As part of its recently announced Smart Campus initiative, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and BlueSG Pte. Ltd., a subsidiary of Blue Solutions owned by the Bolloré Group, have launched Singapore’s first flash-charging electric shuttle.
Named the NTU-Blue Solutions Flash Shuttle, the shuttle is equipped with supercapacitors and a LMP® (Lithium Metal Polymer) battery developed by Blue Solutions and it can travel two kilometres on a single charge, with backup power that provides for an additional 30 kilometres.
The fully electric vehicle only requires 20 seconds to recharge at stations which are fitted for its quick charging while passengers board and alight, enabling emission-free continuous operation. Thereby the Bluetram replicates the efficiency of trams without the need for offline charging, unlike other electric vehicles that function solely on batteries.
Moreover, the costs of operating Bluetram is five to ten times lower than tram systems as it does not require costly infrastructure such as rails or catenary, and a whole line can be deployed in a matter of weeks.
Road trials have been planned for the 22-seater shuttle between NTU’s Halls of Residence at North Hill and JTC’s CleanTech One, which is part of the Jurong Innovation District where special charging stations have been built. NTU students would be able to ride the shuttle from the second half of 2018.
The joint research team comprising scientists from NTU’s Energy Research Institute (ERIAN) and BlueSG will study the actual on-road performance of the Bluetram in Singapore’s tropical climate, including the user behaviour of passengers.
This research partnership will run for two years and is supported by the Economic Development Board (EDB), Singapore. The collaboration is also one of the key initiatives under the France-Singapore Year of Innovation, which aims to intensify cooperation on innovation between the two countries in 2018.
The university is also in talks with BlueSG to install electric vehicle car-sharing stations, adding to the existing pool of electric vehicle charging stations around campus. This will enhance NTU’s connections with nearby communities in Jurong West, Jurong East, Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang, and to the rest of Singapore.
Students, staff and faculty will be able to rent a BlueSG vehicle and drive it around Singapore and return the vehicle to any BlueSG charging station . Members of the public can also drive into NTU’s campus using the convenience and flexibility of the BlueSG program.
NTU President Professor Subra Suresh, said, “The move to introduce electromobility and cutting-edge transportation technologies is part of our vision to transform NTU into a Smart Campus. The use of electric vehicles in public transportation is rapidly expanding across the world, as it offers more efficient transportation systems and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
“As a leading global university with deep expertise in sustainable technologies, the NTU Smart Campus is already a living testbed for various sustainable and energy-efficient technologies, and the perfect partner for BlueSG to test and develop electric shuttles for Singapore. We expect that the insights and innovations developed from this partnership will ultimately benefit Singapore and the world by enhancing the first-mile and last-mile transportation options,” he added.
Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU’s Vice President (Research), said partnerships with leading industry players is crucial to translate research into real-life applications.
“NTU has a strong culture of translational research, especially in the areas of electromobility and sustainability. Having worked with leading industry players such as Volvo and BMW Group in similar areas, we look forward to working closely with Bolloré to testbed the new electric shuttle at NTU, under Singapore’s climate and traffic conditions.”
 Singapore’s first large-scale electric vehicle (EV) car-sharing programme was launched on December 12, 2017 by BlueSG, with 80 Bluecars and 32 BlueSG charging stations available for public use. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) worked closely with BlueSG to identify and secure suitable parking lots across Singapore for the vehicle charging stations. The programme witnessed 3,300 registered members and 5,000 rentals at 31 December 2017.
Grab is a Singaporean multinational ride-hailing company headquartered in Singapore. It is most famously known for its transportation services, but the company offers so much more including food delivery and digital payments services via a mobile app.
Grab has just recently signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) with Singapore Government agencies – Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Digital Industry Singapore (DISG) to support the development of Singapore’s tech ecosystem, by developing tech talent and R&D capabilities in Singapore.
The Memorandum will see Grab working with Singapore’s government agencies to grow its core product and engineering teams’ capabilities through the support of talent development programmes such as the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA).
