Beyond a doubt, the pandemic has hastened digital transformation and opened up a myriad of opportunities. Implementation of tech-enabled platforms and solutions is taking place across industries, and they are no less critical to healthcare. The ongoing crisis is prompting digital leaders in the health sector to reconsider how to best leverage technology to serve the pressing current need as well as future requirements.
In a normal year, healthcare institutions around the world spend trillions of dollars to address growing healthcare challenges. With the unprecedented numbers of patients seeking care, as outpatients or admissions, health systems in hard-hit areas have been put under even more strain – with demands for space, supplies and staff far outstripping supply.
Moreover, as health services crumble under the number, patients reach out to other peripheral agencies and institutions looking for help anywhere they think they can get it. Facilities, systems, infrastructure, providers, paramedical staff and patients have been overwhelmed across the board, but far more so in areas that have poor or limited access to healthcare.
Against this backdrop, Amazon and Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced a new global programme to support organisations working to improve health outcomes for underserved or underrepresented communities. They provided funding and technical expertise, committing $40 million over three years to assist in developing solutions to improve health outcomes.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak with Peter Moore, Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific and Japan, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, to gain deeper insights into their accelerated transformation initiatives as well as to discuss projects and initiatives implemented by AWS that assist governments and the public sector to leverage AWS technologies in support of their missions and mandates.
Technology has accelerated transformation in the health sector
COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for healthcare across the board while also inspiring and driving innovation at an unprecedented rate. Without a doubt, the use of technology in healthcare has resulted in better patient diagnosis and treatment, as well as improved quality of life and the saving of many lives.
It is universally acknowledged that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and across the board, things have shifted entirely to a digital or hybrid mode. As things sort of settle, the question is, would these methods continue even after physical routines resume. “From a technology perspective, what does the future look like?”
Peter agree that the world is experiencing turbulence and churning; the key question that needs to be addressed is “how do government and public agencies respond?”.
According to Peter, COVID-19 has forced significant changes that have impacted many lives and marginalised large swathes of populations. Governments throughout the region are grappling with the ‘have nots’ rather than the ‘haves,’ which Peter feels, is rooted in politics and policies. The focus now has to be on equitable solutions for all citizens – students, employees and patients; urban or rural; low or high resource.
The fact is, even though the public sector was well on the path of digitisation and moving to the cloud before COVID-19, the pandemic has forced governments to rethink their cloud strategy. Peter believes that the primary driver behind this shift in the pre-COVID era was citizen demand for effective service delivery. Education, healthcare and civil service institutions started putting a web backend to enhance citizen service delivery and better capabilities for government employees.
As countries grappled with the challenge of scaling COVID-19 testing, they launched the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative to help organisations around the world apply the power of the cloud to accelerate diagnostics research and development. Through this initiative, AWS committed $20 million in computing credits and customised expertise from the AWS Professional Services team to support customers using AWS to drive diagnostic innovations.
In February this year, AWS released the report, “Unlocking APAC’s Digital Potential: Changing Digital Skill Needs and Policy Approaches.” Prepared by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta and commissioned by AWS, the report analyses the digital skills applied by workers in their jobs today and the digital skills required by workforces over the next five years. The report focuses on six Asia Pacific countries: Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea.”
Telehealth and telemedicine, two of the fastest-growing areas of healthcare, have proven to be lifesaving, facilitating safe and effective patient care from a distance and assisting physicians in pooling their resources when the virus was straining the healthcare system.
To strengthen such health care systems that show promise, AWS has launched new initiatives and a global programme focusing on health equity. “I find a lot of benefit in advising governments where I see things working well and where they can improve,” says Peter.
AWS global programme assists customers in developing solutions to improve health outcomes and equity.
Max Peterson, Vice President for AWS Worldwide Public Sector, says healthcare has changed at an astounding rate, as have the ways people work, live, learn and serve. In his opinion, governments and non-profits have, for the most part, done things in person. While many were working in the cloud to digitise and transform the delivery of their services, the pandemic has shown that digital solutions may well become the only interface with citizens customers and citizens in the future.
In such a rapidly evolving digital world, data, Peter firmly believes, plays one of the important roles for technological development. It must be better leveraged to promote more equitable and inclusive systems of care. Agencies must create more robust and informative datasets or clean existing datasets to improve accuracy about race, ethnicity, gender, disability, or other data points that will help to advance health equity for all. AWS is keen to support this capability delivery.
