The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative has launched a High Level Advisory Council to advance the realisation of robust, inclusive and responsible digital identification systems as a sustainable development priority.
Over 1.1 billion people in the world, which is nearly 1 in 7 individuals, are unable to prove their identity. Consequently, their access to vital services including healthcare, social protection, education and finance is restricted. The majority live in Africa and Asia and more than a third are children who are unregistered.
Identification for all could potentially advance many key elements of the Sustainable Development Goals, including social protection, women and girls’ empowerment, financial inclusion, governance, healthcare, digital development, and humanitarian assistance. In addition to reducing a basic barrier to exercising rights and accessing services, digital identification can decrease waste and leakage in public administration, facilitate innovation in how services are delivered, and empower individuals with agency over their personal data.
ID4D has three pillars of activity: country and regional engagement; thought leadership; and global convening and platforms. ID4D aims to help countries analyse problems, design solutions, and implement new systems to increase the number of people with official identification and the development impact of the overall identification system. As of 2017, the World Bank has digital identification and civil registration projects in over a dozen countries worth over US$500 million. The ID4D agenda supports the achievement of the World Bank’s two overarching goals: ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity.
The Advisory Council will provide strategic guidance to the ID4D initiative and leverage international forums and engagements with countries to advocate its vision and the ten Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Towards the Digital Age.
At the inaugural meeting of the ID4D High Level Advisory Council—co-chaired by World Bank Group Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva and United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed —eminent thought leaders from across the public and private sectors discussed the opportunities, challenges and emerging trends that countries face. As the first of such a group assembled on this agenda, the Council members highlighted how they can serve as ambassadors to influence the approaches of countries, development and humanitarian agencies and the private sector.
“We are at an exciting point of technology, collaboration and commitment converging to make unprecedented improvements in the lives of the 1.1 billion people living without identification, especially in vulnerable and forcibly-displaced populations,” said Ms. Georgieva. “We can use the global reach of the ID4D High Level Advisory Council to harness digital identification and maximize its transformational potential for the benefit of people who currently are not being served because they cannot be seen or heard.”
UN Deputy-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said, “Digital identification can play an important role in achieving the sustainable development goals. It can enable the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people to gain access to critical services, from education to healthcare and financing, while also advancing their legal and political rights. We look to this advisory council to help ensure that no one is left behind in the digital age.”
The members of the ID4D High Level Advisory Council also include Toomas Hendrik Illves, former President of Estonia (Estonia offers a first of its kind e-Residency, a government-issued digital ID available to anyone in the world); Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys and Founding Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI); Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial, which operates Alipay (Ant Financial recently launched a facial-recognition payments technology for commercial use. With “Smile to Pay,” Alipay users can authenticate their payments through a combination of facial scanning and inputting their mobile phone numbers.) ; Carolina Trivelli, former Minister of Development and Social Inclusion, Peru and Chairman of Pagos Digitales Peruanos; Dr. Benno Ndulu, Governor, Bank of Tanzania; Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and founder of Celtel; and Iqbal Quadir, founder of the Legatum Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and of Grameenphone.
Visiting China has just become more convenient for Singapore residents, thanks to an innovative feature added to the Changi Pay digital wallet. Launched in 2021 by Changi Airport Group (CAG), a wholly-owned subsidiary under the purview of Singapore’s Ministry of Finance. This digital wallet has introduced a game-changing collaboration with a fintech company and an innovative technology provider.
One of the most significant benefits of this collaboration is the ability for Changi Pay users to make secure payments at a wide range of merchants in China. The focus is on leveraging a third-party mobile and online payment platform in China, where mobile payments through QR codes have become vastly more popular than traditional methods involving cash or conventional bank cards.
Lim Peck Hoon, CAG’s Executive Vice President for Commercial, expressed her enthusiasm about the collaboration and its positive outcomes, stating, “We have been turbocharging our digitalisation efforts to enhance the travelling experience for our passengers, and we are proud to see this collaboration bear fruit.”
