In an exclusive interview with OpenGov Asia, John Mackenney, Practise Director of Digital Strategy for APAC, Adobe shares insights from his deep experience into the changing landscape of public sector services and citizens’ satisfaction.
An expert in government initiatives and digital transformation, John delved into the shifts observed since the COVID-19 pandemic and explored the evolving government frameworks in Southeast Asia. He highlighted the recalibration of priorities and the emphasis on efficiency in the public sector, underscoring the need for a deeper understanding of the economic impact of digitalisation.
Reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 on government initiatives, John believes that the pandemic served as a major catalyst for change, driving rapid digital transformation across various sectors. He acknowledged the significance of the pandemic in shaping government agendas but also noted a notable shift in focus. There was a change in priorities, with a growing emphasis on achieving efficiency within the public sector.
John draws attention to the initial surge of government investments and rapid deployments witnessed during the peak of the pandemic. However, as the immediate crisis began to subside, governments globally began to reassess their strategies and budgets. This shift led to a recalibration of projects and a re-evaluation of the value proposition of digital initiatives in the public sector.
In reviewing the journey thus far, there is a clear inward focus that has emerged in the post-COVID era. Governments are now actively seeking ways to optimise operations within the public sector. While the return to physical offices may not be universal, flexible working arrangements have gained prominence. This flexibility aligns with the broader objective of improving efficiency within government bodies.
The observable trend of transformation programmes in the public sector is the slowing down from their initial pace. This deceleration can be attributed to various factors, including budget constraints and the need for a more comprehensive understanding of the value that digitalisation can bring.
One of the critical points is the evolving value proposition of digital government frameworks. While the initial messaging focused on time savings for citizens and efficient processes, there is a growing need to delve deeper into the economic impact of these initiatives.
“The absence of a comprehensive understanding of the economic drivers and benefits of digitisation can hinder investment and hinder potential progress,” John says.
To illustrate this, he uses the example of inclusion and reaching marginalised populations. While governments acknowledge the importance of inclusion, they may not fully comprehend the significance of quantifying the economic cost of exclusion. By calculating the economic implications of not including certain segments of society, governments can better comprehend the potential gains from digitalisation efforts.
“The move towards digitalisation in government services is not just about convenience; it’s about recognising and mitigating the hidden economic costs of inefficiency,” John reiterates.
He contrasted the situations in Australia and New Zealand, where lifestyle changes had motivated shifts in government approaches, with those in Southeast Asia where a return to pre-pandemic norms has prompted renewed waiting lines and bottlenecks.
He stresses the importance of data in driving change and underscores the necessity of accurate numbers to justify the allocation of resources towards digital initiatives, “In addition to the essential elements of government digitalisation, there’s a crucial aspect that cannot be overlooked – measurability.”
Without a comprehensive understanding of the benefits of digitalisation, governments risk reverting to older, less efficient models of operation. By measuring and quantifying the economic gains and losses associated with digital initiatives, governments can make informed decisions and continue progressing toward efficient and inclusive public services.
When considering the significant economic consequences of ineffective public services for citizens and the overall economy, it becomes evident that the seemingly minor tasks of waiting on hold and queuing up for government services have concealed costs that go beyond mere inconvenience.
Experts often underestimate the impact of traditional service channels like call centres and in-person visits on citizens’ time and productivity. John reinforces this viewpoint by presenting a scenario where a seemingly quick task could spiral into hours wasted. Waiting on hold, followed by explaining the issue to a community service agent and potentially dealing with more tasks afterwards, compounds the inefficiency.
In such instances, it’s crucial to assess the real economic toll of ineffective service delivery. While the immediate time spent waiting and completing tasks is significant, John highlights that the broader consequences are even more significant.
For example, someone who must physically visit a government office not only invests time in the task itself but also bears indirect expenses tied to commuting, waiting in lines, and potentially taking time off from work.
The economic impact extends beyond individual encounters, particularly in areas with traffic congestion or remote locations. In such cases, the effects are magnified, with some individuals experiencing a two or threefold increase in time-related costs. Consequently, this leads to delayed access to crucial services, impeding economic efficiency, and restraining individuals from fully contributing to society.
John notes a distressing reality: the most impacted by these inefficiencies are the vulnerable members of society – the very individuals government initiatives are meant to assist. This irony showcases the urgency of addressing this issue. The repercussions include diminished motivation, delayed access to healthcare, and reduced economic productivity for those who need support the most.
Shifting the focus to the government’s role, it becomes crucial to grasp the significant obstacles people encounter when transitioning to digital service delivery. John emphasises that the lack of comprehension and quantification of the economic toll acts as a barrier to meaningful progress. Without gauging the full scope of impacts, governments inadvertently invest resources in tackling the wrong challenges or inefficiently distributing funds.
