Global organisations and Governments worldwide have developed apps to give citizens COVID-19 updates, situation reports, health risk assessments, a tracker of the spread of the disease throughout the country as well as the rate and numbers of infected.
The Value in Apps is the Functionality to Contact Trace
These apps have been available pretty much from the beginning of the outbreak but what is taking a little longer to develop and release to the public; and where the value lies in helping the authorities to slow and manage the spread of the coronavirus, is the functionality to contact trace.
An increasing number of Governments are preparing to release contact tracing apps to help quickly identify individuals who have been exposed to the virus and to contact them immediately in a bid to stop further spread of the virus.
Contact Tracing apps are considered key in helping governments flatten the curve of the virus spread.
Traditional Contact Tracing Methods are too Slow and Transmission of the Virus is Fast
One of the main reasons Governments are keen to introduce a Contract Tracing app to the public is that traditional contract tracing methods are too slow. Transmission of the virus is fast, while many of the infected do not show symptoms straight away, by the time authorities have identified those who have been exposed, they have already transmitted the virus to others.
Traditional contact tracing methods are labour intensive, using resources that could be better deployed elsewhere during the pandemic, this includes coveted resources such as hospital staff, health officials and police services.
Contact Tracing using a smartphone app is more accurate – traditional methods of tracing rely on the memory of those who have been infected. Human error is only natural, and remembering exact times and locations is not always easy, especially if unwell or perhaps not able to respond to investigative questioning on past movements.
Data from apps would provide an extensive log of the patients’ past activities, exact times and locations and with its Bluetooth capabilities then identify those who had been in their vicinity and how long they would have been exposed to them. It would also make contacting exposed individuals much easier and quicker.
Although the benefits are immeasurable to protect public safety, it has raised questions about personal data, privacy laws and government surveillance on its’ citizens. Most governments have taken the approach that it is an ‘opt-in’ resource, urging people to join in a collective effort to help their country and their people.
Singapore Contact Tracing – leads by example
Many countries are following the model Singapore has used. The government launched an app called TraceTogether on 20 March and already has over 910,000 users.
The TraceTogether app uses Bluetooth signals to determine if an individual is near another TraceTogether user. The Bluetooth proximity data is encrypted and stored only on the users’ phone. The Ministry of Health (MOH) will seek consent to upload the data if needed for contact tracing.
Singapore has made its COVID-19 contract tracing app open source to help developers around the world to build local solutions. And many countries are doing just that.
Countries inspired by Singapore Aim to Launch Contract Tracing App as Soon as Possible
Malaysia and Australia have openly said they are interested in replicating an app similar to Singapore’s TraceTogether app.
According to the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin, Malaysia is currently preparing a smartphone application to track citizen movements.
The federal government in Australia launched a COVID-19 app last weekend, without contact tracing functionality, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that they are working on this capability. It is thought that there may be an app with contact tracing functionality launched this week as the government have been briefed by a private-sector group which have developed an app called ImpactApp.
The National Health Service in the UK is in talks to roll out a smartphone app that instantly traces close contacts of people carrying the coronavirus and advises them to self-isolate. The app, developed by NHSX – the health service’s digital transformation body along with academic and industry partners is in advanced stages of evaluation and they are hoping to deploy within weeks.
Germany also hopes to launch a smartphone app within weeks to help trace coronavirus infections, with the aim of adopting an approach similar to that of Singapore, an effective app that does not invade people’s privacy or break European privacy laws.
With digital contact tracing becoming a more important priority to the government, as well as being an integral part of the government strategy to combat this pandemic, these smartphone apps could lead to a substantial number of lives being saved and critical to protecting public safety.
The Government of Western Australia is taking steps to promote the growth of small to medium-sized local businesses by offering grants totalling over AU$3 million. These grants are intended to enhance their capabilities and competitiveness, enabling them to pursue contracts from both the government and private sector.
Known as the Local Capability Fund (LCF), this initiative serves as a crucial resource for recipients looking to expand their capacity and improve their competitiveness in supplying goods, services, and works to the government, major projects, and other significant markets.
For the upcoming fiscal year of 2023-2024, the government has announced four new LCF rounds, collectively amounting to AU$2.2 million in funding, with individual grants of up to AU$50,000. These four rounds are designed to cater to specific needs and priorities:
- Supplying Key Projects Round: This round aims to support businesses across the state in supplying essential goods and services to key government and private sector projects within priority sector markets.
- Aboriginal Business Round: This round is dedicated to businesses with a majority Aboriginal ownership. It seeks to assist these enterprises in supplying goods, services, and works to both the government and the private sector.
- National and International Standards Compliance Round: To ensure businesses adhere to the highest industry standards, this round provides financial assistance for engaging external experts to implement and obtain third-party certification for seven specific national and international standards.
- Digital Transformation Round (Upcoming): Soon, the LCF will introduce a Digital Transformation Round to provide initial support to eligible businesses in adopting and leveraging digital technologies and data. This round aims to advance the government’s understanding of digital needs in the business landscape.
Additionally, nine regional LCF rounds will be launched progressively throughout 2023-24, totalling AU$900,000 in funding with grants of up to AU$20,000. These rounds will specifically cater to businesses in regional areas, aiming to help them enhance their services and competitiveness.
Since its inception, the LCF has been instrumental in providing funding to over 600 businesses, totalling AU$22.7 million. This financial support has played a pivotal role in these businesses securing contract awards exceeding AU$1.05 billion. Beyond financial benefits, the LCF has contributed to creating more than 2,000 employment opportunities and nearly 250 apprenticeships.
