Singapore’s Cybersecurity Bill which aims to strengthen the protection of Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) was passed into law on February 5.
The Bill provides a framework for the regulation of CII and formalises the duties of CII owners in ensuring the cybersecurity of their respective CIIs. It also provides the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) with powers to manage and respond to cybersecurity threats and incidents, along with establishing a framework for the sharing of cybersecurity information with and by CSA, and the protection of such information. Another objective of the Bill is to establish a light-touch licensing framework for cybersecurity service providers.
In July 2017, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and the CSA released a draft version of the Bill and invited public feedback. The original submission deadline of 3 August 2017 was extended in response to requests for more time to provide feedback. 92 submissions were received from a wide and diverse range of stakeholder groups at the close of the public consultation on the draft Bill from 10 July to 24 August 2017.
MCI and CSA revealed their responses to the feedback in November last year, providing clarifications on issues such as designation of CIIs and duties of CII owners. MCI and CSA also said that they would work closely with sector regulators to streamline and harmonise the obligations of CII owners under the Bill with their respective sectoral regulations.
During the closing speech for the Second Reading on Cybersecurity Bill 2018, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, answered several questions from Members of the Parliament on different aspects of the Bill.
Scope of the Bill
Some members asked about the application of the Bill to systems located overseas which are providing essential services. Minister Ibrahim replied that while Singapore may be able to work with these international organisations to ensure the cybersecurity of the systems, they cannot be controlled by designating them as CII as they are outside Singapore’s jurisdiction. There may also be potential conflicts with other countries’ regulatory regimes.
Minister Ibrahim highlighted the Government’s efforts to develop strong international partnerships and linkages with overseas Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) to facilitate investigations of cybersecurity threats and incidents that may originate overseas.
Since CII owners often work with vendors, the Minister said that CSA will work with the sector regulators and CII owners to define the boundaries of the systems that will be designated as CII, on a case-by-case basis. He also clarified that CII owners are ultimately responsible for the cybersecurity of their respective CII. CII owners should carry out the necessary risk assessments and due diligence while deciding on vendors to engage and conditions to impose on them.
There was also a suggestion to establish an accredited framework for a national cybersecurity audit for CII stakeholders. For now, CSA plans to rely on existing sector audit regimes to ensure that the security measures are effective in protecting the CII, as an additional layer could potentially result in CII stakeholders experiencing audit fatigue. CSA will provide audit guidance to auditors and track the audit outcomes, to ensure an acceptable standard of practice.
Determination of Essential Services and CII
CII are identified as computers and computer systems that are necessary for the continuous delivery of essential services, the loss or compromise of which would have a debilitating effect on the availability of the essential services in Singapore. For each sector, CSA worked closely with the relevant sector regulator to identify the essential services within the sector, as well as the computers and computer systems.
Higher education and research institutions are not considered essential services at this point in time. However, Minister Ibrahim said that new essential services may arise in the future, and the Minister may amend the list of essential services if necessary.
He also clarified that organisations are not required to make self-assessments as to whether their computer or computer systems fulfil the criteria of a CII. Prior to designating a computer or computer system as a CII, CSA will consult its owner and the relevant sector regulator. The identified organisations will be notified in writing. CII owners will be given an opportunity to submit representations to the Commissioner (the Chief Executive of CSA will be appointed as the Commissioner) or appeal to the Minister against the designation. The Minister’s decision on an appeal will be final. The process for identifying and designating new CII in the future will be similarly considered and consultative.
Reporting requirements for CII owners
Questions were raised whether incident reporting and investigation requirements could be too onerous for CII owners, especially when they are potential victims of cyber-attacks. In reply, the Minister mentioned that there is no intention to take action under the Bill against CII owners for cybersecurity breaches so long as they comply with their obligations.