Governments must comprehend the entirety of the cost-to-serve framework. This involves measuring the economic losses stemming from inefficient services and recognising that these losses are often disproportionately higher for marginalised groups. Equipped with this insight, governments can tailor their digital initiatives to effectively address the most pressing concerns, ultimately alleviating the burden on citizens and the economy.
Navigating the intricate landscape of digital government initiatives, John lays out fundamental criteria that delineate the success of such endeavours. These criteria shed light on the factors contributing to the formidable challenge of enhancing citizens’ satisfaction through streamlined digital services.
According to John, the bedrock of successful digital government initiatives is a citizen-centric approach. This entails crafting services around the specific tasks citizens aim to complete, rather than aligning with the government’s internal procedures. This approach prioritises user needs, enhancing the overall service experience.
Notably, he underscores the significance of mobile responsiveness. In today’s digital era, where mobile access is pervasive, services must seamlessly operate on mobile devices. This adaptability ensures accessibility to a broader audience.
Moreover, the swiftness and efficiency of platforms are paramount. Regardless of geographical location or network capabilities, services should deliver optimal speed and performance, enabling users to engage without hindrance.
Recognising the multicultural fabric of societies, John underscores the pivotal role of accessibility and readability. This is particularly crucial in diverse environments, where information must be understandable to varied audiences. These attributes collectively contribute to the triumphant execution of digital government initiatives.
John offers insights into impactful digital government initiatives that have set new standards for enhancing citizen satisfaction:
- Enhanced My Gov Programme (Australia): This initiative transformed from a distributed ecosystem into a consolidated platform offering essential life event information. Citizens can access transactions, navigate government services, and manage tasks seamlessly from their mobile devices. The transition was driven by aggregation, citizen-centric design, and a mobile-first approach.
- Services NSW (New South Wales, Australia): The success of Services NSW stems from the integration of digital and offline experiences. The initiative not only provides digital tools but also promotes digital literacy among citizens. Personalisation plays a significant role, ensuring tailored services and information for different user groups, ultimately enhancing the user experience.
- Government of Canada: With 42 government departments consolidated into one platform, Canada’s initiative simplifies citizens’ access to a wide range of government information and services. This centralised approach aids citizens in navigating major life events, while the platform’s capabilities contribute to improved user experiences.
John believes, “Effective measurement encompasses several key factors. Firstly, it involves assessing the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and regularly soliciting feedback from users to gauge the effectiveness of digital content and services.”
However, going beyond feedback, governments should conduct comprehensive testing. This includes evaluating the website’s loading speed and ensuring optimal performance even in diverse network conditions. Also, it entails testing the findability of content through search engines, enhancing user accessibility.
John acknowledges the challenges governments face in transitioning to efficient digital services. He highlighted the persistence of siloed operations within government departments and the need for comprehensive alignment around citizen needs. Additionally, he pointed out the importance of retraining the public sector to equip them with the digital skills needed to effectively serve citizens in the digital age.
John also spoke about the complex realm of data security, privacy, and establishing trust in the context of digital government services, sharing the pivotal role that data security and privacy play in building trust and ensuring citizen satisfaction within government services.
“Trust is the cornerstone and hinges on governments delivering on their commitments. It’s about doing what you say you’re going to do,” John believes. “To cultivate trust, governments must adhere to their promises, thus reinforcing their credibility.”
Transparency, he emphasised, plays a crucial role in building trust. By providing citizens with a clear understanding of the data collected and how it’s used, governments can instil confidence in their digital initiatives.
Transparency, in turn, is intrinsically linked to control. Citizens should have a level of control over the data they share and how it’s utilised. This extends to advanced uses of artificial intelligence (AI), where governments may leverage data to provide personalised recommendations. By granting citizens the ability to influence their data usage, governments can build a framework that respects individual preferences and fosters trust.
Navigating trust, data security, and privacy becomes more intricate in areas like healthcare and unemployment management. John highlighted the necessity of safeguarding sensitive information related to health and employment status. Governments must ensure that citizens’ health data is secure and that unemployment information is handled with the utmost discretion.
John is convinced of the role of digital identity in building trust. A comprehensive digital identity framework not only provides secure access but also enables citizens to manage their preferences. The ability to personalise data usage adds an extra layer of trust by giving citizens a stake in their digital experiences.
Implementing digital transformation within government often encounters significant resistance to change, driven by various factors including concerns over data security and privacy, unfamiliarity with new processes, and a general reluctance to embrace change. John explored the challenges posed by resistance to change and the strategies that can effectively address them.
Resistance to change is a formidable challenge, stemming from inherent human aversion to change. He lays bare the multifaceted nature of the issue, including data privacy and security concerns that may hinder the implementation of personalised experiences. The balancing act between delivering personalised services and maintaining data security becomes a delicate process, often accompanied by fears of data breaches and compromised privacy.
