The pandemic’s impact, combined with the regulatory environment and low competition, has hampered ICT policy interventions even further. The digital landscape has made productivity a privilege, and those without adequate access are being left behind, missing out on opportunities ranging from necessities and quality education to decent work and reskilling. In a post-COVID-19 world, the challenges to the Philippines and other countries in delivering availability, accessibility and affordability of reliable internet have never been greater.
In correspond, a leading full-service telecommunications company in the Philippines has risen to the challenge of delivering nationwide mobile broadband services and network coverage. In collaboration with a Texas-based company, which is said to be building the first and only space-based cellular network accessible by standard mobile phones, revealed on Tuesday, July 6, signed its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) together with the Philippines telecommunication company.
“This collaboration between our telecom company and the Texas network provider strongly supports this vision, as we continue to invest in our networks and explore the most relevant innovations that will enable us to continue expanding the reach of our services alongside delivering exceptional customer experience across the Philippines’ more than 7,000 islands,” said the Philippines telecom company president and CEO. “This new satellite communications technology aims to help us accomplish our mission of connecting the entire nation, where nobody gets left behind.” He then added.
OpenGov Asia had reported, that the Philippine’s senator has filed a bill seeking for the satellite-based internet to be improved in these poor-connectivity areas in the Philippines. The bill intends to expand Internet access by improving the entry of new satellite technologies to provide services to areas that are either unserved or underserved.
The lawmaker said that satellite-based internet is widely used by both developed and developing countries to provide internet services, particularly in areas where wired or mobile networks are more expensive to roll out. At a time when most transactions were shifted to virtual platforms to lessen physical interactions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the senator said the use of digital technologies in the country is still below its potential with 45% of Filipinos and 74% of public schools nationwide remain unconnected. The situation is far worse in the Visayas and Mindanao where there’s less than 40% of Internet usage.
In order to achieve universal internet access, the aims to have the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) expand access to satellite-based technologies as an alternate connection solution. It will exercise regulatory and administrative jurisdiction over ISPs and satellite policies, pursue policies to secure necessary orbital slots for PH satellites, and identify areas that are underserved and unserved by traditional broadband network operators and where the use of satellite-based internet can be maximised, to name a few.
The challenge for mobile operators is that 60 % of the world’s unconnected people live in rural areas, which necessitates significant time and investment to build networks in difficult environments. As national governments around the globe implement broadband targets and initiatives, mobile network operators have an opportunity to expand network coverage and provide affordable Internet services to unserved communities in both developing and developed countries. Reaching out to new markets allows them to add new subscribers in the short term while stimulating local economic growth, which will result in higher long-term returns on investment.
Universal access to high-quality internet is critical for the Philippines and much of the rest of the world to achieve digital transformation, boost growth, expand opportunities, and improve service delivery. Decision-makers can be better informed on targeted investments and strategic plans to address digital poverty by supplementing ground truth information on digital access with machine learning poverty estimates and open data on broadband speeds and cell tower locations.
CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is helping small to medium-sized businesses in the mining and mining equipment, technology and services sectors by offering a free online course that provides expertise and support for research and development.
Innovate to Grow is a 10-week online programme offered by CSIRO that is designed to help eligible small to medium-sized businesses in the mining and mining equipment, technology and services sectors that are in the early stages of engaging in R&D or pursuing a new idea. It will be guided by experienced researchers and innovation experts who will help participants to examine their technical or business challenges, explore R&D opportunities, and develop actionable business and funding plans.
Upon completion of the Innovate to Grow programme, participants may be able to access facilitation support through CSIRO to connect with research expertise nationally and may also be eligible for dollar-matched R&D funding.
The SME Collaboration Manager for CSIRO stated that the programme is designed to assist small-medium businesses in understanding the process of engaging in R&D by providing them with information on how to access funding, mentoring and a highly connected network through research organizations and industry peers.
The Innovate to Grow programme targets Australian companies with less than 200 employees, and currently is offered at no cost to participants. In this way, it is hoped that some of the barriers that smaller enterprises face when they have an idea they would like to pursue can be removed.
Upon completion of the Innovate to Grow programme, participants will have received assistance in defining their goals, developing a business case for R&D with the help of a university or CSIRO, and preparing a funding proposal.
Participants will also benefit from the expansion of their professional networks through connection with their peers in the cohort, sector-specific mentors, and CSIRO which has the world’s largest mineral resources R&D capability.
One company that manages the Australian Premium Iron Joint Venture participated in the Innovate to Grow program in 2021. The Principal Scientist at the firm stated that the company participated in the Innovate to Grow program as a way to refresh their knowledge about engaging with research organisations, identifying available funding options and preparing for partnerships with organisations like CSIRO or universities.
