A historic agreement between South Australia and the Northern Territory will usher in a new era of collaboration that will benefit both sides of the border.
The new Strategic Partnership Agreement was signed at a joint meeting of South Australian and Northern Territory Cabinet Ministers in Alice Springs on May 24 2017, an Australian first.
Going beyond traditional cooperation between states and territories, the new Strategic Partnership Agreement will provide the foundation for collaboration and joint investment in mutual priorities, and a united voice on the federal stage across a number of policy areas.
The new Agreement will replace the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and will provide a more structured approach to the implementation of priority initiatives and will focus on delivering real benefits for citizens in both jurisdictions. Under this collaborative new approach, both first ministers will meet every year to set the priorities for the next 12 months.
Five priorities have been identified for the first year of the agreement:
- Critical road infrastructure upgrades to better support transport between jurisdictions.
- An international engagement, trade and investment action plan including collaboration on joint international trade missions.
- Further development of the Explorers Way as an iconic Australian tourism experience, which would have a firm connection to the Territory’s AU$100 million Iconic National Indigenous Art Trail initiative, including a National Indigenous Art Gallery project in Alice Springs.
- Supporting the development of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, particularly those in regional and remote areas.
- Joint implementation and national advocacy to create high-quality disability services, regional jobs and business opportunities through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The Strategic Partnership Agreement can be found at sa.nt.gov.au.
The 13th Singapore-US Strategic Security Policy Dialogue (SSPD) was convened, and co-chaired by Permanent Secretary of Defence, Chan Heng Kee and United States Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Sasha Baker. This dialogue, embedded within the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement and Defence Cooperation Agreement, serves as a cornerstone for shaping the future of Singapore-US defence relations.
Beyond the traditional domains of defence, Singapore and the US are venturing into uncharted territory – cybersecurity and critical emerging technologies. This signifies a strategic shift that acknowledges the evolving nature of security threats in the digital age.
Both nations have recognised the enduring strength of their bilateral defence relationship. Singapore’s unwavering support for the U.S. regional presence, outlined in the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Regarding the U.S. use of Facilities (1990 MoU), remains a crucial pillar of their alliance. Simultaneously, the US continues to bolster the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) capabilities through overseas training and technology access. This includes the RSAF’s acquisition of the cutting-edge F-35 fighter aircraft.
The dialogue marked a significant milestone by introducing discussions on cybersecurity. In an interconnected world, where information is power, securing digital infrastructure cannot be overstated.
By engaging in collaborative efforts to enhance their cyber defences, Singapore and the US are not only safeguarding their interests but also contributing to global cybersecurity resilience. This proactive approach sets a precedent for other nations to follow suit and collectively combat cyber threats.
Also, the emphasis on critical and emerging technologies highlights the foresight of both nations. In today’s fast-paced technological landscape, advancements in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and biotechnology can tip the scales of national security.
By pooling their expertise and resources, Singapore and the US are positioning themselves at the forefront of innovation, ensuring they are well-prepared for the security challenges of the future.
The dialogue also featured discussions on regional developments and the continued engagement of the US in the Asia-Pacific region. The ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus framework serves as a platform for constructive dialogue and cooperation among ASEAN member states and their partners. Singapore and the US both recognise the significance of this framework in promoting regional stability and security.
Regular bilateral and multilateral training exercises form another vital facet of this partnership. Exercises like Tiger Balm, Pacific Griffin, Commando Sling, Red Flag, and Super Garuda Shield serve as platforms for joint training and skill development. These exercises not only enhance the operational readiness of both armed forces but also foster greater cooperation and understanding between Singapore and the US.
One noteworthy aspect of this collaboration is the US’s support for SAF’s overseas training, exemplified by Exercise Forging Sabre. This training, conducted at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, has played a pivotal role in honing the skills of RSAF personnel.