“To secure our digital future, Singapore must be the place where companies choose to build unique digital products that cater for global markets. This is the only way that Singapore can sustainably capture value and differentiate ourselves in the Digital Economy. We are pleased to partner Grab, to strengthen Singapore’s tech ecosystem in these two key areas – to build our local talent in product development, and grow Singapore as the base for high-end R&D in tech,” said Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive, IMDA.
These programmes seek to enhance the deep technical skills of experienced professionals, and provide hands-on training opportunities for individuals looking for roles in the tech sector.
Grab seeking to hire in the fields of AI, Cybersecurity, Data Science and Software Engineering
“Despite the challenges brought forth by COVID-19, the tech industry continues to hold promise for new and renewed opportunities for talent. Grab will work closely with IMDA and DISG to grow the talent pool in Singapore, as the country advances towards a future-ready digital economy,” said Tan Hooi-Ling, Co-founder, Grab.
“As a Singapore-based tech company, Grab fully supports the development of the tech ecosystem here. We are building products that positively impact millions across Southeast Asia, and we want to continue deepening our R&D capabilities and push the boundaries of innovation, right here at our strategic base. This is only possible with the support of Grabbers across different business functions, who are continually learning and adapting to new technologies and customers’ requirements.”
Grab expects to create around 350 new jobs in Singapore this year, to support its growth plans and as part of its regional hiring efforts.
These include the expansion of products and services to support the digitalisation of micro-SMEs, the delivery of digital financial services across Southeast Asia, as well as the development of the upcoming digibank which will be managed by a Grab-Singtel consortium.
Some of these hires will come from fields including AI, Cybersecurity, Data Science, Software Engineering, as well as Product Management and Design. They would be involved in projects to improve merchants’ abilities to offer better and tailored products to their customers; as well as to improve the user experience of the merchant app, which will be an all-in-one solution featuring modularised Grab services to select from.
Many of them would also be powering Grab’s innovation engine that uses deep tech to build and enhance services for its users meaningfully; as well as building stronger integrations with local partners. Besides tech roles, Grab will be offering new employment opportunities in areas such as finance, operations, legal, public affairs and business development.
“We are excited that industry leaders like Grab are stepping up to deepen their R&D activities here while providing more job and skills development opportunities for Singaporeans. Covid-19 is an unprecedented crisis that has impacted lives and livelihoods, but such partnerships position Singapore well to weather the storm and emerge stronger than before. Together, we will continue to build a vibrant and sustainable tech ecosystem to drive innovation and capture growth opportunities,” said Ang Chin Tah, Vice President and Head, DISG.
The Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA) has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-based mobile application, ePaarwai, which can help screen a large number of people for cataracts. By addressing resource constraints in cataract detection, it aims to eradicate preventive blindness in the state.
India has about 4.7 million vision-impaired people, and about 66% of them lose their eyesight due to cataracts. Undiagnosed cataracts remain a huge problem especially in rural areas and among low-income settlements in urban areas, owing to the lack of trained professionals and other resources, a news report explained. The use of AI to fight cataracts is low when compared to other major age-related eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
The app can be used for the preliminary screening of the eye by analysing a picture of the patient’s eye. It can also help identify what stage of cataract patients are in and whether or not they require surgery. ePaarwai is also designed to detect macular disintegration.
Diagnostic eye-care AI-based systems are trained with many pictures of the eye, following which the algorithms learn the difference between normal and abnormal images. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent or minimise vision loss or impairment. The results of ePaarwai from field trials were encouraging. The app has the potential to prevent millions of senior citizens in rural and urban low-income settlements from losing their eyesight.
Launched with the help of the Tamil Nadu State Blind Control Society (TNSBCS), and for the state health department, the app is being tested in a few districts. Currently, TNSBCS does not have enough manpower to help detect the stages of surgery and is looking to tap AI, Santosh Mishra, the Chief Executive Officer of TNeGA, told reporters. There are only about 20,000 ophthalmologists for the 1.3 billion people in India.