“What I have alluded to so far is that there’s going to be a huge demand on new capabilities and that demand is going to come from those who are currently underserved. So, we want to focus on giving access to health services for the underserved communities,” Peter confirms emphatically.
Roughly half of the world’s population lacks access to basic healthcare. The proposed projects will focus on underserved populations all over the world and will include the development of tools like telehealth and telemedicine to reach secluded and marginalised communities, remote patient monitoring, increasing the availability and impact of health workers and more. Promising Initiatives will get credit and technical assistance so that they can be brought to market.
The project’s second focus, Peter elaborated, is addressing social determinants of health (SDoH) – the environmental conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age, these aspects hugely influence a wide range of health outcomes and risks. Safe housing, transportation, education, access to nutritious foods, clean air and water and other services are examples.
Across the world, AWS’ new global programme builds on its work with current customers who are harnessing AWS technologies to support their health equity programmes, which include:
- National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved (NHIT): Earlier this year, the non-profit debuted the cloud-powered Data Fusion Centre on AWS to assist in addressing intergovernmental data challenges and translating Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) data into actionable insights. Industry, academia, and communities can use the Centre to discover, explore, and visualise SDoH and health equity-related factors and their impact.
- HealthImpact’s Trust a Nurse, Ask A Nurse: This non-profit is collaborating with community-based organisations throughout California to make registered nurses available for free, particularly in underserved and minority communities. A new telehealth service that provides education and support about COVID-19 and vaccine options is now available. Hippo Health, which runs on AWS, powers the telehealth platform, and Telehealth Consulting Services provide subject matter expertise.
- Rush University Medical Centre Population Health Analytics Hub: The Chicago-based medical centre, which is a nationally recognised leader in quality and health equity, is establishing an analytics hub to address the clinical and social determinants of health that contribute to premature cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Rush set up the COVID-19 analytic hub on AWS during the pandemic to integrate patient and operational data for rapid, targeted intervention.
As an example, Peter refers to India. It has a large population where all of SDoH issues are of vital importance. While those with resources in the country have access to doctors and excellent healthcare, many economically weaker sections cannot access those services. “Vaccinating the population in India has been a huge task. And we’ve been very involved in that through an application called CoWIN – a country-wide vaccine registration and scheduling management system.”
To address the need for health improvement in India, AWS is broadening this platform, which has been thus far focused on COVID-19, to include other diseases as well so that vaccinations can be provided to everyone in the country.
Making the world a better place with AWS Start-up Ramp
In line with its mission to make the world a better place, AWS recently expanded its Start-up Ramp programme in Southeast Asia. This new programme for early-stage start-ups developing solutions in health, digital government, smart cities, agriculture and space technology is committed to assisting entrepreneurs as they build, launch and grow their businesses.
It works to remove barriers for entrepreneurs who want to make an impact in the public sector by providing technical design and architecture reviews, mentorship, credit and assistance with go-to-market plans to successfully direct the public sector’s complex regulatory and security requirements.
Start-ups in their early stages that are focused on finding product-market fit and meeting their first customers can apply to become Start-up Ramp Innovators. Those with already paying customers who are focused on growth and scale can apply to become Start-up Ramp Members and gain access to programme benefits. Customers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam can now apply for the programme.
Peter recognises that health authorities around the world are at varying levels of readiness since the pandemic began and no one can predict what the future holds.
People have witnessed the rampant spread of COVID-19 across the globe and seen how it has ravaged economies, healthcare systems and taken far too many lives. As a result, the public and private sectors must develop faster solutions and respond in a more innovative, agile and equitable manner.
AWS will be deeply involved with helping to securely store, manage and analyse large amounts of health data as it is critical for advancing medical research and meeting the growing demand for high-quality health analytics.
Ultimately, AWS will continue to help to power and empower public health innovation!
About Peter James Moore
Peter James Moore is the Regional Managing Director for Amazon Web Services, Global Public Sector, where he is responsible for building and growing the public sector business (Government, Education, Healthcare, and Non-Profit Organisations) in Australia and New Zealand, India, Southeast Asia, Japan, and Korea.
He previously established Inventus Pte Ltd to provide strategic advice to foreign companies looking to enter the Asian market. Peter has been hired by Intellectual Ventures as a Strategic Business Consultant in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, where he identifies and cultivates opportunities and potential partners for programmes in Asia and other international markets.