In 2023, two RSAF detachments, Peace Carvin II (F-16 fighter aircraft) and Peace Vanguard (Apache AH-64 helicopters), marked their 30th and 20th anniversaries of training in the US, respectively. These milestones are a testament to the enduring nature of the Singapore-US defence relationship.
The 13th Singapore-US Strategic Security Policy Dialogue not only reaffirmed the steadfast commitment of both nations to their long-standing defence partnership but also showcased their readiness to adapt to the evolving security landscape.
As reports cited the inclusion of cybersecurity and critical emerging technologies in the discussions reflects the forward-thinking approach to safeguarding the national interests of both nations. As they continue to train together, exchange knowledge, and invest in cutting-edge technologies, Singapore and the US are poised to navigate the complex challenges of the future, hand in hand.
The technology landscape constantly seeks high-power, energy-efficient devices. 3D-stacked electronics offer exciting potential, but overheating is a challenge due to their compact design. Excess heat can cause performance issues and damage. Thankfully, a new solution involving magnetic fields and innovative materials has emerged to address this challenge, ensuring these devices remain cool and efficient.
At the forefront of this breakthrough is a team of scientists led by Assistant Professor Hortense Le Ferrand of the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore – School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. They have embarked on a journey to tame the heat generated by 3D-stacked electronics and ensure they operate at peak performance.
The key to their innovation lies in a material called hexagonal boron nitride (BN), known for its exceptional heat-dissipating properties. To make BN responsive to their needs, the researchers coated microscopic BN particles with iron oxide. This strategic move rendered the particles magnetic, paving the way for precise control.
Next, they suspended these coated particles in a solvent and brought magnetic fields into play. The magic happened as the magnetic fields aligned the BN particles in various orientations. This alignment turned out to be the key to effective heat management.
The team conducted rigorous tests to gauge the heat-dissipating capabilities of these precisely oriented BN particles. What they discovered was nothing short of revolutionary: when the particles were aligned vertically, they proved incredibly efficient at channelling heat away from their source. This breakthrough alone promised a significant leap forward in the cooling technology of high-power devices.
But the innovation didn’t stop there. The orientation of the particles could also be tailored to direct heat in different directions, a flexibility that opens a world of possibilities. For instance, when these particles find themselves sandwiched between two heat-emitting electronic components, they can be configured to direct heat sideways, ensuring optimal thermal management.
Assist Prof Hortense believes this novel approach to aligning and orienting BN particles offers exciting new prospects for managing heat in high-power electronic devices. It’s a promising development that could pave the way for the widespread adoption of 3D-stacked electronics, ushering in an era of high-performance, energy-efficient devices without the nagging concern of overheating.
Preventing high-power devices ensures sustained performance. Overheating can cause these devices to throttle their performance or even shut down altogether. This can have a significant impact on productivity and functionality, especially in critical applications.
Further, managing heat is crucial for the longevity of these devices. Excessive heat can damage internal components over time, leading to a shorter lifespan. This, in turn, can result in frequent replacements, which can be costly for both consumers and manufacturers.
Besides, there are safety concerns associated with overheating. In extreme cases, it can pose a fire hazard or create electrical safety risks. Proper heat management is vital to mitigate these dangers and ensure the safe operation of high-power devices.
Efficient cooling also contributes to energy efficiency. When devices operate within their optimal temperature range, they consume less power. This not only reduces energy costs but also lessens the environmental impact.
Also, reliable operation is paramount for high-power devices, particularly in critical applications like medical equipment and aerospace technology. Overheating can lead to system failures, which may have severe consequences; hence, effective heat management is crucial to maintain the reliability of these devices.
The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-Madras) has revealed that its scientists creating a portable, point-of-use device for identifying heavy metals in both soil and water. Research from the Ministry of Jal Shakti shows that over 36,000 rural habitations in India are grappling with issues related to contamination from fluoride, arsenic, and heavy metals in their drinking water sources.
According to a statement from IIT-Madras, the primary aim of the research is to package the technology into an engineered device, which will be programmed to deliver a user-friendly, non-technical read-out value of the soil quality index on a mobile phone-like application.
