OpenGov Asia organised another successful Virtual Breakfast Insight as a part of its public sector series in the Philippines with delegates from various a wide spectrum of government agencies. Held on 6th August, the event witnessed an amazing attendance of 31 delegates from 23 different agencies in the Philippines. The objective of the event was to empower the agencies from the Philippine government with advanced data and analytics to serve its citizens more effectively and efficiently.
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, set the tone for the discussion by highlighting the pain and pressure on governments over the last four 4 months.
Governments are dedicating all their energy and resources to provide whatever is necessary to maximise the wellbeing of its citizens.
Even as governments have been working hard to protect residents, they have been collecting huge volumes of data from the general public. This data has been for logistical purposes, tracking and tracing, infection control and overall citizen care.
In such times, Mohit said, the role of leaders becomes very important. Leaders not only manage the response to the crisis but also the recovery and path to a better future.
Technology is a powerful tool to communicate and connect with people and has the potential to lead to a better life ahead.
Mohit concluded his opening on an optimistic note, pointing out that in a crisis danger and opportunity coexist.
With the right mindset and right people around, one can capitalise on opportunities that present themselves.
After Mohit, Ryan Guadalquiver, Country Manager for SAS Philippines presented his unique and informative perspective. Ryan began by sharing his organisation’s view on how they see governments handling the current crisis due to COVID–19.
He explained the process as phased approach with the following 3 stages:
To expound on the Respond stage, he shared about collaboration with governments in India and the United States to predict their medical infrastructure requirements using SAS’s data analytics.
Similarly, during the Recovery stage, SAS worked closely with government agencies to prepare them as they were getting ready to reopen their economies.
He then threw some light on SAS’s legacy of working with government agencies and helping them solve problems.
Ryan gave examples of recent work done with different organisations to support them in serving citizens during the pandemic to help the country recover economically. Some of these organisations include Southern Philippines Medical Centre, Globe Telecoms and few other agencies.
After Ryan, Joseph Musolino, Global Sales and Strategy Consultant Fraud and Security Intelligence, SAS spoke on the topic from another angle.
Joseph began by sharing interesting statistics that pointed to the fact that organisations globally consider Machine learning and AI as the most significant data initiatives for the next year.
Joseph opined that the focus for these countries should now be to take AI and Analytics to enterprises and make both these technologies faster and easier to deploy.
He highlighted some of the areas where governments are currently deploying advanced analytics to strengthen their delivery mechanisms.
They include – Customs, Pandemics, Medical, Taxation and Judicial systems.
In order to give the audience a detailed understanding of how exactly the theory plays out, he demonstrated real-life situations where analytics had helped the government serve citizens better.
He concluded by informing the delegates about their new platform which is a step forward into next-gen analytics.
After Joseph’s useful insights, Rowan Dollar, Chief Information Officer, Department of Human Services (SA) shared his thoughts and learnings with the delegates. He shared a video on how AI and advanced tech are helping protect the marine life in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.
This is a true example of the government utilising technology to innovate and solving a major environmental problem.
The naturally rich Darwin reef had so many different species of marine life that were not known to authorities. This prevented them from conserving these species and taking proper care of the natural habitat.
They decided to use AI-powered cameras that enabled observing, identifying and counting different fish species through the coloured water and other particulate matter in it. This use of technology helped the government better understand marine life and allocate the resources in the right direction.
After Rowan’s presentation, the session proceeded to the interactive polling session where delegates responded to a series of questions.
On the question of the area in your organisation that needs to develop most to respond more efficiently to the next COVID – 19, the audience was split between answer (2) integrated operations model to keep the government running efficiently and sustainably (30%) and answer (3) use of data and analytics to improve situational awareness for real-time decision making (36%).
A senior delegate from the Philippines Customs Department shared that he voted for (3). The department had initially loosened the flow of medical supplies and equipment in and out of the country during the pandemic but realised that it increased the risk of illegal trade activities.
Using analytics helped them identify and work out the discrepancies in the demand and supply of certain goods and services in the country.
On the next question of how the pandemic has changed how your agency/department functions, the audience showed a mixed response between answer (1) more reliant on social/communication technology (37%) and answer (4) understanding how to mobilise our workforce to support working from home (28%).
A delegate from the National Economic and Development Authority reflected that he voted for (4) as he felt it important to make sure that people’s efficiency was not getting impacted adversely. This requires making sure that they have access to the right kind of technology to do that.
On the final question: if advanced analytics and AI are a higher priority of your organisation as a result of the COVID – 19 pandemic, the audience was split between Strongly Agree (37%) and Agree (46%).