CII owners are required to establish mechanisms and processes to detect cybersecurity threats and incidents and to promptly report incidents to the CSA. There is no obligation for a CII owner to report a cybersecurity incident in respect of other infrastructure that it owns, where such infrastructure is not connected to the CII. They are also required to cooperate with CSA during the investigation. When exercising investigative powers, the Commissioner will be mindful that the owners of the computer systems in question are typically also victims. CSA will be providing further details to guide CII owners in incident reporting, such as relevant forms and
The Minister rejected a suggestion for mandatory reporting of all cybersecurity incidents to the CSA, citing resource requirements for CSA, as well as the companies. All companies, can already voluntarily report cybersecurity incidents to CSA through SingCERT. On top of this, the Bill will provide CSA with powers to investigate cybersecurity threats and incidents pertaining to computer systems in Singapore, including computer systems that are not CII.
There were multiple questions on compliance costs for CII owners and ensuring that those costs do not trickle down to customers. Minister Ibrahim replied that the Government bears much of the cost of strengthening cybersecurity protection and enhancing responses to cybersecurity threats and incidents at the national level. This includes resourcing national-level cybersecurity infrastructure and manpower, conducting regular cybersecurity exercises to validate cybersecurity incident management processes, and deploying National Cyber Incident Response Teams (NCIRT) to respond to cybersecurity incidents.
Many CII owners have already put in place cybersecurity measures arising from regulations in sectors such as banking and finance and infocomm. According to the Minister, the requirements under the Bill have been carefully scoped and are considered not too onerous.
The Minister acknowledged that there might still be cost implications for some CII owners. MCI and CSA will not provide funding to offset the costs of CII obligations which are regulatory requirements. However, they will work with sector regulators to streamline the cybersecurity audit and incident reporting processes in order to harmonise cybersecurity requirements. Assistant Commissioners, or ACs, who are senior officers appointed from the 11 CII sectors will play a key role in ensuring that CII owners do not face
conflicting requirements under the Cybersecurity Bill and in sectoral regulations.
Assistance for CII owners
To assist CII owners and their staff in getting ready for the implementation of the Bill, CSA has developed a Cybersecurity Legislation Initialisation Programme for Sector Leads, also termed as CLIPS. CLIPS will focus on establishing clarity on the roles and responsibilities between the sector regulators and the CII owners, and identifying and resolving any operational issue pertaining to the respective sectors. This includes harmonising policies, and streamlining audits and incident reporting processes.
Where necessary, CSA will also give CII owners sufficient time to undertake preparations and planning, prior to issuing the cybersecurity codes of practice or standards of performance for each sector. In addition, CSA currently shares information on cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities with the CII sectors so that appropriate actions can be taken promptly. The CERTs overseeing specific sectors also issue advisories to the operators in their respective sectors.
Safeguards on Commissioner’s powers
Addressing concerns that the broad investigation powers provided to the Commissioner by the Bill would curtail innovation or intrude into personal privacy, Minister Ibrahim clarified that there are limits to the investigation powers that can be exercised depending on the severity of the threat or incident. While all organisations, regardless of whether they are local or foreign, are required to cooperate with CSA during the investigation of cybersecurity threats and incidents pertaining to computers or computer systems in Singapore, the Government do recognise the need to balance operational expediency with the proportionate and judicious exercise of power.
For example, the Commissioner’s authorisation is required before cybersecurity officers and authorised officers can exercise more intrusive investigation powers. There will also be governance process within CSA to ensure that the investigation powers are exercised responsibly and in accordance with the Bill.
Minister Ibrahim assured that the powers under the Bill are not intended to intrude into privacy. Information and measures required under the Bill mainly target cybersecurity threats and are primarily technical and not personal in nature. For example, to aid in the detection of cybersecurity threats, information such as network logs, indicators of compromise as well as system event and audit logs may be requested.
Development of cybersecurity ecosystem
When asked if the Bill would cover less mainstream cybersecurity services such as white-hat or ethical hackers and if the Ministry could consider encouraging a local community of white-hats, Minister Ibrahim stated that the current focus is on more mainstream or mature cybersecurity services with the potential to cause significant impact on the overall cybersecurity landscape.
The proposed licensing framework is intended to reduce the safety and security risks that cybersecurity service providers can pose. The service providers are required to ensure that their key executive officers are fit and proper persons when applying for a licence.
