In the past few years, there has been a remarkable surge in the Philippines’ endeavours to kickstart digital transformation across different industries. These efforts have proven successful in revolutionising business operations, enhancing user experiences, and fostering heightened competition within the market.
Enhancing user experience holds paramount importance, particularly in the realm of public services. Establishments must display a steadfast dedication to enhancing public services by embracing technology that is both accessible and user-friendly. This represents a pivotal stride towards delivering services to the public that are not only more efficient but also exceedingly convenient.
Through the adoption of cloud-based infrastructure, public service entities can integrate applications and platforms equipped with adaptable and dependable resources. This empowers them to provide prompt and uninterrupted services, thereby enhancing their ability to cater to the requirements of the community effectively.
The pivotal factor in elevating productivity and ensuring streamlined access to crucial services lies in a user-friendly interface. Such an interface not only simplifies the comprehension of software applications but also optimises time utilisation for users, fostering a more efficient and convenient experience.
Moreover, the presence of a user-friendly interface cultivates an environment of innovation and adaptability within organisations. As users become at ease and self-assured in their technology interactions, internal teams are inspired to engage in creative thinking and explore novel avenues for enhancing services and operational procedures. This dynamic encourages the emergence of improved and more streamlined approaches to tackle the continually evolving challenges of the digital business landscape.
Establishing a system of this nature necessitates careful attention to pivotal components, including corporate data, privacy measures, supply chain dynamics, and the realm of cloud computing. These multifaceted factors collectively introduce intricate security vulnerabilities, underscoring the need for a proactive stance to avert the occurrence of cyber threats.
Transitioning to cloud-based data modernisation represents a strategic move towards safeguarding the confidentiality of organisational data. Through the adoption of an agile resource approach and effective partnership with cloud service providers, entities can adeptly guarantee the adaptable and highly secure operation of the majority of their workloads.
Similarly, AI solutions exert significant influence over operational transformations, particularly within direct decision-making processes. Through the allocation of resources towards AI-driven decision intelligence, entities position themselves to make swift and well-suited choices on a substantial scale, consequently enhancing the overall calibre of their services.
Furthermore, organisations committed to delivering a unified and all-encompassing experience prioritise not only customer satisfaction but also employee and user contentment. By amalgamating previously distinct disciplines into a cohesive, user-centric ecosystem and redefining the user journey, they can wholeheartedly embrace a comprehensive and intricately detailed approach to solutions.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight held on 14 September 2023 at the Shangri-La The Fort Manila discussed advanced technology and its benefits in digital transformation efforts to increase resources and collaborate more effectively to prioritise customer satisfaction in the Philippines’ government, education, healthcare, and financial services sectors.
Mohit Sagar, the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, recognises that digital transformation has transcended its status as a mere trend. It has evolved into an indispensable requisite for businesses striving to thrive within today’s swiftly moving, technology-centric landscape.
Enterprises are swiftly embracing digital transformation – a comprehensive undertaking involving the infusion of digital technology into every aspect of their functioning to ensure competitiveness and significance.
The emergence of the pandemic accentuated the urgency of digital transformation. Digital collaboration tools, telemedicine, online shopping, and remote work transitioned from mere conveniences to essential pathways for survival.
Businesses that had already allocated resources to digital technologies discovered themselves in a more advantageous position to react, given the disruptions caused by lockdowns and social distancing measures to be established business frameworks.
Mohit reiterates that digital transformation has transitioned from an option to an obligatory imperative within this evolving terrain. It encompasses far more than mere procedural refinements or the development of an appealing website; it mandates a purposeful reconfiguration that permeates an organisation’s culture, procedures, and engagements with clients.
For an organisation to effectively embrace and leverage novel technologies, it needs more than just a handful of technologically adept staff members. The benefits of digital transformation should extend to all, spanning from top-level executives to frontline staff and clientele.
A cornerstone to achieving a thriving digital transformation is ensuring accessibility across all levels of an organisation’s structure and operations. In this context, accessibility encompasses the democratisation of technological knowledge and tools, making them readily available and comprehensible to a diverse range of individuals within the organisation. This not only involves catering to tech-savvy personnel but also bridging the knowledge gap for those who might be less familiar with intricate digital systems.
He stressed the paramount importance of organisations allocating financial resources towards comprehensive training and educational initiatives aimed at elevating the skill set of their workforce, a pivotal factor for the realisation of digital transformation endeavours. Employees must cultivate a level of digital literacy that enables them to proficiently navigate and leverage novel tools and systems.
“User-friendly interfaces are a requirement for technology solutions since they lessen the learning curve for both clients and staff,” Mohit explains. “The usage of intuitive designs improves customer satisfaction and adoption rates.”
Both usability and inclusivity fall under the umbrella of accessibility. It’s crucial for organisations to take into account the requirements of individuals with disabilities and ensure that digital solutions align with accessibility standards, thereby enabling universal usability, Mohit clarifies.
Cost considerations are intricately tied to the notion of accessibility. Recognising that not all enterprises can readily invest in cutting-edge technology, the preservation of scalability and cost-effectiveness remains pivotal in fostering extensive adoption.