John further highlighted the importance of considering dynamic consent and transparency. Citizens’ preferences and willingness to share data may fluctuate over time, necessitating an adaptable approach to data usage. Governments must ensure that citizens have the tools to modify their data-sharing preferences and remain informed about the evolving landscape of data privacy and usage.
Addressing resistance to change requires a comprehensive digital identity framework that facilitates secure access, personalised experiences, and granular control over data sharing. John underscored the significance of a connected ecosystem, where data from various government departments can be seamlessly integrated to support citizen journeys. Such an ecosystem not only aids in providing better services but also ensures compliance with evolving privacy and governance regulations.
When it comes to spearheading digital transformation to enhance citizen satisfaction, John offered actionable advice rooted in practicality. He recommended that government leaders focus on specific pain points and journeys that citizens encounter. Rather than attempting to overhaul the entire system in one go, tackling challenges one at a time is a more manageable and effective approach.
Technology, such as Adobe’s solutions, plays a pivotal role in simplifying the transformation process. By addressing the technology challenges for one journey or life event, governments can subsequently apply the same solutions to multiple scenarios. The efficiency gained from this approach eliminates the need to recreate systems repeatedly and enables a scalable transformation process across multiple use cases.
The emergence of Generative AI and the rise of conversational AI models like ChatGPT have the potential to reshape how citizens interact with government content and services. While there are significant benefits to leveraging these technologies, there are also challenges that need to be addressed, particularly in the context of a distributed content ecosystem and language diversity. John shed light on these challenges and their implications in a conversation with OpenGov Asia.
Generative AI has the power to enhance citizen engagement and inclusion by providing personalised experiences and enabling natural language interactions. For example, citizens can ask questions using their own words and receive relevant information in return. This is particularly advantageous for reaching diverse groups of citizens, including those with lower literacy levels and varying language preferences.
However, the challenges arise from the decentralised nature of the content ecosystem. Government content is often distributed across various departments and agencies, resulting in fragmented and conflicting information. This poses a risk that users may receive incorrect or outdated information when interacting with AI models.
In the context of Southeast Asia, where multiple languages and dialects are prevalent, the challenges of language diversity are amplified. While English content might be well-optimised for search engines and AI models, content in local languages might not receive the same level of visibility due to lower SEO rankings. Additionally, content in local languages might not have been created with the same digital user experience in mind, leading to potential mismatches between user queries and available content.
Addressing these challenges requires collaboration among government agencies to create unified and authoritative content. Governments need to ensure that content is accurate, up-to-date, and accessible across multiple languages. This involves not only adapting existing content to be conversational but also creating content specifically designed for AI interactions.
Adobe’s role in this landscape is significant. With its technology solutions, Adobe can help governments manage and optimise their content for AI interactions. By creating content that is not only language-appropriate but also aligned with the needs of AI models, governments can enhance the accuracy and relevance of AI-generated responses.
Adobe’s capabilities in managing digital experiences, personalisation, and content optimisation can be leveraged to improve citizen engagement through AI-powered interactions.
Interestingly personalisation is a term that often stirs debate in government circles. However, when stripped down to its essence, it revolves around simplicity and efficiency.
Unlike other platforms, like media and entertainment, where the goal is to keep users engaged for longer periods, a successful government experience is one where citizens can swiftly access what they need and then move on with their lives.
“In essence, personalisation in government is about giving citizens back valuable time in their day, allowing them to focus on their families, jobs, and contributing to the economy,” John points out.
Looking ahead to the next two to three years, John shared his insights on the trends and innovations that are likely to have a substantial impact on citizens’ satisfaction and government service delivery:
- Integration of AI into Everyday Tools: The integration of AI and Generative AI capabilities into everyday tools and technologies will change the way people interact with information. This will go beyond specialised AI platforms and become a part of common tools like search engines and productivity suites. This shift will drive governments to rethink their communication strategies and adapt to new interfaces for delivering information and services.
- Transformation of Government Communication: The transformation in how people access and consume information will lead to a reevaluation of government communication strategies. As the way citizens interact with content evolves, governments will need to reconsider the sprawling landscape of government websites and find new ways to communicate effectively with citizens. This transformation could result in a more streamlined and targeted approach to content delivery.
- Personalised Government Services: The continued push towards personalised government service delivery will remain a prominent trend. AI technologies will enable governments to tailor information and services to individual citizens’ needs, improving user experiences and satisfaction. This trend will likely contribute to more efficient and effective government interactions.
- Increased Connectivity and Collaboration: The evolving digital landscape will drive governments to become more connected and collaborative. As citizens become accustomed to seamless interactions in their daily lives, governments will need to work across departments to offer integrated and holistic services. This may involve breaking down silos and creating a unified approach to serving citizens.