While only two categories of services, penetration testing and managed security operations centre (SOC) monitoring, are identified to be licensable cybersecurity services, other cybersecurity services will still need to comply with other laws in Singapore, such as the CMA.
However, he acknowledged that there are diverse views on the issue of licensing cybersecurity service providers and growing the cybersecurity ecosystem. On the one hand, there is a call for even individual professionals to be regulated, while on the other hand, some expressed concerns over potential cost implications for businesses.
He clarified that for a start, the licensing framework is deliberately light-touch in view of the need to strike a good balance between industry development and cybersecurity needs. It is also due to the practical challenges to requiring individual cybersecurity professionals to be licensed, given the global nature of the cybersecurity industry.
Also, responding to an enquiry on whether the Government could create a certification system that favours cybersecurity professionals who have a vested interest in Singapore, Minister Ibrahim remarked that Singapore should remain open, and take reference from internationally recognised standards where possible.
Development of cybersecurity workforce
In response to an enquiry on the Government’s plan to grow a pool of cybersecurity professionals, Minister Ibrahim stated that the Government is collaborating with the industry to grow the cybersecurity workforce in Singapore, with Singaporeans continuing to be an important part of it.
The examples Minister gave included:
- The Cyber Security Associates and Technologists (CSAT) programme which CSA and IMDA partner the industry and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to attract new graduates and convert existing professionals from related fields to a career in cybersecurity.
- The Cybersecurity Professional Scheme (CSPS) under CSA through which officers will be recruited and trained in areas such as cyber forensics and vulnerability assessment, before being deployed to public agencies overseeing CII sectors to assist companies in these sectors with their cybersecurity capabilities.
Regarding the potentials of military-civilian collaborations to build cybersecurity capabilities, Minister Ibrahim shared that CSA already works closely with MINDEF on cybersecurity matters such as technology cooperation, sharing of knowledge and experience, technical support and participation in joint exercises.
Global development and standards
On how Singapore is taking into account global developments and evolving standards to tackle cybersecurity threat, Minister Ibrahim said that in formulating this Bill, the Government studied cybersecurity legislation from other countries and will continue to take reference from internationally recognised standards when developing codes of practice and standards of performance for the different sectors.
Noting that the cybersecurity environment is fast-changing, Singapore will continue to keep abreast of international developments, and review and adjust relevant laws to address new and emerging issues moving forward. Such efforts include active participation at international fora and discussions to develop international cyber norms, bilateral and regional collaborations on cybersecurity and capability development.
Public education and assistance for SMEs
People are often the weakest link, but also the strongest asset in cybersecurity.
Regarding public education efforts to enhance cybersecurity preparedness, the Minister named a few government initiatives. They include: (1) cybersecurity talks and conferences organised by the Cyber Security Awareness Alliance, (2) online cybersecurity resource available on CSA’s GoSafeOnline website, (3) annual Singapore Cyber Landscape report for public awareness.
For initiatives targeting the SMEs, IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital programme can help businesses to adopt cybersecurity solutions, give technical advice on cybersecurity and other digital concerns through IMDA’s SME Digital Tech Hub.
In general, businesses and members of the public can also sign up for SingCERT’s advisories and alerts on cybersecurity threats and incidents.
In conclusion, Minister Ibrahim stated the Cybersecurity Bill is an important legislation to protect the country’s critical information infrastructure and safeguard essential services from disruption by cyberattacks.
He shared that the Bill was developed under careful considerations and takes into the account the interests of the different stakeholders and Singapore’s needs. He assured that the Ministry and Government will continue to work with stakeholders from the public and private sectors to ensure that the laws remain robust and relevant, and beyond this Bill, to raise the level of cybersecurity awareness and develop the cybersecurity ecosystem in Singapore.
Lastly, he also noted that cybersecurity is not just the Government’s responsibility. Instead, all members of the society need to play a role.
A bionic eye being developed by a team of biomedical researchers at the University of Sydney and UNSW has shown to be safe and stable for long-term implantation in a three-month study, paving the way towards human trials. The Phoenix99 Bionic Eye is an implantable system, designed to restore a form of vision to patients living with severe vision impairment and blindness caused by degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa. The device has two main components which need to be implanted: a stimulator attached to the eye and a communication module positioned under the skin behind the ear.