Additionally, the bedrock of a thriving digital transformation is rooted in innovation. Consequently, organisations must continuously seek pioneering solutions, employing a variety of techniques, to effectively navigate the rapidly evolving digital terrain of today.
From Mohit’s perspective, instilling a culture of perpetual learning within the company is imperative. Sustaining flexibility and competitiveness hinges on fostering an environment that motivates employees to continuously update their knowledge of emerging technologies and market dynamics.
Furthermore, embracing experimentation often becomes a prerequisite for driving innovation. Establishing a secure space where team members can explore and experiment with new technologies and strategies is of paramount importance. Creating this safe haven eliminates concerns about potential failures, allowing for bold and inventive initiatives to be pursued without hindrance.
Access to new concepts and cutting-edge technologies is made possible by collaboration with startups, tech incubators, and other organisations. These collaborations can speed up the innovation process and yield insightful data, Mohit is convinced.
Innovation is distinguished by the utilisation of data analytics to steer decision-making, as data holds the power to unveil vital insights that aid businesses in identifying avenues for innovation and enhanced efficiency.
Similarly, the implementation of a robust cybersecurity strategy emerges as a critical necessity. This strategy commonly encompasses elements such as firewalls, encryption, regular system upgrades, and comprehensive employee training, all designed to effectively mitigate risks and safeguard organisational integrity.
Security breaches are an inevitable possibility. Hence, it is essential for businesses to establish and regularly update incident response plans. These measures are instrumental in mitigating the impact of security lapses and facilitating a swift and effective reaction when breaches do take place.
Mohit acknowledges that a key facet of security is the strict observance of data privacy regulations. In an era characterised by prevalent data breaches, prioritising the confidentiality of client data not only establishes trust but also fosters confidence. As an increasing volume of data migrates to cloud platforms, the safeguarding of cloud configurations becomes imperative.
To this end, the implementation of access controls, comprehensive data encryption, and meticulous security protocols emerge as a requisite. These measures collectively work to fortify the protective framework, ensuring the resilience of cloud-based systems against potential vulnerabilities and unauthorised access.
“The digital transformation process rests upon three primary pillars: accessibility, innovation, and security,” Mohit concludes. “In the swiftly evolving digital landscape of today, organisations that accord these factors precedence in their endeavours to effect digital change are better equipped to adeptly navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by the dynamic digital ecosystem.”
Highlighting the significance of user experience, Raymond Remoquillo, Head, Enterprise and REL Business, Lenovo, underscores the imperative for organisations to prioritise an enhanced interface, thereby recognising that fostering positive relationships with customers and product or service users hinges on a robust understanding of user experience.
“A good interface not only provides user convenience, but also creates a positive impression, increases customer satisfaction, and enables the organisation to better meet user expectations,” Raymond says.
Amid intensifying business rivalry in today’s landscape, organisations capable of delivering an exceptional user experience stand to gain a substantial competitive edge, underscoring the vital strategic move of prioritising user experience through a robust interface as a crucial driver for the enduring success of the organisation.
Raymond explains that at Lenovo, a company dedicated to crafting software experiences for their PCs, they tailor their approach to cater to the diverse preferences of users. This is achieved by harnessing data research and engaging with customers to gather feedback, which is then transformed into valuable insights to enhance product design and development.
This strategy is integral to Lenovo’s commitment to ensuring that its products authentically align with users’ requirements and anticipations, resulting in a superb experience throughout every interaction with Lenovo devices.
In addition, Lenovo employs an array of methodologies to engineer efficient software experiences, encompassing ethnographic research, concept trials, online monitoring, and customer surveys. Nevertheless, the value of direct, in-person feedback from users remains unparalleled as it enables a profound comprehension of their perspectives on a product or service.
A continuous drive for improvement characterises Lenovo’s approach to software experience. Beginning from the initial stages of product conception and extending through development and post-purchase customer feedback, the Lenovo team collaborates closely with product managers, designers, and engineers to ensure that every facet, spanning from features to components, genuinely enriches the user’s software experience.
“Seeing people use our products for the first time can be very eye-opening for our team,” Raymond reveals. “Sometimes, product trials like this can even come up with creative solutions to potential problems that users don’t even know they’re experiencing.”
During the initial phases of product ideation, Lenovo places paramount importance on gaining a profound comprehension of user needs and preferences. To attain this objective, Lenovo employs a diverse array of research methodologies, including user interviews, behavioural analysis, and tracking industry trends. This comprehensive understanding of user desires provides a robust foundation upon which products embark on their journey.
“Post-product availability, Lenovo maintains its dedication to gathering feedback from users,” Raymond concludes. “Our unwavering commitment lies in consistently enhancing the software experience for our users, ensuring our competitiveness within the industry, and augmenting user satisfaction.”
In Conversation With
Arlene Romasanta, the IT Director of the Knowledge and Information Systems Service (KISS) at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), highlighted that digital transformation efforts have markedly improved user experiences across diverse sectors in the Philippines, reshaping how businesses and organisations engage with customers, provide services, and conduct operations.
Within the banking and finance industry, digital transformation has ushered in a host of innovations, exemplified by the widespread adoption of mobile banking applications that allow users to easily conduct transactions, review balances, and even apply for loans through their smartphones.