The mining industry faces many challenges, and it requires multiple elements to come together to achieve success. CSIRO plays a vital role in supporting research and development goals for the industry, he said.
The global smart mining market is projected to grow from roughly US$9.3 billion in 2019 to about US$23.5 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 16.3% during the forecast period 2020-2027.
Smart mining is a process that uses advanced technology, information and autonomy to improve safety, reduce operational costs, and increase productivity for mine sites. Companies in the mining industry are focusing on increasing productivity by implementing advanced software and solutions. It also includes the use of remote-controlled robotic equipment for mineral and metal extraction known as telerobotic mining, which reduces the risks for miners.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the global smart mining market, primarily due to the disruption of international trade, prolonged lockdowns and restrictions in construction, mining, and maintenance activities worldwide.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has launched a mobile application for the Khelo India Youth Games 2022. The app gives participating athletes, coaches, support staff, parents of athletes, and officials from all states participating in the Games access to information about the competition, through a single platform. This is the first time that a dedicated application has been launched for the Khelo India Youth Games.
The App has a dedicated athlete login and supports the athlete right from the time of their registration into the games, through the entire course of the Games. The app gives the athlete a chance to check if their verified documents have been uploaded before the start of the Games. According to a government press release, this will ensure greater transparency for athletes in the registration process. The application is available both for Android and Apple phones and can be downloaded free of cost.
As the athlete registers for the games and arrives at the Games venues in Madhya Pradesh, they can check the status of the issuance of their sporting kits, the hotel where they will stay, transportation plan for athletes to and from the venue, as well as have important contact numbers where athletes can connect in case of an emergency. Further, to ensure that athletes have immediate responses to queries raised by them during the Games, a chatbot has also been created. For sports fans, the application gives access to match schedules, medal tally, addresses of Games venues, and the photo gallery.
The Khelo India Youth Games are held every year. They are national-level multidisciplinary grassroots games held in January or February for two categories: under-17 years school students and under-21 college students. This year, the Games will be held in Bhopal from 30 January to 11 February. The competition has been divided into twelve different verticals, including developing state-level Khelo India centres, talent identification and development, sports for women, and the promotion of sports amongst people with disabilities.
The government has launched several applications and online services to promote athletics. For instance, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) launched the National Anti-Doping Agency app. It provides athletes with a one-stop solution for all anti-doping-related information. The app helps athletes understand anti-doping rules and regulations and provides a platform for athletes to report any potential anti-doping violations.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports launched the Fit India App to encourage people to adopt healthy and active lifestyles. The app provides offers a range of features such as fitness challenges, workout routines, health tips, and a record of daily physical activity. The app also provides users with a dashboard that helps them track their progress and set goals for themselves. Its age-appropriate fitness protocols, approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), test the fitness level of the user. Based on the results of the fitness tests, the app gives users a fitness score that tells them how fit they are and then further suggests activities to improve their health and fitness level.
Automated elections are cost-effective because they can accommodate up to 1,000 voters per clustered precinct instead of 500 voters per precinct in manual ballots, necessitating paying more workers. Therefore, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Cavite 4th District advised his colleagues in the House of Representatives to employ the Automated Elections System (AES) in the Barangay (village) and local council Sangguniang Kabataan (BSK) elections on October 30 this year.
In House Resolution 717, which he submitted on Wednesday, Barzaga asked the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms to launch an investigation into the Electoral Reform Act. The viability and feasibility of executing automated BSK polls are discussed.
“It will not only result in faster outcomes and the announcement of victors, but it will also eliminate human involvement or error and confusion in the evaluation of ballots on an experimental basis on the BSK Elections in major barangays, ideally in Metro Manila,” he convinced.
There are 42,022 barangays in the country as of October 2022, each with one punong barangay (local official) and seven Sangguniang Barangay (village council) members, one SK chairperson and seven representatives.
There will be two polls for the BSK elections, one for ordinary voters aged 18 and above and another for SK electors aged 15 to 30. The lawmakers suggested repurposing and adjusting the existing Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) to accept two ballots from registered voters. Then, the devices can independently summarise the Barangay and SK elections’ scores.
The BSKE, scheduled for October this year, will use a manual election system in which voters will write the names of candidates on ballots. Historically, manual elections can encounter issues such as imprecise counting, perception, and appreciation of votes. The integration of votes in larger Barangays usually takes two to three days, as opposed to automated elections, which immediately transmit the results to the canvassing centre upon closing of the voting.