AI is expected to relieve the overburdened healthcare system, augment scarce personnel and lab facilities, and help overcome accessibility barriers. It can aid early detection, diagnosis, decision-making, and treatment. The healthcare sector in India remains multi-layered and complex and is ripe for disruption from emerging technologies at multiple levels. It is probably the most intuitive and obvious use case primed for intervention by AI-driven solutions, as evidenced by the increasing activity from large corporates and start-ups in developing AI-focused healthcare solutions.
The country’s think tank, the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), in its 2018 report on AI, noted that the healthcare market globally driven by AI is expected to register an explosive CAGR of 40% through 2021 and reach US$6.6 billion this year. The advances in technology and interest from innovators provide an opportunity for India to solve some of its long-existing challenges in providing appropriate healthcare to a large section of its population. AI, robotics, and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) could potentially be the new nervous system for healthcare and present solutions to address healthcare problems.
In India’s budget for the fiscal year that begins 1 April and ends 31 March 2022, the Finance Minister proposed more than doubling India’s healthcare and wellbeing spending to IN₹2.2 trillion (US$30.1 billion). It includes a new federal scheme to develop the country’s capacity for primary, secondary, and tertiary care as well as to strengthen national institutions and create new ones to detect and cure diseases.
To support the objectives of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, the second edition of the Singapore Energy Grand Youth Challenge will garner ideas using Minecraft: Education Edition (M:EE) from secondary school and junior college students on the following topic – “How would your carbon-free school or neighbourhood in Singapore look like in 2050?”.
The top three teams with the most innovative ideas in each of the two categories will be awarded up to $10,000 in cash prizes.
The Challenge is a partnership between the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and Microsoft Singapore, and supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). Registration starts 1 March 2021. It is held as part of the Singapore Together movement where Singaporeans can partner the government and one another to co-create solutions and realise the Green Plan.
The Singapore Green Plan 2030 is a whole of nation movement to advance Singapore’s national agenda on sustainable development. The youth play an important role in reducing carbon emissions and saving resources and energy.
“As part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, Singapore is making the transition towards a carbon-free energy future. To achieve this, we need to change the way we produce and use energy. We encourage youth to envision how emerging low-carbon technologies like carbon capture and innovative energy efficiency solutions can make Singapore more sustainable in the future.” said Mr Ngiam Shih Chun, Chief Executive, Energy Market Authority.
To engage more youth on sustainability issues, this year’s Challenge has been expanded to include junior college students within the new Senior category, together with upper secondary students.
Lower secondary students will be placed in the Junior category. Members of the public will also be invited to vote for the entry which best resonates with their ideas for a carbon-free Singapore.
The inaugural Singapore Energy Grand Challenge for the Youth was launched in March 2020 and invited secondary school students to co-create Singapore’s Energy Story with the question “How would your energy efficient school or neighbourhood in Singapore look like in 2050?”.
92 teams across 29 secondary schools took part in the Challenge. Teams from Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary), Bedok Green Secondary School and St Hilda’s Secondary School were crowned the top three winners and their submissions can be viewed online.
Students interested to participate in this year’s Challenge may register online by 15 April 2021. Students must form teams of two to four schoolmates, and submit a three-minute video showcasing their idea for a carbon-free Singapore with their registration. Shortlisted teams will be contacted and invited to attend specialised workshops to help them with their final submissions.
All submissions will be judged by a panel of representatives from EMA, IMDA, Microsoft Singapore and relevant industry players according to the criteria of relevance, creativity, and presentation. The top three teams from both the Junior and Senior categories will receive their awards in end-July 2021.
Following on from its investment in workforce management (WFM), a tech provider of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Payroll Software (PS) in New Zealand and Australia, is set to launch a new solution to market design to help simplify and streamline workforce management for shift-based businesses across the region.
The company says the upcoming release of the new workforce management attachment will mark a new milestone for its Enterprise division, which will now provide mid-market businesses with the opportunity to combine their ERP, PS and WFM software under a single, seamless integrated cloud platform.