The Minister Assisting the Minister for State and Industry Development, Jobs, and Trade stated that the Local Capability Fund has served as a catalyst for numerous businesses, infusing tens of millions in funding to propel their expansion. This program has not only facilitated access to over 2,000 employment opportunities but has also supported the development of 250 apprenticeships.
The Government, through its representative, wholeheartedly encourages businesses to grasp this opportunity by submitting grant applications. This initiative will empower them in their pursuits to secure contracts from both government and private sector organisations.
In today’s fast-paced business landscape, technology plays an indispensable role in enhancing efficiency, competitiveness, and growth prospects for businesses of all sizes. The Cook Government recognises this and aims to empower local businesses through the Local Capability Fund, providing them with the financial means to embrace and leverage technology. This support is especially timely as the world becomes increasingly digital and data-driven.
The new Digital Transformation Round, set to be launched in the coming weeks, underscores the government’s commitment to assisting businesses in harnessing the power of digital technologies and data. In an era where businesses must adapt to technological advancements to remain relevant and competitive, this initiative is poised to make a significant impact.
With the Digital Transformation Round, eligible businesses will have access to vital resources and support to embark on their digital journey. This includes financial assistance, expertise, and guidance on adopting and utilising digital technologies effectively. Whether it’s transitioning to cloud-based operations, implementing data analytics, or enhancing online presence, this initiative aims to equip businesses with the tools they need to thrive in a digital age.
Beyond financial support, the Digital Transformation Round also aligns with the government’s broader mission of understanding the specific technological needs of businesses. By collecting insights and feedback from participating enterprises, the government can shape future policies and initiatives to better serve the evolving tech landscape.
OpenGov Asia previously reported that the Vietnam-Australia Digital Forum 2023, organised by Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), in collaboration with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and the NSW Trade and Investment Department, reflects the global importance of digital collaboration. This event, held during Minister Nguyen Manh Hung’s visit to Australia, signifies the commitment of both nations to enhance cooperation in information and communication technology.
It is part of the MIC’s broader 2023 initiatives to facilitate Vietnam’s digital business community expansion globally, with similar programs underway in countries like the United States, Japan, and Europe. These efforts underline the growing significance of international partnerships in fostering innovation, knowledge sharing, and economic growth through technology.
Recently, a team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has brought breakthroughs into modern technology. They have introduced a method that harnesses the power of multiple artificial intelligence (AI) systems to engage in discussions and debates, aiming to reach the most optimal solution for a given question. This approach empowers these advanced language models to enhance their commitment to factual information and improve their decision-making.
The main challenge associated with large language models (LLMs) is the inconsistency in the responses they generate, which can lead to potential inaccuracies and flawed reasoning. This novel strategy allows each (AI) agent to actively evaluate the reactions of every other agent and use this collective feedback to refine its response.
Technically, this process includes multiple rounds of response generation and critique, with each language model updating its answer based on feedback from other agents. It culminates in a final output through a majority vote, akin to a group discussion where participants collaborate to reach a unified, well-reasoned conclusion.
A significant advantage of this approach is its easy application to existing black-box models, specifically large language models (LLMs). It smoothly integrates with them, focusing on text generation, and doesn’t necessitate access to their internal workings. This simplicity can make it more accessible for researchers and developers to improve the accuracy and consistency of language model outputs.
Yilun Du, an MIT PhD student in electrical engineering and computer science and an MIT CSAIL affiliate, states, “Rather than relying solely on a single AI model for answers, our process engages a multitude of AI models, each offering unique insights to address a question.
Though initial responses may be brief or contain errors, these models improve by analysing peers’ responses, enhancing problem-solving skills, and validating accuracy through dialogue. It contrasts with isolated AI models often replicating internet content, fostering more precise solutions.
The study concentrated on math problem-solving, yielding significant performance improvements through the multi-agent debate method. Additionally, language models exhibited improved arithmetic skills, suggesting potential applications across various domains.
Furthermore, this method can help address the issue of “hallucinations” commonly encountered in language models. By creating an environment where agents assess each other’s responses, they are more motivated to avoid generating random information and prioritise factual correctness.
Beyond its relevance to language models, this approach can potentially integrate diverse models with specialised skills. Establishing a decentralised system where multiple agents interact and debate could enable the application of these comprehensive and efficient problem-solving abilities across different modalities, such as speech, video, or text.
While promising, the researchers recognise that current language models may struggle with lengthy contexts and that critique capabilities need refinement. The multi-agent debate format, inspired by human group interactions, has room for further exploration in complex discussions crucial for collective decision-making. Advancing this technique may require a deeper understanding of the computational foundation.
Yilun Du noted, “This approach not only offers a way to elevate the performance of existing language models but also provides an automatic mechanism for self-improvement. By utilising the debate process as supervised data, language models can enhance their accuracy and reasoning abilities autonomously, reducing their dependence on human feedback and offering a scalable approach to self-improvement.
As researchers continue to refine and explore this approach, we can move closer to a future where language models mimic human-like language and exhibit more systematic and dependable thinking, ushering in a new era of language comprehension and application.”
The Minister of Digital Economy and Society has outlined the ministry’s operational policy within the framework of “The Growth Engine of Thailand.” This plan emphasises three key areas:
- Enhancing the country’s digital capabilities for competitive advantage
- Ensuring stability and security in the digital economy and society
- Fostering the development of the nation’s digital human capital
This policy is a roadmap for advancing Thailand’s digital economy and society in the next phase.
Mr. Prasert Chandraruangthong, Minister of Digital Economy and Society (DES), shared this operational policy with the media, highlighting the three primary drivers of Thailand’s digital economy and society. These include:
- Strengthening digital capabilities to enhance the country’s competitiveness (Thailand Competitiveness).