Digital wallets and payment gateways have streamlined financial transactions, enabling online payments that minimise the necessity for in-person visits to banks or payment centres, ultimately enhancing convenience. Moreover, these endeavours have played a pivotal role in advancing financial inclusion by reaching underserved regions, thereby broadening access to banking services and financial products for a more extensive demographic.
Digital transformation has brought about significant enhancements in user experiences within the healthcare sector, with the emergence of telemedicine services standing out as a notable example. These services enable patients to remotely consult with healthcare professionals, Arlene observes.
Educational institutions have embraced online learning platforms, providing students with the convenience of accessing lectures, materials, and assignments from their residences. This transition has not only introduced greater flexibility to learning but has also democratised education by reaching individuals across the nation.
Furthermore, the integration of digital libraries has widened the availability of research materials and academic resources, proving advantageous for students and researchers, particularly in remote regions of the Philippines.
Government agencies have embraced digital transformation through the introduction of online portals for diverse services, encompassing tasks such as tax payments and license renewals. This shift allows citizens to conveniently carry out these transactions online, effectively streamlining administrative procedures and diminishing the necessity for in-person visits.
Alex Tay, Solution Director Central Asia Pacific, Lenovo, notes that digital marketplaces and e-commerce platforms have revolutionised the online accessibility of a diverse array of products, often accompanied by user-friendly payment and delivery choices.
In parallel, digital transformation has enhanced the user-centric nature of transportation and logistics. Notably, ride-sharing applications have improved commuting convenience and safety within cities like Manila, empowering users to seamlessly book rides, monitor drivers’ progress, and make secure digital payments.
He additionally highlighted the prevalence of streaming services for movies, TV shows, and music, which have gained widespread popularity. These platforms empower users with the capability to enjoy content on their own terms, fostering a personalised and easily accessible entertainment experience.
Precision farming practices, facilitated by digital technologies such as sensors and IoT devices, have enabled farmers to optimise crop management. This has led to increased yields and profitability, improving the overall experience for those involved in agriculture.
Alex explains that at the heart of this imperative is the provision of advanced devices that empower employees with seamless remote work capabilities. This emphasis on accessibility takes on paramount importance due to several compelling reasons.
“Accessibility ensures universal access to technology, regardless of physical abilities or geographic location,” he elaborates. “Inclusivity is at the core of this approach, fostering a diverse and equitable workplace where every team member can contribute to their fullest potential.”
The remote work revolution amplifies the importance of accessible technology. As the global workforce undergoes a significant transition towards remote work, technology’s accessibility empowers employees to maintain efficiency from home or other remote settings.
Devices and technology solutions designed for accessibility incorporate user-friendly interfaces and features, minimising the learning curve and enhancing employees’ initial productivity. This absence of complex or unintuitive systems directly translates into heightened efficiency.
Arlene believes that technology accessibility is a pivotal aspect of disaster preparedness. The capacity to smoothly shift to remote work in times of crises, like natural disasters or public health emergencies, can determine whether business operations continue uninterrupted or face disruption.
Furthermore, accessible technology contributes positively to employee well-being, an increasingly vital consideration for organisations. It not only supports employees in their work but also demonstrates care for their physical and mental health, contributing to a positive workplace culture.
Alex underscores the significance of user-friendly interfaces as the foundation of contemporary technology, essential for boosting efficiency, encouraging innovation, and enabling smooth interactions for users engaging with essential services. Their pivotal role in the current digital milieu cannot be overstated, as they form the bedrock for crafting a positive and efficient user experience.
“At the heart of this significance is the capacity of user-friendly interfaces to streamline complex processes and tasks, thus boosting efficiency. When users are presented with intuitive, easy-to-navigate interfaces, they can swiftly and effectively accomplish their objectives. This reduces the time and effort required to complete tasks, translating into tangible gains in productivity.
Arlene agrees that user-friendly interfaces play a crucial role in making critical services accessible to a wider audience. By removing unnecessary complexity and incorporating design elements that accommodate various user needs, including those with disabilities, these interfaces ensure that essential services are inclusive and available to all. This inclusivity aligns with the principles of digital accessibility and serves as a cornerstone for organisations committed to serving diverse user bases.
In the face of constantly evolving and complex security challenges, organisations must adopt a comprehensive and proactive approach to safeguard their assets and operations. Embracing a multi-layered security approach that integrates various security measures across different levels ensures that even if one security layer is breached, others can provide essential protection.
It is of paramount importance to establish continuous training programmes aimed at educating employees about cybersecurity best practices, cultivating a culture of heightened security awareness. This approach ensures that employees remain vigilant and comprehend their pivotal role in thwarting security breaches.
Alex advocates the practice of maintaining up-to-date software, operating systems, and applications with the latest security patches, in addition to implementing robust identity and access management protocols.
He also emphasised the importance of formulating a comprehensive incident response plan that delineates the necessary steps to undertake in the event of a security breach. This plan should encompass communication protocols, delineate roles and responsibilities, and outline strategies for mitigating damage and expediting recovery processes.
Raymond expressed his gratitude for the vibrant participation in the OpenGov Breakfast Insight, highlighting the multifaceted discussions from various entities and institutions that contribute to enriching fresh perspectives and knowledge regarding the acceleration of digital transformation for enhancing user and customer services.