One of the immediate advantages that users will appreciate is the ability to transact in China without incurring the typical transaction fees associated with overseas credit card payments. This is a significant boon for travellers who often find themselves burdened by extra charges when making purchases abroad. Changi Pay has effectively eliminated this hassle, allowing users to enjoy their shopping and dining experiences without worrying about hidden fees.
Besides, Changi Pay has gone the extra mile by providing users with attractive exchange rates. This means that when making payments in China, users will benefit from favourable rates, ensuring that their money goes further. This is a practical advantage that can significantly enhance the overall travel experience, making it more affordable and enjoyable.
Further, Changi Pay has introduced an enticing incentive for its users. Those who opt to make payments in China using the digital wallet will receive e-vouchers. These vouchers can be redeemed for purchases at Changi Airport upon their return, effectively offering users extra value for their spending. It’s a win-win situation that adds another layer of appeal to using Changi Pay for international transactions.
This collaboration has not only streamlined international payments but has also aligned perfectly with CAG’s overarching mission to elevate the traveller’s journey through digital innovation. By addressing the pain points associated with overseas transactions, Changi Pay has demonstrated its commitment to making travel more convenient, cost-effective, and rewarding for its users.
Digital wallets streamline the entire travel payment process, eliminating the need to carry bulky wallets filled with cash and numerous payment cards. This convenience not only simplifies transactions but also enhances the overall travel experience by reducing stress and hassle.
Likewise, digital wallets often offer favourable exchange rates and eliminate or reduce transaction fees typically associated with foreign currency payments. This translates to savings for travellers, allowing them to allocate their budgets more efficiently.
Hence, digital wallets have evolved into tools that modern travellers simply cannot do without since they provide a streamlined, risk-free, and time-saving solution for them to manage the financial aspects of their trips.
Also, digital wallets increase the excitement and accessibility of exploration by making travel more comfortable, cost-effective, and rewarding. Because of this, digital wallets are quickly becoming an essential companion for travellers all over the world.
Agencies under the Ministry of Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship have inked eight memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with a leading private tech company, aimed at advancing digital skilling and training in emerging technologies for India’s youth.
During the signing ceremony, Union Minister of Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Dharmendra Pradhan, said that India, with its vast and youthful population, has tremendous potential. To leverage this demographic advantage, it is essential to empower the youth with the necessary skills to thrive in the modern workforce.
As part of the agreements, specially designed courses will be offered to empower the youth with future-ready skills. This partnership will concentrate on jointly developing curricula to educate students across various levels, including school education, higher education, and vocational skills. The courses will cover emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (including generative AI), cybersecurity, cloud computing, and professional development skills. The collaboration encompasses three primary levels of education:
School Education: The private tech company will provide digital content for high school students, teachers, and trainers in schools identified by the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS). The programme will be available online, through webinars, and in-person workshops organised by the company’s CSR implementation partners.
Furthermore, the company will update the CBSE’s (Central Board of Secondary Education) AI curriculum for Grades 11 and 12. It will also create a cyberskilling and blockchain curriculum for high school students.
Higher Education: Through the company’s CSR implementation partners, it will work closely with the Department of Higher Education, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology (NIELIT), National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training & Research (NITTTR), Chandigarh, and state skilling missions. The objective is to onboard affiliated students and faculty and grant them access to digital content, experiential learning opportunities, and new skill sets, equipping them for careers in the technical field.
Vocational Skills: The company will maintain its central partnership with MSDE and collaborate with the Directorate General of Training (DGT) as well as vocational education and skilling departments at the state level. The aim is to enrol job seekers, including those who have been unemployed for an extended period and individuals who have dropped out of school, into the company’s educational programme. This will empower them to acquire the technical and professional skills necessary for re-entering the workforce.
This collaboration represents a notable step towards realising the government’s vision of a ‘Skilled India’ and scaling up digital skills training and proficiency in emerging technologies through the private player’s educational programme. The MoUs will play a crucial role in enabling learners to fully harness the true potential of technology, transforming them into future wealth creators and successful entrepreneurs in society.