- Ensuring stability and security in the digital economy and society (Safety & Security).
- Developing the potential of the country’s digital human capital (Human Capital).
Mr Prasert emphasised that the foremost driver for Thailand’s digital economy and society is a set of guidelines to enhance digital capabilities to create a competitive advantage for the nation. The Ministry of Digital Technology will focus on improving efficiency and leveraging the country’s digital infrastructure to generate opportunities. This effort will accelerate the development of telecommunications systems, high-speed internet networks, and 5G technology to enhance people’s quality of life, boost business and industrial sectors, and facilitate international trade and investment through global communication networks.
In the future, Thailand aims to become a regional hub for submarine cable networks, boost international trade and e-commerce, and enhance digital identity verification through National Digital ID. They are preparing for the AI-driven economic era and developing a master plan for responsible artificial intelligence (AI).
The Ministry of Digital Affairs plans to bolster Thailand’s global digital competitiveness by supporting Digital Startups through a Co-Investment system and the Digital Startup Go Global Development Fund. The focus is on increasing income opportunities for farmers, aiding SMEs in adopting digital tech, and positioning Thailand as a key player in Digital Content, E-SPORTS, and international trade. They aim to attract global investments in Over-The-Top (OTT) Platform businesses, streamline business establishment processes, and ensure fair tax collection.
To promote digital literacy, the ministry will facilitate internet access for children and youth, enable safe access to global libraries via AI, and encourage communities to embrace digital technology for income generation and adaptation to the digital economy.
These efforts aim to enhance the efficiency of digital government services by integrating big data from government agencies and promoting services across sectors with open APIs for public and private sector convenience. This includes implementing One Stop Service, developing the One Wallet system, and utilising Blockchain technology and Smart Contracts to establish transparent rules, reducing discretionary decision-making by officials. Thai Digital Startups will be given opportunities to participate in system development.
Thailand is preparing to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and engage with international digital agencies. They aim to transform the nation with a Mega Programme, expanding projects like Thailand Digital Valley and extending smart city areas.
Addressing cybercrime is crucial for digital economy stability. Initiatives include combating online fraud and improving cybersecurity through a Cyber Alert Centre.
Thailand plans to establish coding schools, offer accessible digital classrooms for upskilling, and incentivise digital skill development to enhance digital human capital. Short-term efforts involve:
- Setting up a Cyber Alert Centre.
- Fostering gaming careers.
- Addressing workforce shortages via the Global Digital Talent Visa programme.
Businesses across the globe are increasingly recognising the advantages of embracing a strategy that prioritises edge computing, cloud-based operations and data-centric management and harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) during this era of digital transformation and sustainability.
This shift in focus is not just an evolution within the business realm; instead, it holds remarkable potential to revolutionise entire industries and foster unprecedented levels of efficiency and innovation. No doubt, as businesses step into this new era, they will be presented with fresh opportunities as well as new challenges.
This transformation influences the operational aspects of companies but also has the potential to reshape the very foundations of their respective industries. Organisations must prepare themselves for a multitude of shifts.
These include changes related to data gathering, management and utilisation, along with the substantial influence of AI technology on their product and service development, customer engagement strategies, and overall business operations.
Organisations in Singapore are leading the way in embracing a sustainable digital future, setting a benchmark for others to follow. These initiatives not only bolster the country’s economic growth but also position it as a significant contender for long-term economic stability in the digital era.
Recent reports highlight an intriguing trend within the business sector. A remarkable 86% of corporate executives recognise that sustainability represents an investment that not only safeguards their companies from potential future disruptions but also fulfils a vital social responsibility.
Furthermore, it reveals that sustainability extends beyond environmental preservation, encompassing the optimisation of specific business functions, including cost control. Indeed, 80% of corporate leaders have reported cost optimisation as a direct result of their sustainability initiatives. This underscores the synergy between operational efficiency and immediate economic sustainability, showcasing how sustainability can yield tangible benefits.
In the pursuit of digital transformation and sustainability, numerous challenges must be confronted. One such hurdle involves the belief that the optimal strategy involves migrating all workloads to the cloud. While cloud computing offers substantial benefits, it may not fully account for the complexities of the contemporary information technology landscape.
The IT ecosystem comprises not only the tried-and-true but still valuable older generations of technologies but also newer innovations. Moreover, many businesses today rely on an array of diverse cloud services, resulting in what is commonly referred to as a “multi-cloud” environment. Additionally, sustainable IT strategies must take into account the rapidly expanding realm of edge computing.
To surmount these challenges, enterprises need to formulate an IT strategy that acknowledges the intricacies of the broader IT landscape beyond simply transitioning workloads to the cloud. They must strategise on how to effectively manage a diverse array of cloud services, seamlessly integrate both legacy and modern technology, and incorporate the growing significance of edge computing into their plans.
The OpenGov Events convened Singapore’s foremost technology leaders on 21 September 2023, at the Raffles City Convention Center Singapore to discuss the most recent insights regarding the key elements reshaping strategies for digital transformation. The session focussed on sustainability advancements, prioritising data-centric approaches, and adapting to the evolving landscape of hybrid design.
According to Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, in an era marked by dynamic digital transformation and a heightened focus on sustainability, businesses across the globe are recognising the immense potential of adopting an edge-centric, data-driven approach. At the forefront of this transformative convergence stands Singapore, setting the benchmark for sustainable digitalisation while positioning itself as a global leader in this paradigm shift.
“The marriage of sustainability and data-driven strategies is poised to reshape businesses and economies alike,” says Mohit.