Published in Biomaterials, the researchers used a sheep model to observe how the body responds and heals when implanted with the device, with the results allowing for further refinement of the surgical procedure. The biomedical research team is now confident the device could be trialled in human patients. The team will now apply for ethics approval to perform clinical trials in human patients, as they continue to develop and test advanced stimulation techniques.
The bionic eye works by stimulating the retina – a thin stack of neurones lining the back of the eye. In healthy eyes, the cells in one of the layers turn incoming light into electrical messages which are sent to the brain. In some retinal diseases, the cells responsible for this crucial conversion degenerate, causing vision impairment. The system bypasses these malfunctioning cells by stimulating the remaining cells directly, effectively tricking the brain into believing that light was sensed.
“Importantly, we found the device has a very low impact on the neurons required to ‘trick’ the brain. There were no unexpected reactions from the tissue around the device and we expect it could safely remain in place for many years,” said Samuel Eggenberger, a biomedical engineer who is completing his doctorate with the Head of School of Biomedical Engineering Professor Gregg Suaning.
The team is thrilled by the extraordinary result, which gives them the confidence to push on towards human trials of the device. It is hoped that through this technology, people living with profound vision loss from degenerative retinal disorders may be able to regain a useful sense of vision.
Professor Gregg Suaning said the positive results are a significant milestone for the bionic eye. He noted that the breakthrough comes from combining decades of experience and technological breakthroughs in the field of implantable electronics.
How the bionic eye works:
- A patient is implanted with the Phoenix99. A stimulator is positioned on the eye and a communication module is implanted behind the ear.
- A very small camera attached to glasses captures the visual scene in front of the wearer. The images are processed into a set of stimulation instructions.
- The instructions are sent wirelessly through the skin to the communication module of the prosthesis.
- The implant decodes the wireless signal and transfers the instructions to the stimulation module, which delivers electrical impulses to the neurons of the retina.
- The electrical impulses, delivered in patterns matching the images recorded by the camera, trigger neurons that forward the messages to the brain, where the signals are interpreted as a vision of the scene.
The researchers are in the process of seeking ethical approval for a human clinical study, as such, they are unable to recruit or accept expressions of interest at this time.
To gather information on emerging health care technologies, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is looking for capability, delivery and market information on a wide spectrum of clinical and administrative areas. The Accelerating VA Innovation and Learning program aims to gather enough information to inform possible procurements and identify interested parties for technologies ranging from advanced manufacturing and digital twins to Artificial Intelligence (AI), immersive-reality simulations and blockchain solutions.
According to the recent request for information, the VA wants insights into the design, development, manufacturing and testing of customised medical devices, such as anatomical models for pre-surgical planning, personalised prosthetics, surgical instruments, personalised dental equipment, assistive technologies and bio-fabrication.
When it comes to data transformation, VA is looking at decision-support and AI tools for chronic disease management in high-risk patient populations, vulnerable or underserved patient populations and those with acute conditions like sepsis. Application programming interfaces will be considered for data-driven care and administrative tasks. Synthetic data solutions are also of interest. The VA expects these data solutions to integrate with the existing VA workflows, clinical information systems and product lines.
About digital twins, VA wants contractors to evaluate the feasibility of virtual models as architectural blueprints for planned or future clinical spaces and facilities like an exam or operating rooms and also to speed adoption of emerging technologies, like 3D printing, into clinical care.
Digital twin solutions should consider virtual and augmented reality and be able to model future clinician and operational workflows for resource forecasting, the RFI said.
Additionally, VA requests contractor insights into 5G-enabled or augmented technology solutions that could improve real-time remote and virtual care delivery and bring greater connectivity with edge devices. Examples include AR-guided surgical navigation and patient wearables.
For patients, VA is interested in immersive and simulation technologies that it can use for alternative therapies for mental health disorders, clinical training, virtual individual and/or group clinical visits and virtual rehabilitation. For clinical use, it wants to hear about simulation solutions that would help it integrate emerging technology and workflow optimisation tools.