- Shift Toward Accessibility and Inclusion: The increased use of AI and conversational AI models presents an opportunity for governments to enhance accessibility and inclusion. By offering information and services in multiple languages and accommodating diverse user needs, governments can ensure that their services are available to all citizens.
- Ethical Considerations and Bias Mitigation: As AI becomes more integrated into government processes, addressing ethical considerations and mitigating bias will become crucial. Governments and technology providers will need to work together to ensure that AI-generated information is accurate, unbiased, and culturally sensitive, particularly in diverse regions like Asia.
In the short term, the world is likely to witness significant shifts in how citizens interact with government information and services. The integration of AI, particularly Generative AI, into everyday tools will redefine the user experience and prompt governments to reevaluate their communication strategies.
Personalised services, increased connectivity, and a focus on accessibility and inclusion will all contribute to a more efficient and citizen-centric government service delivery. However, as these technologies advance, ethical considerations and bias mitigation will play a pivotal role in ensuring the accuracy, fairness, and cultural sensitivity of AI-generated content and responses.
In the fast-evolving landscape of digital transformation and the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI), governments around the world are faced with a critical juncture. The integration of advanced technologies, particularly AI-driven solutions like Generative AI (Gen AI), presents opportunities to enhance citizen services and satisfaction, but also raises complex challenges that demand careful consideration.
As governments seek to leverage AI and Gen AI to meet the evolving needs of citizens, a pivotal moment is emerging. The potential benefits are significant: improved service delivery, personalised interactions, and streamlined processes that boost citizens’ satisfaction. However, a challenging paradox has emerged. The very tools designed to enhance citizen experiences are met with resistance and apprehension in some government circles.
One of the most pressing challenges governments face is the varying speeds of adoption. While Generative AI offers a promising avenue for better service delivery, some government entities have hesitated to fully embrace the technology. In certain cases, there are instances of outright bans or restrictions on its use. Paradoxically, within these same government bodies, public servants are engaging with Gen AI tools in their personal lives, underscoring the disconnect between policy and practice.
The diverse cultural and linguistic landscape in different regions poses another layer of complexity. Language nuances and cultural sensitivities must be taken into account when designing AI systems. Failure to do so can lead to inaccurate or inappropriate information dissemination. In a world where AI-generated responses become the norm, these cultural nuances become all the more critical, particularly in Asian regions with vast cultural diversity.
In the quest for digital innovation, governments must walk a fine line between embracing new technologies and ensuring that inclusivity is not compromised. Rushing to adopt complex platforms without considering the digital literacy of citizens can lead to the exclusion of certain age groups, notably those less tech-savvy or familiar with navigating digital interfaces.
While the term “digital literacy” is often used to emphasise upskilling citizens, it is essential to avoid creating overly complex systems and necessitate assistance from younger generations. Striving for inclusivity means ensuring that advancements benefit all citizens, regardless of age or digital proficiency.
The urgency to adapt and adopt Gen AI and other transformative technologies requires governments to reevaluate their strategies. A balance must be struck between fostering innovation and catering to the diverse needs of the population. Collaborative efforts between governments, technology providers like Adobe, and citizens are necessary to ensure that digital transformation is carried out with the citizen experience and satisfaction at its core.
In the Asian region, which boasts intricate cultural and linguistic diversity, a distinct challenge emerges in the era of Gen AI. Here, leapfrogging, not playing catch-up should be the strategy, John says. Rather than emulating strategies employed by technologically advanced nations, an opportunity exists to skip certain stages and tailor strategies to align with regional contexts.
This is particularly pertinent for nations with nascent digital infrastructure, enabling them to embrace advanced Gen AI capabilities more expeditiously.
As governments prioritise efficiency and optimisation in the public sector, understanding the economic impact of digitalisation is crucial. Accurate measurement of benefits ensures meaningful results from investments, driving positive change in citizens’ satisfaction and societal progress. Inefficient public services carry hidden costs that range from lost productivity to delayed access to vital services, underscoring the need for quantitative assessment.
Beyond a doubt, government initiatives play a vital role in enhancing citizen experiences through efficient digital services. However, addressing these challenges will enable governments to assist vulnerable populations while fostering productivity and efficiency.
A roadmap for success would encompass citizen-centricity, mobile responsiveness, accessibility, and the integration of digital and offline experiences. By studying these successful initiatives and addressing challenges head-on, governments can create a digital landscape that truly serves and satisfies their citizens.
Overcoming resistance to change is a critical step in realising successful digital transformation within government services. By acknowledging concerns, embracing dynamic consent, and leveraging technology to simplify the process, government leaders can navigate the path toward enhanced citizen satisfaction, personalised experiences, and an ecosystem that prioritises data security and privacy.