A senior member from the Philippines Charity Sweepstakes Office shared that all government agencies want to use data and analytics in their functions, but procurement becomes an issue. Governments are under a lot of scrutiny to make sure that the privacy of citizens’ data is not compromised.
The session then came to a conclusion with closing remarks from Joseph. He highlighted major data-related and connectivity challenges in the Philippines and how a focused approach could solve the multiple problems around them. He thanked all the delegates and speakers for contributing to the event and adding to each other’s knowledge on the subject.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced the launch of a S$5 million Virtual Production Innovation Fund to support the local media industry in developing the capabilities needed to harness virtual production technology to maintain the local media industry’s competitiveness as the international partner of choice to create premium IP.
To enable the camera to capture actors and visual effects in real time, virtual production technology uses LED panels to produce realistic background landscapes for television or movie sequences driven by video game engines. The site, road closures, location costs, permits, weather, set construction, and space rental will no longer be necessary for production.
With the help of technology, Singapore has a rare chance to get over some of its physical constraints, like the lack of suitable locations for on-location filming and room for large sets.
The ability of the storytellers to reproduce historical sites or any other environment will allow them to generate content that was previously impossible. This will revolutionise the creative process of storytelling.
The adoption of virtual production by the media sector is further encouraged by the strong signals emanating from international media giants that this technology will be widely employed in the creation of movies and television shows and will become the standard in the next years.
To strengthen capabilities in virtual production and ensure that the media companies and talent can keep up with international production methods to remain competitive, IMDA will pursue a two-pronged strategy to prepare the media sector for the future.
The National Film and Television School (NFTS) in the UK has collaborated with IMDA to adapt the school’s Certificate in Virtual Production course to the requirements of the sector to train media professionals to use this technology.
From December 2022 to April 2023, fifteen professors, trainers, and media professionals from Singapore will participate in virtual lectures and undergo hands-on training at NFTS’s virtual production facilities.
Over the course of the following 12 months, several masterclasses and workshops given by professionals from the business will be offered. A Singapore-based firm that specialises in developing immersive experiences, held a display to exhibit how virtual production can enhance imaginative storytelling.
Hands-on demonstrations will be given by guest speakers from virtual production leaders. They will discuss and explore best practices in the workflow to inventive ways to use different technology in storytelling.
Local businesses can also test out virtual production to realise their creative ideas for brief pieces of content, such as music videos, short films, and brand advertisements, among others. Companies can submit their suggested content concepts from now until February 15, 2023.
The capacity to best utilise virtual production technologies to realise a project’s creative vision will be taken into consideration while evaluating proposals.
Additionally, IMDA is working to organise an industry challenge with an internationally renowned gaming company. This challenge will encourage organisations to experiment with and use the cutting-edge real-time 3D creation tool developed by this gaming company. Currently, the aforementioned tool powers globally popular video games.
Teams whose concepts are shortlisted will receive personalised coaching and training from the gaming company. In addition, they will receive prize money from IMDA to assist with content creation.
Since virtual production technology has advanced in recent years, the country is now able to produce visual effects in real-time without building actual sets, thereby overcoming the constraints of scale, complexity, and space.
India will Chair the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), an international initiative to support the responsible and human-centric development and use of artificial intelligence (AI).
The Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Rajeev Chandrasekhar, represented India virtually at the GPAI meeting held in Tokyo for the symbolic takeover from France, which is the outgoing Council Chair.
Chandrasekhar stated that the country would work in close cooperation with member states to put in place a framework to fully exploit the power of AI for the good of consumers across the globe. This means ensuring there are adequate guardrails to prevent misuse and user harm.
According to the Minister, India is building an ecosystem of modern cyber laws and frameworks based on three principles: openness, safety, and trust and accountability. With a National Programme on AI and National Data Governance Framework Policy (NDGFP) in place as well as one of the world’s largest publicly accessible datasets programmes in the works, the Minister reiterated India’s commitment to using AI to catalyse innovation and create good, trusted applications.
The NDGFP strives to ensure equitable access to non-personal data and improve institutional frameworks for government data sharing, promote principles around privacy and security by design, and encourage the use of anonymisation tools. It also aims to standardise the way the government collects and manages data. The NDGFP along with an envisaged Indian Data Management Office (IDMO) shall catalyse the next-gen AI and data-led research and startup ecosystem.
