Thailand introduced the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) initiative to transform three Thai provinces into smart cities during the 2019 ASEAN Summit. This move has proved to be a successful one, one report notes.
The EEC was established to create a centre for trade, investment, regional transportation, and a strategic gateway to Asia, with Thailand confident that the move would promote a seamless ASEAN.
Under its Thailand 4.0 model, the country is working to achieve 100 smart cities by 2022, a goal that is well on its way to completion especially now that the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) and the City Possible global network inked an agreement.
Pioneered by an American multinational financial services corporation, 27 Thai smart cities have been inducted into the City Possible program which is designed to make technology work for people by aligning key stakeholders to address urban issues.
The corporation’s new public-private partnership model, City Possible, is focused on meeting the needs of people in cities.
It provides members unrivalled access to a global community of urban leaders, businesses, NGOs and academics and is regularly invited to a series of knowledge-exchange forums where participants identify common challenges, exchange learnings and establish holistic urban solutions.
The focus on smart cities is a core pillar of the government’s Thailand 4.0 initiative which aims to transform Thailand into a high-income nation with vastly improved quality of life in urban centres.
The Senior Executive Vice President of DEPA stated that as a country that relies on the industries of agriculture and tourism, Thailand wants smart cities to be the ecosystem to promote both of these, which in turn will afford to close the income gap and accelerator much-needed growth in the economy of the country as a whole.
Two most important sectors are the environment and economy. The country places the environment as the most important sector because it only makes sense for a city to be smart if it does not deteriorate the environment.
Pollution and drought are the two most critical environmental issues facing Thais. Thus, the main idea is to deploy to the local governments by equipping them with the technology; such as sensors, integrated data system, digital twin, to monitor and predict foreseeable disasters.
The establishment of a smart city transformation framework and Thailand’s already successful pilot cities could be one of the reasons why its cities are suitable candidates for implementing and promoting smart city living.
DEPA is a trailblazer as the first cohort of cities to join City Possible, but they are indicative of a larger trend. The country has had many discussions with networks of cities who are looking to benefit from the insights and resources City Possible provides.
Through City Possible, city leaders can identify the pain points and challenges that are hindering their growth.
However, the implementation of new infrastructure comes with its challenges and resistance.
Three significant challenges arise in terms of effectively utilising resources and technology – the mindset of leaders in a city, existing regulations, and the capacity to act.
Many city leaders do not have adequate technological literacy to pivot the role into innovators. Among those who do, they are sometimes too timid to pose a technological vision.
The Minister explained that local agents of transformation in each city are needed to play a critical role in moving the cities toward becoming “smarter.”
Thus, the Chief Smart City Officer (CSCO) Program will play a pivotal role in building the essential mindset; hands-on knowledge on regulatory, communication and technical skills, to connect the sense of being global and the local.
Thailand is fast becoming what was envisioned by the ASEAN Smart City Network when it was launched by Singapore in the 2018 ASEAN Summit.
While very little collaborative efforts have been made to achieve this, individually, countries such as Singapore is progressing towards tech-driven cities.
While other ASEAN cities may face similar challenges as Thailand, the country’s government shows strong commitment – an essential for achieving the smart city vision.
The trial Mobile Money service approved by the Prime Minister will set a precedent for applying a “sandbox” scheme for new services and professions in the digital society. Sandbox is a controlled institutional framework applied to new technologies, products, services, and business models. It is an environment for technology firms to try their new technological apps and business models. After the trial period, management agencies will review the trial implementation and then accept or reject it.
Using laws to set rules to deal with new issues arising from the application of new technologies is a challenge. As per a press release, the apps may have a rapid impact on society that management systems may not be able to keep up with. Many traditional business fields have changed, and businesses have to utilise technology to work more effectively. It is impossible to manage new services and business models within the existing framework because policies tend to lag behind practices. Therefore, a sandbox model is more advantageous.
According to an industry expert, it is impossible to demand state management agencies to create policies for the future. Many countries apply sandbox policies to encourage enterprises to develop new business models, with certain limitations in deployment. The Prime Minister has put into effect the pilot implementation of Mobile Money services – making payments for small-value goods and services with telecom accounts. The pilot programme will last two years.
This is the first service that the government has applied the sandbox mechanism managed by several ministries and branches. The government hopes the service will contribute to the development of non-cash payments, and promote the access and use of financial services, especially in rural areas. Businesses can only provide Mobile Money to remit money and make payments for legal goods and services in Vietnam in accordance with current laws. Mobile Money is only applied to domestic transactions with a monthly transaction value limit of VND10 million (US$4,397).
