Taiwan’s Centers of Disease Control (CDC) is collaborating with and Taiwan AI Labs to create Taiwan Social Distancing App for reducing the spread of Covid19. This community project uses Bluetooth technology and alerts users if they are exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases. The app aims to reduce the exposure risk of the COVID-19 cases.
According to the app’s introduction page, they are sure that the app will play a key role to encourage people to keep a daily routine with lower nonessential physical contacts. Disease modellers and epidemiologists with AI algorithms join AI Labs to fight the spread of new infections for flattening the curve.
According to the social distancing guidelines issued by Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), people are advised to stay at least 1 meter apart outdoors and 1.5 meters apart indoors. The app will notify users if they have been less than 2 meters from a confirmed case for more than two minutes.
According to the app’s introduction page, users need to enter their Bluetooth identification codes. Then, the app leverages Bluetooth device signal to estimate the physical social interactions out of devices close to the individual. The app stores the data with anonymous hashed ID history at each device for up to 28 days.
CDC also mentions that the app also protects people’s privacy. If the owner of a device with Taiwan Social Distancing App confirms to have infectious diseases, the individual can choose to share the anonymous hashed ID number. Therefore, the device ever physically close to the individual will get noticed without knowing who was confirmed and when was the interactions. It seeks to save other lives with the protection of privacy.
The pandemic certainly brings the dilemma between public health and privacy into practical reality. According to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), during the pandemic, this struggle involves the imposition of extraordinary levels of government-mandated social distancing to protect public health. The government aims to reduce these constraints in the interest of individual liberty and economic renewal.
The same type of conflict exists between individual interests in health privacy and public health interests in the collection, use, and disclosure of health information. The COVID-19 pandemic uniquely presents these issues because it is the most deadly pandemic in more than a century. Moreover, new technologies allow an unprecedented level of information collection, aggregation, analysis, and dissemination.
In deciding whether to use certain health information technology in a pandemic, policymakers should analyse and apply the following criteria from public health ethics literature: (1) necessity and effectiveness, (2) proportionality and minimal infringement, (3) purpose limitations, and (4) justice.
Public health intervention should be introduced with clear evidence of its necessity and effectiveness. However, faced with a novel, lethal pathogen, clinicians have felt compelled to adopt measures without persuasive evidence, and public health officials have faced similar pressures.
Public health interventions should be proportional to the risk presented. In a pandemic, public health measures might have wide leeway, but not every public health information plan is necessary without significant intrusion. Data minimization seeks to limit the amount of data collected and used to the minimum necessary.
Data collected for a specific purpose should be used for only that purpose and should not be repurposed for other uses without the consent of the data sources or a compelling public justification. Purpose limitations may conflict with Big Data analytics and other health surveillance technologies based on machine learning and algorithms identifying associations from disparate data sets.
Australia’s spacecraft and satellites will better survive damaging radiation and extreme conditions thanks to $2.5 million in funding for improved space testing facilities at The Australian National University (ANU). The new funding will help create a national network of space testing facilities led by ANU researchers that will launch Australia into an elite group of countries with this kind of advanced capability.
The bulk of the funding from the Australian Space Agency will go to the Heavy Ion Accelerator at ANU, allowing tech – including components destined for space, like computers and other devices – to be tested against extreme radiation. The rest of the money will be used to upgrade the National Space Test Facility at ANU as well as other facilities across Australia.
The Director of ANU Institute for Space Professor stated that the new funding and upgraded facilities would help “launch Australia’s burgeoning space industry to another level”. The funding will ensure Australian space innovations can be tested to easily enter new markets around the world, she added.
The space industry in Australia is growing. Upgraded facilities will mean, the country can make sure the payloads being sent into space, including satellites and spacecraft, are able to survive before they blast off. Testing space payloads, components and spacecraft before they are launched into space helps make space missions more successful. One key threat to satellites is radiation.
The funding will deliver much-needed, state-of-the-art radiation testing facilities to ensure the success of Australian space missions. ANU is leading a national team of research and industry partners to use their combined infrastructure to offer this radiation capability.
Many Australian companies were looking to “pivot to space,” and the new national network of facilities will make sure their products are space ready. This funding and national network of upgraded facilities will make it easier to do that.
Australian companies who have never worked in the space sector can now cast their gaze upwards and to the final frontier; developing and testing components and hardware that are vital to the success of space missions before they leave the planet.