He emphasised that ensuring user satisfaction during interface interactions stands as an imperative and inescapable facet. This focus arises from the understanding that a comfortable and intuitive user interface profoundly impacts the overall user experience.
The efficacy of interface design and its accessibility directly correlates with the potential to cultivate a positive user experience. Hence, prioritising the cultivation of a gratifying user experience becomes an essential mandate in the pursuit of delivering high-calibre technological solutions.
Raymond acknowledges the pivotal role of integrating users into the product development process, acknowledging their intrinsic value as a wellspring of insights for crafting impactful technological solutions.
As an SOP, OpenGov Asia frequently engages in direct communication with users, attentively considers their feedback, and organises product trial sessions. This proactive approach empowers his team to gain an enhanced comprehension of user requirements and preferences, thereby enabling them to engineer products that impeccably align with user expectations and necessities.
Mohit further underscored that technological advancement encompasses more than just the creation of technically sophisticated products; it encompasses the cultivation of a gratifying user experience. He firmly believes that robust technology should harmonise with an intuitive interface to deliver optimal value to users.
Incorporating user experience as a paramount consideration represents a strategic response to the multifaceted challenges and opportunities that typify the ongoing digital transformation era. Mohit agrees that aligning technology solutions with user-centric principles constitutes a proactive approach to navigating the complexities of this evolving landscape.
By directing attention towards the user’s needs, preferences, and expectations, technology can seamlessly metamorphose into a more impactful and valuable tool. This shift in perspective not only enhances the functionality of technological solutions but also augments the overarching quality of the customer experience.
This holistic approach serves as a bridge between technological innovation and end-user satisfaction, fostering a symbiotic relationship that propels both product excellence and customer contentment in the contemporary digital landscape.
“A product’s success isn’t just based on its features and how well it works, but also on how well it makes people feel and how much it helps them,” Mohit concludes.
In a stirring address at the Emerging Enterprise Awards (EEA) 2023, Senior Minister of State Tan Kiat How underscored the pivotal role of continuous learning and skills acquisition in navigating the dynamic landscape of the modern world.
Emphasising that education should be viewed as a lifelong journey, extending beyond formal academic years, he articulated the need for individuals to adapt to the evolving demands of an ever-changing workplace.
Acknowledging the government’s commitment to supporting Singaporeans in this quest for perpetual learning, Tan Kiat How also appealed to business owners and industry leaders to create an enabling environment for employees to upgrade their skills. He highlighted the Forward Singapore report, a comprehensive guide to the nation’s major developmental shifts, urging those unfamiliar with it to explore its insights.
The Senior Minister of State asserted that embracing technology as a strategic enabler is integral to overcoming traditional constraints and enhancing competitiveness. He underscored Singapore’s pioneering role in digital technology adoption, dating back to the 1980s when the nation became one of the first in the world to integrate computers into its public service and workplaces.
Singapore places a paramount emphasis on the pivotal role of digitalisation in revolutionising its educational landscape. With a focus on enhancing learning experiences, fostering global competitiveness, and preparing students for the future workforce, the nation is embracing innovative teaching methods and personalised learning through advanced digital tools.
The integration of technology not only streamlines administrative processes but also facilitates seamless transitions between in-person and online learning models. This commitment to digitalisation reflects Singapore’s dedication to staying at the forefront of educational innovation, equipping students with essential technological skills for the evolving global landscape.
This commitment to technological advancement has persisted, forming the bedrock of Singapore’s digital foundation. Senior Minister Tan shed light on the government’s SMEs Go Digital programme, an initiative integrating emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud services into Industry Digital Plans (IDPs).
These IDPs serve as roadmaps, guiding businesses across various sectors in adopting digital solutions and upskilling their workforce. In a recent example, the Tourism (Attractions) IDP incorporated AI to streamline workflows and provide data-driven insights, enhancing decision-making for attraction operators.
The government’s holistic approach extends beyond specific sectors, with a thorough examination of industry disciplines sector by sector. This involves updating strategies, incorporating emerging technologies, and ensuring that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can boost productivity and competitiveness while navigating the complexities of digital transformation.
Senior Minister Tan cited the Chief Information Security Officers-as-a-Service initiative, where cybersecurity consultants aid firms in enhancing cyber resilience through “check-ups” and tailored health plans.
Encouraging firms and networks to actively engage with these programmes, Senior Minister Tan emphasised the need for Singapore to embrace its agency in shaping its future. He urged the nation to leverage its strong foundation and the strategic roadmap outlined in Forward Singapore.
As Singapore charts its digital odyssey, the EEA 2023 serves as a platform not just for acknowledging achievements but for inspiring a collective commitment to a future where technological innovation and lifelong learning propel the nation to new heights.
The Senior Minister of State added that Singapore’s exceptionalism relies on collective ambition, hard work, and unity, ensuring that the nation continues to defy the odds and stand as a beacon on the global stage.
Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar shared comprehensive insights into India’s tech landscape at the 26th Edition of the Bengaluru Tech Summit.
Minister Chandrasekhar navigated through a spectrum of crucial tech domains, unravelling India’s transformative journey and the role of entrepreneurship and innovation in the digital economy. He shed light on India’s burgeoning semiconductor industry, the transformative potential of AI, and the instrumental role of startups in shaping the nation’s economic future.