Before that, he was an experienced Microsoft General Manager with 25 years of IT Sales and Marketing experience (15 years at Microsoft) across all of Asia Pacific, having worked and lived in Australia, Singapore, and China. Product Marketing, Technology Evangelism, Sales Management, and complete Business Function and P&L Management have all been the roles he served at Microsoft. The last eight years have been focused on the Public Sector in Asia.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Peter worked for Intergraph for over 9 years in a variety of senior management positions covering Australia and New Zealand. He also had consulting assignments in South Africa and Hong Kong during this time. And before joining Intergraph, Peter was a Radio Technician in the Royal Australian Air Force, where he spent 9 years in Australia and Malaysia.
The issuance of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on broadening the provision of internet service through satellite services is seen by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as further promoting financial inclusion and digital finance in the country. The IRR, issued in September by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) under Department Circular No. 002, Series of 2021, aims to promote the development of an inclusive and vibrant satellite industry by liberalising access to satellite systems.
Increased access to satellite services is expected to hasten the rollout of internet connectivity for the country’s unserved, underserved, geographically isolated, and disadvantaged areas. With the issuance of the IRR, banks, fintech companies, and other financial sector entities will be guided even further in their exploration of ways to use satellite technology for their operations, particularly in expanding presence in underserved communities.
With enhanced countryside connectivity, we see previously unserved and underserved areas being reached by digital financial services, especially those designed for the lower-income segments, like remittances, bills payments and the opening of transaction accounts.
– Governor, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
As financial transactions and services shift to online platforms, internet connectivity is recognised as a critical enabler of financial and economic inclusion. Banks and other financial service providers (FSPs) will be able to better serve rural areas with more access points, such as automated teller machines and cash agent services that rely on internet connectivity, as internet service is expanded.
Meanwhile, with the introduction of the Philippine Identification System and its electronic know-your-customer service, increased internet access will enable more unbanked rural clients and low-income communities to use digital financial services and benefit from digital innovations.
Republic Act 11055, or the Philippine Identification System Act, was signed into law by the Philippines President in August 2018. Its purpose is to create a single national ID for all Filipinos and resident aliens. The national ID must be a valid proof of identity that can be used to simplify public and private transactions, school enrolment, and bank account opening.
It will also increase efficiency, particularly when dealing with government services, as people will only need to present one ID during transactions. “These developments will contribute towards the BSP’s financial inclusion targets, namely that first, 70% of the adult population should own a transaction account, and second, that half of all retail payments should be in digital form by 2023,” the BSP Governor said.
Ultimately, The BSP encourages financial service providers to seek opportunities for innovation and market expansion from this policy reform to accelerate financial inclusion in the country.
In addition, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a US$400 million loan to support reforms that will assist the Philippine government in accomplishing a resilient financial sector and ensuring a more inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
First Financial Sector Reform Development Policy in the Philippines, the financing loan is the first of two programmes that support three reform areas: strengthening financial sector stability, integrity, and resilience; expanding financial inclusion for individuals and businesses; and promoting disaster risk finance, which protects national budgets and businesses, as well as families’ lives and livelihoods, from the effects of disasters.
OpenGov Asia reported that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will move forward with Phase 1 of the National Broadband Programme (NBP), which will boost the development of supplemental infrastructure or a “resiliency route”. According to the DICT secretary, the establishment of a resiliency route serves as insurance or a safety net against any unforeseen problems or events that could reason a delay in the project’s completion.
The Philippine government established the National Broadband Plan to accelerate the deployment of fibre optic cables and wireless technologies throughout the country, particularly in remote areas, and to improve overall internet speed and affordability (NBP).
The post-pandemic world is entering a period characterised by restructuring and consolidation. Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), with the backing of Academia Sinica, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Welfare are focused on six key strategic industries: IT and digitisation, cybersecurity, precision healthcare, renewable and sustainable energies, national defence and strategy, as well as civilian affairs and military preparedness.
With the rising popularity of the 5G infrastructure, asset security will be the next global battlefield. The synergy between Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and many other emerging technologies related to 5G is yielding a plethora of innovative cross-domain applications. With the popularity of 5G, asset security has become a critical issue that cannot be ignored.