This funding will help transform Australia into a world-leading space qualification ecosystem with reach across the Indo-Pacific region. The new funding, part of the Space Infrastructure Fund from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, will bring together the work of six partners:
- ANU will deliver internationally recognised radiation testing, the ability to monitor sensitive hardware in the largest thermal vacuum chamber in Australia (the WOMBAT XL), the first standardised pyro shock testing facility in Australia and better temperature mapping during testing.
- Nova Systems will support ANU with its space expertise, bringing to bear its knowledge of qualification testing, Australian testing facilities and space sector players. Nova Systems will also support the development of an online database of off-the-shelf tested parts.
- The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)will apply its expertise to ensure Australia is able to meet the international standard for Total Ionisation Dosage (TID) radiation testing. It will ready its suite of irradiation capabilities to cover all levels of radiation testing so that Australian products can enter into global supply chains faster and our local space industry can innovate at speed.
- Steritech will offer large scale radiation testing for the industry at locations in QLD, NSW and VIC.
- The University of Wollongong will develop laser-based screening to provide a low-cost service to the industry in preparation for full radiation testing and testing of sector-supplied off-the-shelf components.
- Saber Astronautics will integrate qualification with the Mission Control Centre data and infrastructure standards, determining the appropriate space environment profiles for qualification testing.
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) introduced a code of conduct on social networks to create a safe online environment. The new regulations address organisations and individuals that use social networks and social network service providers in Vietnam. It is designed to ensure civil liberty and freedom to run businesses and prevent discrimination between domestic and foreign service providers. This is in line with international standards, practices, and treaties to which Vietnam is a signatory.
According to a press release, the code of conduct encourages organisations and individuals to share information from official and reliable sources and behave in ways that match Vietnam’s “traditional moral and cultural values”. The document also requires organisations and individuals not to use words that incite hatred or trigger violence and gender and religious discrimination. Not to publish content that violates legal regulations and information defaming others, not to spread fake news and untrue information, and not to conduct illegal advertising.
Users should use their real name when registering for social networks and register with the service provider to certify their names, website addresses, and contacts. The code of conduct on social networks only offers recommendations, and individuals and organisations committing violations will be punished in line with the law, according to Do Quy Vu, the Deputy Director of the National Institute of Information and Communications Strategy under MIC.
In an interview, after the code of conduct was issued by the MIC, Vu noted that punishments for illegal violations on social networks have been prescribed in Vietnam’s laws. The code of conduct gathers rules on behaviours, moral, and cultural standards on social networks, which are recommended for individuals, organisations, and social network service providers. It targets three major groups, including social network users; officials, cadres, and employees in state agencies; and social network service providers.
Earlier this month, the Prime Minister approved an e-government development strategy towards the digital government in the 2021-2025 period, with a vision to 2030. This is the first time that Vietnam has issued a strategy on developing the e-government, as OpenGov Asia had reported. The strategy outlines several tasks, including operating specialised network infrastructure securely, connecting four administrative levels from central to commune level, and building a government cloud computing platform. The government will develop the National Data Exchange Platform and application platforms on mobile devices for all e-government and digital government services.
Further, the government will complete the National Public Service Portal, build the National Data Portal, and build a platform for working and collaborating on the digital environment and a virtual assistant platform. The strategy will develop and complete the government reporting information system, the National Document Communication Axis, and the national bidding network system. Further, it will build a system to analyse and process big data that will ensure national cybersecurity. It will also build a support system to coordinate and respond to cybersecurity incidents. It will develop and perfect the government’s specialised digital signature authentication system.
The strategy also outlines the roles and responsibilities of ministries, industries, and local governments in leveraging digital technologies like cloud computing, big data, mobility, the Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain. The release said that the strategy will create a breakthrough in the development of e-government, contributing to the successful implementation of Vietnam’s digital transformation goals, which are based on three pillars: a digital government, economy, and society.
The Indian Institute of Technology Mandi (IIT-Mandi) and online learning solution provider WileyNXT have collaborated to launch post-graduate certification programmes in applied artificial intelligence/machine learning and full-stack development. The curriculum has been designed to bridge the skill gap and prepare a workforce for the future.
When the candidate completes the programme, they will receive a joint certificate from IIT-Mandi and WileyNXT. The programme focuses on contextual learning to complement conceptual learning with skilling exercises. It offers projects based on real-life business problems, according to a news report. The students will be taught by top IIT-Mandi faculty members and industry leaders based on content from Wiley Network.