Currently, there are no field-usable or point-of-use solutions available for laypeople to use for detecting heavy metals in soil. The presence of heavy metals in soil also impacts soil quality by contributing to soil salinity. This can have a detrimental impact on global food security due to decreased agricultural yields and potential adverse effects on human health.
Sophisticated methods, such as the Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) technique, are not accessible or user-friendly for laypeople and farmers because they involve complex and time-consuming procedures and heavily depend on advanced laboratory facilities. A portable, user-friendly device that can be operated by non-experts holds significant advantages from both social and economic standpoints.
Emphasising the potential impact of this technology, IIT-Madras Professor Sreeram K Kalpathy stated that given the heavy reliance of the Indian population on agriculture, there is an urgent need for technological solutions to detect and measure heavy metal concentrations. This would empower farmers with the information necessary to make informed decisions about which crops to cultivate and when to make interventions.
Current research efforts are focused on achieving higher resolution detection capabilities for copper, lead, and cadmium (in parts per million levels), as well as attaining the selective detection of specific metals.
The team is presently in the process of conducting tests on real soil and water samples to validate the concept. In this regard, with the assistance of the Rural Technology Action Group at IIT-Madras (RUTAG-IITM), they have also analysed water quality and the presence of heavy metals in water samples gathered from various temple tanks in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. The aim is to have the technology validated and demonstrated in a field environment over the next 3-5 years.
The government has committed to rejuvenating 75 water bodies in each district of the country. Last month, the Meghalaya state government announced plans to deploy an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered robotic boat to clean Umiam Lake, which is polluted with plastic waste.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the Umkharh and Umshyrpi rivers course through Shillong, the state capital, carrying substantial quantities of plastic waste daily and depositing it into the southern portion of the lake. This area is only accessible by boat.
As part of the Smart Village Movement, a non-profit collaborating with the state government on various initiatives, a Hong Kong company was selected to showcase its cleaning technology. The small boat brought by the company can swiftly remove 200-400 kg of waste each day, allowing for a speedy cleanup of all the waste within the next few months if the larger boat is put into operation. Currently, the company has boats that clean waste in Varanasi and Bengaluru.
The Government of Western Australia is taking steps to promote the growth of small to medium-sized local businesses by offering grants totalling over AU$3 million. These grants are intended to enhance their capabilities and competitiveness, enabling them to pursue contracts from both the government and private sector.
Known as the Local Capability Fund (LCF), this initiative serves as a crucial resource for recipients looking to expand their capacity and improve their competitiveness in supplying goods, services, and works to the government, major projects, and other significant markets.
For the upcoming fiscal year of 2023-2024, the government has announced four new LCF rounds, collectively amounting to AU$2.2 million in funding, with individual grants of up to AU$50,000. These four rounds are designed to cater to specific needs and priorities:
- Supplying Key Projects Round: This round aims to support businesses across the state in supplying essential goods and services to key government and private sector projects within priority sector markets.
- Aboriginal Business Round: This round is dedicated to businesses with a majority Aboriginal ownership. It seeks to assist these enterprises in supplying goods, services, and works to both the government and the private sector.
- National and International Standards Compliance Round: To ensure businesses adhere to the highest industry standards, this round provides financial assistance for engaging external experts to implement and obtain third-party certification for seven specific national and international standards.
- Digital Transformation Round (Upcoming): Soon, the LCF will introduce a Digital Transformation Round to provide initial support to eligible businesses in adopting and leveraging digital technologies and data. This round aims to advance the government’s understanding of digital needs in the business landscape.
Additionally, nine regional LCF rounds will be launched progressively throughout 2023-24, totalling AU$900,000 in funding with grants of up to AU$20,000. These rounds will specifically cater to businesses in regional areas, aiming to help them enhance their services and competitiveness.
