Digital technology and data are rapidly transforming healthcare today. With Singapore’s rapidly ageing opulation, there is a strong focus on harnessing these innovations to deal with healthcare challenges and help senior citizens live healthy, independent lives, in their homes. But while using technology, it is important not to lose sight of the humans who it is meant for, whether it is the patients, the doctors and nurses or caregivers in
On the sidelines of IoT Asia 2018, OpenGov had the opportunity to speak to Ms Tamsin Greulich-Smith who established and currently leads the Smart Health Leadership Centre (the ‘Centre’) in NUS-ISS (National University of Singapore-Institute of Systems Science) about some of these issues.
Ms Greulich-Smith described the mission of the Centre as transforming the future experience of health through the use of data, digital technology and design. This is done through training, applied research and collaboration models, involving industry, public healthcare, as well as players in the broader health ecosystem.
“In order to ensure that what we teach in the classroom remains relevant, we focus on applied rather than academic research, and we carry out research projects with industry partners. This ensures we are looking into areas that are genuine pain points or opportunities for industry players in the broad health sector,” Ms Greulich-Smith explained.
The Centre also provides advisory consulting services, working with organisations to help them frame their challenge, defining and understanding what the problem actually is. The Centre provides just-in-time training and mentoring to the organisation, building employee skills so that they can not only fix the problem at hand, but also sustain the impact of that solution and know how to solve new problems as and when they arise. “We effectively write ourselves out of a job,” Ms Greulich-Smith said.
Working with all stakeholders
The Centre works with public healthcare providers, such as the Ministry of Health, and agencies like the Integrated Health Information System (IHiS) which oversees the public health IT system.
Furthermore, it seeks to connect the healthcare sector with social care and collaborates with the Ministry of Social
and Family Development (MSFD), and also the voluntary welfare sector and charities, to support a more integrated approach to care.
Ms Greulich-Smith said that there are many challenges in trying to integrate the voluntary welfare sector, the social care sector and the health care sector together, to achieve true integrated care.
For instance, sharing data is a big challenge. It is challenging to share information between these different stakeholders in a way that is relevant for everyone and will make sense for them. Even within healthcare, there are different kinds of terminologies depending on which area of healthcare you operate in. When we bring in the social sector, it is difficult to speak the same language, Ms Greulich-Smith explained.
“A large part of our focus has been on public healthcare, however we are also actively involved in social care and at voluntary welfare fields, as well as looking at how to support commercial players in realizing their role in the future of health.”
The commercial players, such as medical technology providers, insurers, and healthtech start-ups want to collaborate with public care providers, be that healthcare or social care. There will be concerns regarding what information each party has access to. But Ms Greulich-Smith believes that that there is real opportunity here in terms of creating a model that will be viable into the future.
“The burden of care at the moment falls very heavily on healthcare and we can look at how we can start to share that burden in a controlled manner,” Ms Greulich-Smith said. “Primary care is a good example. 80% of primary care providers are private organisations.”
Primary care in Singapore is generally delivered by sole traders or small practice GPs (general practitioners) operating in the heart of HDB blocks (public housing). Many of them are not yet contributing to Singapore’s National Electronic Health Record (NEHR; the Government is mandating that all healthcare licensees have to contribute to the NEHR by December 2020).
Some of them felt that connecting to the NEHR is an expense they couldn’t see the value of. They didn’t feel the NEHR was required for the kind of cases they were handling, and it does not appear to align with the way in which many GPs provide care to their patients. However, there are great benefits to be had if everyone comes on board the system, which becomes more beneficial the more people use it.
Evolving the NEHR by bringing in more user design inputs, such that the value proposition is stronger for users, and tweaking NEHR so that it feelsmore relevant, intuitive, and accessible might help in achieving this objective.
Expanding on the theme of understanding the needs of users and of human-centric design, Ms Greulich-Smith said, “Sometimes we try so hard to create solutions that can meet every possible need, that we end up over-designing. Something that can accommodate every option may not be what is required by people working in a busy healthcare setting, who need something very intuitive, quick and relevant. As such, the over-designed solution can fail to be adopted as there’s an imbalance between the value it brings the user and the effort required to gain that value”
So, to design solutions that will be adopted and used, we have to start by understanding the humans who will be
using them, their aspirations, and their pain points.