Singapore’s pioneering role in sustainable digitalisation offers a blueprint for nations worldwide seeking to balance technological advancement with ecological preservation. By successfully aligning economic growth with environmental responsibility, the nation showcases the way forward in harmonising these two seemingly disparate goals.
Mohit recalls Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s remarks at the recent G20 New Delhi Summit. Prime Minister Lee underlined the importance of expanded private finance to confront the “existential” threat of climate change, which will necessitate trillions of dollars in annual investments to achieve global net-zero emissions by 2050.
Singapore’s blended finance platform, according to the Prime Minister, aims to pool resources from the public, private, and philanthropic sectors to fund green initiatives and assist high-carbon enterprises in their attempts to reduce emissions.
For businesses, this paradigm shift represents a profound opportunity. The adoption of edge-centric approaches and the strategic integration of data-driven technologies empower companies to operate more efficiently and respond swiftly to evolving market demands. This synergy between sustainability and top performance underscores the importance of making environmental responsibility a fundamental element of digital transformation strategies.
As organisations align their technology with sustainability objectives, they unlock the potential of cloud computing, edge computing, and AI to optimise processes and drive efficiency. To fully harness this potential, effective data management, governance, security, and analytics form the bedrock for unlocking valuable insights that fuel revenue growth and expansion.
“The integration of sustainability and digital transformation necessitates strategic planning, precise data management, and unwavering commitment to innovation,” Mohit says. “By incorporating these elements, businesses position themselves for success in a future characterised by growth fueled by sustainability and technological advancement.”
This convergence of sustainability and digital transformation promises enhanced business performance, granting organisations a competitive edge in a rapidly evolving landscape. Furthermore, sustainability extends beyond ethical or efficiency considerations, serving as a wise investment in long-term resilience that strengthens businesses against disruptions and uncertainties.
Sustainable IT encompasses more than cloud migration, requiring an inclusive approach accommodating multi-generation systems, various cloud platforms, and the emerging realm of edge computing. This comprehensive approach paves the way for organisations to thrive in an increasingly interconnected and sustainable future.
Elevating customer experiences through a data-first approach is about understanding individual preferences, harnessing data analytics, and embracing innovation agility. Prioritising customer-centricity and strategic data utilisation enables businesses to forge deep connections with their audience, laying the foundation for sustainable growth.
Mohit recognises that data-driven insights fuel innovation, allowing organisations to introduce products and services aligned with customer preferences. Hence, adopting a “hybrid by design” approach involves seamlessly integrating efficient technologies, circular economy principles, and environmental factors into business strategies.
“This approach not only enhances competitiveness but also contributes to an eco-friendlier digital landscape,” Mohit observes.
Leveraging large-scale AI powered by renewable energy represents a significant stride toward sustainable IT practices, combining efficiency and environmental responsibility. By optimising workloads, minimising waste, and embracing circular economy principles, organisations can contribute to a more environmentally conscious technological landscape.
Mohit believes that to navigate the challenges in delivering sustainable and customer-centric experiences, businesses should integrate data security, sustainability, innovation, and adaptability into their approach. Ethical data practices, AI-driven insights, and flexibility are key elements in this endeavour.
Balancing data utilisation with stringent security measures is essential to maintain customer trust and avoid breaches. Harmonising innovation with sustainability objectives requires strategic decision-making.
“Ensuring data accuracy and reliability across various platforms is a consistent effort, and extracting meaningful insights from abundant data is crucial for informed decision-making,” Mohit concludes.
The pandemic has altered the nature of work considerably, requiring companies to find innovative strategies for ensuring continuity, boosting productivity and adaptability when handling emergency scenarios. One such adaptation has been the introduction of a hybrid work model, allowing employees to work from home for a portion of their workweek. Besides affording employees greater flexibility, this work model enables organisations to optimise their resource allocation.
Joseph Yang, Managing Director, Singapore at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, agrees that a hybrid work style can lead to cost savings in maintaining physical offices and related infrastructure. With employees able to work from anywhere with a strong internet connection, it also expands access to talent beyond the confines of a traditional office location.
Moreover, the adoption of a hybrid work model goes beyond its immediate benefits and significantly contributes to an organisation’s agility in navigating the dynamic and ever-changing business environment. This flexibility empowers companies to make swifter and more adept adjustments in response to shifting circumstances and emerging challenges.
Conversely, when organisations adopt a hybrid strategy, data bias often arises inadvertently, as Joseph shares. It is important that organisations acknowledge this issue and take a more proactive stance in addressing it. One approach involves harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) on a broader scale to transform data bias into a valuable source of intelligence.
AI proves particularly effective in identifying, managing, and rectifying bias, surpassing human capabilities in terms of accuracy and efficiency. As a result, AI is increasingly leveraged to mitigate data bias. It can swiftly and comprehensively analyse vast datasets, while also identifying potential bias-indicating patterns and providing relevant solutions.
Furthermore, AI possesses the capability to continuously evolve and enhance its bias-mitigation abilities through learning from newly acquired data. Consequently, the utilisation of AI can aid organisations not only in pinpointing existing biases within their data but also in proactively preventing the emergence of new biases in the future.
This strategic approach allows businesses to accelerate the adoption of a data-driven methodology that precedes and generates actionable insights. Consequently, organisational performance experiences a notable boost, and challenges related to information technology sustainability become more intricate, reflecting the rapid evolution of technology’s role in shaping businesses.
Joseph thinks that one of the pivotal domains for addressing this issue revolves around enhancing data centre efficiency. By implementing cooling solutions, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and designing data centres with energy-efficient layouts, organisations can significantly diminish their carbon footprint.
