprises experts from participating countries and international organisations.
Mr Koh and the CSA continue to follow the four Ms when building cybersecurity capacities. Multi-disciplinary, where it is not just about technologies but also policies to be implemented in capacity building. Multi-stakeholder, where it is recognised that governments need support from industries in the private sector. Modular, where programmes can upscale. Matrix, where agencies like the CSA can measure the effectiveness of their campaigns over time.
A Judgments and Orders portal and the e-Filing 3.0 module were recently inaugurated to strengthen the country’s legal system. The portal enables users to search past judgments and orders. The e-Filing 3.0 module allows for the electronic filing of court documents.
The Judgments and Orders search portal is a repository of judgments pronounced by various High Courts in the country. It provides the facility to search judgements and final orders based on multiple search criteria. The main features of the portal are:
- Free text search enables the user to search judgments based on keywords or a combination of multiple keywords.
- Users can also search judgments based on bench, case type, case number, year, a petitioner or respondent’s name, a Judge’s name, act, section, disposal nature, and decision date.
- The embedded filtering feature allows further filters on the results, ensuring a precise search.
Judge Dhananjaya Chandrachud, who inaugurated the systems, explained that the portal currently has data on about 38 million cases. The court had the data of 106 million cases that were being disposed of, which are now available.
The e-Filing 3.0 module, introduced by the e-Committee of the Supreme Court, allows for the electronic filing of court documents. With the introduction of the new module, there will be no need for lawyers or clients to visit the court premises to file a case. The filing process can take place even when the court, client, and lawyer are at three different locations. The project system was completed in six months, according to a press release.
The Secretary of the Department of Justice highlighted the various features of the e-Filing 3.0, saying that the upgraded version 3.0 is more user-friendly. It will simplify the registration of advocates on the e-filing software and enable advocates to add their partners and clients to the e-filing module. It offers readymade templates for pleadings and provisions for the online recordings of oaths. It enables case papers to be signed digitally. It provides the ability to file multiple applications apart and virtually exchanges information and case papers between advocates and courts.
The launch of the two portals reaffirms that Indian court architecture and judicial processes have been able to adapt to the fast-paced digital world. The Constitution recognises justice as one of the foremost deliverables for the people of India and the eCourts project has played a sustained role in ensuring citizen-centric justice. In recognition of the exemplary work, this project has been conferred the Excellence in Digital Governance Award in 2020 by the government.
At the event, Chandrachud noted the e-committee of the top Court is in the process of finalising its rules to allow the live streaming of court proceedings. In 2018, the Supreme Court approved in principle the concept of live-streaming important court hearings, however, it is yet to be implemented. The Gujarat High Court is the only court that live-streams its proceedings on YouTube.
Chandrachud stated that the video conferencing was initiated as a platform to answer problems of the COVID-19 pandemic – not to replace oral hearings but to ensure that courts were functional and available to those whose rights were being infringed.
Several dignitaries including Chief Justices of various High Courts, the Director-General of the National Informatics Centre, and members of the e-committee of the Supreme Court joined the event virtually.
The Philippine Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) fully supports the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)’s initiative to allow telecommunications companies to occupy a portion of the government’s Right of Way (ROW) to facilitate infrastructure build-up and speed up improvements to connectivity services in the country.
This is under the DPWH Department Order No. 29 (DO 29) or the “DPWH Policy on Telecommunications and Internet Infrastructure under Republic Act (RA) No. 11494” that eases restrictions on telecommunications companies aiming to construct information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure projects along national roads.
To put things into perspective, in 2014, the DPWH issued DO No. 73 prohibiting telecommunication and power companies from constructing posts along national roads as it “creates an imminent danger to lives and properties and hamper relief operations” during calamities. But during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the DICT and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) asked the DPWH to consider changing the order as it slowed down the rollout of critical telecom infrastructure.
The DO 29 amendment complies with the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1), or Republic Act (RA) No. 11469, that paved the way for accelerated approval of permits and other documents from the local government to speed up the construction of telecommunication towers. Also, Bayanihan 2, or RA No. 11494, further eased the construction of telecommunication infrastructure by waiving several other permitting requirements for telecommunication companies.
DO 29 allows telcos and ICT service providers to construct and undertake excavations and/or restoration work for ICT Infrastructure Projects within the allowable ROW limits of the national roads. DO 29 however, shall automatically cease application in 2024, after the lapse of three (3) years from its signing and approval.
DICT said that to address the increased need for Internet connectivity services during the state of public health emergency such as COVID-19, they thought that governing agencies must prioritise faster rollout of ICT infrastructures like cellular towers. The agency fully supports the DPWH’s initiative, and they hope that this will help address the issues of congestion, connection reliability and coverage soon.
Moreover, the DPWH stated that the DICT, along with the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), were instrumental in paving the way for the issuance of DO 29. Since last year, these agencies had urged the DPWH to revisit and establish more conducive ROW regulations to help improve internet connectivity in the country.
The DICT and the DPWH are working hand in hand to ensure compliance with their respective commitments under the Memorandum of Agreement signed during the First Philippine Telecoms Summit in 2017 to eliminate barriers to the expansion of connectivity services in the country.
Meanwhile, telecommunications companies thanked the DPWH for releasing DO 29, removing a bottleneck that prevented telecommunication service providers from constructing infrastructure projects along national roads. With this, telco companies now see faster network builds in the country. They also said that the DO 29 allows ICT service providers to construct and undertake excavations and restoration works for infrastructure projects within the allowable right of way limits of national roads.
Accordingly, reports say that as the lockdowns restrict business operations and limit the movement of people in the Philippines, internet connectivity has never been more urgent to enable digital transformation as the country adapts to new landscapes brought about by the pandemic. In times of crisis such as COVID-19, the telecom industry plays an important role in ensuring business continuity and household sustainability as a dependency for reliable broadband connectivity becomes more critical. The report added that Internet connectivity will serve as one of the main foundations in supporting the overall digital infrastructure development in the Philippines.