Lack of user input is one of the main causes for the failure of many IT/ digital projects. One of the common problems is that we try to manipulate solutions to problems around available technology, rather than trying to understand the problem fully, first. For example, getting in a technology provider at an early stage in a project might result in everything being tailored to fit that company’s solution. A better way would be to start by looking at the people at the heart of the problem, designing a solution around them, and only then looking at the opportunities for bringing technologies in.
Ms Greulich-Smith gave a couple of examples of how the best of intentions can go awry when users’ needs are not properly understood.
She said that a healthcare provider in Singapore had the wonderful idea of creating a digital dashboard for their patients, enabling healthcare workers to get all the critical data in one glance. The IT team also knew the importance of user input, hence they went to the most complex department in their institution to find out what the care providers would need from such a dashboard. They wanted to ensure the dashboard could meet every need of the most challenged department, and hence designed the dashboard to meet all of their complicated needs. However, the majority of departments need a mere fraction of that information. They found it much easier
to scribble things down rather than use the over-designed dashboard. So, the team had to go back to the drawing board to create a new version that would work for a wider range of users.
Another similar situation arises as healthcare and social care organisations provide their community-based care workers with iPads for them to collect notes at the patients’ houses and directly update it to the database.
However, when the workers go into people’s homes, they find sometimes that there is no Wi-Fi to enable live updates. Even if the connectivity is there, they might find it awkward to enter data on to an iPad. Because normally they can scribble very quickly with pen and paper, and can maintain eye contact with the patient whilst they do so, which is important.
To use an iPad they have to look away from the patient, which creates a barrier to engagement. Moreover, they might lose contact with the tablet screen without realising it, if they don’t keep their eyes on the screen.
Providing field workers with iPads offers great potential benefits. But once implemented in the real world, a number of unforeseen problems arise.
“That’s why we need a design thinking informed approach, where you would prototype and test that. Then some of these issues would come out and before you scaled it you would have tried to find solutions to some of these problems, that help us unleash the powerful potential of technology in care, rather than grappling with its challenges” Ms Greulich-Smith said.
In the second part of the interview, Ms Greulich-Smith talks about how the Centre is applying the human-centric approach in an integrated care pilot project.
China Construction Bank (CCB) was recently commended by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat for reaching an important milestone in Singapore, which is evidence of the long-lasting collaboration that has developed between the two countries over the past 25 years.
The CCB is one of China’s four largest state-owned banks and is actively expanding its business abroad, with branch offices in Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore, among other places.
In 1998, when CCB made the bold decision to establish a presence in Singapore, the Asian economies were emerging from the depths of the Asian Financial Crisis. CCB’s move to set up shop in Singapore was a bold show of faith in the future of Asia and a belief that the region was poised for a resilient comeback.
Over the years, CCB has deepened its roots in Singapore, forming vital partnerships and emerging as one of CCB’s largest overseas nodes. DPM Heng Swee Keat, who once led the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), recalls productive meetings with CCB’s leadership regarding their expansion plans in the region.
This partnership led to significant milestones, including MAS upgrading CCB’s Singapore branch to a wholesale bank in 2010 and subsequently to a Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) in 2020.
The timing of this expansion is crucial, as it enables CCB to support Chinese companies looking to explore new opportunities while also contributing to the internationalisation of the renminbi.
Simultaneously, it provides invaluable support to Singaporean companies with aspirations in the Chinese market. Singapore’s status as an international financial centre ensures a plethora of growth opportunities for both CCB and Singapore.
Financial cooperation has been a cornerstone of the enduring relationship between Singapore and China. Recent upgrades in their partnership have expanded the scope of activities, going beyond traditional corporate and commercial lending to include green financing solutions, offshore debt raising, and even FinTech and innovation research in Singapore.