India has been actively working with tech giants and agencies to digitally upskill its youth. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship partnered with two industry stakeholders to provide cloud skills training to 1,500 individuals. Through the programme, participants go through a workforce development initiative tailored to individuals who are unemployed or underemployed. It encompasses fundamental cloud skills training alongside valuable career guidance, such as creating resumes and preparing for interviews.
By using real-world scenario-based exercises, hands-on labs, and coursework, the learners receive training in various technologies. This includes Linux, Python, networking, security, and relational databases, ensuring a well-rounded skillset for their professional development.
The LKS Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) is integrating technology into its teaching and training methods. Over the past decade, HKUMed has formed its own multimedia production team to create interactive online teaching materials.
The launch of simulation wards at the Academic Building on Sassoon Road in 2022, equipped with high-fidelity simulators, has significantly advanced nursing education and interprofessional education, garnering recognition with the ‘Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year’ award at THE Awards Asia 2023.
HKUMed was also among the pioneers in Asia to introduce extensive point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) education, providing senior medical students with portable devices for skill development in ultrasonography for bedside assessment and therapy. Furthermore, the institution has embraced cutting-edge augmented and virtual reality facilities for enhanced human anatomy education, ensuring students have continuous access to immersive learning experiences.
The Dean of Medicine at HKU emphasised the need for health professional students to broaden their perspective beyond clinical competence by appreciating the humanities in medicine and understanding sectors such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and informatics, which are transforming healthcare. He expressed gratitude to a philanthropist for his generous support to enhance AI integration into medical teaching, helping HKUMed maintain its excellence in training future healthcare professionals.
The transformative impact of AI on the world and the importance of meaningful applications in healthcare research, medical curricula and services to develop new therapies and enhance health and quality of life were stressed. He expressed his pleasure in supporting initiatives aimed at popularising AI education in Hong Kong and empowering the younger generation to utilise AI innovatively in education.
The philanthropist donated HK$30 million to HKUMed to support AI education, and in response, the institution committed to investing an additional HK$30 million to expand its digital learning capabilities, including hardware, software, and human resources, to further develop AI medical education. Scholarships and grants will be established to assist financially needy students and reward those excelling in AI learning.
The Director of Education Technology at HKUMed outlined plans to enhance health professional students’ digital health competencies through curriculum expansion. Initiatives include incorporating Generative AI (GenAI) technologies to simulate realistic patient scenarios, fostering a multimodal learning experience, and improving history-taking, clinical reasoning, and interpersonal skills. AI will also be used to capture and analyse interactions during teaching and assessments, providing timely feedback to enhance teaching, learning practices, and inter-professional health education.
Since the curriculum reform in 2019, HKUMed has involved students in innovative teaching and pedagogical developments through the ‘Student in Medical Education’ initiative, promoting a culture that recognises teaching as part of professional development. Active student participation in AI advancements continues through the Generative AI Resource Hub, a student-educator partnership initiative aimed at enhancing GenAI literacy for students and faculty members.
With the donation and matching fund, the enhancement of digital learning capacity at HKUMed will better prepare tomorrow’s healthcare professionals to meet society’s healthcare needs and safeguard public health in the future.
The initiatives undertaken by the LKS Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) align with the broader efforts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government to promote innovation and technology in various sectors, including healthcare.
HKUMed’s focus on integrating AI and digital learning into medical education contributes to the HKSAR’s goal of becoming a hub for technological innovation, fostering a skilled workforce capable of addressing the region’s healthcare needs and advancing the application of AI in healthcare services, thus reinforcing Hong Kong’s position as a leader in innovation and education.
OpenGov Asia reported earlier that HKPC Academy collaborated with a specialist company to incorporate interactive training content and hands-on exercises into the programme. This addition aims to make the programme more practical and industry-relevant, providing participants with the skills needed to master cutting-edge educational technologies and application solutions.