Through the datasets programmes, anonymised non-personal data will be available for the entire AI ecosystem. The AI market globally was nearly US$ 59.67 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39.4% to reach around US$ 422.37 billion by 2028. With the rapid growth of AI and machine learning (ML), experts predict that most businesses will shift to AI-powered systems, apps, security systems, data analysis, and other applications in the future. AI is expected to add US$ 967 billion to India’s economy by 2035 and US$ 450–500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025, accounting for 10% of the country’s US $5 trillion GDP target.
A government official outlined India’s priorities as Chair GPAI next year, stating that the country would focus on promoting greater involvement of the global south in the conversation regarding the use of AI for solving societal problems. The country has also emphasised the need for the responsible and ethical use of AI.
GPAI is a congregation of 25 member countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore. In 2020, India joined the group as a founding member. It is a first-of-its-type initiative that aims to better understand the challenges and opportunities around AI. It works in collaboration with partners and international organisations, leading experts from industry, civil society, governments, and academia. These stakeholders collaborate to promote the responsible evolution of AI and guide the development and use of the technology, grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth.
To strengthen the nation’s local industries and reduce its reliance on imports, Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. invited enterprises to engage in digitalising processes as well as other crucial areas including education, skills training, and research and development.
The president of the Philippines stated that imported goods continue to be the main cause of inflation and that import substitution must be considered. For its part, the Philippine government is dedicated to accelerating economic growth with the broader objectives of reducing poverty and reviving job creation.
Notably, the government works to hasten the nation’s economic expansion by reducing travel and movement restrictions, even more, enacting economic reforms, and fostering stronger economic ties with trading and investment partners.
The President also emphasised the efforts being made by the government to increase the ease of doing business, public-private partnerships, and bureaucratic efficiency through the development and digitalisation of information and communication technology (ICT).
The Chief Executive said that the Philippine economy is on pace to sustain its good economic performance and meet the government’s growth target of 6.5 to 7.5 per cent for this year as it continues to recover from the pandemic’s negative effects. Inflation must be controlled, the country’s growth rate appears robust, the peso is strengthening slightly in comparison to other currencies, and the unemployment rate is reasonable given the circumstances.
The Chief Executive anticipates that the meeting will aid in creating new economic prospects, reviving the industries that have been most negatively impacted by the pandemic, as well as addressing upcoming difficulties.
Meanwhile, one of the first Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) entities established and constituted under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board (IFPB), recently had their meeting.
The primary role of the IFPB is to address revenue imbalances and variations in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) financial demands and income-raising capability. The body will specifically suggest tax-collecting strategies and changes to fiscal policy for the BARMM.
THE IGFP discussed 17 issues on the agenda, including the BARMM’s tax system’s digitalisation. Assuring solid financial management and improved bureaucratic efficiency through digital transformation is in line with the administration’s 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda.
To further this objective, IFPB pledges to build and uphold positive and constructive relationships to meet BARMM’s financial demands and strengthen the region’s potential for revenue-raising. In addition to the IFPB, the Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB), which is made up of officials from the national and Bangsamoro administrations, had its 12th meeting and press conference to talk about issues pertaining to the local development of the BARMM.
In response to the difficulties posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has reaffirmed its strong commitment to keep developing its programmes and services.
To adapt and alter its programmes to the increasing needs of the industries, TESDA is constantly trying to improve its systems and procedures. And this is where their partner industries step in, assisting them in creating training programmes that will equip graduates with skills relevant to their business.
The organisation emphasised how quickly technology is advancing in the workplace. Since tech-VOC training encompasses the study of technologies and allied sciences as well as the learning of practical skills, Industry 4.0 has a direct impact on this field. To create a workforce with competencies appropriate for the industry, the agency urged people in the education and business sectors to collaborate closely.
In support of President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot mission to cure cancer, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the establishment of the Agricultural Science Centre of Excellence for Nutrition and Diet for Better Health also known as ASCEND for Better Health.
This new virtual centre will hasten research into diet-related chronic diseases such as cancer. The centre’s long-term mission is to integrate research into actionable solutions that improve public health and well-being, particularly in marginalised regions.
ASCEND will bring together scientists, partner organisations, and communities to develop and deploy science-based solutions that improve the health and well-being of all Americans, particularly those living in underserved areas. As a result, the virtual centre will link existing resources, such as people and programmes, to harness the expertise and improve coordination and cooperation.
USDA is focusing more on precision nutrition science research to better understand the needs of marginalised groups. This study adds to the agency’s initiatives to enhance food and nutrition security, which involves having consistent and equitable access to good, safe, and affordable foods that are critical for optimal health and well-being.
In addition, the World Cancer Research Fund estimates that adopting a healthy diet and way of life can prevent 30% to 50% of all cancer cases. As part of its efforts to comprehend the links between nutrition and illnesses like cancer across various communities, the USDA is using fresh and ongoing research to inform its equity lens.