Healthcare and technologies join hands to pave the way for the rise of precision healthcare. As the ageing society is creating a growing demand for medical services and management of chronic diseases, precision healthcare has become an irreversible trend worldwide. A number of leading medical institutions are utilising advanced technologies to enhance their smart healthcare and smart hospital services.
Taipei Veterans General Hospital President said that he intends to make smart healthcare the centrepiece of the next stage of development at the hospital, with the goal of reaching a peak utilisation of cutting-edge technologies that combine precision healthcare and big data.
Science and technology help improve military power by speeding up the transformation of the defence industry. When it comes to defence and strategy, Taiwan has accumulated substantial experience as a result of having developed the FORMOSAT-5 satellite and the FORMOSAT-7 satellite constellation, in combination with its existing complete supply chains and manufacturing capabilities in the semiconductor, information communication electronics and precision machinery sectors
These technologies assure Taiwan an ongoing capability to develop and manufacture satellites, as well as serving as an important R&D and manufacturing base for global satellite components, ground communications, ground terminals and other equipment.
Taiwan has long held an edge in display technology, and the sector is an economic powerhouse. To take full advantage of the nearly limitless opportunity presented by internet-connected devices and application services, and position display technologies and related applications as the engine for Taiwan’s next wave of economic growth, the government has released an action plan for display technologies and applications covering the years 2020 to 2024.
This strategy will move the sector beyond mere displays toward the 2030 vision of a smart-tech lifestyle incorporating emerging display technologies and applications, thereby keeping Taiwan’s advanced tech industry at the global forefront.
Three are three essential Taiwan tech strategies:
- Encourage demonstration applications and field testing: Drive domestic demand by building demonstration sites for exemplary solutions incorporating domestic products. Build Taiwan into the world’s top supplier of display technology products and solutions by 2030.
- Develop new capabilities for smart technology: Develop emerging technologies like intelligent sensors, online-offline convergence, and cybersecurity, as well as advance new technology through multidisciplinary cooperation. Elevate Taiwan’s international competitiveness and position on the value chain by producing a range of specialised and differentiated products by 2030.
- Build an environment for industrial development: Construct communications mechanisms and experimentation platforms for smart retail, smart transport, smart health care and smart entertainment. Nurture new talent capable of synthesising multidisciplinary research to create future-oriented display technologies and innovative applications, and promote cooperation with international counterparts.
Taiwan researchers have been inventing novel advanced technologies, including a bendable water-enabled portable power bank — a device that generates power from a few drops of water. As reported by OpenGov Asia, a team from the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology said that the gadget utilises membrane technology to generate electricity from water.
For the first time since 2005, New Zealand’s government intends to create a new digital strategy. The strategy aims to define the goals, priorities, and activities for the next 2 to 5 years, as well as the long-term outcomes through 2031 and beyond those years. According to the government, its vision is to enable all of Aotearoa New Zealand to flourish and prosper in a digital world.
To ensure that it will not be lacking in key the components of this implementation, the government has issued a discussion document and demands immediate feedback. The document, according to Infrastructure New Zealand’s Chief Executive, is a start. “The discussion document has a heavy focus on connectivity and how we use it, and inclusion. That’s good, but a national digital strategy needs to recognise that digital technology is a means to an end, not an end in itself – it needs to drive economic growth and development and leverage every opportunity.”
In infrastructure solutions, digital technology is already playing a significant role. The strategy must outline how New Zealand can capitalise on digital technology opportunities, such as how digital infrastructure can help address New Zealand’s infrastructure deficit while also contributing to environmental outcomes. It is also noted that a submission will be made to ensure that it covers all bases and is fit for purpose in the future. “We’ll be keen to see an implementation plan and monitoring framework to ensure the strategy is meaningful and outcomes-based, as opposed to yet another plan that isn’t realistic.” She then added.
More than ever, how New Zealand navigates the digital world is essential to the country’s long-term success. There are significant consequences if the government gets this wrong, given the rise of working from home and the contribution digital technologies can make to mitigating the impact of climate change. As per a report released this year, New Zealand’s digital competitiveness has dropped by 70 points. The pandemic, according to NZTech Chief Executive, has stressed the importance of digital technologies.
OpenGov Asia reported that in response to the crisis, digital transformation and technology alliances are two of several areas in which a multinational professional services network of firms based in New Zealand intends to create more than 500 new jobs over the next five years. The proposed job creation drive is part of the company’s global strategy aimed at “responding to fundamental changes in the world,” such as technological disruption, climate change, fractured geopolitics, and the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The programme, dubbed ‘The New Equation,’ was announced by the firm and was described at the time as “a revolutionary approach in how we see new opportunities to serve clients as they work to build trust and deliver sustainable business outcomes.”