Barzaga stated that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was praised for conducting the national and municipal polls on May 9, 2022, for having the fastest results and largest voter turnout since the Philippines adopted the AES in 2010, and that the public has accepted the outcomes of the elections. The 2022 national and municipal elections were attended by 55,290,821, or 84.10 per cent of the 67,745,526 registered voters.
The resolution also said that the Comelec owned the 97,000 reconditioned vote-counting machines (VCMs) it purchased in 2016 and leased more VCMs for the 2022 elections and that a portion of these machines will be used in the BSK Elections in the pilot barangays. Barzaga believes voters are well-versed in using AES since The Philippines have used the technology in the national and municipal elections in 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2022.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has indicated that it is open to holding automated village votes. Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia noted that they would investigate the possibility of executing a pilot test of barangay and SK election automation in specific areas/precincts. He mentioned that Barzaga contacted him about the proposition earlier this week.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act 11935 on October 10, 2022, rescheduling December 5, 2022, BSK elections to October 30, 2023, and holding other polls every three years after that. Meanwhile, earlier this month, OFW Party List Rep. Marissa Magsino suggested that the government should change the existing law to increase voting options to prevent voter disenfranchisement of about 1.83 million OFWs exercising their right to vote. The proposed legislation would enable Filipino personnel working abroad to vote via email, web-based portals, and other internet-based technologies.
Researchers are exploring ways to improve artificial intelligence image identification accuracy on computer vision. Computer vision is an artificial intelligence topic that teaches computers to extract information from digital images. They employed an algorithm that takes the distorted image as input and outputs a clean image to the users.
The study focuses on images partially smudged or distorted due to the missing pixels. Another goal is to reduce the uncertainty estimations and inferences from the visual data acquired. The researchers then created computer algorithms to reveal the part of the signal that is marred or otherwise concealed.
“Models for doing so already exist, but quantifying the uncertainty is difficult. And you don’t want to make a mistake in a life-or-death situation,” Swami Sankaranarayanan, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the study’s lead author, explained.
So far, they have been able to reconstruct images of simple objects, such as human faces or animals. However, they wish to expand their method into more required fields, such as medical imaging, where our “statistical assurance” may be precious. If the film, or radiograph, of a chest X-ray, is blurred, they intend to reconstruct the image as accurately as possible.
They attempted to rebuild the image while preserving vital information. In the instance of a chest X-ray, this could tell whether a patient has lung cancer or pneumonia. Sankaranarayanan and his associates have already begun collaborating with a radiologist to assess whether their method for diagnosing pneumonia could be beneficial in a clinical context.
Their work is also helpful in the realm of law enforcement. The image from a surveillance camera may be grainy, but law enforcement agents can improve it using their instruments. The tools he and his colleagues are building could aid in identifying a guilty individual and exonerating an innocent one.
As a result, obtaining a more excellent grasp of that uncertainty could benefit us in various ways. For one thing, it can help us learn more about what we don’t know. MIT engineers successfully established reliable estimates of uncertainty and displayed ambiguity in a form that the average person could understand.
In a new study, Sankaranarayanan and his co-authors — Anastasios Angelopoulos and Stephen Bates of the University of California at Berkeley; Yaniv Romano of the Israel Institute of Technology; and Phillip Isola, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT — addressed the issues.
When recovering a blurred image, questions are bound to occur. How much trust can one put in the correctness of the resulting image? And, as addressed in the December 2022 study, how should the ambiguity in that image be represented? The conventional method generates a “saliency map,” which assigns a probability value between 0 and 1 to each pixel to express the model’s confidence in its accuracy.
Their approach revolves around an image’s “semantic characteristics” – clusters of pixels that, combined, have meaning, such as a human face, a dog, or any other recognised entity. According to Sankaranarayanan, the goal is to “estimate uncertainty in a fashion that relates to groupings of pixels that humans can easily perceive.”
While the usual technique may produce a single image representing the “best guess” as to what the genuine picture should be, the ambiguity in that representation is typically difficult to perceive. Therefore, according to the new article, uncertainty should be conveyed meaningfully to people who are not experts in machine learning for application in the real world.
When recovering a blurred image, questions are likely to occur. How much assurance can someone have in the reliability of the resulting image? And, as discussed in the December 2022 paper, what is the best approach to convey uncertainty in that image? The conventional method is to generate a “saliency map,” which assigns a probability value — somewhere between 0 and 1 — to each pixel to represent the model’s certainty in its validity.
