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The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore organised the 15th annual ASEAN Computer Emergency Response Team  Incident Drill (ACID) last week on 7 October 2020. This was held alongside the fifth Singapore International Cyber Week.

Hosted by Singapore since 2006, the Incident Drills test incident response procedures and strengthens cybersecurity preparedness and cooperation among Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in ASEAN Member States and Partners.

Malware Campaign Leveraging the Pandemic Situation

This year’s theme, “Malware Campaign Leveraging the Pandemic Situation”, was chosen in view of the rapid increase of malicious campaigns leveraging the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across multiple sectors, in many countries in the earlier part of the year.

During a brief pre-drill dialogue, the participants also agreed that it was an opportune time to raise awareness and preparedness against opportunistic campaigns.

The scenario injects are based on the Emotet malware campaign, given its prevalence, and the range of cybersecurity events that may occur following a successful Emotet malware infection.

Computer Emergency Response Teams from all of ASEAN represented

All the Computer Emergency Response Teams from the 10 ASEAN Member States and five key Dialogue Partners from Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea, were represented this year.

They were required to investigate, analyse, and recommend remediation and mitigation measures to a series of scenarios injects with varying levels of complexity. The drill this year was well-received and the participating Computer Emergency Response Teams provided positive feedback.

Leading the exercise is Ms Goh Yan Kim, Deputy Director, SingCERT, CSA. Ms Goh said, “With the pandemic resulting in a heavier reliance on the internet, cybersecurity is now more important than ever. These exercises are essential to foster trust and preparedness among CERTs in ASEAN and our Dialogue Partners to respond to current and emerging threats. We look forward to conducting more of these exercises in future.”

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) jointly organised a webinar for the international shipping and port community yesterday, 8th October 2020.

The message at the “Future of Shipping – Digitalisation” webinar was that international standards and collaboration are needed to unlock digitalisation’s full potential to drive efficient, resilient and green shipping.

Maritime digitalisation offers clear benefits to the international maritime and port community

“Digitalisation across global supply chains is a mammoth task, and IMO has a vital role to play in this transformation,” said Mr Chee Hong Tat, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State of the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in his opening remarks.

Mr Chee added, “Digitalisation is a national imperative for Singapore. Together with our industry, Singapore will continue to collaborate with IMO and Member States in their digitalisation efforts.”

“The pandemic has shown that shipping remains the leading facilitator of global trade,” said Mr Kitack Lim, IMO’s Secretary-General. “Digitalisation is key in enabling the post-COVID recovery, strengthening the resilience of the global supply chain and taking shipping into a new era.”

“IMO is working to ensure shipping can embrace the digital revolution – while ensuring safety, environmental protection as well as cyber security. Cooperation between all relevant stakeholders, from shipping, ports and logistics, will be vital to drive the digitalisation of shipping, enhance its efficiency and the sustainability, and therefore facilitating trade and fostering economic prosperity.”

Enhancing cybersecurity awareness within the maritime sector

The Port Authorities Chief Information Officer (CIO) Cybersecurity Network (PACC-Net) was also launched at the webinar. With the support of nine ports, this network will enhance cybersecurity awareness within the maritime sector and facilitate early sharing of cyber information to counter potential and active maritime cybersecurity threats.

The participating partners are Abu Dhabi Ports, Port of Antwerp, Port Klang Authority, Port of Kobe, Port of Long Beach, Port of Montreal, Port of Rotterdam, Port of Seattle and MPA.

Mr David Foo, MPA’s Senior Director, Operations-Technology, presented how maritime digitalisation offers clear benefits to the international maritime and port community to improve the efficiency and resilience of supply chains.

IMO, MPA and the World Bank agreed that one key step to realise these benefits is the digitalisation of workflows and increased data exchange between ships, ports and value chain stakeholders. This will facilitate global trade, increase supply chain resilience, and improve ship operations.

The webinar had over 400 participants from around the world to discuss digitalisation and decarbonisation in a post-pandemic world.

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An expert in Natural Language Processing, Bertrand Lee shares his journey to becoming a Smart Nation Fellow at GovTech and how chatbots can change the way government services are delivered.