In a groundbreaking achievement for cancer treatment and multidisciplinary research, the Centre for Ion Beam Applications (CIBA) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has been designated as an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Collaborating Centre for Research and Development of Accelerator Science and Multidisciplinary Applications.
This historic recognition, formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was recently inked, distinguishes CIBA as the first of its kind in Singapore and elevates it to an elite echelon of global technical centres dedicated to nuclear science and technology.
At the heart of CIBA’s pioneering initiatives is the IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP), a visionary endeavour launched with a research coordination meeting in September 2023. This project, which focuses on single-cell imaging and irradiation utilising accelerator-based techniques, promises to be a transformative force in the fields of radiobiology and cancer treatment.
Digital technology serves as the backbone of the IAEA Collaborating Centre’s multifaceted operations. It assumes a pivotal role in data management and analysis, handling the extensive volumes of data generated by accelerator experiments and research endeavours. Advanced data analytics tools are deployed to extract valuable insights from this data, thereby propelling the advancement of accelerator science.
Another vital function of digital technology within the Collaborating Centre is simulation and modelling. These digital simulations are indispensable for optimising accelerator designs, forecasting outcomes, and assessing potential risks. Researchers can explore various scenarios and fine-tune their approaches, resulting in significant time and resource savings.
The integration of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) augments the Centre’s capabilities. These technologies expedite the analysis of complex datasets, facilitate pattern recognition, and optimise accelerator performance. Additionally, AI can automate routine tasks, freeing up researchers for more critical activities.
Documentation and reporting processes are streamlined through digital tools, aiding in the preservation of research findings, experiment protocols, safety procedures, and compliance with IAEA standards. This documentation is essential for transparency, regulatory adherence, and knowledge management.
Besides, digital technology bridges geographical divides, facilitating international collaboration among IAEA Collaborating Centres and partner institutions. Collaborators can effortlessly exchange information, share best practices, and jointly work on research projects. Digital technology serves as an enabler, fostering global cooperation and advancing accelerator science and multidisciplinary applications.
Within the purview of the Collaborating Centre, CIBA’s pioneering research initiatives encompass a wide array of applications. These include using ion beams to identify elemental composition and structural characteristics of materials, with applications ranging from advanced battery development for electric cars to microelectronics, environmental analysis, and biomedical research. Advanced ion beam techniques extend their relevance to space applications and integrated circuit (IC) fault detection, broadening their impact.
CIBA’s cutting-edge proton beam writing techniques have the potential to fabricate nanofluidic lab-on-chip platform technologies. These platforms enable molecular biology analysis, such as genetic sequencing, offering breakthroughs in understanding genetic and molecular processes.
In parallel, CIBA’s researchers are advancing single-ion fluorescence technology, a pivotal field in radiobiology and cancer research. This involves detecting light emitted by single ions, opening new avenues for studying cellular responses to radiation.
The Collaborating Centre’s focus also extends to optimising nuclear and X-ray (synchrotron-based) methods for analysing forensic and cultural samples. One of the most promising realms of research involves enhancing particle accelerators for radiobiology applications.
The ultimate goal is to elevate proton beam therapy, a cutting-edge form of radiation cancer treatment, to a new level of precision and effectiveness. This groundbreaking research endeavours to strengthen international collaborations, partnering with institutions such as the Singapore Nuclear Research and Safety Initiative (SNRSI) and the Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS).
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) unveiled a draft decree earlier this year concerning the management, provision, and use of internet services, slated to replace the existing Decree 72. Under the proposed regulations, social networks will be required to remove content that violates the rules, with corresponding measures taken against offending accounts, community pages, and content channels. According to MIC, these heavy sanctions are expected to help clean up cyberspace.
The new draft decree includes more stringent requirements and more severe penalties for offenders. Organisations and individuals offering services, whether within Vietnam or internationally, are mandated to prevent and delete content that breaches the law immediately, once this is required by MIC. In cases where unreasonable content is not removed as instructed, MIC will employ technical measures to block websites, applications, and platforms that offer these services.