Another report had also stated that digital transformation could boost the New Zealand economy by up to $46.6 billion per year by 2030. The report identified three main pillars of action for New Zealand to fully leverage the opportunities brought about by digital transformation: supporting technology adoption in key industries, upskilling the current workforce and future talent and promoting digital export opportunities.
The report also discussed eight transformative technologies and the economic benefits they bring to New Zealand, such as artificial intelligence (AI), which can be used to drive data-based public health interventions; mobile internet to help digitise retail distribution channels; and the Internet of Things (IoT) for supply chain tracking.
In addition, as per New Zealand’s last transformation strategy, accelerating the New Zealand Government’s digital transformation will enable people to access personalised services when and where they need them, participate in decisions about issues that are important to them, and have trust in an open, transparent, and inclusive government.
Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) is partnering with tech companies to enhance Wisconsin’s occupational licensure review and adjudication. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform will automate certain data entry tasks that are currently conducted manually. This will improve the customer experience and will expedite entry to the credentialed workforce in Wisconsin.
DSPS currently issues licenses for more than 240 occupational fields. The department issues credentials to most health care providers, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, physical therapists, and more. It licenses about 1.1 million people every two years.
Our credentialing process is almost 100% manual. That is because applicants fill out a paper form and mail it in, leaving department employees to decipher the handwriting and enter the data into the agency’s database. Automating that process is going to be a great step in terms of licensing applicants much more quickly and helping our process be much more accurate.”
– Dawn Crim, Secretary, Department of Safety and Professional Services
Currently, several teams handle data entry, but with the new solution by using their expertise in reviewing applications and processing and interacting with the customer. The tech companies are working to enable AI to automate data extraction from emails and attachments and send the information to DSPS’ database. It will also link necessary attachments such as degrees or certifications to the applications, with administrators being alerted to review any mismatches.
In addition to easing data entry, the technologies could help with customer service. For instance, virtual assistants could help in many permutations of the process. Because the process for each license is governed by statutory authorities and regulations, there tends to be a specific workflow for each industry. Virtual assistants could help point callers to the resources they need.
Although the different industries have different requirements, there are questions common to all licensing types. They use a natural language understanding platform that lets agencies design and integrate a conversational user interface into applications. The AI can comb through processes and statistics, such as how many calls virtual assistants deflect from staff. With those statistics, DSPS can make data-informed decisions about regulations, processes and procedures.
This modernisation effort is part of the second of a three-phase effort the state is pursuing. The first phase focused on the state’s construction industry, including replacing the regulated objects system, a 20-year old software application used for commercial building inspection permits, plan reviews and credentialing.
The third phase will address the complaint process. DSPS has more than 100 councils, committees and boards that govern the industry, so DSPS wants to use technology to study where complaints are coming from and whether they can be attributed to regulations or licensed professionals themselves.
Many U.S. Government agencies have leveraged the power of AI to achieve their goals more efficiently. As reported by OpenGov Asia, Yolo County District Attorney has had robust discussions with community members about the implicit or explicit bias that may occur in the criminal justice system. Prosecutors have nearly absolute discretion to charge or dismiss criminal cases. There is concern that these high-stakes judgments may suffer from explicit or implicit racial bias, as with many other such actions in the criminal justice system.
Yolo DA decided to address this potential problem by announcing the official launch of a first-of-its-kind Race Blind Charging (RBC) programme. The office then has been using the algorithm, developed by the Stanford Computational Policy Lab (SCPL).
By using a first-of-its-kind Race Blind Charging software program, Yolo County will ensure that their decisions on whether to charge someone with a crime are not infected by any real or perceived bias. This innovation will also help improve public confidence in the procedural fairness of the criminal justice system.
Singapore’s Tampines Polyclinic, this month will use robots instead of nurses to monitor patients’ temperatures and remind them to put on their masks. The Healthcare Assistive Robot for Frontline Infection Control (Hiro) was developed by researchers at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) and is currently being tested at the polyclinic. The robot uses UV-C light to kill bacteria and viruses and can direct visitors to service points.