When Mr Bertrand Lee returned to Singapore from Hong Kong, he joined a company that developed chatbots, which are computer programs that simulate human conversations and act as virtual assistants. While the value of these chatbots became quickly apparent to Lee, he also realised that the chatbots had the potential to be so much more.

“It can be a frustrating experience having to wait in line or be on hold for 10-15 minutes before reaching customer service to get the job done,” Lee said. The alternative to a friendly human being would be an online-based service, but it cannot respond the same way a service personnel can, he noted.

Chatbots tread a fine line between cold efficiency and the human touch, Lee said. “I believe that chatbots will make a significant impact in the lives of many Singaporeans, by improving the way we engage with government services.”

This motivation to harness technology to make a difference is what ultimately drove Lee to join the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech)’s Smart Nation Fellowship Programme. In this interview, Lee shares his experience as a Smart Nation Fellow, as well as his views on the future of chatbots for the delivery of government services.

Getting into talks with GovTech.

Before Lee moved to Hong Kong, he spent 13 years in the United States working for technology giant Microsoft and a series of startups. One of his first forays into the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP)—a field of artificial intelligence (AI) that studies the interactions between computers and humans using human languages—was to build a conversational AI assistant in cars that could make calls or give directions based on voice commands.

Lee’s expertise in conversational AI and chatbots would later come into play when he was searching for a consulting role in Singapore. He was introduced to the Smart Nation Fellowship Programme at GovTech, where he met the team developing the government chatbot platform.

“What motivated me to join GovTech was the chance to work on something that I knew could impact the lives of all my fellow Singaporeans,” Lee said. Aside from giving back to Singapore, he was also drawn to the programme’s flexibility. The Smart Nation Fellowship Programme, which connects established professionals with GovTech for three to six months, could accommodate Lee as a part-time consultant working three days a week. Industry professionals can even join as a Technical Mentor to guide GovTech’s project teams.

Speaking of chatbots

After joining GovTech, Lee became a member of the team that developed the government chatbot AskJamie, which is programmed to respond to questions that range from tax queries to licence renewals.

“Chatbots could potentially be the most scalable and effective way to improve how Singaporeans transact with the government,” said Lee.

Not only are chatbots able to process and retrieve information faster than any customer service professional, but they can also simulate human interactions and make the experience less impersonal. “Chatbots could be that happy medium between interactivity and scalability,” he quipped.

For chatbots to be effective, however, they need to predict user intent better and be more personable, Lee said. “First-generation chatbots do not predict user intent very well—they often get confused or fail to understand what the user is saying,” he explained. Furthermore, the chatbots cannot pick up on details such as date and time to retrieve a more relevant answer.

But recent advances in big data and computing power could make these goals possible, he said. The team at GovTech is developing the Virtual Intelligent Citizen Assistant (VICA), a platform that lets them build even better chatbots. “One of VICA’s goals is to make our chatbots engine-agnostic, which means that the chatbots can leverage the latest NLP technology to achieve better performance,” he said.

A ‘super’ chatbot in the making

Building a ‘super’ chatbot is the Holy Grail for the team behind VICA, Lee said. By integrating analytics and chatbot data, such as utterances and user intents, across all government agencies, they aim to develop a centralised ‘super’ chatbot for the entire Singapore government.

Not only will a whole-of-government chatbot boost efficiency, but it will also likely enhance the user experience across the entire service journey, from returning personalised responses to web integration among agencies.

“Using chatbots to streamline government services can bring about very obvious improvements to the end-user experience,” Lee said. “The whole idea is that there are so many government agencies. With a chatbot like this, all the users need to do is to go onto a single chatbot for anything they need.”

Like Alexa, Google or Siri, the Singapore Government could one day have their very own virtual assistant. Such a chatbot would enable citizens to transact with the government seamlessly, without end-users ever becoming privy to the mundane, administrative processes that keep government agencies running.

“Imagine a time where you could throw any government-related request to this virtual assistant—there is so much more to the future of chatbots,” Lee shared.

Photo Credit: GOVTECH

Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat, delivered a Ministerial Statement yesterday, Mon 5 Oct 2020.

He spoke on how the Government has rolled out a decisive set of crisis management measures to minimise and cushion the economic impact, preserve jobs and capabilities, and support households during the Pandemic.