On the business side, the VA is looking for information on innovative clinical and business models that would enhance or streamline existing VHA processes, improve veteran health outcomes and save money. Strategic planning, program and project scheduling support services are also of interest.
Contractors are expected to provide programmatic and implementation support for solutions as well as assistance with replication and scaling, measurement and analytic support. All deliverables are expected to take the form of monthly progress reports, which will serve as a barometer for both progress in implementation and for insights gained during the process.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the U.S. has been using technologies, specifically AI in the healthcare industry. AI has the potential to help doctors accurately diagnose patients and predict the risk for complex diseases. Using AI, one can generate models that health care providers can use to predict patients’ risk for heart disease, cancer and various other conditions. However, AI must be trained using data from multiple providers to make the models accurate.
While health care generates vast amounts of data year after year, most of it isn’t available because of the need to protect identifiable patient information. With limited data access, AI models often aren’t as reliable in the real world, limiting how they can be used within healthcare.
To expand AI applications while still protecting patient data, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has committed $1 million toward a one-year collaborative research project. The goal of the project is to create a secure AI framework that enables health care organisations to improve AI models used in biomedicine while keeping sensitive data secure.
A key data centre service provider headquartered in Singapore has announced the construction of its fourth hyperscale data centre (MY06), the largest of its kind in Johor, Malaysia. This will involve an investment value of RM2.5 billion over the next 5 years. The data centre service provider has set Phase 1 of the project to be in place by end of 2022 with Phase 2 expected to be in completion shortly thereafter. The Bridge Data Center (BDC) development strategy aims to connect all the provider’s parent company’s data centres using dark fibre connectivity, linking with the Malaysian Cable Landing Station to increase the reach of global connection.
The president of the data centre service provider stated that the company is proud to be able to continue its expansion journey in Malaysia. This hyperscale campus with three buildings marks its commitment to scalable and reliable solutions and comes with massive hiring and investment opportunities within the industry. Approximately located on 40 acres of land area, the hyperscale campus will operate at a combined capacity of 100 MW IT load located strategically within Kidex Sedenak, the jewel component of the larger 7,290 acres of the Sedenak Technology Valley.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) said that the data centre space is economically significant to Malaysia’s transformation towards an advanced digital nation, paving the way for modern businesses. The Digital First Programme, with the goal of increasing the use of cloud computing in the public sector announced as part of Budget 2022, signifies the need for data centres as the key to digital transformation, he noted. He added that MIDA is excited to see the data centre service provider’s commitment to fortifying its presence in Malaysia. It is a strong testimony and confidence in the country’s position to become a regional data centre hub.
MIDA and MDEC, through the Digital Investment Office, whose role it is to attract and facilitate all digital investments in Malaysia, in line with MyDigital Blueprint and National Investment Aspirations (NIA) will continue their efforts in transforming new and existing economic clusters as digital enablers, create high-income jobs and encourage digital upskilling of the local workforce and businesses, he added.
The CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) noted that the establishment of this hyperscale campus is not only a testament to Malaysia’s strength as the digital hub of ASEAN but also to the country’s perpetual efforts in driving a progressive and inclusive digital economy.
The new campus will benefit the people through the creation of new jobs and towards accelerating emerging technology adoption while showcasing Malaysia’s capabilities and capacities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The CEO also thanked the provider for their continued confidence and support of Malaysia’s digital economy.
In accordance with the Malaysian Government’s nationwide aspiration to achieve 50% of the cloud adoption through cloud data centres for 5G adoption by 2024, the data centre services provider is committed to investing in the growing data centre economy that is expected to grow significantly in this region.
About the Digital First Programme
The MyDigital initiative aims to spur the digital transformation of the civil service, with 80% of its operations to be stored on the cloud by 2022 in line with a push towards cloud computing.
To that end, the Digital First Programme was announced as part of Budget 2022, with the goal of increasing the use of cloud computing in the public sector, thereby reducing the use of physical storage and inculcating a paperless culture.
The National Digital Identity (NDI) project was also set to start next year, where the identity verification platform would enable various transactions to be conducted digitally and safely.