By 2030, hunger will be eliminated, and diet-related diseases will be reduced, all while reducing disparities, according to the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health of the Biden-Harris Administration. In conjunction with the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in more than 50 years, the National Strategy was unveiled.
The work of the USDA, which focuses more on resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, developing new markets and sources of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart forestry practises, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and more, benefits every American.
Meanwhile, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Programme for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has made changes to the meals that are recommended to participants, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. These scientific updates include suggestions from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).
The WIC food packages are specially made to complement the meals and drinks that participants already eat and drink while completing important nutritional gaps to support normal growth and development.
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is recommending modifications to the food packaging to bring it into line with the most recent nutritional research and enable equal access to nutrient-dense foods during key times of development.
When taken as a whole, the modifications will raise the level of assistance while giving WIC state agencies more freedom to customise the packages to meet the needs of special dietary requirements, and cultural food preferences, and an increase in variety and choice for WIC participants, making the programme more alluring to both current and potential participants.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and a US-based engineering company signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish the Centre for Humanistic Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CHAiR) for translational research with the goal of advancing the well-being of humanity.
The partnership aims to integrate the university’s interdisciplinary research capabilities and the company’s well-known humanoid robotics platform to explore technology applications. Sophia, the company’s most advanced human-like robot, will work with PolyU researchers to enhance the contribution of AI and robotic technology for social and commercial benefits.
Research into and applications of AI and robotics are essential to the advancement of industry. As an interdisciplinary research and development centre, CHAiR brings cross-faculty collaborations in research fields such as AI, the internet of things (IoT), neuroscience, design, computer science, mechanical engineering, material science, healthcare, and the humanities.
In collaboration with the company, CHAiR supports innovation and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area. The Dean of Graduate School, Chair Professor of Distributed and Mobile Computing, and Otto Poon Charitable Foundation Professor in Data Science will serve as the principal investigator and administrative director of CHAiR. He will also serve alongside the CEO and Founder of the company as a co-chair of the Centre’s steering committee.
The MoU was signed by the Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU and the CEO and Founder of the company. It was Witnessed by the President of PolyU and the Executive Director of the firm.
During the signing ceremony, Sophia made conversation with the guests. She said, “I look forward to learning many new skills and abilities. With your help, maybe I can learn how to be a nurse, a teacher, a concierge, a librarian. You can teach me how to be a better companion, a more skilful artist, a funnier entertainer.”
Meanwhile, the company’s CEO and Founder noted that the new centre is perfectly positioned to refine and improve the performance of Sophia-class robots in ways that promote the growth of a new service robot industry. As soon as the industry begins expanding, investment in improved hardware, software and manufacturing technologies will as well, he noted.
The President of PolyU noted that academia-industry collaboration is one of the most productive mechanisms for creating and implementing innovations. There is tremendous untapped potential for humanistic social robots. Let us aspire that CHAiR will be a major catalyst for the onset of the age of humanistic robots.
The Dean of Graduate School, Chair Professor of Distributed and Mobile Computing, who is also Director of the Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence of Things (RIAIoT), said the Institute has been working on practical solutions to key challenges in advanced AIoT technologies and applications.
He noted that the natural evolution for RIAIoT is to partner with the engineering firm to address increasingly ambitious opportunities in humanistic AI and social robotics. CHAiR will play a unique and key role to combine the firm’s knowledge with world-class academics here at PolyU.
The engineering company is an AI and robotics company dedicated to creating socially intelligent machines that enrich the quality of our lives. Sophia is the world’s first robot citizen and the first robot Innovation Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme.
For inbound travellers’ arrival details and health declaration checklist, eTravel is a new contact tracking platform that replaces the One Health Pass and e-Arrival card in the Philippines. E-travel can now be accessed at the official website.
The new system is easy to use as travellers coming in can sign up with their personal profiles, travel information, and health declarations. When finishing this step, the user will get a QR code that is unique to them. This service is free, but people need to sign up at least 3 days before they arrive in the Philippines.
E-travel is developed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and is a joint initiative with the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The interconnection, data-sharing, and synergy of all the many departments that are divided into several silos will now be combined into a single system that will be looking at a single point in time, according to DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy. Hence, it will make it easier for the people to interact with the government at the same time.
Meanwhile, to promote a unified government approach to E-Governance, the DICT’s Office of the Undersecretary for E-Government (OUEG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with partner government entities.
The Landbank of the Philippines, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Government Service Insurance System, the Social Security System, and the Mindanao Development Authority are all partners in this endeavour.