He spoke of a Supplementary Supply Bill, which provides for the resources to implement the measures announced in August, for debate in Parliament to further support the nation.

The Deputy Prime Minister also focused for some time on the importance of digitalisation and the steps the Government would be implementing in order to develop Singapore as a Global-Asia node of Technology, Innovation and Enterprise.

“We will accelerate the build-up of digital capabilities, which will be a game-changer for Singapore’s connectivity with Asia and the world. Digital payments and data facilitate physical trade. It makes the exchange of varied goods and services more efficient, opens up new possibilities, and strengthens our value proposition as trading node.”

Government Digitalisation Efforts This Year

The Government has enhanced Singapore’s digital connectivity by opening up new markets and opportunities for businesses. They have made Digital Economy Agreements with Australia, Chile, and New Zealand, and have ongoing talks with South Korea. These agreements establish common frameworks and rules for digital trade, enabling Singaporean businesses, especially SMEs, to access international markets more easily.

As part of the Industry Transformation Map work, the Singapore government are helping firms to make full use of digital technology.

Since January this year, businesses have embarked on over 27,000 projects to improve their productivity and build new capabilities through the Productivity Solutions Grant and the Enterprise Development Grant schemes.

The Minister said that “The experience of businesses shows that digitalisation is a strategic capability to unlock growth, evolve their models to harness digital possibilities, and to integrate processes such as logistics, payment, and marketing.”

“We will press on with our ITM work, which helps businesses big and small, to transform holistically, bringing together the different aspects needed to upgrade. A key priority for us now is to build on this momentum and bring digitalisation to our heartlands. Senior Minister of State Sim Ann and Minister of State Low Yen Ling will be announcing further plans for heartland enterprises in the coming days.”

New five-year Research, Innovation and Enterprise plan for Singapore

The Government will unveil a new five-year Research, Innovation and Enterprise, or RIE plan in December. The plan will build on earlier investments and enhance research to support areas of national priority, such as early childhood development, lifelong learning, and keeping seniors healthy.

The Government also aims to expand the transformation of the manufacturing, aviation and maritime sectors, and deepen its capabilities as a Smart Nation and sustainable society.

It hopes to also position Singapore as a global intellectual property centre in Asia.

“A major effort will be to integrate the work of the Future Economy Council and our RIE plan, so as to accelerate our transformation into an innovation-led economy, powered by technology. In this way, our businesses can be more competitive, and our workers can have better job prospects.

Promoting the Open Innovation Network

We are also promoting the Open Innovation Network, an online platform which brings problem owners and problem-solvers together to create industry-led solutions.

Since 2017, a total of close to $13 million in grant and prize monies has been awarded to firms with viable solutions to deploy and scale their ideas under Enterprise Singapore’s Gov-PACT and IMDA’s Open Innovation Platform. This year there have been two rounds of National Innovation Challenges.

He concluded on this topic by saying “we are making good progress in our move to position Singapore as a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation, and enterprise. By enhancing our connectivity and making innovation pervasive, we can better meet the challenges of a post-COVID world, and create good jobs and a brighter future for all Singaporeans.”

SWIFT and Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) today signed a Memorandum of Intent to accelerate trade digitalisation globally.

Opportunities in moving manual processes to digitally enabled ones

The Memorandum of Intent looks at offering SWIFT’s community of more than 11,000 financial institutions and corporates in over 200 countries and territories more efficient and cost-effective cross-border paperless trade, without the need for multiple bilateral linkages and siloed systems.

Moving manual processes to digitally enabled ones also creates opportunities to shorten trade processing times and open up possibilities for innovation such as new trade financing offerings to the trade community.

Mr. Alain Raes, Chief Business Development Officer, SWIFT, said: “The trade ecosystem faces digital disruption and requires open standards, legal harmonisation and coming together as a community to address fragmentation, friction and risks. Our collaboration with Singapore’s global TradeTrust initiative allows us to play a central role in this effort, and we look forward to working together towards a shared vision of a frictionless, dynamic, global trade ecosystem.”