The full-stack development course is an online seven-month-long programme. Applicants that have graduated with a minimum score of 50% and who know at least one programming language are eligible. The applied AI/ML course will also be online and will run for six months. Candidates that have one year of work experience in engineering or programming are eligible to apply. Scholarships are offered for both programmes for qualified individuals, the report noted. The programmes come at a time when India is witnessing a surge in demand for AI-enabled automated customer service agents. It was the top AI use case for Indian organisations last year. This was due to the pandemic, which kept millions at home and face-to-face interactions diminished across industries, a report has said. The AI use cases gained momentum in the country, driven by the need to ensure timely product development, facilitate better customer experience, improve higher employee productivity, and achieve high competitiveness in the market.
IIT-Mundi is also collaborating with the HCI Foundation (iHub) to host a six-day weekend workshop on a Deep Learning crash course for executives and working professionals. The workshop will be held between 3 July and 18 July. As per reports, it will cover extensive theory sessions and lab sessions scheduled every weekend. An assessment will be done at the end of the workshop, and based on this assessment, certificates will be provided to participants. During laboratory sessions, support will be provided by specifically trained teaching assistants. The workshop mainly targets software engineers and executives. However, final year undergraduates, masters, PhD-level, and faculty members may also apply. A basic understanding of linear algebra, Python, machine learning, and probability theory is expected as a prerequisite for the event.
Extensive learning materials will be provided through comprehensive sessions organised by various experts. Most importantly, the specially designed hand-on sessions will be a boon to completely novice learners. According to an official, the organisations hope the workshop will “effectively democratise AI/ML learning”. The workshop will explore:
- The basics of machine learning and neural networks
- Convolutional neural networks
- Object localisation and detection
- Autoencoders and variational autoencoder
- Generative adversarial networks
- Recurrent neural network and long short-term memory, Siamese networks
- Transformer networks
A key speaker of IIT-Mundi noted that the workshop is the first of its kind sponsored by the iHub and IIT-Mandi. The entire workshop series includes six similar workshop events that will happen this year. The current workshop would provide students, academics, and industry personnel with hands-on sessions on AI/ML topics that span several domains, including the human-computer interaction area. Interested participants can register through the official portal. The workshop will have a selected batch of participants and the applications will be shortlisted on a first-come-first-serve basis. This workshop will cover state-of-the-art AI/ML techniques in detail with extensive hands-on tutorial sessions for the participants. The workshop may pave the way for a research internship opportunity at the iHub and IIT-Mandi.
A company spun out of the University of Wollongong (UoW) to commercialise breakthrough Australian hydrogen electrolyser technology, officially opened its doors today with $5 million in funding led by a British-based Intellectual property firm, with support from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
The company is developing a new hydrogen electrolyser that has the potential to significantly shift the economics of green hydrogen production, bringing the Australian Government’s $2/kg target within reach.
The technology has been proven at lab-scale and the company, which has strong scientific, engineering and commercialisation experience, is now focused on developing and commercialising a full-scale system. The firm is based at UOW’s Australian Institute for Innovative Materials.
Electrolysers, which use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, are the key technology for producing green hydrogen. The electrolyser is based on breakthrough Australian technology developed by a team from the UOW headquartered ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), led by chemical catalysis and characterisation expert Professor Gerry Swiegers.
Professor Swiegers has an outstanding track record in commercialisation, as the inventor of over 50 patent families and the founder of six start-ups, which have received an estimated $100 million in investment.
Inexpensive green hydrogen is needed for the decarbonisation of multiple industries to put Australia on a path to net-zero by 2050. Years of work from a great team at the University of Wollongong, along with great facilities and government funding are coming to fruition in a company that has the potential to have a global impact, he added.
The Head of Physical Sciences at the Australian branch of the IP firm and the Interim CEO at the tech company stated that the firm represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape an industry. “I’m delighted to be working with Professor Swiegers and the team at the University of Wollongong to bring this technology to market. This will have an impact both economically and environmentally on our path to net-zero” he said.
The Managing Director of the IP firm’s Australian arm noted that they have been looking globally for new technology that can unlock the trillion-dollar opportunity in hydrogen. He added that the UOW spin-off firm’s technology is truly world-leading and that the IP group looks forward to helping the team in their mission to make green hydrogen a reality for Australia and the world. These developments are based on significant fundamental research that is taken from the translational pathway by a team with technical and commercial skills fully integrated.
The UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) noted that the innovative technology developed by Professor Swiegers and his team exemplifies the University’s ambition to deliver fundamental research that leads to impactful change. “UoW’s research and innovation strategy is focused on creating knowledge for a better world, underpinned by our prioritisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which include the goals of affordable and clean energy, and climate change mitigation,” he said.