Furthermore, the adoption of lifecycle management techniques, data compression, and deduplication can curtail the demand for data storage and subsequently reduce energy consumption. Additional measures to mitigate the carbon footprint include decreasing travel through server virtualisation, promoting remote work arrangements and opting for environmentally conscious data storage solutions.
A commitment to sustainability, along with ongoing monitoring and transparent reporting, forms the cornerstone of an environmentally responsible data management strategy. This mindset can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to information technology.
According to Joseph, the term “sustainable information technology” encompasses the adoption of information technology practices and tools that align with long-term sustainability objectives and demonstrate environmental consciousness. These strategies will significantly aid a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to data management and technology infrastructure.
Joseph underscored the importance of thoughtfully selecting data centre locations that enable the implementation of efficient cooling systems and the utilisation of renewable energy sources. Just intentionally and strategically selecting locations can make substantial strides in reducing their carbon footprint and minimising their ecological impact.
Sustainable information technology not only benefits the environment, but also offers cost efficiencies, resource optimisation, and better operational results. This enables organisations to reduce energy consumption, reduce operational costs, improve resource allocation, and ensure business continuity through reduced downtime.
“Embracing sustainable information technology in line with increasingly stringent environmental regulations and customer expectations makes the organisation a responsible and forward-thinking entity in the modern business landscape,” Joseph concludes.
Architecting an intrinsically sustainable, data-first, and hybrid-by-design future represents a forward-looking approach that integrates three critical elements: sustainability, data-centricity, and hybrid infrastructure. This approach is poised to shape the future of businesses and technologies in an increasingly interconnected and eco-conscious world.
Ashutosh Sharan, Vice President of Customer Solutions for Southeast Asia at Mastercard, highlights Mastercard’s proactive involvement in various endeavours that fuse sustainability with digital transformation.
One noteworthy initiative is the introduction of the Priceless Planet Coalition, where Mastercard collaborates with organisations such as Conservation International to embark on an ambitious mission of restoring 100 million trees over five years. This undertaking ingeniously utilises technology to actively engage consumers in meaningful environmental conservation efforts.
Additionally, Mastercard remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing digital financial inclusion, particularly in underserved regions. Through the deployment of digital payment solutions, Mastercard aims to empower individuals economically, concurrently diminishing the dependence on cash transactions.
“Mastercard dedicates substantial data resources to propel sustainability initiatives.,” Ashutosh explains. “We analyse payment data and consumer behaviour to encourage environmentally conscious choices.”
The company also places a strong emphasis on supply chain sustainability, harnessing digital solutions to empower businesses in monitoring and enhancing the environmental footprint of their operations.
Furthermore, their initiatives to offer digital identity solutions for marginalised populations are aimed at bolstering financial access and sustainability within the digital economy.
Mastercard has established an ambitious objective of attaining carbon neutrality in its worldwide operations by the year 2050. To achieve this, they are actively integrating sustainable practices and cutting-edge technology to significantly diminish their carbon footprint.
Moreover, they are engaged in projects focused on smart cities and urban sustainability. These initiatives entail partnerships with cities to deploy digital solutions that enhance transportation systems and promote urban sustainability. In addition, Mastercard is dedicated to supporting digital education initiatives that advocate for sustainable practices among individuals and businesses alike.
Ashutosh acknowledges that aligning sustainability goals with customer expectations can be challenging due to factors such as insufficient awareness, conflicting priorities, and the perceived high costs associated with sustainable products. To overcome these obstacles, companies should implement clear and easily understandable communication strategies that highlight the mutual benefits of sustainability, while also providing incentives for making sustainable choices.
He further suggests that addressing the issue of limited product availability requires close collaboration with suppliers and partners, expanding accessibility through various means, and considering online sales options. Ensuring transparency within supply chains, adapting to evolving customer preferences, and demonstrating tangible and measurable sustainability impacts are all critical steps in meeting these challenges.
Building trust by avoiding greenwashing, tailoring sustainability efforts to local preferences, and proactively engaging and educating customers through events and collaborations are key strategies to align sustainability goals effectively with customer expectations. Ultimately, companies that prioritise transparency, education, and customer collaboration are better equipped to foster a shared commitment to sustainability with their customer base.
“Ensuring a consistent and seamless customer journey across various channels in a hybrid model necessitates a well-planned strategy,” Ashutosh explains. “It begins with centralising customer data through a CRM system, which serves as a foundation for personalisation.”
The significance of adopting an omnichannel approach, which entails maintaining consistent messaging, branding, and service standards across both physical and digital touchpoints, cannot be understated.
It is crucial for the integration of technologies to be seamless, enabling the smooth flow of data between these channels to facilitate effortless transitions for customers. This uniformity in branding, design, and messaging serves to reinforce brand recognition and build trust.
In Ashutosh’s view, personalisation driven by customer data is paramount, ensuring that customers feel genuinely understood and well-served, regardless of the channel they opt for. Providing a consistent customer support experience, whether through phone, email, chat, or in-person interactions, remains of utmost importance.
Ashutosh emphasises that mobile optimisation is absolutely crucial in today’s business landscape. Mobile experiences must align with and match the quality of desktop interactions. Moreover, he stresses the importance of continuous feedback collection and iterative improvement to ensure that customer experiences are constantly evolving and improving.
In addition, Ashutosh highlights the vital importance of robust cybersecurity measures and strict data privacy protocols. These are essential not only for protecting sensitive customer information but also for maintaining and reinforcing customer trust in the long term.
Dr. Tung Whye Loon, the Director of Data, AI & Research at SP Digital, a part of SP Group, spoke on how SP Digital has achieved successful integration of AI and data optimisation into various facets of its operations, reaping numerous advantages.