Minister Chandrasekhar reflected on the dynamic shift in India’s semiconductor narrative, echoing the sentiments articulated by India’s Prime Minister at the Semicon India 2023 Summit. He underscored the evolving perspective from “why India” to “when in India” and “why not in India.”
This transformation signifies the growing confidence and capabilities within India’s tech ecosystem, a testament to the nation’s progress in diverse domains such as AI, semiconductors, electronics, Web 3, supercomputing, and high-performance computing.
“Pre-2014, India’s semiconductor story was a series of missed opportunities,” reflected Minister Chandrasekhar while tracing the trajectory of the semiconductor industry’s evolution.
Despite lacking a design legacy, Minister Chandrasekhar emphasised India’s strides in the semiconductor sector. Acknowledging the catch-up game after missed opportunities, he highlighted India’s leapfrogging approach, skipping a generation to explore novel opportunities for the next decade.
The focus on talent, design, packaging, and research has propelled India towards becoming a significant player in the global semiconductor ecosystem, marking a definitive trajectory of growth.
Minister Chandrasekhar reiterated India’s emphasis on harnessing AI’s transformative power resonates deeply with India’s commitment to leveraging cutting-edge technology for societal betterment and enhanced living standards across diverse segments of the population.
“We believe that AI when harnessed correctly, can transform healthcare, agriculture, governance and language translation”: MoS Rajeev Chandrasekhar
By integrating AI technologies into these sectors, the aim is to revolutionise service delivery, streamline operations, and democratise access to advanced services for all citizens. However, he also addressed the inherent risks posed by the potential misuse of AI by bad actors, stressing the need for legislative guardrails to ensure safety and trust in AI applications. Aligning with global sentiments, Chandrasekhar highlighted the necessity for regulatory frameworks to prevent misuse and foster ethical AI deployment.
“The world is now aligning with India’s view that we need guardrails of safety and trust for the Internet,” he said.
In an increasingly tech-dependant world, Mnster Chnadrashekhar believes that innovation and entrepreneurship are vital – startups are the pillars of India’s tech evolution. Elaborating on India’s startup landscape, Minister Chandrasekhar showcased the pivotal role played by startups since 2014, citing the emergence of 102 unicorns and a substantial influx of FDI.
He emphasised how startups are not just economic entities but integral components of India’s tech vision, contributing significantly to the digital economy’s $1 trillion goal. With a focus on nurturing the futureDESIGN DLI startups, Chandrasekhar envisaged their potential to become the unicorns of tomorrow, driving innovation across AI, semiconductors, and next-gen electronic systems.
Minister Chandrasekhar’s insights underscore India’s rapid tech evolution, emphasising the nation’s strides in semiconductors, the transformative impact of AI, and the pivotal role of startups. As India charts its course towards a $1 trillion digital economy, its vision encapsulates the imperative of regulatory frameworks, innovative strides, and collaborative efforts in harnessing technology for inclusive growth and global relevance.
OpenGov Asia reported that Minister Chandrasekhar, who spoke at two influential tech events: the Indian Express Digifraud & Safety Summit 2023 and YourStory Techsparks’23, expressed similar views on India’s technological advancements, regulatory policies, and the nation’s promising future in the global tech landscape.
At these tech summits, Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar outlined India’s ambitious technological trajectory, reinforcing the government’s dedication to fostering innovation, ensuring a safe digital environment, and harnessing the transformative power of technology for the nation’s progress.
Collaboration with other entities is paramount in this digital era. Especially in the healthcare sector, having a robust digital infrastructure and leveraging technological advancements is crucial for effective cancer control. With the robust infrastructure established through collaboration, the Manatū Hauora’s Polynesian Health Corridors (PHC) programme is well-positioned to pioneer innovative approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
This initiative is a collaborative effort between PHC and critical partners, including Te Aka Mātauranga Matepukupuku (Cancer Research Centre) and Te Poutoko Ora a Kiwa (Centre for Pacific and Global Health), housed within Waipapa Taumata Rau at The University of Auckland. The programme spans six partner countries: the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu.
Recognising the need for effective cancer control measures, Polynesian health leaders have identified cancer control as a top priority and a focal point for the PHC programme. During the design phase led by Waipapa Taumata Rau (University of Auckland), collaborative efforts are being made to shape the cancer control programme in alignment with the healthcare landscapes of each partner country. This inclusive approach ensures that the programme is tailored to address specific regional needs and challenges.
As part of the broader initiative, PHC aims to support the six partner countries in the seamless implementation of planned activities, emphasising integrating these initiatives into the New Zealand Health System. The design phase is anticipated to be substantially completed by mid-next year, paving the way for the subsequent steps in the programme’s execution.
Established in 2020, the Polynesian Health Corridors (PHC) programme operates under the auspices of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). It was conceived to fortify the ties between Aotearoa, New Zealand’s robust health system and its partner countries. PHC operates within the Global Health Group at the Public Health Agency|Te Pou Hauora Tūmatanui, a division of Manatū Hauora.