In an era where technology increasingly shapes the way we manage daily life, its impact on crucial legal matters is often neglected. A commonly overlooked concern revolves around decision-making in unique situations.
If an individual becomes incapable of making decisions, it’s important to note that their next of kin doesn’t automatically assume legal authority to oversee their affairs. Instead, they’re required to undergo a lengthy and cumbersome court process to gain access to bank accounts or manage insurance payouts.
With this in mind, Singapore offers an option to deal with such circumstances. The Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a crucial legal document allowing individuals to designate someone to act on their behalf if they become incapacitated. Recognising its pivotal role, the partnership between GovTech’s Services team and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) under the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in Singapore has led to a remarkable digital transformation in the LPA application process.
The collaborative solution from the Office of the Public Guardian Online (OPGO) is a pioneering platform aimed at simplifying and automating the LPA application process. This digital overhaul not only slashes the processing time from three weeks to a mere 15 minutes but also revolutionises the user experience.
The development of OPGO was not a mere technological leap; it was a carefully curated process. The team embraced design thinking methodologies, engaging stakeholders, conducting usability workshops, and even pilot-testing with various demographics, including medical professionals and legal experts.
The integration of the National Digital Identity platform brought forth Secure Electronic Signatures, eliminating the need for physical signatures and ensuring a secure environment for document verification. Data security measures were rigorously implemented to safeguard sensitive information, offering citizens peace of mind when engaging with the platform.
The OPGO team is eager to explore more avenues to ease citizen’s lives. They’re on a mission to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning into document processing, anticipating even faster processing times and improved user experiences. By employing predictive analysis, they aim to broaden coverage with reduced manpower.
The agile methodology adopted, coupled with technology like low-code platforms, continuous integration and delivery practices, automated testing, and cloud technology, ensured adaptability and quality assurance throughout the project lifecycle. These measures were instrumental in refining OPGO’s usability before its launch and continue to facilitate its evolution.
The journey from manual processing to digitalisation has not only simplified bureaucratic procedures but also empowered individuals to take charge of their future in a technologically advanced, efficient, and secure manner.
In essence, the evolution of LPAs through technology is not just about paperwork; it’s a testament to how innovation can transform legal processes, making them accessible, efficient, and reliable for the benefit of society.
Since its launch in November 2022, over 57,000 individuals have used the OPGO portal to submit their LPA applications. The platform’s success surpassed key benchmarks for customer satisfaction, e-payment integration, digital signatures, and data pre-fill, proving its intuitive interface and functionality were well-received by citizens.
Until March 2026, citizens have the opportunity to benefit from a waived $75 application fee for LPAs, enabling them to use the efficient and user-friendly OPGO platform to secure their future.
Singapore recognises that technology has the potential to better people’s lives. They also understand that all segments of society should be able to understand, access and participate in an increasingly digital world.
OpenGov reported on the government’s commitment to supporting Singaporeans in this quest for perpetual learning. 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. He shared the Forward Singapore report, a comprehensive guide to the nation’s major developmental shifts, urging those unfamiliar with it to explore its insights.
Secretary Leena Nandan of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has emphatically highlighted India’s proactive stance in achieving climate targets, particularly in sustainable cooling initiatives, during her address at the UNFCCC COP 28 in Dubai.
India’s commitment to reducing emission intensity stands as a testament to its proactive approach towards combating climate change. Initially setting an ambitious target of 33-35% reduction by 2030, India’s remarkable progress in this endeavour has surpassed expectations. By achieving a 33% reduction in emission intensity of GDP by 2019, the nation has not only showcased its dedication but has also demonstrated tangible results ahead of schedule.
Ms Nandan highlighted India’s continued efforts to scale up climate ambitions, acknowledging the global need for more substantial action to combat climate change. She underscored India’s dual focus on economic growth and environmental sustainability, exemplified through initiatives like the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP).
Highlighting the importance of research into cooling technologies suitable for Indian climatic conditions, the Secretary emphasised the need for industry collaboration to expedite the adoption and scaling up of these advancements.
“India needs to bolster efforts to research on coolants that would be most appropriate to Indian climatic conditions,” Ms Nandan was quoted as saying.
India’s approach, she stressed, is centred on responsible and sustainable growth, setting the narrative for responsible economic expansion while maintaining ecological balance. The government’s commitment to implementing pioneering solutions was highlighted, inviting industry stakeholders to join in making India a global leader in cooling technologies.
The event also showcased India’s achievements in meeting targets under the Montreal Protocol, particularly in creating a sustainable cooling ecosystem, essential for environmental stability. Integrated approaches were prioritised to achieve sustainable cooling across various sectors, such as residential, commercial, cold-chain, and transport, anticipating increased cooling demands with the country’s economic growth.