Their technique is centred on an image’s semantic characteristics – groups of pixels that, when combined, convey meaning, such as a human face, a dog, or any other recognised entity. According to Sankaranarayanan, the goal is to estimate uncertainty in a fashion that connects to the groups of pixels that humans can easily perceive.
Whereas the usual technique may produce a single image representing the best guess as to what the genuine picture should be, the ambiguity in that representation is typically difficult to perceive. According to the new article, to be helpful in the real world, uncertainty needs to be communicated in a meaningful way to individuals who are not experts in machine learning.
The Ministry of DES has recommended farmers employ more drones for a new Thailand smart farm project in Pathum Thani Province’s Pin Fah Farm region. Pinfah Farm is an intelligent farm model in Pathum Thani Province designated for agricultural eco-tourism.
Pinfah Farm employs drones to spray medications, fertiliser, and various chemicals in farmlands to reduce money and improve farmer health. Chaiwut Thanakmanusorn, Minister of Digital Economy and Society, paid a visit to the new farm and provided financial assistance.
The government allows farmers to pay half of their needs under the “half of each person” programme. The remainder of the fund will be used to assist individuals in purchasing at a reduced price to develop modern agriculture more efficiently. The financial assistance is provided in collaboration with community enterprises or farmer organisations to create a smart farm using digital agriculture technology.
Smart agriculture is a cutting-edge idea that is gaining traction around the world. It boosts output, addresses farm-related issues such as food demand, and makes farms more networked and intelligent. Precision farming, variable rate technologies, smart irrigation, and smart greenhouses are smart agriculture systems that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT).
Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha recently visited the development of the “Digital Agriculture” pilot project at Pha Mi Training Centre in Chiang Rai Province. To expand digitalisation in agriculture, smart agriculture also employed the Government Central Cloud System (GDCC) platform and 5G network.
The Pha Mi Training Centre is an education, research, and development institution for high-value commodities, including vanilla and orchid, which are among the world’s top five most lucrative products. The centre will also increase farmers’ awareness of the region and provide long-term job options. Finally, the initiative attempts to boost farm revenue and eliminate farmer poverty.
The creation of the Cloud GDCC system facilitates the integration of IoT Smart farm technologies and Big Data storage in Thailand’s agriculture sector. The cloud system is designed to support the future growth of Thai farmers and other experimental plants.
Aquaculture sectors are also included in the agricultural digitalisation initiative. The Thai government was undertaking Aquaculture 4.0 to secure the long-term growth of this essential industry and increase farmers’ sustainable farming capabilities. The Aqua-IoT is an Internet of Things-based monitoring system for water’s physical, chemical, and biological properties.
They combined critical data – physical, chemical, and biological water characteristics and weather – into a single interface that enables users to comprehend the link between the data, analyse it, and make informed decisions.
Nonetheless, the Philippines has made a comparable effort. The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (DA-BAFE) visited the nation’s first established innovative greenhouse project to enhance the widespread application of smart agriculture.
The smart greenhouse is a significant advancement in precision farming. It employs sensor technologies to generate a microclimate that allows plants to develop consistently. An intelligent greenhouse modifies the environment autonomously to help plants grow to their full potential. This innovative farming method provides farmers with higher yields, higher-quality products, and the ability to cultivate crops regularly all year. This satisfies the market’s requirement for food efficiency and sufficiency.
While in Indonesia, Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo urged the adoption of precision technology to boost the resilience of Indonesian cattle products and to meet domestic demands constantly. It is believed that the technology will increase the food production rate for commodities such as cattle, buffalo, purebred chicken, free-range chicken, lamb/goat, duck, and pork.
Syahrul advises strengthening regional and central government cooperation and synergy to conserve present output and increase the resilience of Indonesian cattle products. Job division and work obligations within each work unit. He suggests that the tasks of each division be specified to determine the next steps.
All organisations that use alphanumeric Sender IDs to send SMS are now required to register with the Singapore SMS Sender ID Registry (SSIR) as part of the measures announced by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) last October. This registration is intended to protect consumers from non-registered SMS that may be scams, a press statement has said.
Starting from 31 January, any non-registered SMS will be labelled as “Likely-SCAM”. This functions similarly to a spam filter or spam bin. Consumers might get non-registered SMS labelled as “Likely-SCAM” and are advised to exercise caution. If unsure, consumers are encouraged to check with family and friends. This will improve IMDA’s overall resilience against scams.
All organisations that use alphanumeric Sender IDs must register early with the SSIR. This is to give adequate time as non-registered SMS Sender IDs after 31 January will be labelled as “Likely-SCAM”. Organisations that have not registered their Sender IDs are advised to do so, the statement said.