China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) recently released an announcement to openly select projects of sci-tech experiments and applications from the country at large to board the Tianzhou cargo spacecraft. The project application is open for government organisations, research institutions, educational institutions, enterprises and industry groups.
Any project that faces the sci-tech frontier, meets the requirement of national development strategy and sci-tech development trend, or is forward-looking, innovative or has industrial development value can submit the application.
Tianzhou-3 and Tianzhou-2 were launched on Sept. 20 and May 29 respectively this year, to transport supplies and materials for the construction of China’s space station. Tianzhou cargo spacecraft series was independently developed by China. Their operation orbit is no higher than 450 km, with a maximum load of 6.5 tonnes and a one-year in-orbit flight time. The in-orbit construction of China’s space station is going smoothly as planned. After completion, it will enter the stage of application and development, with two Tianzhou spacecraft launched on averagely each year.
Aside from the cargo supply, they will also provide an open and shared platform for space science and technology experiments and application projects. This is the first time for China’s manned space mission to open its cargo craft payloads to the public.
Previously, the CMSA cooperated with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs on the application of China’s space station to provide opportunities to carry out application experiments. There have been nine projects from 17 countries being selected, which are in the fields of space life science and biotechnology, space astronomy, and microgravity fluids and combustion.
China has built 17 national Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovative development pilot zones. In 2019, China started to build a new generation of national AI innovative development pilot zones, relying on local governments to carry out technology demonstrations, policy pilots, and social experiments. According to a document released by the Ministry of Science and Technology, China plans to build around 20 AI pilot zones by 2023.
Aiming at addressing the major fundamental issues of international significance and China’s national strategic needs, China has been conducting scientific experiments and research in the areas of life sciences, fluids, combustion, material sciences and basic physics, as well as astronomy and earth observation studies, along with verifications of new technologies for space applications, to improve the level of space science and achieve overall application benefits.
The Chinese government decided to implement the manned space program and prescribed the “three-step strategy” of development. The first step is to launch a manned spaceship, set up primarily integrated experimental manned spacecraft engineering, and carry out space application experiments.
The second step is to make technology breakthroughs in extravehicular activities as well as space rendezvous and docking of manned spaceships and spacecraft, launch a space lab, and provide a solution for space application of a certain scale with man-tending on a short-term basis. The third step is to establish a space station, and provide a solution for space application on a larger scale with man-tending on a long-term basis.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, China has made great achievements in scientific and technological innovation during the 13th Five-Year Plan period. As China embarks on a new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects, sci-tech innovation will play a vital role in promoting the country’s overall development.
China launched the Tianwen-1 mission, comprising an orbiter, lander and rover. The rover Zhurong has travelled more than 1,000 meters since it landed on Mars. The Chang’e-5 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a returner has also been launched.
An advanced approach to fixing wear damaged rails in remote locations using repair technology has been shown to be viable for large-scale use in neutron scattering experiments. Researchers from Monash University and ANSTO collaborated with engineers from the Institute of Railway Technology (IRT), the premier track and vehicle railway research centre in Australia as well as a sovereign heavy manufacturing company to develop a reliable and efficient laser-based rail repair technology.
The team used a nuclear technique at ANSTO’s Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering on the Kowari instrument to evaluate a laser cladding repair technique, which is an established method to repair high-value components in other industries on heavy haul rails. The method could increase the service life of rails and reduce maintenance time and costs, as repairing rails is preferable to replacing them.
The project’s industry partner, an ARC Linkage project partner, has vast experience and expertise in the use of laser cladding technology for manufacturing and repairs in the mining sector. Heavy haul rails repairs, however, present significant challenges to the manufactures as they cannot be performed in the controlled environment of the factory but rather need to be done in the remote areas of the Australian outback.
In research published in the Journal of Materials Processing Technology, they conclude that advanced laser technology could be used on heavy haul rails and that detrimental stresses could be reduced or mitigated from critical regions of the repair. With laser cladding, repairs are made by coating the damaged rail surface with a stainless steel or cobalt-based alloy in single or double layers using laser technology.