Vietnam is not the first country that has accepted a new technology platform, but experts said that it has an advantage by learning lessons from predecessors. In Vietnam, the proportion of credit card users is still low, but mobile subscriber density is very high. 99% of transactions with a small value of below VND100,000 (US$4) are carried out in cash. Mobile Money will be a strong solution to promote non-cash payments in society.
The Minister of Information and Communications stated that Mobile Money is a convincing example that shows that telecom carriers can become platforms for many things, not only telecom infrastructure. They can become platforms for data, computing, digital content, authentication, IT services, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Mobile Money is expected to help Vietnam become a digital society. The project is the first sandbox involving many ministries and sectors to be piloted to meet the needs of society. It will pave the way for more sandboxes to be applied to other new services and business models in the future. He added that Mobile Money is a great opportunity for mobile network operators to build an ecosystem to accelerate digital transformation.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it is accelerating the implementation of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) or the national ID programme to enhance the government’s ability to deliver various social services. NEDA chair said that more than 42 million Filipinos had registered as of September for step 1 or collection of demographic data. Notwithstanding the quarantines, he said nearly 30 million took the second step to supply their biometrics in the registration centres.
OpenGov Asia reported that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) expects the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to register 50 to 70 million people for the national digital ID by the end of the year. It is noted that as of July 2, 37.2 million people had completed Step 1, which involves the collection of demographic information, and 16.2 million had completed Step 2, which involves the capture of biometrics at designated registration centres.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is challenging, but the Philippines has a solid foundation to recover at the right time. Reforms such as Rice Tariffication Law and the National ID are helping us restore our development trajectory and enabling the people, especially the poor, to access affordable food and better social services.
– NEDA Chairperson
Speaking on the progress being made by the digital ID project, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary at NEDA said: “The COVID-19 crisis underscores the need to provide unhampered access to banking and social services for all Filipinos, especially the poor. Therefore, the President gave the directive to accelerate the implementation of the Philippine Identification System or PhilSys to provide all Filipinos with a unique and digitalised ID.”
He underlined that the Filipinos, particularly the poor, would be able to open bank accounts where cash transfers can be received directly. “We aim to register at least 50 million Filipinos by the end of this year,” he said.
The pandemic gave new promptness and highlighted the primacy of financial integration into government crisis containment and rehabilitation efforts. It showed the vital role of financial inclusion in social welfare and protection, as the transaction accounts became a necessary means to receive government cash support from the poorest and most vulnerable in the country.
As per NEDA’s Chairperson, PhilSys would also facilitate financial inclusion by providing every Filipino with a valid proof of identity, which is required for low-income earners to open bank accounts, receive cash transfers, and access other financial services.
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ state-run bank said it has signed up 5.3 million unbanked PhilSys registrants for their own transaction accounts via account opening booths at select PhilSys co-location areas nationwide. The registrants have already used their prepaid cards for a total of P31.8 million in transactions.
The PhilSys registrants can use the Landbank prepaid cards to manage funds, withdraw cash, perform cashless transactions, shop and pay bills online, and receive government subsidies digitally. As per the president and CEO of the Philippines bank, bringing unbanked Filipinos into the financial mainstream lays the groundwork for inclusive growth, particularly as we accelerate initiatives toward economic recovery and sustained development. Access to formal banking services motivates people to save money, repay loans, invest in financial products, and achieve financial independence.
Unbanked PhilSys registrants may access bank transaction accounts after completing the PhilSys Step 2 registration process, which includes validating supporting documents and capturing biometrics data. PhilSys registrants can also activate their bank prepaid cards and conduct transactions through the bank’s mobile branches, which are located in communities across the country where banking services are disrupted or limited.
The bank’s mobile branch is intended to serve unbanked and underserved communities as well as areas affected by disasters, calamities, and other disruptive events, as part of the bank’s increased efforts to promote greater financial inclusion in the community.
To achieve its targets to become a modernity-oriented industrialised nation by 2030 and a developed country with high income by 2045, Vietnam must succeed in the digital transformation process, in which agriculture is one of the priority areas, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated at the Vietnam Agricultural Digital Transformation International Forum 2021.
The event was co-organised via videoconference by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vietnam Digital Agriculture Association (VIDA), and an e-newspaper outlet under the theme “Keeping up with market trends, ensuring the pivotal role of the economy during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.” The forum was an activity within the framework of the Vietnam International Agricultural Exhibition 2021 (AgriTech Expo 2021).