The collaboration with partners such as Te Aka Mātauranga Matepukupuku and Te Poutoko Ora a Kiwa underscores the commitment of the PHC programme to leverage collective expertise and resources for the benefit of Polynesia. The emphasis on a multi-year cancer control programme reflects a forward-thinking approach to addressing the complex challenges of cancer within the region.
The multifaceted design of the cancer control initiative encompasses a spectrum of considerations, including early detection strategies, treatment modalities, and holistic support systems for affected individuals and their families. By actively involving partner countries in the design phase, PHC ensures that the programme aligns with the cultural nuances and healthcare infrastructures unique to each Polynesian nation.
In addition to its primary focus on cancer control, the PHC programme signifies a broader commitment to strengthening healthcare ties between Aotearoa, New Zealand and its Polynesian partners. The strategic collaboration with Waipapa Taumata Rau, a leading health research and education institution, adds a dimension to the initiative. Waipapa Taumata Rau’s expertise is instrumental in shaping the design phase of the cancer control programme, contributing evidence-based insights and leveraging its research capabilities.
As the design phase progresses, PHC anticipates a pivotal role in supporting the implementation of planned activities, fostering collaboration between partner countries, and facilitating seamless integration into the New Zealand Health System. The interconnected nature of this initiative underscores the importance of global cooperation and shared knowledge in tackling complex health challenges.
This initiative exemplifies the power of international cooperation in addressing pressing health concerns and sets a precedent for future collaborations in global health. The PHC programme’s collaborative efforts extend beyond regional boundaries, fostering a shared knowledge and resources model that transcends geopolitical constraints. As the design phase unfolds, the programme’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility remains central to its vision for transforming cancer control in Polynesia.
In emphasising the importance of inclusivity, technology must cater to individuals with physical impairments who face challenges in using traditional input devices like mice and keyboards, which often leads to their exclusion from technical professions.
To foster inclusive accessibility, multiple alternative methods should be actively identified and implemented to facilitate individuals with physical impairments to engage in coding activities. The evolution of these alternative input methods signifies a positive shift towards a more inclusive and accessible technological landscape.
In an initiative to encourage digital inclusion and technological education, a KidBright Workshop has targeted students and teachers from 10 schools catering to children with disabilities. This workshop showcased the power of the KidBright AI Platform in guiding participants to construct embedded system projects.
Dr Patchralita Chatwalitpong, The National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) Vice President for Science and Technology Human Resources Development, emphasised the significance of advancing science and technology education among disabled individuals. “Disabilities children also have the right to gain knowledge in this digital realm. Physically impairment is not merely the obstacle for it,” she addressed.
KidBright, a coding learning tool developed by NECTEC-NSTDA, emerged as a beacon of innovation. As an open-source embedded programming platform, KidBright enables children to learn coding through its embedded board and KidBright Integrated Development Environment programme (KidBright IDE). The platform’s accessibility and user-friendly interface empower young learners to delve into coding seamlessly.
The genesis of this impactful project traces back to 2018, when NSTDA initiated a pioneering effort to promote coding skills specifically tailored for children with disabilities. From 2018 to 2020, KidBright boards and UtuNoi STATION packages were distributed across these schools, accompanied by a series of workshops for both students and teachers. These workshops provided comprehensive training on programming KidBright boards and equipped participants with the skills to create embedded system projects.
The inclusion of data science knowledge in 2019 and 2020 further enriched the project, empowering educators and students to devise innovative solutions catering to the needs of people with disabilities. Notably, several of these inventive creations garnered accolades in innovation contests.
The project’s trajectory leapt in 2023 with a strategic expansion into artificial intelligence (AI). This follow-up session spotlighted the development of science projects utilising the KidBright AI Platform. Led by the adept Educational Technology Research Team and spearheaded by Dr Saowaluck Kaewkamnerd, this workshop aimed to deepen participants’ understanding of AI and encourage the creation of innovative projects with real-world applications.
This multifaceted project exemplifies the commitment to advancing education in emerging technologies and ensuring inclusivity in digital literacy. Integrating coding, embedded systems, data science, and AI into the curriculum empowers students, especially those with disabilities, to become adept in the digital landscape. The KidBright AI Platform catalyses nurturing creativity, problem-solving skills, and a passion for technology among the younger generation, transcending barriers and fostering a more inclusive and technologically literate society.
Further, the recognition of inclusivity has gained global attention, exemplified by its acknowledgement in the United States. The Alliance for Access, the Computing Career Centre from Washington University, outlined several approaches that can enhance programming accessibility for students with diverse disabilities. To illustrate:
- Clear Instructions and Examples: Providing clear instructions and relevant examples universally benefits all students, promoting a better understanding of programming concepts.
- Speech Input Software: Students who face challenges with conventional keyboards can leverage speech input software.
- Macro-Writing Programmes: Utilising a macro-writing programme for individuals with mobility impairments becomes invaluable. This programme facilitates the creation of shortcuts, simplifying the typing process.
- IDE Features: Integrated development environments (IDEs) may incorporate features specifically beneficial for students with disabilities.
- Word or Syntax Auto-Completion: Predictive typing assists users by anticipating their input.
- Syntax Highlighting: Color-coded representation of typed code enhances visual distinction.
- Variable Name Highlighting: Ensures consistent spelling of variable names.
- Inline Spell-Check: This feature can benefit some students, promoting accurate coding.