Ensuring Security and Trust in Digitising Trade Documentation

Through this Memorandum of Intent, both parties will work to combine TradeTrust, an interoperability framework that connects various platforms for the exchange of digital trade documentation, with the SWIFT community.

TradeTrust provides proof of authenticity of documents and offers title transfer through open-source software. This functions alongside legal harmonisation to recognise these digital documents.

When paired with SWIFT’s ability to securely transport industry standardised electronic trade messaging, scanned hardcopy documentation and digitally signed assets, this will pave the way for the seamless exchange of electronic trade documents around the world.

As an important global trade and finance hub, Singapore has been at the forefront of trade digitalisation, partnering with various international organisations, governments and industry players to boost cross-border trade.

Ms Jane Lim, Assistant Chief Executive, IMDA, said: “International trade is the lifeblood of Singapore’s economy. Singapore is working with various partners internationally to develop an interoperability framework, TradeTrust, for the seamless and efficient exchange of digitalised trade documentation across different communities. We are pleased to partner with SWIFT to further develop a trusted, interoperable and global digital trade ecosystem.”

This builds on IMDA’s effort to bring in new partners to join this global trade digitalisation effort. Earlier this year, IMDA signed a cooperation agreement with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and 17 multinational firms to move from existing paper-based processes to digitally enabled ones.

Singapore Government has upped its distribution, public awareness and citizen engagement strategy for the TraceTogether Programme as it looks to reopen its economy further by allowing more businesses and social activities to resume, the ability to do contact tracing quickly, and at scale, becomes more critical to reduce the risk of new transmission chains forming.

They have added mobile booths informing the public of how to set-up TraceTogether and added many more TraceTogether token collection points across the country.

The TraceTogether (TT) Programme – comprising the TT App and the TT Token – provides the initial list of close contacts of COVID-19 positive cases.

Together with SafeEntry (SE) and associated digital systems, the TT Programme has enabled the contact tracing teams to reduce the time taken to identify and quarantine a close contact from 4 days to less than 2 days on average.

The TT Programme also supplements manual contact tracing by identifying close contacts who are not known to index cases, or cannot be recalled by cases.

Mobile Booths to Support Public Adoption of the TraceTogether Programme

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) will be deploying roving TT mobile booths to provide a convenient set-up for the public to adopt the TT Programme.

Starting from 2 October 2020, TT mobile booths will be deployed to about 100 locations for public to collect their Tokens, or learn how to download and use the App. The booths will be set up at areas with high footfall such as malls.

The TT mobile booths are an additional avenue for the public to collect their TT Token for themselves and their family members.

TraceTogether Token Collection available at more Community Centres throughout Singapore

The nation-wide distribution of TT Tokens commenced on 14 September 2020 at Community Centres in the Jalan Besar and Tanjong Pagar regions. To date, more than 100,000 Tokens have been distributed.

From 1 October 2020, the distribution exercise will be expanded to 18 Community Centres in the Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Toa Payoh and Sengkang regions.

Stratificare are shortlisted as one of the top 4 teams that have reached the finals of the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition.

The DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) will be awarded to the most innovative business plans, start-ups or early-stage ventures that address pertinent urban challenges faced by cities of today.

In addition to the evaluation criteria for the LKYGBPC, qualifying applications for the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize are also assessed on clear identification of the social or environmental problem, creativity in addressing the identified challenge statement and stakeholders involved, ability to measure the social or environmental impact created and the scalability and sustainability of solution and impact

The award worth SGD 150,000 includes prize money of up to SGD 100,000 and post-competition support, such as:
• Access to DBS Foundation’s capacity building programmes
• Brand awareness and marketing features on DBS Foundation’s website, brand campaigns, media stories etc.
• Use of DBS premises when in Singapore for launch or community events
• Network and connection to DBS Foundation’s social enterprise alumni community and partners

Empowering personalised medicine for tomorrow through innovative diagnostic solutions

OpenGov had the opportunity to speak with Anthony Chua – CEO, Keith Chong -COO and Tiffany Lin -CRO before they has progressed to the finals to hear about their innovative solution to a problem that affects Singaporeans on a daily basis.

StratifiCare™ was founded in 2015 with the vision of empowering personalized medicine for tomorrow through innovative diagnostic solutions. They have been shortlisted for the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize for their work on the world’s first severe Dengue prediction test.