Since its inception, the LCF has been instrumental in providing funding to over 600 businesses, totalling AU$22.7 million. This financial support has played a pivotal role in these businesses securing contract awards exceeding AU$1.05 billion. Beyond financial benefits, the LCF has contributed to creating more than 2,000 employment opportunities and nearly 250 apprenticeships.
The Minister Assisting the Minister for State and Industry Development, Jobs, and Trade stated that the Local Capability Fund has served as a catalyst for numerous businesses, infusing tens of millions in funding to propel their expansion. This program has not only facilitated access to over 2,000 employment opportunities but has also supported the development of 250 apprenticeships.
The Government, through its representative, wholeheartedly encourages businesses to grasp this opportunity by submitting grant applications. This initiative will empower them in their pursuits to secure contracts from both government and private sector organisations.
In today’s fast-paced business landscape, technology plays an indispensable role in enhancing efficiency, competitiveness, and growth prospects for businesses of all sizes. The Cook Government recognises this and aims to empower local businesses through the Local Capability Fund, providing them with the financial means to embrace and leverage technology. This support is especially timely as the world becomes increasingly digital and data-driven.
The new Digital Transformation Round, set to be launched in the coming weeks, underscores the government’s commitment to assisting businesses in harnessing the power of digital technologies and data. In an era where businesses must adapt to technological advancements to remain relevant and competitive, this initiative is poised to make a significant impact.
With the Digital Transformation Round, eligible businesses will have access to vital resources and support to embark on their digital journey. This includes financial assistance, expertise, and guidance on adopting and utilising digital technologies effectively. Whether it’s transitioning to cloud-based operations, implementing data analytics, or enhancing online presence, this initiative aims to equip businesses with the tools they need to thrive in a digital age.
Beyond financial support, the Digital Transformation Round also aligns with the government’s broader mission of understanding the specific technological needs of businesses. By collecting insights and feedback from participating enterprises, the government can shape future policies and initiatives to better serve the evolving tech landscape.
OpenGov Asia previously reported that the Vietnam-Australia Digital Forum 2023, organised by Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), in collaboration with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and the NSW Trade and Investment Department, reflects the global importance of digital collaboration. This event, held during Minister Nguyen Manh Hung’s visit to Australia, signifies the commitment of both nations to enhance cooperation in information and communication technology.
It is part of the MIC’s broader 2023 initiatives to facilitate Vietnam’s digital business community expansion globally, with similar programs underway in countries like the United States, Japan, and Europe. These efforts underline the growing significance of international partnerships in fostering innovation, knowledge sharing, and economic growth through technology.
In a strategic move to bolster its semiconductor industry, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) in Taiwan is poised to allocate approximately NT$800 million (S$25,084,582) to support local integrated circuit (IC) designers in the development of processes below 28 nanometres.
This substantial investment forms a crucial part of the budget earmarked for the upcoming semiconductor industry innovation project proposed by the National Science and Technology Council, awaiting final approval from the Cabinet, as confirmed by the Industrial Development Bureau under the MOEA.
ICs, the intricate assemblies of electronic components, encompassing transistors, resistors, and capacitors, have become the bedrock of modern technology. These miniature marvels are crafted on wafer-thin semiconductor substrates, underpinning a plethora of electronic devices and systems.
In safeguarding the interests of local enterprises against a highly competitive market landscape, the bureau’s subsidy programme will be geared toward companies actively engaged in the development of advanced techniques aligned with international industry trends. These include artificial intelligence (AI), smart cockpit solutions, and communication technologies.
Taiwan boasts around 200 small and medium-sized IC design firms, but only a fraction possesses the capability to venture into the intricate domains of 16nm or 14nm processes, which tend to be financially daunting for companies of their size.
To encourage participation and innovation, detailed eligibility criteria for the subsidies will be disclosed at the outset of the coming year. The government is prepared to provide financial support of up to half the amount applied for by these enterprises.