“Laser cladding can deposit these beneficial materials onto damaged areas but can also introduce or re-distribute residual stresses,” explained Taposh Roy, Monash PhD graduate, currently a Project Engineer Melbourne Metro Trains.
Investigators used neutron scattering on the Kowari strain scanner on a full-scale railhead to measure residual stresses created by the heat generated by the laser during the cladding deposition process (pictured above). As part of this, the team developed a new procedure to evaluate residual stresses in thick sections of full-scale cladded rails. Only neutrons can penetrate through the deep surface of the rail material, and measure full triaxial stress distribution non-destructively with little preparation.
To acquire measurements in small gauge volumes on a large path length through the steel, they made blind holes in the sample. Taking measurement at the middle of the two holes, also avoided a disturbance of local stresses. The team found that the application of a post cladding heat treatment significantly reduced the residual stresses from the surface and the subsurface of the cladded rails. The method appears to be superior to conventional arc weld based cladding methods, the most common technique to repair wear damage in rails.
“These successful in-house repair trials are very encouraging to explore further the application of this technology as a portable and mobilised unit, that can be deployed to address the rail maintenance problems in remote areas of Australia,” said Prof Anna Paradowska, Industry Engagement Manager, Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering and Conjoint Professor The University of Sydney.
About the Kowari – Strain Scanner
Kowari is a neutron scattering instrument. It is among the best residual stress diffractometers from neutron facilities around the world. Kowari started its operation for users in 2009. After a few years of operation, ANSTO sees a certain future of the instrument. In Australia, they are seeing the major usage being in problems with steel (and to a lesser extent aluminium-alloy) components, particularly welds.
This reflects the nature of Australia’s dominant industries: mining, power generation and transmission, shipbuilding, railways, construction (for instance of sports stadia), life extension of defence assets, and so on.
In Europe and the USA, there is a greater emphasis on higher value-added applications from the aerospace, defence and automotive industries, where composite and other unconventional materials are increasingly being used.
Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) activated a new long-range radar in New Taipei’s Gongliao District that will be an upgrade of its existing system that has been in service for over 20 years. The new radar system installed in Sandiaojiao, Taiwan’s easternmost point that also features a lighthouse, will be used to monitor the movements of civilian aircraft through the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR)
The long-range radar system should also be able to assist the military in monitoring the movements of People’s Liberation Army aircraft around Taiwan. The CAA’s Air Navigation and Weather Services department currently has 11 radar systems across the country, including nine terminal area radar systems and two long-range radar systems, both of which have been in use for over two decades.
The Taipei FIR is an important aviation hub for East Asia that controls 18 international air routes to the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea and China. The new long-range radar in Sandiaojiao is a modern system that can more accurately detect the position, distance and altitude of aircraft, while also ensuring the safety of the routes.
– Wang Kwo-tsai, Transportation Minister
The new radar is part of the CAA’s NT$676 million (US$24.34 million) modernization project initiated in 2019 to upgrade its two ageing long-range radar systems, with the other being in Eluanbi at Taiwan’s southernmost point. Work on the two systems began on Dec. 7, 2020, and the system in Eluanbi is still being tested but is expected to start operations in January 2022.
According to the agency, the two new long-range radars each consist of primary and secondary surveillance units. The primary units are capable of detecting flights within 220 nautical miles (407.44 kilometres) and are able to monitor up to 1,000 flights at a time. The secondary units are equipped with Mode S functionality that can detect flights within 250 nautical miles and monitor up to 900 flights at a time.
According to a page, the primary focus of Taiwan’s Long-term National Space Technology Development Programme is satellite development. Having laid the foundation for indigenous space technology in the first and second phases of the programme, the nation is now launching the third phase, which will run from 2019 to 2028.
The programme aims to push domestic aerospace technology to new heights and meet the challenges of cutting-edge space missions. At the same time, the programme also aims to extend and spread the benefits of the aerospace technology industry, nurture space technology talent, and build an aerospace industry supply chain of Taiwan’s own.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, given the significance of space technology, the President of Taiwan vowed to place space technology at the heart of Taiwan’s industrial development plans through enhanced academia-industry-government collaboration. The President’s statement underscored the government’s commitment to cementing the country’s position in global supply chains.