A notable addition in the draft decree compels social networks to temporarily or permanently suspend the accounts, community pages, community groups, and content channels that frequently breach regulations or engage in severe violations that impact national security. The regulations designed by MIC aim to address the sources of violations and reduce the time and resources expended by agencies in blocking and removing content in violation.
An industry expert has noted that that information is spreading rapidly across both domestic and international social networks. Failure to promptly address harmful information could lead to significant consequences for individuals and businesses. Moreover, inaccurate information concerning government policies circulating on social networks could severely undermine the reputation and functioning of state agencies.
The call for the immediate removal of violating content and the decision to suspend offending accounts can effectively resolve multiple issues simultaneously. In such a scenario, platforms will bear the responsibility of monitoring user posts, while users will need to be accountable for the content they generate.
It is essential to establish clear guidelines regarding the types of violations that need to be addressed and how much time platforms are allowed to do this. If the violations have relations with national security, they must be handled immediately. In this case, platforms must remove information in violation as soon as the watchdog agency sends links containing the violating information, with no need to send written requests. For other types of violations, it may be more practical to provide platforms with a reasonable amount of time to conduct thorough investigations into the cases before taking action.
With the ongoing digital transformation, the volume of sensitive data stored on digital platforms has surged, underscoring the importance of securing data as a critical priority. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued a warning regarding an increasingly serious scam involving the utilisation of deepfake technology to capture the movements and voices of unsuspecting victims for fraudulent purposes. This manipulation has resulted in financial losses for numerous individuals. It is anticipated that this artificial intelligence (AI)-based deception will evolve further in the future, becoming even more sophisticated and deceptive.
Personal data serves as the foundational building blocks for government and business databases. As a result, these data are regarded as invaluable resources for organisations and individuals to gather and use. The legitimate and lawful use of this data yields significant value. However, illegal activities that compromise personal data, leading to infringements on national security, social order, and security, can have severe consequences.
The University of Sydney has acquired an advanced 360-degree rotating cockpit simulator, enabling students and researchers to replicate the experience of piloting various aircraft, including A380s and spacecraft. Located within the School of Aerospace, Mechanical, and Mechatronic Engineering, this New Zealand-manufactured simulator, called the Eight360 NOVA Simulator, is the sole one of its kind in Australian universities.
This cutting-edge simulator uses virtual reality technology, providing students and researchers with a comprehensive understanding of how theoretical concepts and design choices impact aircraft behaviour. It enhances the learning and research process by providing a hands-on experience and immersing students in flight operations environments.
What sets this simulator apart from traditional flight simulators is its unlimited rotational axes, allowing for complex manoeuvres like spins and inverted flight. This capability empowers researchers to gain insights into how both aircraft and humans perform in challenging conditions, as well as to test and pilot vehicles they’ve designed.
The simulator operates “untethered” thanks to a freely movable ball resting on rollers that are powered by electric motors, enabling precise control over the ball’s positioning at varying speeds. As pilots manipulate the controls, the ball adjusts its position to mimic the orientation and acceleration of a real-flight vehicle.
Associate Professor Nicholas Lawson, who heads the Aircraft Performance and Operations department and joined the university in 2021, emphasized the importance of the simulator in bridging the gap between theoretical study and practical experience in aerospace and aeronautics.
One of the benefits highlighted by a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering student is the simulator’s immersive experience, significantly enhancing her understanding of aerospace and space engineering. The student, who is also representing the university at an international space conference, praised the simulator as an excellent hands-on complement to theoretical learning.
Furthermore, the simulator holds potential for simulating space environments, including the control of crewed vehicles on planetary surfaces, a development area led by Visiting Professor Gregory Chamitoff, a former NASA Astronaut.
The acquisition of the advanced 360-degree rotating cockpit simulator by the University of Sydney reflects the Australian government’s interests in promoting STEM education, fostering innovation, and developing the aerospace industry. This cutting-edge technology not only attracts students to STEM disciplines but also contributes to the growth of the country’s aerospace sector.