One noteworthy application is predictive maintenance, driven by AI, which allows SP Digital to anticipate equipment failures and proactively perform maintenance, thereby reducing unplanned downtime and bolstering asset reliability. Additionally, the utilisation of AI in demand forecasting optimises production and distribution, ensuring efficient operations and minimising issues like stockouts or surpluses.
“AI-driven fraud detection enhances customer protection and financial security, while customer segmentation enables more effective marketing campaigns through personalised targeting,” Dr Tung explains.
SP Digital is actively exploring additional applications of AI and data optimisation to continue advancing its operations. This encompasses streamlining energy consumption through the use of AI for scheduling production during off-peak hours and the implementation of demand-response programmes to manage energy demand more efficiently.
Furthermore, there is significant potential for enhancing customer service through AI. Chatbots and machine learning can play a pivotal role in addressing customer inquiries promptly and efficiently, while also identifying potential churn risks.
Additionally, AI-driven data analysis can be instrumental in fostering innovation. It can identify customer patterns and generate fresh ideas through natural language processing, thereby facilitating the development of innovative products and services.
These initiatives showcase SP Digital’s commitment to leveraging AI and data optimisation to transform its operations and enhance customer value, according to Dr Tung.
Harnessing the potential of large-scale AI for a data-first strategy requires a systematic approach aimed at transforming organisations into data-driven powerhouses. This journey commences with the meticulous collection and integration of data from diverse sources, with a focus on ensuring data quality and standardisation.
The application of AI-powered analytics, including machine learning and predictive models, then plays a pivotal role in unveiling hidden patterns and correlations within vast datasets, offering valuable insights crucial for informed decision-making.
Moreover, the establishment of scalable infrastructure, such as cloud computing and edge computing, becomes vital to accommodate the ever-expanding volumes of data and facilitate real-time analysis. Strong data governance practices, robust cybersecurity measures, and unwavering compliance with data privacy regulations are indispensable elements for safeguarding data integrity and security throughout this process.
Dr Tung stresses that actionable insights are derived through visualisation, reporting, and automated alerts, empowering stakeholders to make data-driven decisions.
“Continuous learning, feedback loops, and a data-first culture foster ongoing improvement, with cross-functional collaboration and measurable impact driving the adoption of AI-powered data strategies,” he believes. “Ethical considerations guide responsible AI and data practices, ensuring the ethical use of data and AI technologies throughout the organisation.”
In a resource-intensive, hybrid IT environment, achieving a harmonious blend of innovation and sustainability is paramount. This can be accomplished by embracing a multi-faceted approach that addresses both technological advancement and ecological responsibility. Organisations should prioritise energy efficiency and renewable resources to power their IT infrastructure, complemented by data centre optimisation techniques that reduce resource wastage.
Dr Tung believes that embracing cloud computing and hybrid models allows for dynamic resource allocation, minimising energy consumption, “Circular economy principles encourage the recycling and reusing of IT equipment, further reducing environmental impact.”
Additionally, encouraging innovation for sustainability promotes the development of green IT solutions and the integration of emerging technologies to optimise resource utilisation. Effective data optimisation and management strategies minimise data redundancy, leading to lower storage and processing requirements.
Dr Tung firmly believes that involving employees in sustainable practices and regularly monitoring key performance indicators related to sustainability serves as the foundation for nurturing a culture of accountability within the organisation.
By adhering to environmental regulations and actively collaborating with eco-conscious suppliers, the organisation ensures that sustainability remains a central focus in its IT operations. This commitment to sustainability underscores the organisation’s dedication to responsible environmental stewardship.
By implementing these strategies, organisations can effectively balance the demands of innovation with sustainability in resource-intensive, hybrid IT environments, reducing their environmental footprint and contributing to a greener, more responsible future.
Joseph Yang, the Managing Director of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) in Singapore, revealed that HPE encounters various sustainability challenges in its pursuit of sustainability goals. Among these challenges, one major concern is the substantial energy consumption associated with its data centres and manufacturing facilities.
Addressing these energy-related issues is a crucial aspect of the company’s sustainability mission. HPE has successfully implemented strategies to diminish energy consumption without compromising operational efficiency, thereby mitigating its environmental impact.
Additionally, being a technology company, HPE faces the challenge of managing electronic waste (e-waste) stemming from outdated equipment. To address this issue responsibly, HPE emphasises the need for proper disposal and recycling methods to minimise environmental harm associated with e-waste disposal.
HPE confronts significant challenges in its sustainability initiatives, including the need to ensure the sustainability of its extensive supply chain. This encompasses responsible material sourcing and ethical labour practices, both of which require diligent management and oversight.
Moreover, HPE faces the intricate task of balancing data privacy and security concerns with its sustainability objectives. This balancing act underscores the complexity of HPE’s sustainability efforts, as it strives to uphold its commitment to sustainability while safeguarding sensitive data and ensuring robust cybersecurity measures are in place.
Joseph notes that HPE acknowledges several sustainability opportunities within its operations. One significant avenue involves embracing energy-efficient technologies and adopting sustainable practices within its data centres and facilities. This approach presents an opportunity to reduce energy consumption without compromising performance, aligning with HPE’s commitment to sustainability.
Joseph is confident that HPE can further capitalise on circular economy principles by refurbishing and repurposing old IT equipment, promoting recycling, and extending product lifecycles. Collaborating with suppliers and partners enables HPE to drive sustainability throughout its supply chain, from responsible material sourcing to reduced emissions in logistics and transportation.