Keith Chong, COO of Stratificare said that one of the drivers behind this solution was that Dengue was something that affected their personal lives and family. And added that he believed that being able to diagnose whether it was a severe case helped reassure patients that their diagnosis was accurate, and helped with decision-making on what the next clinical steps should be.

StratifiCare has discovered a panel of biomarkers that can determine the progress of Dengue Fever. Patients who are predicted not to progress to severe Dengue can be managed at outpatient settings, instead of bearing expenses being hospitalised.

The challenge in the clinical management of Dengue is how to accurately predict which patients will go on to develop Severe Dengue in the early phase of the disease. Their innovation will help reduce the over-hospitalisation issue faced by medical providers and relieve healthcare burden, especially in poorer Dengue-endemic developing countries.

CEO Anthony Chua said that the challenge was not to solve the problem just in Singapore, but was also a solution for neighbouring countries too. When asked about go-to-market strategy their CRO Tiffany Lin said that Singapore is their main focus at the minute, with plans to distribute into Malaysia and India in the near future.

Stratificare has reached the finals of the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize which takes place on Friday 9th October.

To register for the awards ceremony please click here

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SupplyAlly, or Sally for short, is a mobile app that facilitates the process of logistics distribution, especially in times of need during COVID-19 and the post-COVID era.

How did Sally come about? It started with a phone call on April 1st. Steven Koh, Director of Government Digital Services at GovTech, received a call from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the People’s Association (PA). They wanted to know if GovTech could develop an app that would digitalise the nationwide reusable mask distribution exercise.

When was the distribution exercise going to start? April 5th came the reply. In the span of four days, GovTech engineers repurposed and refined an existing application into SupplyAlly. We had to develop an app that was designed with a low barrier to entry for users, as we did not know how many people were involved in distributing masks. We also developed a form of authorisation and authentication that was scalable with the size of the volunteer efforts.

Given the time constraints, speed was a major consideration – what are the essential steps for using this app, and what is the most basic way of verifying identities? These were key concerns for the team as we worked round the clock to meet the deadline.

A helping hand for the community

Once we set Sally up, it enabled MTI and the PA to distribute reusable masks across Singapore through the various Community Centres. To date, 4.2 million masks have been issued through this campaign.

Once we saw how successful Sally was after the mask distribution, we realised that there was great potential for Sally to support charitable efforts in Singapore. During the Circuit Breaker period, home-based learning was implemented but some children could not participate as they lacked access to internet laptops. That’s when we decided to partner Engineering Good to distribute refurbished laptops to underprivileged students for home-based learning.

Since June, we’ve also worked with the Community Development Council (CDC) and PA to distribute voucher booklets to families in need – Sally is utilised to distribute vouchers to more than 250,000 households out of 400,000 eligible households.

Sally also directly contributes to the national contact tracing effort against COVID-19. Together with our parent organisation, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) and the Agency for Integrated Care’s (AIC) Silver Generation Office, more than 10,000 TraceTogether (TT) tokens were issued to the elderly who do not own smartphones and other digitally-excluded members of the population. Subsequently, in September, we started the distribution of TT tokens at the Community Clubs in Jalan Besar and Tanjong Pagar areas.

More recently, we engaged Food from the Heart, a charitable organisation and gave out hot meals to the elderly and other service users around the Mountbatten area. Sally vastly simplified the process of tracking and recording items distributed, ensuring equitable distribution of essentials for individuals and households.

Technology, the driving force behind Sally

By utilising cloud technologies on our Government Commercial Cloud framework, Sally is able to run different distribution campaigns simultaneously with the use of unique QR codes at an effective cost model. In addition, by staying true to our DNA, we are able to significantly lower the lead time required to roll out new campaigns by leveraging on reusable components.

What’s next?

From our journey and the feedback we’ve received, we’ve identified some new features that Sally can benefit from.

  • Enable the capability to appeal for extra collections when entitlement limits are reached
  • Improve the intuitiveness of error messages and in-app messages for better user experience
  • Enhance the login process for Sally to minimise human error when using QR codes to log in
  • Displaying distribution statistics within the app
  • Multi-Language support

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