Space development is one of the Taiwanese government’s top priorities, as demonstrated by the passing of the Space Development Act and a plan to invest US$906.62 million in the space sector over the next decade. Taiwan has six core strategic industries which comprise information and digital technology; cybersecurity; biotech and medical technology; national defence; green and renewable energy; and strategic stockpile industries. This will help secure Taiwan’s technological leadership while capitalising on business opportunities such as the launch of low-orbit satellites.
The President also emphasised that Taiwan must secure a strategic position in the space industry’s supply chain by leveraging its competitive edge in semiconductor and precision engineering. To that end, Taiwan’s leader called for cooperation between governments, the private sector and academia to launch a local team dedicated to manufacturing satellites and ground station equipment as soon as possible.
To improve access to mental health support in Singapore, a digital mental health platform and a pharmaceutical firm have signed an exclusive partnership to provide more access to biopsychosocial care to people in Singapore. The collaboration aims to counter the stigma surrounding mental health and bridge the gap in treatment.
This collaboration, which will connect psychosocial professionals such as Counsellors and Psychologists, to healthcare providers such as Psychiatrists and Primary Care doctors, is the first of its kind to join key facets of the mental health care ecosystem on one platform for users and aims to set the standard for holistic mental healthcare.
Under this partnership, the platform will provide free access to counselling or psychological support for three months via its mobile app. The app also includes composite self-service content, tracking and one-on-one behavioural coaching and therapy. The pharmaceutical firm will help Singapore connect psychosocial and pharmacological care, which also adds value to their practice.
– Countering Stigma on Mental Health
According to a page, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is one of the leading causes of out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures in the Asia-Pacific region, and up to 90% of people living with MDD do not seek help. In Singapore, the treatment gap for the condition stands at over 73% according to a study by the Institute of Mental Health, due to stigma as well as accessibility issues attributed to fragmented care models between biological and psychological care.
The treatment gap for MDD can be significantly narrowed with proper mental healthcare infrastructure in place and timely care delivery. Countering stigmas associated with seeking help, increasing psychosocial education, and providing seamless access to psychological as well as pharmacological care is paramount in bridging the treatment gap.
Providing Mental Health Support Via Mobile app
One of the main goals of the partnership is to pioneer more seamless access to biopsychosocial care for the community with their combined expertise in pharmacological and psychosocial care respectively. The initiative will not only deepen cross-sectorial synergies within the mental healthcare provider ecosystem but also provide access to psychosocial support via the mobile app and the chat.
The pandemic has revealed the urgency and necessity for resources and opportunities for mental health support, given how the stressors of life can lead to and even exacerbate underlying mental health conditions. This is compounded by social distancing, which is important to decelerate the spread of COVID-19 yet disrupts social rhythm and deprives people of their regular coping mechanisms.
The partnership started based on a shared purpose to challenge the stigmas associated with mental health and to develop a digital mental health space that will help support the mental healthcare ecosystem in Singapore.
The platform’s focus lies in providing psychosocial support to users through its proprietary architecture on its mobile apps; the partnership will see the pharmaceutical complement this approach, elevating the biopsychosocial ecosystem for mental health support in Singapore by connecting psychosocial and pharmacological care to add value to their practice and thus address current treatment gaps. Ultimately, the partnership will enable greater accessibility to precise and timely mental health care.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Singapore has implemented a National Mental Health Strategy to address. A national effort to promote mental health and well-being beyond the COVID 19 epidemic has now been set up through a new interagency task force. This will expand the existing COVID-19 Task Force on Mental Wellness (CoMWT), which was first organised by the Ministry of Health (MOH) last October to address the worldwide pandemic’s mental health concerns.
A key part of the strategy is the development of an online portal through the Health Promotion Board of the Singapore Ministry of Health, which serves as an inventory of mental health resources. The site contains “expert-cured” content for mental and well-being. It is a resource for “individuals who need information for themselves or their loved ones.” The web and mobile app platform in which the Ministry hosts a range of health content, benefits, and e-services will be introduced.