Leveraging its technological expertise, HPE can innovate sustainable IT solutions, such as energy-efficient servers and environmentally friendly data storage, he says. Harnessing data analytics and AI allows HPE to optimise operations for sustainability, including predictive maintenance to reduce energy consumption and data-driven supply chain improvements.
HPE’s engagement with customers through green IT solutions and services, along with a dedication to regulatory compliance, enhances the company’s reputation as a responsible and sustainable organisation.
“By addressing sustainability challenges and capitalising on opportunities, HPE is well-positioned to align its business objectives with environmental and social responsibility” Joseph concludes. “Ultimately, we are contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future for all.”
Alexis Crowell, Vice President and CTO, Sales, Marketing and Communications Group – Asia Pacific and Japan, Intel reiterated the significance of implementing and seamlessly integrating data within the organisation to enhance customer satisfaction. By maintaining a robust data history, services can be tailored to better align with the individual needs of customers, ensuring greater personalisation and relevance.
Well-integrated data allows organisations to respond quickly to customer issues or complaints, which can improve company image and build customer trust. Additionally, this data-driven approach empowers organisations to identify trends and patterns in customer behaviour, which can then be leveraged to formulate more potent and effective marketing strategies.
Alexis believes that effective data management not only enhances customer satisfaction but also enables organisations to streamline their internal processes, leading to cost reductions and improved overall efficiency. Consequently, prioritising data integrity and quality represents a valuable investment in the pursuit of long-term success for any organisation.
Alexis added that it is possible to align data-based organisations with information technology sustainability. This strategic focus not only promotes eco-friendly practices but also fosters long-term resilience and responsible stewardship of resources in the digital age.
“Organisations do not need to worry about not being able to achieve harmony between efficient and sustainable use of information technology,” she argues. “With the right commitment and smart investments, every organisation can take steps towards sustainable, environmentally friendly data management.”
Mohit emphasised the crucial role of engaging the entire organisation in this ongoing journey, asserting that it’s not solely the responsibility of the IT department. The far-reaching effects and advantages of sustainable information technology reverberate throughout the entire organisation.
He believes that ample resources and support are readily accessible to organisations aspiring to embark on the path of information technology sustainability. These resources encompass a spectrum of tools, expert guidance, best practices and collaborative networks, all designed to facilitate a smooth and successful transition toward sustainable technology practices.
“By tapping into these available resources, organisations can navigate the complexities of sustainability initiatives with confidence and vigour, fostering a brighter future for both their operations and the planet,” Mohit is convinced.
In closing, Mohit extended his gratitude to all the delegates for their presence and active participation. He firmly believes that their invaluable insights and contributions not only enriched the discussions but also solidified a collective commitment to forging a sustainable and progressive future.
Departing from one of the busiest airports in the world is about to become a remarkably hassle-free experience. Singaporean ministers have just unveiled plans for an automated immigration clearance system that promises to revolutionise travel with no passport required. This groundbreaking development at Singapore’s Changi Airport is set to launch in 2024.
According to Communications Minister Josephine Teo, this ambitious project intends to eliminate the need for tourists to “repeatedly present their travel documents.” Instead, biometric data gathered from fingerprint scans and facial recognition technology will take the central stage.
While Changi Airport already employs biometric technology in its automated immigration lanes, these upcoming enhancements will take convenience to a whole new level. The goal is to make the entire airport experience smoother and more streamlined for passengers.
Singapore’s Communications Minister, Josephine Teo, proudly announced that Singapore is set to be among “the first few countries in the world” to implement such a groundbreaking system. The first phase of this transformative scheme is expected to roll out early next year, featuring QR code scanning points that will pave the way for the biometric revolution.
These innovations are made possible by recent amendments to Singapore’s immigration laws, which facilitate the widespread adoption of biometric clearance at airports and various other checkpoints. The result will be a travel experience where your personal information seamlessly verifies your identity at every stage, from check-in to boarding.
This monumental shift in travel procedures brings with it a multitude of benefits. Firstly, it eliminates the stress and anxiety associated with keeping track of physical documents throughout the journey. No more worrying about losing the passport or having it stolen, hence, the identity is in the hands, quite literally.
Additionally, using biometric data enhances security measures, making it even more challenging for unauthorised individuals to access restricted areas. It’s a win-win situation for both passengers and airport authorities.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is on the cusp of transforming the way of travelling. The introduction of an automated immigration clearance system powered by biometric data promises a future where passports and boarding passes become relics of the past.
Instead, a simple fingerprint scan or facial recognition will grant access to a seamless, stress-free journey. Singapore is leading the charge into this new era of travel, and the world will be watching closely as the innovation unfolds.
The New Clearance Concept (NCC) and Services Centre Next Generation (SCNG) are two initiatives that the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) implemented to enhance border clearance and registration services, as well as automated immigration clearance and digitalisation.
The Automated Clearance Initiative (ACI), which takes effect in May 2022, allows passport holders from 51 countries to use designated automated immigration lanes without prior enrolment. Over four million international visitors have been enrolled through ACI to date. The electronic visit pass (ePass) contains information on eligible foreign visitors’ enrolment.
During the pandemic-induced slowdown, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), in collaboration with Changi Airport Group and ground handling partners, has accelerated trials of autonomous vehicles (AVs) at Changi Airport’s airside. This time period was used to direct resources and capabilities towards technological and innovative developments.
Advanced robotic systems and adaptive platforms are also being developed to resist varied weather conditions and work well outside. These developments are intended to make aircraft turnaround operations and baggage handling easier, especially in inclement weather. CAAS is committed to strengthening its capabilities in order to manage the anticipated increase in air traffic, with a focus on both safety and efficiency in its operational approach.