NP’s Robotics Research and Innovation Centre assistant director said, “the robot is meant to help cut down on the possibility of infection in the polyclinics and also reduce the burden on healthcare staff doing laborious tasks like cleaning hard-to-reach areas and temperature screening, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
We want this facility to be a platform for collaboration with the industry as NP moves towards our vision of helping to develop technology for the future in the healthcare, transportation, construction and sustainability industries.
– Assistant Director, Robotics Research and Innovation Centre, Ngee Ann Polytechnic
The Healthcare Assistive Robot is part of the NP’s joint effort with healthcare provider SingHealth, which operates eight of the 20 polyclinics in the area. The robot’s development began last year, with plans to deploy more at various SingHealth polyclinics the following year. NP also announced the launch of the Robotics Research and Innovation Centre, which is divided into two wings and located on NP’s Clementi Road campus. The centre will house students pursuing a new Specialist Diploma in Robotics Engineering, which is geared toward adult learners and will accept 40 applicants in April of next year.
The facilities, which include workshops, showcase areas, and laboratories, will provide students with real-world robotics experience, according to the NP deputy principal. Moreover, other projects in the works with the National Parks Board include a park patrol robot and a plant health monitoring robot (NParks). Last year, in collaboration with Hougang Primary School, CoDDiE, a teaching assistant robot that assists students in learning to code, was developed. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a variety of unmanned robots have begun to appear in public roles across the country.
OpenGov Asia in an article reported that two robots have been patrolling the Toa Payoh Central neighbourhood in Singapore as part of a three-week trial, looking for errant smokers, unlicensed hawkers, motorbikes and e-scooter riders on sidewalks and gatherings that exceed the current group size limits. The robots are designed to alert public officers in real-time to these offences since they will be equipped with cameras that have a 360-degree field of vision and can see in the dark. They will also be able to broadcast and show warnings warning people about the dangers of such behaviour.
The patrolling robot, developed by HTX in collaboration with the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, will contribute to enhancing efficiency while reducing the need for manpower for foot patrols, according to the company. This is particularly true for labour-intensive operations like monitoring illegal hawkers. The latest patrolling robot is a refresh of the police’s Multi-purpose All-Terrain Autonomous Robots, or Matar, which have been deployed at large public events such as the National Day Parade, Marina Bay Countdown, and Chingay.
The fourth industrial revolution’s technological innovations are radically transforming the economy. The self-sufficient economy is becoming a reality. AI, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) advancements are ushering in a new era of automation.
Workplace automation in Singapore is expected to increase more than double in three years, covering 29% of all work done by businesses, up from 14% in 2018. This could result in at least 5% of Singapore’s full-time workers losing their jobs.
Singapore must adopt new strategies to keep up with global technological advancements to avoid falling behind. The automation of the economy will be critical to Singapore’s growth and competitiveness. According to a report, automation could boost global productivity growth by up to 1.4% per year. However, for the Singaporean workforce, automation may pose significant challenges and disruptions to current jobs and skillsets.
A report from the Jacobs Institute’s Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech showed that the main aspects that shape the future of urban technology are sustainable neighbourhoods, a supercharged infrastructure and inclusive innovation that strikes back at surveillance capitalism.
For the report, the research team conducted a 10-year horizon scan, scouring thousands of published journals, news articles and blogs to identify the most relevant and important trends. The raw data were synthesised to reveal 217 unique perspectives and 49 trends that describe the direction of urban tech in the next decade.
The Horizon Scan is meant to create a conversation across the many areas that are a part of urban tech. The report describes the innovations that the field could produce in the coming decade. But it also lays out the ‘technical debt’ that’s already on the books due to hasty decisions about sensing, AI, and tech governance.”
– Anthony Townsend, Project Lead
Though the report covers a number of technological advances, from mobility solutions to the complexities of privacy related to facial recognition, the research team homes in on six key themes that will likely have the biggest impact on the future of cities.
First, smart city concepts have seen steady progress over the last decade, with more municipalities equipping their buildings with digital sensing. Improved real-time tracking of energy, waste and water has led to increased control and savings.
The report cites scaling sustainable building technology as another theme, as cities look to cut carbon emissions in efforts to contain the effects of climate change. Technology will play a critical role as political and financial capital is focused on megacities, where street-level solutions will be key in extracting the maximum value.