According to a news report, the forum consisted of two discussions that focussed on policy orientations and the theme “Shaping Vietnam’s digital agriculture until 2035” with the presentation of 20 speakers representing local authorities and leaders of businesses and corporations. Participants at the event shared scenarios of Vietnam’s agricultural digital transformation; key issues in Vietnam’s agricultural development strategies towards digitalisation given the complicated effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruption, and climate change.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that the Vietnamese government should proactively and actively participate in the fourth industrial revolution and speed up the digital transformation process. The country must consider it a vital solution and an opportunity to make a breakthrough in socio-economic development.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development pledged to offer all resources and the most favourable policies for businesses, aiming to bring added value to Vietnamese agricultural products and improve their trademarks. The Ministry will strongly support the digital transformation process and replace agricultural technology models as the Vietnamese agricultural sector is not only the “backbone” of the economy in difficult times but also a measurement of sustainability, the Minister said.
Representatives of foreign diplomatic agencies in Vietnam and from research institutes and socio-economic organisations attended the event. Also, domestic and foreign experts in the field of agricultural digital transformation from Japan, the Netherlands, Israel, and the World Bank as well as those from business associations and enterprises.
In August, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) unveiled a plan to put farming households on e-commerce sites. Farming households will be supported to enter e-commerce sites to connect, advertise, and introduce their products. This will help them access new distribution channels and expand to domestic and international markets. Vietnam has nine million agricultural production households and four million private business households. All the households will be brought onto e-commerce sites, and this will be the first breakthrough to be made in developing the digital agricultural economy.
As OpenGov Asia reported, through e-commerce sites and digital platforms, farming households will receive useful information about farm produce markets, predicted demand and production capacity, weather forecasts, and seed and fertilizer supply. High-quality input materials and tools for agriculture production will be introduced to farmers via the platforms. Overall, MIC will put 12-13 million agricultural production and private business households on e-commerce sites. The targeted figure is five million households by the end of the year.
The President of Indonesia had unveiled a three-pronged strategy to boost Indonesia’s economic growth, providing insight into the direction of government policy for the remainder of his term. The green economy, the digitalisation of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and the development of downstream industries are the three key aspects. Regarding the first of those three, he mentioned that the government intends to construct a “green industrial park” by October 2021 to produce “green products” using only renewable energy.
We know that the future of green products looks promising, and we have a great opportunity in this.
– President of Indonesia
The government also wants all 60 million MSMEs to be able to sell their goods and services on e-commerce and other digital platforms. Elaborating on the third key point, the President stated that the government began downstream industrial development in early 2020 with a ban on one of an ore export, which increased steel exports to US$10.5 billion. The scheme would be expanded to include additional goods and services such as bauxite, gold, copper, and palm oil.
The President’s speech represents the next step in a long-term shift in economic policymaking for a government that has previously appeared to be focused on short-term gains from extractive industries with little regard for environmental consequences. As per the Finance Ministry, the main sources of revenue from export levies and non-tax income are coal, crude palm oil (CPO), and raw mineral exports.
OpenGov Asia in an article reported that in recent years, the Indonesian government has taken concrete policy steps to advance its digital transformation agenda, and while steady progress has been made in that direction, the good news is that the pace of change is expected to accelerate. To address this, Indonesia’s President has pledged to press ahead with economic reform plans, despite the heavy burden that COVID-19 has imposed on the country since the outbreak began.
In his speech, the President stated that in today’s disruptive world, the spirit to change, the spirit to make changes, and the spirit to innovate has become the foundation for building an advanced Indonesia. In this context, the president’s agenda remained focused on structural reforms designed “to promote inclusive and sustainable economic development.” Repeating the promises made at the beginning of his second term, he added that the development of “quality human capital” and infrastructure development will remain priorities, the latter a hallmark of his seven years in power.
The Indonesian leader also expressed hope that reform would help the country begin the transition to a more sustainable economy. “A significant change in our economy will be the transition to new and renewable energy, as well as the acceleration of an economy based on green technology. The President believes that using clean energy and green technology will contribute to the development of a more environmentally friendly economy. As a result, efforts will be made to strengthen national research to align with the country’s development agenda.
Meanwhile, according to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, renewable energy sources accounted for 11.2% of the national energy mix in 2020, with the remainder coming from fossil fuels. As per the executive director of the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), the idea of environmental economics should be accompanied by responsibilities to reduce emissions, waste, and natural resource extraction.