Additionally, the simulator’s potential for international collaboration in space-related research and its capacity to develop a highly skilled workforce aligns with the government’s goals for innovation, technology transfer, and workforce development. While primarily an academic asset, this initiative indirectly supports broader national objectives in education, industry, and international engagement.
OpenGov Asia reported earlier that the Aerostructures Innovation Research (AIR) Hub’s AIR Pass initiative is playing a crucial role in fostering innovation and growth within the aerospace and aviation sectors. This programme is tailored to assist startup companies as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in advancing their aerospace and aviation projects. The AIR Pass programme offers a comprehensive package that includes expert technical guidance, prototyping resources, and financial support for a span of up to six months for successful applicants.
Through close collaboration, the AIR Hub’s experts have played a pivotal role in the rapid design, production, and delivery of the EPS test rig. This intensive development phase, spanning just four months, culminated in the lead-up to the Avalon Airshow. The successful delivery of the EPS and accompanying test infrastructure for commercial demonstration marked a significant achievement.
In a groundbreaking move that promises to usher in a new era of innovation and sustainability, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has joined forces with the Mandai Wildlife Group in a visionary two-year partnership.
This collaboration seeks to drive digital transformation in Singapore’s wildlife parks, with a focus on three pivotal areas: Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), sustainability, and immersive experiences. This bold initiative was formally launched with the signing of a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) at the iconic Singapore Zoo, setting the stage for Mandai Wildlife Group’s parks to become a veritable “living lab for innovation.”
“Our partnership with Mandai Wildlife Group expands on our existing digital transformation and innovation efforts, with the parks serving as a ‘living lab for innovation’ to support this endeavour,” said Leong Der Yao, Assistant Chief Executive, Sector Transformation, IMDA.
The IMDA-Mandai Wildlife Group partnership is not merely a symbolic gesture but a commitment to co-develop innovative solutions that will have real-world applications. At its core, this collaboration aims to tackle pressing challenges and identify untapped opportunities within the realm of wildlife conservation and entertainment. It’s a partnership that envisions a future where technology and nature converge to create a harmonious and sustainable coexistence.
One of the primary focal points of this collaboration is the development and deployment of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). These robots are poised to revolutionise the way wildlife parks operate, enhancing both efficiency and visitor experience. Unlike traditional AMRs designed for flat surfaces, the challenge here lies in adapting these robots to navigate the intricate and often uneven terrains of outdoor environments.
The IMDA and Mandai Wildlife Group are initiating a Call for Proposal that specifically targets outdoor AMRs equipped with tele-operation capabilities. This ambitious endeavour seeks to address existing industry challenges and technology gaps, with the ultimate goal of making these AMRs an integral part of daily park operations.
The identified use cases for these outdoor AMRs are diverse and compelling. A central operations platform, powered by tele-ops, will facilitate the management and coordination of multiple AMRs throughout the park premises. This not only streamlines operations but also ensures that these robots can work seamlessly together, enhancing overall efficiency.
Additionally, the introduction of AMRs for F&B delivery both to staff and visitors within the parks promises to revolutionise the dining experience. Visitors can now enjoy the convenience of ordering meals through a dedicated app, further enhancing their overall enjoyment of the park.
The collaboration also aims to automate and streamline visitor management services, such as location and ticketing services. This will significantly enhance the guest experience by reducing wait times and providing more personalised assistance. Moreover, the implementation of AMRs for surveillance purposes promises to improve security within the parks. These robots can navigate dimly lit and challenging terrains with ease, enhancing staff’s ability to respond swiftly to any guest needs or emergency incidents.
While these innovations are exciting on their own, they are part of a broader initiative by IMDA to enable the large-scale deployment of AMRs for commercial use. This partnership with Mandai Wildlife Group represents a critical step in achieving this vision.
By fostering collaboration between enterprises, technology partners, and the AMR community, IMDA aims to drive the adoption and interoperability of AMR systems across both indoor and outdoor environments. This initiative is poised to bring about tangible benefits for businesses in Singapore, ranging from increased productivity to the creation of new, high-value jobs.