India’s proactive measures, such as the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances like HCFCs well ahead of Montreal Protocol schedules, were highlighted. The country has been a pioneer in adopting non-Ozone Depleting Substances and low Global Warming Potential technologies, demonstrating its commitment to environmental preservation.
Additionally, the session included insights from industries and implementing agencies like UNDP, UNEP, and GIZ, emphasising collaborative efforts for the success of initiatives under the Montreal Protocol.
The comprehensive approach outlined during the event underscores India’s technological advancements, collaborative spirit, and unwavering commitment to sustainable cooling, positioning the nation as a trailblazer in climate-conscious technological solutions.
In India, the aspirations for sustainability transcend mere good ideals – they are embedded into the fabric of a visionary roadmap, ambitions designed to harness technology’s immense potential. This merging of innovation and environmental stewardship defines the nation’s commitment to redefining the trajectory of sustainable development.
Through a multifaceted approach, India seeks to leverage technological advancements to address critical sustainability challenges. From renewable energy initiatives and smart city development to the conservation of biodiversity and the adoption of eco-friendly practices in industries, the nation aims to create a blueprint where progress harmonizes with the planet’s well-being.
OpenGov Asia reported that, 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.
Developing space sector innovation is Indonesia’s primary focus, diligently realised through various strategic partnerships. The successful launch of SATRIA, achieving connectivity milestones by delivering internet speeds of up to 150Gbps, marks a significant achievement for Indonesia in space exploration.
Furthermore, to sustain the progress and advancements in space technology, Indonesia continues its collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This collaboration, initiated in 1995, has evolved into a crucial milestone, enriching knowledge and exploring the latest innovations in the space sector, as highlighted by Mila Kencana, the Head of the Legal and Cooperation Bureau at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN).
BRIN plays a central role in fostering this collaboration. Mila Kencana explained that the cooperation began with India’s initiative to establish the Tracking, Telemetry & Command (TT&C) ground station in Biak, Papua, supporting the efficient launch of the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The Indonesian government welcomed India’s desire to collaborate, marking the beginning of a productive collaborative relationship in the space sector.
Over time, the collaboration between Indonesia and India has continued to evolve. The pinnacle was reached in 2018 when both governments signed the Framework Agreement on Space Exploration and Utilisation for Peaceful Purposes. This agreement reflects a shared commitment to space exploration and utilisation for peaceful purposes, encompassing not only the development of space technology but also scientific research, knowledge exchange, and the utilisation of space-related outcomes for the benefit of both nations.
This collaboration strengthens Indonesia’s position in the global space arena and creates new opportunities for economic growth, technological capacity enhancement, and sustainable scientific collaboration between the two countries. With a strong determination and a solid foundation of collaboration, Indonesia and India continue to explore the potential of space for peaceful purposes and mutual progress.
Mila expressed optimism about this collaboration, emphasising that with BRIN’s consolidation, ample human resources, and substantial infrastructure, Indonesia should be able to take over responsibilities as planned since 1995. Mila mentioned that the Transfer Agreement and IA Further Use are currently in the internal approval stage by the Indian government through ISRO and are envisioned to be signed soon. She believed that Indonesia can prepare human resources capable of acquiring knowledge transfer from experts predominantly from India.
Mila explained that numerous benefits will be gained from this collaboration, including transferring ownership of the Biak ground station from ISRO to BRIN. This is considered fundamental and crucial, signifying the continuity of cooperation and Indonesia’s capability.
Additionally, ISRO will provide satellite launch services using its vehicles. “There are two BRIN-made satellites that are not charged, and, of course, equally important is the enhancement of research and researcher, engineer, or technician capabilities,” added Mila.
Salim Mustofa, Director of Strengthening and Infrastructure Partnership at the Research and Innovation Agency, mentions that the progress of this collaboration has reached the signing stage and is planned to be executed soon.
“Biak is considered strategic for India to facilitate and launch their rocket activities and track launched satellites,” Salim explained. “It is expected that through Biak, satellite data reception activities can cover 20% of the ASEAN region; this is already included in ISRO and India’s grand design for the future,” Salim further elaborated.
Salim emphasised that space development is a crucial step for a country. “The importance of utilising space data for various sectors, including agriculture, the environment, and disaster mitigation. By collectively exploring the potential of space data, Indonesia and ISRO can present innovative solutions to local and global challenges,” he concludes.
Salim expressed optimism that the collaboration between Indonesia and ISRO will continue and develop into a closer and sustainable partnership. He emphasises that this collaboration goes beyond satellite launches or space infrastructure, encompassing knowledge exchange, human resource capacity development, and shared innovation. With a mutual understanding of each country’s needs and potential, this collaboration can have broader and more profound impacts on the space sector and related technological developments.