As of January 2023, over 1,200 organisations have already registered with SSIR, using more than 2,600 SMS Sender IDs. These include financial institutions, e-commerce operators, logistics providers, and SMEs that send SMS to their customers who have registered with the SSIR.
In recent months, IMDA reached out to organisations through aggregators and associations such as the Singapore Business Federation, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, and Association of Banks in Singapore, to encourage them to register with the SSIR. The mandatory SSIR regime is part of a broader effort to protect against scams, which also includes working with telecom operators to reduce the number of scam calls and SMS coming through the communication networks.
Since the implementation of the SSIR in March 2022, there has been a significant decrease in scams reported through SMS, with a 64% reduction from the last quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2022. Additionally, scam cases perpetrated via SMS dropped from 10% in 2021 to 8% in Q2 2022, down from 10% in 2021.
To effectively combat scams, a collective effort from society is needed. Despite implementing various measures, scammers may adapt their methods and tactics. IMDA will continue to collaborate with other stakeholders in the fight against scams, but individual vigilance and awareness are crucial. Consumers should remain vigilant and share scam prevention tips with friends and loved ones, the statement said.
IMDA leads Singapore’s digital transformation with infocomm media. To do this, IMDA is working to develop a dynamic digital economy and a cohesive digital society, driven by an exceptional infocomm media (ICM) ecosystem. It fosters talent, strengthens business capabilities, and enhances Singapore’s ICM infrastructure. IMDA also regulates the telecommunications and media sectors to safeguard consumer interests while fostering a pro-business environment and enhances Singapore’s data protection regime through the Personal Data Protection Commission.
Scams and unwanted commercial electronic messages and calls are an international problem with scammers continuing to prey on unsuspecting parties. Last year, IMDA and Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to boost cooperation and fight scams and spam. The agreement covers cooperation in information sharing and assistance in investigations relating to scam and spam calls and short message services. The two sides also agreed to mutual exchanges of knowledge and expertise and collaboration on technical and commercially viable solutions in relation to scam and spam communications.
The Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, has said that with the involvement of an artificial intelligence (AI) layer, the country’s architecture will become more sophisticated in the future.
He was addressing the first India Stack Developers conference, which aimed to facilitate the adoption of India Stack for countries that are keen to integrate it as per their requirements and to create a robust ecosystem of startups, developers, and system integrators working around it on next-generation innovation. He said the government wants to offer India Stack or part of the stack to those enterprises and countries across the world who want to innovate and further integrate, execute, and implement digital transformation. India Stack is a set of open indigenously-developed APIs and e-governance and public applications.
“What we have now is just [the] India Stack 1.0 version. It will evolve and become more sophisticated and nuanced,” Chandrasekhar explained. A smart dataset programme will be launched soon, and an AI layer will be built into the stack. Seven countries will sign up with the Indian government to use India Stack.
The conference was conducted to bring together the developer community, start-ups, corporations, and foreign governments who are inspired by the India Stack and want to adopt digital public goods like Aadhaar, United Payments Interface (UPI), and Digilocker. Senior officials from Aadhaar, GeM (Government e-marketplace), Diksha, a public ed-tech initiative, and the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission gave presentations on the strategies of each platform. Over one hundred digital leaders from industry associations, system integrators, and start-ups attended the event. It also saw participation from delegates of G20 countries.
Debjani Ghosh, President of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), stated that India using digital means has achieved financial inclusion for 80% of the population in 6 years as compared to the projected figure of 46 years.
The CEO of Aadhaar, Saurabh Garg, spoke about the impact the biometric identification system has had in the country. It has recorded over 1.3 billion sign ups till now and handles around 75 million daily transactions. The transactions involve e-authentication by various organisations such as fintech, banks, and other Aadhaar-enabled payment services.
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification card that serves as proof of identity and address for Indian citizens. As per the latest government data, in November, 287 million e-know your customer (e-KYC) transactions were carried out using Aadhaar, a 22% growth over the previous month. By the end of November, the cumulative number of e-KYC transactions had reached 13.5 billion. As OpenGov Asia reported, the Aadhaar e-KYC service is playing an increasingly crucial role in banking and non-banking financial services. It provides transparent and enhanced customer experiences.
An e-KYC transaction is executed, only after the explicit consent of the Aadhaar holder, and eliminates physical paperwork, and in-person verification requirements for KYC. Telecom operators and fintech firms, among others, have seen ease in the onboarding of new customers through eKYC. In November, 1.95 billion Aadhaar authentication transactions were carried out, 11% more than in October. Most of these monthly transactions were carried out by using fingerprint biometric authentication, followed by demographic and OTP authentication.