By highlighting and implementing this in the programming environment among disabled children in Thailand, educators can create a more inclusive and supportive learning experience for students with disabilities, not only enhancing the knowledge of students but also fostering inclusivity and equality.
Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Defence, Heng Chee How, and Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Health, Dr Janil Puthucheary, recently visited the Critical Infrastructure Defence Exercise (CIDeX) 2023, underscoring the government’s commitment to fortifying national cybersecurity.
The exercise, held at the National University of Singapore School of Computing, witnessed over 200 participants engaging in operational technology (OT) critical infrastructure defence training.
Organised by the Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS) and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), with support from iTrust/SUTD and the National Cybersecurity R&D Laboratory (NCL), CIDeX 2023 marked a collaborative effort to enhance Whole-Of-Government (WoG) cyber capabilities. The exercise focused on detecting and countering cyber threats to both Information Technology (IT) and OT networks governing critical infrastructure sectors.
This year’s edition boasted participation from DIS, CSA, and 24 other national agencies across six Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) sectors. With an expanded digital infrastructure comprising six enterprise IT networks and three new OT testbeds, participants operated on six OT testbeds within key sectors—power, water, telecom, and aviation.
CIDeX 2023 featured Blue Teams, composed of national agency participants serving as cyber defenders, defending their digital infrastructure against simulated cyber-attacks launched by a composite Red Team comprising DIS, CSA, DSTA, and IMDA personnel. The exercises simulated attacks on both IT and OT networks, including scenarios such as overloading an airport substation, disrupting water distribution, and shutting down a gas plant.
The exercise provided a platform for participants to hone their technical competencies, enhance collaboration, and share expertise across agencies. Before CIDeX, participants underwent a five-day hands-on training programme at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)’s Cyber Defence Test and Evaluation Centre (CyTEC) at Stagmont Camp, ensuring readiness for cyber defence challenges.
On the sidelines of CIDeX 2023, the DIS solidified cyber collaboration by signing Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with key technology sector partners, expanding its partnerships beyond the earlier agreement with Microsoft earlier in the year.
Senior Minister Heng emphasised the importance of inter-agency cooperation, stating, “CIDeX is a platform where we bring together many agencies throughout the government to come together to learn how to defend together.” He highlighted the collective effort involving 26 agencies and over 200 participants, acknowledging the significance of unity in cybersecurity.
Dr Janil echoed this sentiment, emphasising CIDeX’s role in the Whole-of-Government (WoG) cyber defence effort. He remarked, “Defending Singapore’s cyberspace is not an easy task, and it is a team effort.”
He commended the strong partnership between the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore and the Digital and Intelligence Service, recognising the exercise as a crucial element in strengthening the nation’s digital resilience and national cybersecurity posture.
By leveraging collaboration, innovation, and a robust defence strategy, Singapore aims not just to protect its critical infrastructure but to set a global standard in cybersecurity practices.
CIDeX 2023 serves as a compelling embodiment of Singapore’s unwavering dedication to maintaining a leadership position in cybersecurity practices. This strategic exercise underscores the nation’s commitment to cultivating collaboration and fortifying its resilience against continually evolving cyber threats.
Beyond a training ground for sharpening the skills of cyber defenders, CIDeX 2023 encapsulates the government’s profound commitment to adopting a robust, collaborative, and forward-thinking approach to safeguarding the integrity and security of the nation’s critical infrastructure in the dynamic landscape of the digital age.
The Cyberport Entrepreneurship Programmes’ 20th Anniversary Celebration and Graduation Ceremony was a major event attended by notable personalities, distinguished guests and budding innovators.
Cyberport is Hong Kong’s digital technology flagship and incubator for entrepreneurship with over 2,000 members including over 900 onsite and close to 1,100 offsite start-ups and technology companies. It is managed by Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, wholly owned by the Hong Kong SAR Government.
With a vision to become Hong Kong’s digital technology hub and stimulate a fresh economic impetus, Cyberport is dedicated to cultivating a dynamic tech environment. This commitment involves nurturing talent, encouraging youth entrepreneurship, aiding startups, fostering industry growth through strategic partnerships with local and international entities, and driving digital transformation across public and private sectors, bridging new and traditional economies.
Professor Sun Dong, the Secretary for Innovation, Technology, and Industry, Hong Kong highlighted Cyberport’s incredible journey and the achievements of its vibrant community. Expressing his delight in commemorating Cyberport’s two-decade-long legacy, he emphasised the institution’s pivotal role as an ICT powerhouse in Hong Kong.
From its humble beginnings to its present stature, Cyberport has emerged as a catalyst for innovation, nurturing over 2,000 technology companies and startups and showcasing an exponential growth rate over the past five years.
Cyberport’s community has attracted a staggering US$38 billion of investment, marking its significance as an ICT flagship in Hong Kong. The establishment takes pride in its contribution to nurturing numerous innovative ideas and fostering dynamic business ventures, with seven notable unicorns in fintech, smart living, and digital entertainment sectors.
Cyberport excelled at the prestigious Hong Kong ICT Awards, with 25 startups securing 28 accolades, including the esteemed Award of the Year. This achievement showcased the institution’s exceptional calibre and innovation prowess nurtured within its ecosystem.