In an innovative partnership signalling a new era for tech education, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) have partnered for a visionary programme called “Beyond Dreams”.
This pioneering initiative, backed by a generous HK$100 million donation from a charitable foundation, represents a landmark collaboration between the private sector and HKSTP in driving technological education and fostering future talent.
“Beyond Dreams” is a five-year commitment aimed at empowering secondary school and university students with immersive training, hands-on experiences, and exposure to corporate environments. The programme’s primary objective is to instil a positive perception of Innovation and Technology (I&T) among younger generations, nurturing their interest and motivation to contribute to the tech ecosystem in the future.
This flagship initiative, part of the “Beyond Dreams” programme, presents an immersive program specifically dedicated to exploring the practical applications of aerospace technology. During the launch, the pioneering project centred on aerospace technology was revealed, targeting secondary school students across Hong Kong.
This encompasses a series of activities such as aerospace seminars, educational visits to national space stations, and an innovative aerospace competition tailored for secondary school students.
The programme not only aims to showcase the nation’s strides in aerospace technology but also to kindle interest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) subjects among students.
Commenting on this collaboration, the chairman of the charitable group, confirmed the commitment to nurturing Hong Kong’s youth and integrating them into the country’s developmental landscape. Dr Sunny Chai, Chairman of HKSTP, reiterated the organisation’s mission of leveraging technology for societal betterment and expressed enthusiasm for partnering with China Resources Group to groom the next generation of I&T leaders.
The programme garnered praise from Professor Sun Dong, who lauded the efforts of both entities in fostering talent. He highlighted the aerospace experience programme’s potential to spark interest in critical subjects, laying a robust foundation for future careers in innovation and technology.
Professor Vivian Yam, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and President of the Hong Kong STEAM Education Alliance, emphasised the intrinsic link between STEAM education and the national aerospace industry. Furthermore, two students from Pui Kiu College shared their enlightening experiences from their summer trip to the Sichuan Aerospace Base, underscoring the programme’s impact on young minds.
The “Beyond Dreams” initiative signifies a significant leap forward in fostering a tech-savvy generation, poised to contribute to Hong Kong’s integration into the broader technological landscape. With the unwavering support of philanthropic entities and collaborative efforts, this programme aims to inspire and equip the youth, paving the way for a thriving innovation ecosystem and a brighter future for all.
Hong Kong is committed to fostering tech innovation and sparking interest in STEM fields. Through tailored educational programs and collaborative partnerships, the city is nurturing a generation passionate about technology. By integrating these efforts into curricula and fostering a dynamic ecosystem, Hong Kong aims to equip its youth with the skills needed to excel in a tech-driven world, paving the way for future breakthroughs and global contributions.
OpenGov Asia reported on the Bright Future Engineering Talent Hub (the Hub) at the City University of Hong Kong hosting the STEM Challenge and Summer Research Internship Presentation. The event attracted around 100 secondary students and representatives from educational institutions.
Established within the College of Engineering, the Hub organises a range of STEM activities, including a Summer Research Internship, STEM Carnival, Student Project Exhibition, and STEM Challenge. These endeavours aim to cultivate young talent for the dynamic engineering field and promote STEM education. In the last two years, the Hub has involved over 1,600 secondary students in these programs, attracting distinguished personalities to its events.
In Mohali lies a beacon of scientific advancement – the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), India’s pioneering Nano-Science Institute. Embracing a monumental role in shaping India’s technological landscape, this institution is proof of India’s commitment to cutting-edge research and innovation.
INST commenced its transformative journey on January 3, 2013, and from its humble beginnings has now blossomed into a state-of-the-art campus sprawling over 35 acres in the Knowledge City at Sector-81, Mohali, Punjab.
Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Science & Technology, emphasised the pivotal role of INST in spearheading research, generating groundbreaking products, and steering technology in the realm of Nanoscience and Technology.
Addressing faculty and students, he underscored the institute’s profound futuristic role, stating that its mission aligns seamlessly with India’s ambitious pursuit of a 5 Trillion Dollar Economy.
“INST is the first Nano-Science Institute in the country set up to undertake research and generate products/devices and technology in the area of Nanoscience and Technology for the benefit of the country,” revealed Dr ISingh.
At its core, INST aims to delve into diverse areas of Nanoscience and Technology, with focused endeavours in Agricultural Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine, Energy, Environmental Science, Quantum Materials, Nano Electronics, Microfluidics Based Technologies, and Nanobiotechnology.
As an autonomous research institution under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, INST operates under the esteemed National Mission on Nano Science and Technology (NANO MISSION), committed to propelling the growth and outreach of this transformative field.
The vision for INST extends far beyond its academic pursuits; it aspires to emerge as India’s premier research institution in Nano Science and Technology, contributing significantly to society across various domains, including agriculture, medicine, energy, and environment.