The expected timeline for reaping the rewards of this investment is promising, with the government anticipating tangible benefits within two to three years. As the global semiconductor landscape continues to evolve and confront new challenges, Taiwan’s strategic focus on nurturing homegrown talent and fostering innovation in IC design underscores its commitment to maintaining a competitive edge in this pivotal industry.
The investment in IC design processes below 28 nanometres not only fortifies Taiwan’s position as a technological powerhouse but also ensures its resilience in the face of dynamic global forces. By empowering its local talent and businesses, Taiwan stands ready to navigate the complex semiconductor terrain and emerge as a formidable player in the evolving semiconductor industry.
Electronic gadgets such as computers, cellphones, televisions, and medical equipment may all function more intelligently and efficiently due to semiconductors, which allow digital data to be translated into the real world. They enable lightning-fast data processing, storage, and transmission by facilitating the complex dance of electrons.
Semiconductors are essential to more than just consumer electronics. They serve as the foundation for sectors where exact control and dependability are crucial, such as the automobile, aerospace, healthcare, and renewable energy industries.
Semiconductors are still developing in this age of rapidly developing technology, which makes it possible to create devices with smaller sizes, quicker processors, and ground-breaking inventions. They are the unsung heroes who are paving the way for an infinite future while subtly influencing our digital environment.
Partnerships are also essential for supporting the semiconductor sector since they act as sparks for creativity and provide answers to difficult problems. Governments, academic institutions, and semiconductor businesses work together in this cooperative manner, with each group providing special skills and resources.
Partnerships additionally enhance the robustness of the supply chain. Businesses can better survive disruptions by strengthening the connections between various phases of semiconductor manufacture, as the COVID-19 epidemic showed.
Vietnam intends to start shutting down its 2G network by December, creating space for the advancement of more modern telecommunication technologies. According to the government, the 2G mobile network, initially introduced in Vietnam in 1993, has become obsolete and can no longer satisfy user demands or keep pace with the expansion of telecommunications services.
Therefore, the Authority of Telecommunications under the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) is considering the complete shutdown of the 2G network. Director of the Authority, Nguyen Thanh Phuc, mentioned that the agency conducted meetings with telecom service providers in Vietnam, and these providers have committed to initiating the blocking of 2G-only devices starting in December.
As per its document released on 27 September 2022, MIC has taken steps to deactivate the 2G network across the entire country. Additionally, service providers have devised technical solutions to phase out devices that rely solely on 2G and 3G networks.
The complete switch-off is intended to optimise frequency reserves for the development of modern telecommunication technologies, such as 4G and 5G. MIC is assisting telecom service providers in devising roadmaps and transition plans for discontinuing 2G services and facilitating the migration of users to 4G and 5G networks. The objective is to reduce the number of 2G mobile subscriptions to approximately 6 million, which would represent less than 5% of the total, by the end of the year, with a complete shutdown of the 2G network planned for 2024.
According to data from service providers, at the beginning of 2023, there were over 26 million 2G mobile subscriptions, constituting about 20% of the total 126 million mobile subscriptions nationwide. However, this number decreased to 23 million as of August.
The discontinuation of 2G services has been implemented in several countries, including Japan (in 2011), Singapore (in 2017), and China (in 2021). As of October 2022, 142 telecom service providers in 56 countries and territories made plans to shut down 2G and 3G networks, and 51 of them turned off 2G services.
Earlier this month, MIC announced the setting up of a team to accelerate 6G equipment development. The team works in collaboration with internal agencies and three major telecommunications carriers, including the state-run group Viettel.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the group reviews the system of legal documents to encourage the 6G technology ecosystem. It also tests and evaluates 6G equipment. The Deputy Director of the Authority of Information Technology and Communications Industry, Nguyen Thien Nghia, oversees the team.
The group puts forth management, assessment, inspection, and testing regulations regarding 6G equipment. The government believes that better guidelines and a clear technology framework will lead to more secure 6G networks in the future.