City infrastructure is also expected to play an important role in shaping the future of urban technology. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how understanding the urban ecosystem can help anticipate outbreaks, as scientists used sewage sampling and microbiome sequencing in city transit systems to track the spread of the virus. Many cities are even wiring up waterways and parks to calculate the vitality of these ecosystems.
Artificial neural networks, which power some of the cities’ most sophisticated machine learning efforts, can provide incredible value to governments by predicting the movements of goods, people, resources and information. At the same time, by deploying such powerful tools society risks giving up individual freedoms, the report states.
The shift toward doing things remotely, from learning and health care to work and entertainment, reveals wealth and power disparities. Fostering technologies that empower the disempowered can help ensure an efficient, tech-powered future.
Finally, the researchers predict that in the decade ahead, “big tech will crack the code of the city and stitch together a planetary supply chain for urban innovation.” Governments are getting a clearer picture of the problems they want the industry to solve, and the challenges of realising smart city innovation is becoming clearer.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, a new report also revealed the trends shaping the future of local U.S. governments which include data, technology and Customer Experience (CX). “The Future of Local Government” report states that because the public interacts with local governments the most, those agencies are best poised to make a for constituents and businesses.
Using data to drive decision- and policymaking is becoming increasingly crucial. Historically, government data has been stored across an array of sources, databases, systems and departments; one in four local officials surveyed by Forrester Consulting said public datasets housed in multiple databases and lines of business systems are a significant obstacle to executing new customer-focused strategies. Bringing disparate data sources together to tap into the immense power of analytics and data-based business insights will play a critical role in reshaping local government for a new era.
According to new data released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the University of Oxford, COVID-19 vaccine inequity will have a long-term and profound impact on socioeconomic recovery in low- and lower-middle-income countries unless urgent action is taken to increase supply and ensure equitable access for all countries, including through dose sharing.
Despite lower growth projections for the next two years, Asean+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) economists in the Philippines said what is important is that the government has increased its vaccination programme against Covid-19. Whereas the Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) stated that an increase in the number of people vaccinated against coronavirus will address the country’s pandemic-related unemployment.
Increased vaccination drive would help the country gradually win the war vs. the unseen enemy, which is Covid-19. Full vaccination sharply reduces the risk of Covid-19 infections, severe cases or hospitalisation, and deaths, thereby reducing the burden on the health care system and correspondingly reduces the risk of lockdowns, going forward.
– Commercial Banking Corporation
“I think it’s very important but to me, the key here really is our vaccine turnout and we have been doing very well now,” he said during a virtual event. The country’s unemployment rate rose to 8.1% in August, up from 6.9% in July. Economic managers predicted the increase due to the implementation of stricter quarantine restrictions following the increase in Covid-19 cases caused by the Delta variant. However, they reported that labour force participation increased to 63.6% in August from 59.8% the previous month as more people rejoined the labour force.
The chief economist of Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) noted that the continued vaccination drive and reopening of the economy bode well for the country’s economic recovery prospects in the coming quarters or even years, albeit gradually, given the need to reduce new COVID-19 cases amid risks associated with the unvaccinated.
“The country’s economy could return to pre-COVID levels as early as the latter part of 2022 or by 2023, but the recovery of other businesses/industries, especially those hard-hit by the pandemic last year, would take much longer,” he added.
In addition, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) recently launched the National Digital Vaccine Certificate to unify all LGU-issued vaccination cards across the country (VaxCertPH). VaxCertPH is a component of the DICT’s Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS), and its ultimate goal is to enable the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Centre to vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.
The system is claimed to be reliant on data given by the LGUs to the central VIMS data warehousing for the purposes of generating a digital certificate. All data is safeguarded by the relevant encryptions and can be validated by authorised agencies, groups or countries cryptographically.
OpenGov Asia reported in an article stating that the government is also intensifying the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Recover (PDITR) strategy during the lockdown periods to facilitate the reopening of the economy. To strengthen the ‘detect’ and ‘isolate’ pillars, NEDA, the Department of Health (DOH), and other local government units (LGUs), with the help of data scientists from the Asian Institute of Management, are working on a solution to automatically determine likely close contacts of COVID-19 positive cases and immediately notify these people via text message.
Speaking at the recent Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum, Denis F. Villorente, Undersecretary for the National Information & Communications Technology Assets Index, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), spoke about the potential of a robust national ID system that could facilitate multiple types of transactions necessary for digital ecosystems and societies, saving people, government and businesses time and money and unlock new drivers of economic value and growth.