Moreover, INST does not confine its impact within the institution’s walls; it actively engages with the broader community, reaching out to schools and colleges, nurturing scientific aptitude among young minds, and showcasing the practical applications of science in daily life.
Dr. Jitendra Singh emphasised INST’s core mission – pioneering cutting-edge research with interdisciplinary dimensions, tackling global and local challenges in domains ranging from energy to healthcare. He encapsulated the institution’s ethos in its motto: “Knowledge of Nanoscience for the Nation.”
The institute’s objectives encapsulate a multifaceted approach, from advancing knowledge and nurturing young talent in nanoscience and technology to offering advanced training courses and fostering innovation through technology-based scientific projects. Moreover, INST is actively bridging the gap between laboratory research and industry applications, fostering collaborations, and advocating for the benefits and safety measures of Nano Science and Technology to the public and media.
The Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST) is a testament to India’s commitment to scientific advancement and innovation. With a relentless pursuit of knowledge and a vision that transcends traditional boundaries, INST continues to pave the way for a future where Nano Science and Technology revolutionise industries, uplift communities, and propel India onto the global technological forefront.
India’s commitment to nano-technology extends far beyond national boundaries, embodying a dedication to fostering advancements in this transformative field. Embracing a spirit of collaboration and knowledge exchange, India endeavours to extend its expertise in nano-science and technology, contributing to global scientific progress and fostering international partnerships for the greater good of humanity.
OpenGov Asia reported that 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.
In the nation’s critical infrastructure landscape, K-12 schools are pivotal, serving as the foundation for future success and playing an indispensable part in the lives of millions of children, families, and communities. Recognising the importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of students, educators, and staff, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) leads the annual Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month. This initiative aims to educate and engage all levels of government, infrastructure owners and operators, and the American public about critical infrastructure’s crucial role in the nation’s well-being and the need to strengthen security and resilience.
Digital technology has become an integral aspect of modern education, and as schools navigate the complex landscape of security and resilience, leveraging digital tools and strategies becomes paramount. The intersection of education and technology presents various challenges and opportunities, especially in an evolving threat environment that includes cyberattacks alongside more traditional hazards.
As CISA encourages a Resolve to be Resilient, the emphasis extends to the education community, urging several measures and investments in resilience. The agency acknowledges threats’ increased frequency and intensity, encompassing natural disasters, targeted violence, and cyberattacks. The call to action is clear: prepare today to withstand or recover quickly in the event of an incident tomorrow.
To address the challenges an interconnected world poses, CISA collaborates with several federal agencies and non-government partners to provide actionable guidance, evidence-based practices, and digital tools. The goal is to empower school leaders to navigate the complexities of the digital landscape while fostering a secure and resilient environment for students and staff.
One critical resource CISA offers is the K-12 Bystander Reporting Toolkit, developed in partnership with the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Centre. This toolkit equips schools with simple strategies to implement and enhance safety reporting programmes, leveraging digital communication channels to facilitate reporting and response.
The K-12 School Security Guide Product Suite, another digital resource, offers districts and campuses tools and strategies to evaluate vulnerabilities, strengthen security measures, and enhance the protection of school communities. This suite reflects a comprehensive approach to digital and physical security in educational settings.
Recognising the importance of cybersecurity, CISA’s Cybersecurity for K-12 Education provides schools with tools, information, and resources to guard against cyber actors and reduce the likelihood of successful cyber incursions. Addressing systemic cybersecurity risks becomes an integral component of school safety plans as technology advances.
Further, CISA’s Tabletop Exercise Packages, designed to examine and test safety processes and plans through simulated exercises, incorporate digital scenarios to ensure that schools are prepared for various threat scenarios, including cyber incidents. This proactive approach helps schools identify digital resilience and response capabilities gaps.
The agency’s regionally based security advisors further contribute to building resilience by providing various risk management and response services, including guidance on addressing evolving digital threats. These advisors play a crucial role in ensuring that schools are equipped to handle the dynamic challenges posed by the digital landscape.
In the digital age, where information is shared at unprecedented speeds, CISA administers SchoolSafety.gov, a Federal interagency website serving as a one-stop access point to school safety information, resources, and tools. This platform covers various topics and threats, offering a holistic approach to creating comprehensive and sustainable school safety plans.
Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month reminds the entire school community to unite in advancing safety efforts. The focus on digital resilience highlights the need for ongoing preparedness and adaptation to changing risk conditions. Throughout this month and beyond, CISA reaffirms its commitment to assisting school communities in maintaining safe, secure, and resilient learning environments in the digital era. The agency’s dedication to leveraging digital technology to benefit education underscores the importance of an inclusive and collaborative approach to cybersecurity and resilience in the nation’s schools.
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.