The team is also responsible for gathering international case studies to build a strategy for the development, assessment, and testing of equipment in Vietnam. The group monitors the 6G equipment research and development around the world, collecting information on equipment types, supportive bands, prices, and standardisation.
It will attend 6G technology conferences and seminars both abroad and in the country. The group will work on fostering international cooperation in the research and development of 6G technology and equipment.
The commencement of the 6G standard and its commercial rollout is anticipated to begin around 2028, with widespread commercial deployment likely occurring in 2030. 6G networks will revolve around both humans and machines, offering advanced services such as augmented reality, high-precision mobile holograms, and digital replicas.
Smart homes will be widely adopted when smart devices can be remotely connected and controlled. Additionally, the deployment of intelligent traffic management systems, autonomous vehicles, and flying taxis can be facilitated using 6G network technology.
The Minister of Digital Economy and Society has outlined the ministry’s operational policy within the framework of “The Growth Engine of Thailand.” This plan emphasises three key areas:
- Enhancing the country’s digital capabilities for competitive advantage
- Ensuring stability and security in the digital economy and society
- Fostering the development of the nation’s digital human capital
This policy is a roadmap for advancing Thailand’s digital economy and society in the next phase.
Mr. Prasert Chandraruangthong, Minister of Digital Economy and Society (DES), shared this operational policy with the media, highlighting the three primary drivers of Thailand’s digital economy and society. These include:
- Strengthening digital capabilities to enhance the country’s competitiveness (Thailand Competitiveness).
- Ensuring stability and security in the digital economy and society (Safety & Security).
- Developing the potential of the country’s digital human capital (Human Capital).
Mr Prasert emphasised that the foremost driver for Thailand’s digital economy and society is a set of guidelines to enhance digital capabilities to create a competitive advantage for the nation. The Ministry of Digital Technology will focus on improving efficiency and leveraging the country’s digital infrastructure to generate opportunities. This effort will accelerate the development of telecommunications systems, high-speed internet networks, and 5G technology to enhance people’s quality of life, boost business and industrial sectors, and facilitate international trade and investment through global communication networks.
In the future, Thailand aims to become a regional hub for submarine cable networks, boost international trade and e-commerce, and enhance digital identity verification through National Digital ID. They are preparing for the AI-driven economic era and developing a master plan for responsible artificial intelligence (AI).
The Ministry of Digital Affairs plans to bolster Thailand’s global digital competitiveness by supporting Digital Startups through a Co-Investment system and the Digital Startup Go Global Development Fund. The focus is on increasing income opportunities for farmers, aiding SMEs in adopting digital tech, and positioning Thailand as a key player in Digital Content, E-SPORTS, and international trade. They aim to attract global investments in Over-The-Top (OTT) Platform businesses, streamline business establishment processes, and ensure fair tax collection.
To promote digital literacy, the ministry will facilitate internet access for children and youth, enable safe access to global libraries via AI, and encourage communities to embrace digital technology for income generation and adaptation to the digital economy.
These efforts aim to enhance the efficiency of digital government services by integrating big data from government agencies and promoting services across sectors with open APIs for public and private sector convenience. This includes implementing One Stop Service, developing the One Wallet system, and utilising Blockchain technology and Smart Contracts to establish transparent rules, reducing discretionary decision-making by officials. Thai Digital Startups will be given opportunities to participate in system development.
Thailand is preparing to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and engage with international digital agencies. They aim to transform the nation with a Mega Programme, expanding projects like Thailand Digital Valley and extending smart city areas.
Addressing cybercrime is crucial for digital economy stability. Initiatives include combating online fraud and improving cybersecurity through a Cyber Alert Centre.
Thailand plans to establish coding schools, offer accessible digital classrooms for upskilling, and incentivise digital skill development to enhance digital human capital. Short-term efforts involve:
- Setting up a Cyber Alert Centre.
- Fostering gaming careers.
- Addressing workforce shortages via the Global Digital Talent Visa programme.