As well as being available as an attachment to the new platform, customers managing larger workforces will also be able to take advantage of the new workforce management solution which can be easily added to their existing software.
The tech firm’s Enterprise Head of Product, says that to fulfil their business’ growth potential and remain competitive, it is more important than ever for employers to ensure they are equipped with the right tools to successfully manage their ever-changing workforces. He said that they have seen from the results of the Ministry of Innovation and Employment’s National Survey of Employment Intentions that there is a clear drive amongst mid-market businesses to grow their employee numbers in 2021.
22% of businesses with 20 or more employees are also expecting to increase the number of part-time staff. While it is heartening to see such positivity around hiring ambitions, the benefits of bringing new talent into a business can only really be maximised when the whole process is managed well, he added.
Complete with features that cater to the needs of shift-based workforces, the new cloud-driven workforce management offering will be available in New Zealand from early April and Expressions of Interest are now open for mid-market businesses who want to take advantage of the new release.
Capabilities offered through the new solution will see businesses in industries like retail, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing and construction, create and automate rosters based on employee skills, onboard new starters quickly and easily, streamline timesheet approvals, and seamlessly manage workforces across multiple locations.
In contrast, due to the increased adoption of managed infrastructure services, the emergence of new cloud watering hole attacks also continues to rise. According to research, of all violations identified, 23% correspond to poorly configured managed service offerings largely the result of default security profiles or configurations that offer excessive permissions.
According to a cloud cyber resilience specialist, attackers increasingly strive to leverage weaknesses that enable them to deliver malware to end-users, gain unauthorised access to production environments or their data, or completely compromise a target environment.
This strategy is known as a watering hole attack, and researchers have seen them emerge in cloud environments where they can cause even more damage. This is partly because development processes in the cloud that leverage managed services are not hidden inside the organisation as they are in on-premises environments, they are largely exposed to the world.
When criminals can exploit misconfigurations in development pipelines, it can spell disaster not only for the company but also its customers. To address this risk, enterprises should assume the entire development process is easily accessible and restrict access to only the users who need it. They added that the cloud infrastructure must be continuously monitored in runtime for configuration changes and assessed for risk.
Moreover, rapid cloud adoption, targeted remote working, double extortion ransomware attacks and mobile targets are amongst the key cybersecurity trends resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to researchers.
Therefore, as reported by OpenGov Asia, New Zealand Tech Alliance (NZTech) whose purpose is “to connect, promote and advance tech ecosystems and help the New Zealand economy grow to create a prosperous digital nation”, feels that the government must be more proactive in educating the population on cybersecurity.
OpenGov Asia also reported on a study done by a New Zealand cybersecurity firm that says as organisations accelerate their spending on cloud migration and digitalisation to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, many may be overestimating their ability to protect their systems and their processes. It is estimated that about 80% of cybercrimes could be prevented. Simple measures like using and updating complex passwords and installing updates go a long way in safety.
Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently said that if the country is not brave enough to invest in science and technology and innovation, Vietnam would get stuck in the low-productivity, low-added value and middle-income trap.
Investing in technology and innovation is vital for the nation to bring products to new levels and escape the rut of being the outsourcing hub for others – a reputation which the country has been associated with for decades. This is not only true, he said, for technology firms but for all enterprises in the economy. Applying and inventing new technologies can help increase productivity and heighten enterprises’ positions.
The “Make in Vietnam” initiative, promoted by the Ministry of Information and Technology (MIC) has infused fresh vitality in the startup community. Vietnam has become the fifth country in the world mastering 5G technology, producing 5G infrastructure equipment and 5G smartphones. This stems from Make in Vietnam pride. Over 13,000 digital technology firms were established just in the last year, raising the total number of digital technology firms to 58,000.
In fact, 2020 saw a rigorous start to digital transformation in all fields. The Ministry of Information and Communications built numerous programmes and plans over the course of the year to facilitate a prompt digitalisation process towards digital transformation as well as the engagement of businesses in the information technology sector. Noteworthy was that the IT sector quickly teamed up with others to develop digital products serving efforts in COVID-19 prevention and control and adapting to the “new normal”.