Green hydrogen is widely acknowledged to be a crucial part of reaching net-zero emissions globally, with the potential to meet up to 20 per cent of energy demand in a net-zero global economy. It enables deep decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors, with potential applications including steel, heavy transport, shipping, aviation, chemicals, seasonal storage in the electricity sector, and gas grids.
It also presents an enormous economic opportunity, with the global demand of trillions of dollars expected by 2050. Hydrogen and derivatives like ammonia represent a multi-billion-dollar export opportunity for Australia, due to its excellent renewable energy resources, ample land and established status as a leading energy exporter.
What is The Digital Academy?
The Digital Academy by the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech Singapore) is a “Practitioner for Practitioner” academy that operates at the unique intersection of technology and public service. The Academy aims to groom future-ready digital leaders to be well-versed in the technology ecosystem to accelerate the public sector’s digital transformation.
The Academy offers a robust suite of information and communications technology (ICT) programmes that are contextualised to the public service, anchored on the ICT & Smart Systems (ICT&SS) Competency Framework and guided by competency gaps identified by ICT&SS practice leads and agencies’ needs through Digital Maturity Index and Ministry Family Digitalisation Plan. The curriculum will start with 55 programmes in various categories including Applications Development, Data & Analytics, Digital Leadership and Technology & Operations Management, with another 40 to be available by end of FY2021 (March 2022).
Why The Digital Academy?
While there are many learning providers offering technical programmes in the market, The Digital Academy sets itself apart by offering programmes specially curated by a strong in-house team and delivered by reputable content partners for public service officers and leaders, particularly those in the ICT&SS profession seeking to advance their current skills. Industry partners who work frequently with the Public Service may also benefit from these programmes, as they work in tandem with the Public Service to strengthen the skills and know-how of the tech ecosystem supporting Singapore’s digitalisation efforts. The Academy will focus on both Workforce Transformation and Capability Development.
Who is The Digital Academy for?
The Digital Academy is designed to raise the digital literacy of all public service leaders and officers, particularly those in a tech capacity, by:
- Deepening their ICT skills to achieve digital excellence in various innovation pillars, such as agile development, artificial intelligence & robotics, cybersecurity, sensors and Internet of Things, and more.
- Equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills required to deliver digitalisation outcomes and lead digital transformation in their agencies.
- Enabling them to be digitally confident by building up their capabilities.
How does Digital Academy work?
Driven by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group, The Digital Academy is supported by an operations partner, currently the Institute of Systems Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS-ISS). The curriculum is curated by an in-house team, in close partnership with nine leading industry players – Amazon Web Services, Coursera, Google, Microsoft, Qlik, Secure Code Warrior, SingTel TrustWave, Tableau and ThoughtWorks – as content partners. More will be onboarded in due course.
All public service officers and leaders would be able to access up-to-date information and course offerings via The Digital Academy website (thedigitalacademy.tech.gov.sg).
Courses at The Digital Academy are designed to be both blended and hybrid – delivered using multiple formats; beyond the typical in-person or virtual lectures, participants can expect to attend instructor-led workshops, tech talks, exchanges with the Community of Practice, hackathons and even be offered opportunities for on-the-job training. The programmes will be constantly refreshed to address the fast-changing tech landscape and equip officers with current skills to help them be digitally confident.
Amid the social restrictions and quarantine policies imposed during the global spread of COVID-19, human mobility patterns changed dramatically. To better understand the relationships between human mobility, government policies and cases of COVID-19, U.S. researchers have developed an interactive web application that illustrates the connections between human mobility, government policies, and cases of COVID-19.
The app was built with data from three independent sources: a map, which provides data on human movement via walking, driving and public transportation; COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, which provides data on government policies implemented during the pandemic; and global cases of COVID-19. Users can select a specific state or county in the U.S. as well as another country and see how mobility and COVID-19 cases changed over time or in response to government policies or social circumstances.
At a macro level, understanding movement patterns of people can help influence decision making for higher-level policies, like social gathering restrictions, mask recommendations, and tracking and tracing the spread of infectious diseases. At a local level, understanding the movement of people can lead to more specific decisions, like where to set up testing sites or vaccination sites.
Since the initial launch, the researchers have continued to update the application with appropriate data at regular intervals. The web application produces interesting visualisations that can reveal fascinating trends specific to a given area that might otherwise not be recognised.