“The term ‘green’ must not just be a slogan; there is a lot to do to [justify] such a claim,” IESR executive director told. The concept, he said, should be incorporated into a clear transition for all industries in Indonesia, reducing reliance on natural resources and extractive industry exports. He went on to say that one industrial park is insufficient to [declare] a green economy. As a result, the entire industry must follow suit.
Minnesota is among the latest states to introduce a secure digital option for residents to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Using an app called Docket, Minnesotans can now view and share their immunisation records with local businesses, restaurants and other public venues where COVID vaccination is required.
The release of the app comes after the state Department of Health has been flooded with requests for vaccination records. So far this year, there have been more than 33,000 vaccine record requests, with 19,000 coming since July 1.
We recognise the importance of having a secure and convenient way to find, view, and share people’s their your family’s immunisation records, such as needing records for school or child care.
– Minnesota Department of Health, Infectious Disease Division Director
Residents who were vaccinated within the state can use the app to pull up their records through the Minnesota Immunisation Information Connection (MIIC), a confidential system that stores electronic immunisation records. The app then gives users the option of saving and distributing a PDF document of the record as they see fit.
The app allows residents to access a digital copy of their vaccination records without having to sign up for an app specifically intended for verifying COVID-19 vaccines. Docket uses two-factor security and searches for immunisation records based on a person’s name and date of birth.
The app also gives state residents a faster way to access their immunisation records. The volume of recent records requests to the health department means it is taking weeks for people to get their vaccination records back, but the app gives an option for people to more directly and quickly access their immunisation information.
Efforts to provide U.S. residents with digital versions of their immunisation records have picked up steam in recent months as employers and retail businesses increasingly require such proof. Reports of individuals providing fake COVID vaccine records have pushed states to launch their own verification apps to give residents a state-verified digital option for proving their vaccination status.
Residents who do not have a smartphone or do not want to use the app can still request a record of their vaccinations from the state or their health care provider. Those requests are currently taking weeks because of increased demand.
Virginia has also announced the addition of QR codes to its vaccination records. The code, which can be scanned using a smartphone, provides the same information as the paper records – however, since it is digitally signed by the Virginia Department of Health, it cannot be altered or forged. Virginia is the fifth state to adopt the secure SMART Health format.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed how big data and analytics technologies are being used in the public health sector. For example, governments and organisations developed contact tracing, where phone numbers and location data from mobile devices were combined with lab results in public health systems to issue alerts when an individual came in contact with a confirmed COVID patient. This information empowered people to preemptively self-isolate and/or head for rapid testing.
Public health agencies must understand how to use data effectively as the use of big data during the pandemic is essential. They should start working on plans to protect the privacy of the end-user and comply with the evolving laws around personal data privacy.
Additionally, organisations should determine what they will do with the data they are gathering. Data is only worthwhile if the organisations use the right tools to read and interpret it. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is vital for processing the vast amounts of data collected by today’s technology.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has introduced a revised circular requiring designated payment systems (DPS) to embrace the Principles for Financial Market Infrastructure (PFMI) to ensure the country’s national payment system’s continued safety, the efficiency of the flow of funds, and reliability (NPS).
The BSP Governor, who signed Circular No. 1126, asserted in the memo that the mandatory adoption of the PFMI will necessitate the adoption of its principles by all DPS participants. As of July, of this year, the BSP’s Peso Real-time Gross Settlement System (PhP-RTGS) is the country’s first DPS.
The Governor stated that the BSP will use PFMI assessment methodology to determine the DPS’s adherence to relevant principles, as well as identify potential risks and induce changes in the NPS. In terms of non-designated payment systems, he stated that the BSP could evaluate DPS participants’ practises and operations using key considerations under relevant principles such as credit and liquidity risk management and settlement.
The adoption of the standard is very timely given the surge of digital payments in the country, as it ensures payment systems to have safeguards in place which are at par with global practices.
– Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
The deployment of PFMI is in accordance with the Payment System Oversight Framework (PSOF) of the BSP and the National Payment Systems Act (NPSA). Implementation of the PFMI may be subject to cooperative arrangements with other regulatory authorities in cases involving non-payment system financial market infrastructures (FMI) and cross-border payment systems, according to the governor. The circular also established expectations for critical service providers (CSPs) as defined by the PSOF. It provides guidance and assistance in ensuring that a CSP’s operations are held to the same standards as the DPS’s.
The Bank for International Settlement and the International Organisation of Securities Commissions formed the PFMI. PFMI is essentially a collection of international standards for financial market infrastructures such as payment systems, central securities depositories, securities settlement systems, central counterparties, and trade repositories. Adoption of the PFMI will ensure that the payment system operates in accordance with global best practices in terms of safety, efficiency, and reliability. With the DPS conforming to the PFMI to be more resilient to financial crises and participant defaults, the public interest is better protected, promoting trust in payment systems.