Acknowledging the pivotal role of startups in Cyberport’s success story, Professor Sun Dong shared how these young enterprises, often starting with a simple idea at a small table, grow in tandem with Cyberport’s support. The institution provides not just financial aid but also a nurturing environment where entrepreneurs can leverage extensive networks, collaborative spaces, and expert guidance to cultivate their ideas into commercial successes.
The graduation of more than 200 startups from the Entrepreneurship Programme stood as a testament to Cyberport’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurial talent. This initiative empowers startups to translate their ideas into tangible commercial solutions and market breakthroughs, laying the foundation for their future success.
Looking ahead, Professor Sun Dong outlined Cyberport’s exciting plans, including the upcoming expansion block slated for completion in two years, aimed at providing additional space for the community’s development. He also highlighted Cyberport’s initiative to establish the Artificial Intelligence Supercomputing Centre, a pioneering endeavour set to commence in 2024, envisioned to be a pioneering and substantial facility in Hong Kong.
Cyberport’s extraordinary journey showcases significant achievements while charting a promising future, embodying the core values of innovation, collaboration, and collective growth.
Professor Sun expressed gratitude on behalf of the Government, acknowledging their hard work and contributions to the tech ecosystem emphasising the importance of collective participation for a better future.
The vibrant success of events like the Cyberport Venture Capital Forum 2023 resonates with Cyberport’s commitment to fostering innovation and collaboration, further cementing its role as a catalyst for technological advancement and entrepreneurial growth in Hong Kong.
The Cyberport Venture Capital Forum (CVCF) 2023 saw a turnout of over 2,500 participants during its two-day hybrid event. Themed “Venture Forward: Game Changing through Innovation,” the forum convened 80 global visionary venture experts, entrepreneurial pioneers, and influential thinkers. With more than 120,000 page views and over 300 fundraising meetings facilitated, it solidified its position as a pivotal platform fostering networking and collaborative opportunities.
In a significant stride towards technological innovation and sustainable development, the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) have joined forces to revolutionise India’s construction and wastewater treatment sectors.
This pioneering collaboration under the “Access to Knowledge for Technology Development and Dissemination (A2K+) Studies” Scheme of DSIR is aimed at aligning with India’s Smart Cities Mission and its ambitious commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.
DSIR’s allocation of two crucial research studies to TERI signifies a pivotal step in bridging the informational gap on advanced building materials, designs for energy efficiency, and the assessment of membrane-based sewage wastewater treatment systems for reuse and recycling.
A significant milestone in this partnership was marked by a high-profile Stakeholder Consultant Meeting held at the prestigious India Habitat Center in New Delhi. Attended by key decision-makers, esteemed experts from academia, industry leaders, and policymakers, this event became a platform for insightful discussions and collaborations.
Dr Sujata Chaklanobis, Scientist ‘G’ and Head of A2K+ Studies at DSIR, emphasised the importance of promoting industrial research for indigenous technology development, utilisation, and transfer in her address. Her words underscored the crucial role of research and innovation in fostering sustainable technological advancements.
Mr Sanjay Seth, Senior Director of TERI’s Sustainable Infrastructure Programme highlighted India’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2070. He stressed the imperative integration of cutting-edge technologies and innovative designs in buildings to significantly reduce energy consumption, a key step towards a sustainable, low-carbon future.
The first session of the consultation centred on leveraging emerging technologies and innovative solutions for advanced building design to enhance energy efficiency. Experts from various domains provided insightful suggestions and information, fostering dialogue on energy-efficient building designs and sustainable construction practices.
The second session delved into the current status and prospects of membrane technologies in India for sewage treatment. Insights from academia, including professors from prestigious institutions, shed light on research gaps and opportunities for commercialisation in the domain of membrane-based technologies.
Industry experts also provided valuable perspectives on the current membrane market, innovations, and opportunities, creating a comprehensive understanding of the landscape and paving the way for future developments.
The amalgamation of insights from academia, industry, and end-users enriched the discussions, providing a roadmap for future innovation and development in these critical sectors. The event culminated with a commitment from both DSIR and TERI to embark on an innovation journey, heralding a sustainable and resilient future for India.
The DSIR-TERI collaborative consultation stands as a beacon of transformative progress in advancing sustainable building practices and sewage treatment technologies. It underscores the power of partnership in driving technological evolution for a more sustainable tomorrow.
India’s ambitions intertwine technological progress with a steadffast commitment to sustainability, envisioning a future where innovation not only drives economic growth but also champions environmental stewardship.
Through strategic initiatives and cooperation, India aims to leverage cutting-edge technologies to address pressing global challenges, ensuring a harmonious balance between technological advancement, environmental preservation, and societal well-being.
NITI Aayog, in collaboration with CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, initiated the India Australia Rapid Innovation and Startup Expansion (RISE) Accelerator under the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) to bolster circular economy startups from both countries, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur) and the African-Asian Rural Development Organisation (AARDO) jointly organised an international training programme, focused on exploring the application of nanotechnology in promoting plant growth and crop protection for sustainable agriculture.
According to an IIT-Kanpur statement, the programme served as a forum for experts from diverse fields to discuss and deliberate on solutions to meet the urgent global challenge of achieving food security and promoting sustainability in agriculture.