During their exploration of the data, the researchers found a handful of case studies that suggested interesting trends. For example, in New Orleans, the application shows a spike in human mobility at the end of February 2020, which coincided with Mardi Gras celebrations. Coincidentally, there was a corresponding spike in COVID-19 cases almost a month after the event.
Although the application is specific to the pandemic, the framework could be modified rather easily to create a similar application for natural disasters as long as appropriate data sets are available. Understanding historic mobility patterns are needed for policymakers to make informed decisions regarding transportation systems and other areas both under normal circumstances and in response to extreme events like a pandemic or a natural disaster.
According to a page, this data shows the number of COVID-19-related policy responses taken by the government on a given day. Indicators include containment and closure policies such as school closures, workplace closures, public event cancellations, restrictions on gatherings, public transportation closures, stay at home requirements, restrictions on internal movement, and international travel controls. Other indicators include health system policies such as public information campaigns, testing policies, contact tracing, and facial covering policies.
Other U.S. researchers have also been using data by an online tool to provide insights into people’s online behaviour, specifically people’s response to COVID-19. As reported by OpenGov Asia, A research project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) develops an online tool called CitizenHelper. This tool can sort through millions of tweets to identify behaviours that could assist emergency agencies and give them an understanding of the population’s attitudes. The tool uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to filter the posts and then determine the relevance and information level of each tweet.
The tool helps these researchers to scale work that would be difficult for humans to do alone. The head of the research team says that humans are good at contextual understanding to filter content but they cannot scale. Machines, on the other hand, are good at scaling, but they do not deeply understand the context very well. Hence, a human-AI teaming approach is invaluable. The algorithms need humans to help them improve their accuracy. CitizenHelper allows this very seamless interactive mechanism for humans and computers. The humans can provide feedback to the machine on what the machine has predicted.
A tech firm operating under the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab announced that it has launched a new solution that is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
SOLUTION – DIGITAL BUSINESS PORTAL
The Digital Business Portal (“the Portal”) is an integrated knowledge solution designed to be used in tax, legal, and compliance matters. The platform can act as an online one-stop solution for internal knowledge sharing and support the daily operational needs of different departments within the HKSAR government.
There are three modules in the Portal, and the Learning Module is one of them. Through this module, users can access online learning videos that cover various professional business topics such as tax and legal updates to keep the staff and relevant individuals with up-to-date business knowledge.
A customised, secured training program can also be tailor-made for every Government department’s specific request and be provided via the Portal.
In addition to the Learning Module, there are two other modules in the solution that are commonly used by the users and could also be used by the government for their daily work. These include:
- Compliance Tool Module – provides Hong Kong tax compliance, company secretarial, and legal templates for general business use or to support staff with day-to-day operations.
- Business Information Module – provides useful information for Government departments that regularly interact with corporations
The solution was developed to be applied in the areas of Broadcasting, City Management, Climate and Weather, Commerce and Industry, Development, Education, Employment and Labour, Environment, Finance, Food, Health, Housing, Infrastructure, Law and Security, Population, Recreation and Culture, Social Welfare as well as Transport.
The solution uses the latest in Low Code Development Platform.
The Portal’s learning module was used to successfully deliver an end-to-end training programme equipped with online video playback and FAQ to facilitate the relevant business users in conducting their daily work and receive updated professional training materials.
To facilitate staff’s daily work, the company has developed a set of FAQs and the FAQs will be uploaded to the Portal. It enables the staff to locate the right answers much faster and much easier for them to refer to the answers prepared.
The Portal’s virtual training facility is particularly useful as employees may be under flexible work arrangements and stationed in multiple locations. It can also be used for further use and revision. This could largely increase the efficiency of their daily work.
It is crucial to keep the knowledge up to date. The company has provided comprehensive onsite and online training to the staff, offering business and professional knowledge-sharing over a wide range of topics including legal, tax, cybersecurity, industry updates, etc.
The firm believes that their professional knowledge can also be shared with other Government departments via the Portal. The company offer both tailor-made training courses for a particular topic and general courses available on the Portal.
About the Smart Government Innovation Lab
In 2018, the Government established the Smart Government Innovation Lab to explore hi-tech products such as AI and relevant technologies, including machine learning, big data analytics, cognitive systems and intelligent agent, as well as blockchain and robotics from firms, especially local start-ups.
The Lab is always on the lookout for innovation and technology (I&T) solutions that are conducive to enhancing public services or their operational effectiveness. I&T suppliers are encouraged to regularly visit the Lab’s website to check on the current business and operational needs in public service delivery and propose innovative solutions or product suggestions to address them.