All DPS, whether a systemically important payment system or a prominently important payment system, will use PFMI to design and conduct its operations. “Each DPS is expected to demonstrate adequate governance and risk management arrangements covering areas including access of participants to the system, management of liquidity, credit, operational, settlement and general business risks, efficiency, and transparency,” said the BSP.
The NPSA empowers the BSP, as payment system regulator, to designate a payment system if it determines that the payment system poses or has the potential to pose systemic risk, or if the designation is required to protect the public interest. The PhP-RTGS is the Philippines’ only payment system that allows for settlement with central bank money.
In an article, OpenGov Asia reported that the government of the Philippines has made e-commerce and electronic payment methods a priority in efforts to boost both financial and digital inclusion throughout the country. In line with this, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) recently reaffirmed that they will continue to promote the digitalisation of financial products and services in the country even after the restrictions forced by the pandemic are lifted.
Last year, the central bank released the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap (DPTR) for 2020-2023. Under the DPTR, the BSP aims to increase customer preference for digital payments by converting 50% of total retail payments to digital form and increasing the number of financially included Filipino adults to 70% by onboarding them to the formal financial system via payment or transaction accounts.
The BSP’s open market operations, issuance of its securities, the Philippine Peso leg of the PhP-US Dollar transaction, and domestic securities transactions are all settled via the PhP-RTGS. It also provides deferred net settlement for retail payment systems such as checks, ATMs, and E-payments.
China developed a miniaturised quantum satellite ground station. The ground station is light and portable and can be installed within 12 hours, allowing users in remote areas to use quantum communication conveniently. The piece of quantum key distribution equipment is about the same size as a laptop, which can greatly reduce the cost of quantum network building and maintenance.
In recent years, China has achieved a series of breakthroughs in quantum technology, including the world’s first quantum satellite, a 2,000-km quantum communication line between Beijing and Shanghai, and the world’s first optical quantum computing machine prototype.
With the active participation of leading enterprises and the guidance of the government, an industrial chain that covers the equipment, network, safety and standards of quantum communication has been basically formed in China.
– Quantum Scientist, University of Science and Technology, China
A hub for China’s quantum technology is home to over 20 quantum technology enterprises and achieved an output value of some 430 million yuan (about $66.5 million) in 2020. The quantum information technology is to be further integrated, convenient and low-cost, allowing more people to have access to it.
China’s quantum company has tried out the quantum encryption calls in 15 provinces and has garnered some 10,000 users. The users can have secure calls and messages encrypted with quantum keys after inserting a SIM card and installing a related app, which can ensure information security.
Besides quantum communication, quantum precision measurement and quantum computation have also seen great breakthroughs in industrial applications. Quantum precision measurement instruments can achieve nanoscale high spatial resolution and single spin ultra-high detection sensitivity, which has been applied to study magnetic and superconducting materials.
Chinese scientists have set up an integrated quantum network that combines 700 fibre and two ground-to-satellite links and realised quantum key distribution between more than 150 users over a combined distance of 4,600 km.
Based on the laws of quantum physics, quantum communications have ultra-high security. It is impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information since the quantum state of a photon that transmits data along optical fibre will collapse once it is wiretapped.
In the quantum network, several services such as video call, audio call, fax, text transmission and file transmission have been realised for technological verification and real-world demonstrations, adding commercial use is expected in the near future.
A global quantum network can be realised by connecting more national quantum networks from different countries via ground connections or ground-to-satellite links. In the future, quantum communication will be applied in fields of finance, political affairs and national defence. A whole industry chain and eventually a truly secure quantum internet will be possible.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, China issued a guideline that detailed measures to promote the region’s economic growth, scientific and technological innovation, urbanisation, green development, opening-up, and people’s well-being. By 2025, the comprehensive strength and competitiveness of the region should be further enhanced, and marked progress should be achieved in innovation capacity, with its proportion of research and development input in the regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reaching the national average.
Regarding promoting advanced manufacturing, the guideline urges the building of industrial bases focused on sectors including intelligent manufacturing, new materials, new-energy vehicles and electronic information.
The supply of high-quality public goods, such as world-class universities and large-scale medical institutions, should be increased in the region, the guideline says, specifying that world-renowned universities will be encouraged to run schools in partnership with local institutions and conduct research and develop technology to solve problems. Large-scale comprehensive medical institutions are welcome to set up subsidiaries in the region.