A representative of the country’s think tank, the National Institute of Transforming India (NITI Aayog), Ramesh Chand, formally introduced the Unified Portal for Agricultural Statistics (UPAg Portal). This marks a significant step in tackling the complex governance issues in India’s agricultural sector. It is designed to optimise and elevate data management within the agricultural sphere. It will contribute to a more efficient and responsive agricultural policy framework.
The portal standardises data related to prices, production, area, yield, and trade, consolidating it in a single location. This eliminates the necessity to compile data from multiple sources. The portal can also conduct advanced analytics, providing insights into production trends, trade correlations, and consumption patterns.
Furthermore, the portal will produce granular production estimates with increased frequency, improving the government’s capacity to respond swiftly to agricultural crises. Commodity profile reports will be generated using algorithms, reducing subjectivity and providing users with comprehensive insights. Users also have the flexibility to use the portal’s data for crafting their own reports, fostering a culture of data-driven decision-making.
The portal was developed by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (DA&FW). During his speech, Chand hailed the platform as an investment and a monumental leap forward in the field of agricultural data management. He encouraged the audience to embrace a shift in mindset within agriculture, aimed at bringing about transformative changes. Research suggests that US$ 1 invested in data generated a US$ 32 impact, he said.
The portal empowers stakeholders with real-time, reliable, and standardised information, laying the foundation for more effective agricultural policies. He also asserted that when data is more objective, the room for subjective judgment in policy-making diminishes, resulting in more stable, transparent, and well-informed decisions. He advised that the portal should prioritise data credibility to maximise its effectiveness.
Secretary of the DA&FW, Manoj Ahuja, underscored the various ongoing initiatives by the department, such as the Krishi Decision Support System, the farmer registry, and crop surveys. He articulated that the UPAg Portal is envisioned as a public good, aiming to provide users with reduced search costs, minimised obstacles, and access to trustworthy, detailed, and impartial data. According to a press release, the UPAg portal tackles the following challenges:
Lack of Standardised Data: At present, agricultural data is scattered across multiple sources, often presented in diverse formats and units. The UPAg Portal’s objective is to centralise this data into a standardised format, making it easily accessible and understandable for users.
Lack of Verified Data: Reliable data is crucial for accurate policy decisions. UPAg Portal ensures that data from sources like Agmarknet is vetted and updated regularly, ensuring policymakers receive accurate information on agricultural prices.
Fragmented Data Sources: To construct a comprehensive understanding of any crop, it is necessary to consider multiple variables such as production, trade, and prices. The portal consolidates data from various sources, enabling a holistic assessment of agricultural commodities.
Inconsistent Frequency Variables: Data updates at different times, causing delays and inefficiencies. The portal offers real-time connectivity with data sources, reducing the time and effort required for monitoring and analysis.
The UPAg Portal is expected to play a pivotal role within the Digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture, focusing on harnessing the diversity of the agriculture sector and leveraging data as a catalyst for growth.
The University of Michigan has developed machine-learning algorithms technology. This new technology can identify problematic areas in antibodies, making them less susceptible to binding non-target molecules. This innovative development, led by Peter Tessier, the Albert Mattocks Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at U-M and the study’s corresponding author in Nature Biomedical Engineering, presents a ground-breaking solution to enhance the effectiveness of antibodies in fighting diseases.
“Antibodies play a crucial role in our immune system’s defence mechanism by binding to specific molecules known as antigens on disease-causing agents, such as the spike protein on the COVID-19 virus,” Tessier expressed, “Once bound, antibodies either directly neutralise harmful viruses or cells or signal the body’s immune cells to take action.”
However, there’s a challenge associated with antibodies designed to bind strongly and rapidly to their specific antigens. These antibodies may also bind to non-antigen molecules, leading to their premature removal from the body. Moreover, they can interact with other antibodies of the same type, forming dense solutions that do not easily flow through the needles used for delivering antibody drugs.
Tessier highlighted the importance of antibodies that can simultaneously perform three critical tasks: tightly binding to their intended target, repelling each other, and disregarding other substances within the body. Antibodies failing to meet all three criteria are unlikely to be successful drugs. Unfortunately, a significant number of clinical-stage antibodies fall short in this regard.
In their recent study, Tessier’s team assessed the activity of 80 clinical-stage antibodies in the laboratory. It made a startling discovery – 75% of these antibodies interacted with the wrong molecules, with each other, or both. To address this issue, the team turned to machine learning.
By making subtle changes to the amino acids that make up an antibody, they can alter the antibody’s three-dimensional structure. This modification helps prevent antibodies from behaving improperly, as an antibody’s structure determines the substances it can bind to. However, making changes without careful consideration can introduce more problems than they solve, and the typical antibody contains hundreds of amino acid positions that could be altered.
Fortunately, machine learning offers a streamlined solution. Tessier’s team created models that are trained using experimental data collected from clinical-stage antibodies. These models can precisely identify how to modify antibodies to ensure they meet all three criteria mentioned earlier, with an impressive accuracy rate of 78% to 88%. This approach significantly reduces the number of antibody modifications that chemical and biomedical engineers need to produce and test in the lab.
Tiexin Wang, a doctoral student in chemical engineering and a co-author of the study, emphasised the pivotal role of machine learning in accelerating drug development. This advanced technology is already attracting attention from biotech companies, which recognise its potential for optimising the development of next-generation therapeutic antibodies.
Tessier concluded by mentioning that some companies have developed antibodies with desirable biological activity but are aware of potential challenges when using these antibodies as drugs. In such cases, Tessier’s team steps in to identify specific areas within the antibodies that require modification, offering valuable assistance to these companies.