If Vietnam continues is to continue outsourcing, it should only be a very small part of the value chain. Domestically, there is a range of sectors and products that Vietnam has had significant success in. Electric cars, mobility and smartphones are an area that the Vietnamese versatitlity and expertise of shows.
State-owned Viettel, one of the fastest-growing telecom operators, is building a digital business culture with the focus on flexibility, creativity, customer orientation, digital thinking and openness. Other than telecommunications, the company also has expertise in hi-tech research and manufacturing, postal services, construction and commerce. It has accelerated digital transformation in internal administration, applying modern technologies with international standards. All documents at Viettel have been digitised, 50% of manual work has been liberalized, and 30-40 percent of tasks have been automated. Its ecosystem of digital products provides B2C and B2B services in a wide range of fields, from finance, digital marketing and OTT, customer care e-government and smart cities.
In order to accomplish that, the space for creativity must be expanded, while management thinking needs to be reformed, so that creativity is not hindered by rigid regulations and officials’ bureaucracy. The deputy head of the Vietnam Economics Institute stressed that Vietnam needs to reform the way of thinking and the institutional regime with the aim of encouraging participation of non-state sectors in science and technology development and innovation. He believes that information technology and digital transformation should be seen as an important push and pillar to support the recovery process, strengthen resilience, and improve growth quality.
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung said, ” Becoming a pioneer has always been the aspiration of the Vietnamese nation and every Vietnamese citizen. It is difficult to implement this, but it is not impossible.”
While Vietnam may currently be behind many countries, missing opportunities along the development path, Vietnam has made up for that. Now it is among the top countries in the region and the world in some fields, such as telecommunications and power, maintaining high growth rates. With more power from the 4.0 industrial revolution and its digital transformation strategy, Vietnam’s growth engine will have an additional push to achieve its aspirations of becoming a high-income country by 2045 into reality.
The Northern Territory government is trialling custom-made, state-of-the-art medical drones to deliver potentially life-saving medicines. The project will explore the challenges of using drone technology to deliver health services in the Northern Territory, such as procuring airframes that can manage vast distances and adapting technology to withstand hot, humid and monsoonal climates. The project will also involve developing a drone test flight centre in the Northern Territory.
With a flying range of 250 km, the drones have the potential to shorten the delivery of time-critical medical items to hard-to-reach and seasonally inaccessible remote communities. The initiative can go a long in helping save lives and reducing the costs of delivery. The project will also open the way ay for future delivery of critical items such as cold-storage vaccines (for COVID-19) in regional and remote communities.
The delivery of time-critical medical items is a serious limitation and cost for healthcare in remote and regional Australia. Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) have become a routine part of the medical delivery infrastructure in some developing countries, improving timeliness, reducing costs, and saving lives. However, their use in the Australian health care supply chain is still in its infancy.
The project will explore integrating drones into the existing health transport infrastructure framework. It will collaborate with the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority to identify and regulate flight paths within current airspace requirements.
The maximum flying range has been set at 250 km at 235 km. In the short-term, the target is to achieve regular drone flights of up to 100 km by the end of 2021 and regular drone flights of up to 250 km and regular transport of medical items to and from remote communities by 1 July 2023. Negotiations are on with firms for appropriate drone airframes that are able to deal with both the wet and dry seasons.
The pilot has been supported by iMOVE, Australia’s leading applied research centre in the transportation and mobility sector. They help both the public and private sectors tackle transport-related challenges by connecting and activating the ideas, people and resources to get things moving. As a national centre for collaborative research in transport and mobility, iMOVE will fund the project, along with the NT Government Department of Health and Charles Darwin University (CDU). Drone services consultant UAV is advising on the project. Drone pilots will soon be recruited and will undergo specialist training.
iMOVE Programs Director Lee-Ann Breger said that regional communities face medical access and health supply issues that could be addressed with the provision of suitable technology. “There are about eight million people living in rural and remote parts of the country – that’s about a third of our population living in places where getting life-saving medical supplies is not only a race against time but also a battle against the tyranny of distance, harsh landscapes and unpredictable elements,” said Breger.