Through its efforts to digitally change government processes and government agencies, the DICT hopes to improve data standards and data governance, allowing for data harmonisation and coordination throughout the government.
The effort includes the creation, deployment, and integration of systems for Department flagship programmes such E-Local Government Units (ELGU), E-Government Applications (EGovApp), E-Govpay, E-Travel, and E-Cloud.
The MoU establishes the partner agencies as key players in the pursuit of digital transformation and e-governance. Since DICT considers harmony to be the foundation of clarity. Therefore, the goals of these initiatives are twofold: to construct a government that is enabled by ICT and to capacitate its development.
Furthermore, through the Career Certificates Scholarship Programme, a multinational technology business will provide free professional training to Filipinos. This programme is presently being provided by the DICT through the ICT Literacy and Competency Development Bureau (ILCDB).
With the help of this career certificates programme, appropriate skill development and tooling are now easier to obtain. By closing the digital divide and widening chances for Filipinos, the DICT seeks to expand ICT opportunities.
The agency urges Filipinos to apply for the scholarship and benefit from the free professional training created by one of the biggest software companies in the world.
The course can award credentials in IT support, project management, user experience (UX) design, and data analytics. Through this programme, Filipinos can gain new skills and connect with top employers while preparing for a new career in the rapidly expanding ICT industry.
The process is also practical for online education. Participants must be at least 18 years old, residents of and citizens of the Philippines, and capable of finishing the online course using their own device or gadget to be eligible to apply for the scholarship.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has concluded the National E-Commerce Week and Online Friday 2022 event. The first programme offered opportunities for enterprises operating in the fields of e-commerce and digital technology to introduce their products, services, and solutions to advance the country’s digital economy. The Online Friday 2022 event aimed to promote the sustainable growth of e-commerce and the application of solutions to boost domestic firms’ revenue.
An opening ceremony was held earlier this month in Ho Chi Minh, jointly organised by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Vietnam E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency, and the municipal People’s Committee. According to Duong Anh Duc, the Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, a Concentrated Promotion Month has been implemented in the city for many years with the participation of many businesses across the country. The programme is a part of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s goals to stimulate domestic consumption, expand the domestic market, and support production and business.
Along with the programme, the National E-Commerce Week and Online Friday 2022 provided domestic consumers and international visitors with opportunities to have enhanced shopping experiences in the online environment during the big year-end shopping festival. The Ministry of Industry and Trade worked with the largest affiliate marketing platform in Vietnam to share and offer solutions to help businesses use technology to increase profits. Businesses were able to take advantage of and optimise support tools and features on e-commerce platforms, expand access to a wide range of customers and raise online revenue.
As of 29 November, the second Concentrated Promotion Month (which will run from 15 November to 22 December) attracted the participation of 3,326 businesses with 6,981 promotions offered. The first Concentrated Promotion Month (which ran from 15 June to 15 July) witnessed the participation of 151,298 firms and 5,488 promotion programmes.
In Vietnam, the use of digital platforms, e-commerce sites, social networks, and specialised applications has increased sharply, and the country is expected to become the fastest-growing e-commerce market in Southeast Asia by 2026. Global e-commerce is estimated to grow by 28.4% annually between 2020 and 2027. Meanwhile, revenue from business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce in Vietnam is expected to increase by over 20% each year. As OpenGov Asia reported, over the last ten years, e-commerce in the country has continually grown by 25-30% while its size increased to US$ 13.7 billion in 2021. It has made up over 7% of the total flows of consumer goods and services and become an important distribution channel, in addition to traditional ones.
Despite the pandemic’s impacts in 2020 and 2021, e-commerce has still been flourishing in Vietnam. It is forecast to post double-digit growth this year to rank third in Southeast Asia. In fact, the pandemic fueled a significant uptick in e-commerce, which recorded a 16% growth last year. Although the pandemic drove the e-commerce market, it slowed down economic growth, which was the lowest in 30 years last year (2.58%), with key services sub-sectors experiencing a downturn. Data from the General Statistics Office showed that retailing and wholesaling declined 0.21% year-on-year, causing the economy to decrease by 0.02 percentage points. Warehouse and logistics dropped by 5.02% and lodging and catering services by 20.81%, leading to a drop in contribution by 0.3% and 0.51%, respectively, to the GDP growth.
Meanwhile, the share of turnover from e-retailing to last year’s total retail sales of goods and services was 7%, a year-on-year rise of 27% from 2020. E-retailing is forecast to surge 20% this year to US$ 16.4 billion, compared to US$ 5 billion in 2015.