Lee-Ann revealed that the project is looking to create an efficient model so drone health delivery services can eventually be rolled out in other regional locations across Australia.
The role of Charles Darwin University (CDU) is to explore the potential of using automated aircraft for the delivery of time-critical medical items to remote communities across the Northern Territory. Interim Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Mike Wilson Professor Wilson agreed that the collaboration would be a testing ground for the application of autonomous systems into healthcare delivery across Australia.
While drones are already being used in health care in developing countries, he noted, more research was needed to understand where drones can reduce costs and improve healthcare outcomes for remote communities in the Northern Territory. The territory presents unique challenges, such as long distances, problems caused by monsoonal rain, cyclones, extreme temperatures and humidity – all will have to be solved by researchers.
Apart from addressing the main issue of access, the project holds promise for the local economy. NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles confirmed that apart from keeping remote territories areas healthy and safe, this technology would create new jobs and opportunities
“The use of drones will be a game-changer when it comes to enhancing our healthcare system. It doesn’t matter whether you live in the city or in the bush — Territorians deserve to have access to the very best health services, and this new technology will be a driving force in this space,” said Minister Fyles.
With the pandemic still at hand, countries from all over are looking for further improvements on COVID-19 testing procedures. In Singapore, clinics authorised to conduct pre-departure COVID-19 tests (PDTs) for outbound travellers will now have to issue digital test result certificates, instead of the current physical certificates.
The digital test results will look to improve Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) existing online portal testing programme where passengers can choose from a list of recognised testing facilities and book appointments for pre-departure Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology tests. This is part of a digital health verification process based on the International Air Transport Association (Iata) Travel Pass framework.
The digitalisation initiative was supposed to start recently, but it had been delayed to allow clinics and labs additional time to set up the capability to digitalise the PDT certificates.
The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) said that the new digital certification system is based on HealthCerts, an open-source framework for issuing digital COVID-19 test result certificates. The use of HealthCerts for digital PDT certificates enables an inter-operable, verifiable, and tamper-proof solution that will smoothen and expedite check-in processing and customs clearance at foreign and local immigration checkpoints.
Travellers will need to notarise the digital COVID-19 test certificate – which means having the document certified by the Ministry of Health – so it can be recognised at the airport and overseas. The certificate will need to be uploaded on the Government’s Notarise website, after which a notarised digital PDT certificate containing a QR code will be sent to travellers.
Airline and immigration officials can scan the QR code to check the authenticity of the PDT certificate using a tool called Verify, developed by a technology agency, or by a verification tool currently being piloted by the SIA. The platform will be able to check whether the digital certificate was tampered with and whether the certificate has been notarised by the Health Ministry.
Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative in the Prime Minister’s Office Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament during the debate on the PMO’s budget that the notarised pre-departure test results will be available on the SingPass Mobile app. The notarised test results will also be sent via e-mail.
Meanwhile, the Government will also look to expand this measure on vaccine certificates.
However, SNDGO noted that the World Health Organisation’s current recommendation is that COVID-19 vaccinations should not be imposed as a condition of entry. They also added that the Government is closely monitoring international developments on the use of digital vaccination certifications for travel and is in discussions with the International Civil Aviation Organisation and various countries on the mutual recognition of such certifications.
There are currently nine HealthCerts-compliant technology providers, which clinics can buy from to start issuing digital certificates. SNDGO clarified that the individual’s data remains private with the digital test certificate.
This is all in line with the country’s efforts in providing a robust system to verify the authenticity of COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. A standardised system is essential to reopen borders and resume international travel, he said in a special address to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos Agenda 2021. He further said that countries need to strengthen international cooperation, which is essential in tackling the global pandemic. If countries are to tackle COVID-19 coherently, international cooperation and multilateral efforts, as well as an international order underpinned by stable great power relations, are critical.