Regulators from both nations have joined hands to explore emerging areas like sustainable and digital finance, aiming to strengthen cross-border collaboration and deepen capital market connectivity within the region.
This is due to the rise of digital technology which has transformed the financial landscape, leading to the emergence of digital finance. This encompasses a wide range of innovations, including mobile banking, digital payments, blockchain technology, and digital currencies.
By exploring digital finance, Singapore and China are not only embracing financial technology (FinTech) but also revolutionising the way financial services are accessed and delivered. This shift has the potential to enhance financial inclusion, streamline transactions, and increase the efficiency of capital markets. Also, it opens doors to cross-border collaboration in developing and adopting cutting-edge FinTech solutions.
By strengthening capital market connectivity, these nations are not only boosting their own financial sectors but also attracting foreign investments, promoting regional economic stability, and potentially positioning themselves as hubs for sustainable and digital finance in Asia.
Innovations in digital finance and technology have revolutionised access to banking services and improved efficiency. CCB’s Fintech innovation lab in Singapore offers a platform for research, technology sharing, and the forging of new partnerships. These innovations are poised to enhance resource allocation, promoting real growth and job creation.
The collaboration between Singapore and China in these emerging areas is a strategic move to shape the financial landscape of the future, where sustainability, innovation, and cross-border cooperation will be key drivers of success.
The Minister for Finance, Minister for Women, and Minister for the Public Service of Australia provided updates on technology and digital identity-related legislation. The Minister delved into the topic of Digital ID and its significance for Australia’s future.
The primary focus of the address was the introduction of the draft Digital ID legislation, marking the commencement of consultations for the exposure draft. She highlighted that Digital ID is akin to an online version of presenting one’s passport or driver’s license to verify their identity but without relinquishing the physical document. It aims to provide a secure and convenient way to verify identity online.
The draft Digital ID legislation, now open for consultation, represents a significant milestone in Australia’s efforts to create a national Digital ID system. The Minister outlined four guiding principles for this system: security, convenience, voluntariness, and inclusivity. She stressed that Digital ID would remain voluntary, ensuring alternate channels for those who prefer not to use it.
Moreover, Digital ID is seen as a means to enhance inclusion by bringing government services online and extending their accessibility to underserved communities, including individuals with disabilities. However, the Minister emphasised that those unable or unwilling to obtain a Digital ID would still have access to government services through traditional channels.
The current system, which operates without legislation, allows individuals with Digital IDs to verify their identity without repeatedly providing sensitive documents. Nevertheless, it has limitations, as it is not yet a nationwide system and private sector providers cannot verify individuals against government-issued ID documents. The government envisions a national Digital ID system as an important economic, productivity, and security reform, and efforts are underway to address these shortcomings.
To ensure trust, data protection, and choice in the Digital ID system, the draft legislation establishes governance arrangements, a regulator (with the ACCC as the interim regulator), and privacy safeguards. Senator Gallagher emphasised the need for explicit consent for sharing identity information, the secure deletion of biometric data, and the prohibition of using identity data for direct marketing purposes.
Additionally, the Minster announced the formation of an AI taskforce, in collaboration with colleague Ed Husic, to ensure responsible and safe usage of AI across government agencies. AI has the potential to improve productivity within the APS and enhance government services, but it also requires careful management to mitigate risks.
The government is committed to creating boundaries and safeguards for emerging technologies like AI. The AI Taskforce will assess the risks and benefits of different AI systems within the public service.
The upcoming release of the first Long Term Insights Brief on AI and trust in public service delivery was also mentioned. Four key findings from the brief highlighted the importance of designing AI with integrity, preserving empathy in service design, enhancing public service performance, and investing in AI literacy and digital connectivity for all Australians.
The Minister expressed her determination to see the establishment of an Australian Digital ID system through legislation, despite the challenges and opposition. She acknowledged that it has been an eight-year work in progress, but she believes it is a worthy project with significant benefits for individuals, businesses, and the economy as a whole.
The address highlighted the importance of Digital ID legislation and AI governance in shaping Australia’s technological future. These initiatives aim to enhance security, convenience, and inclusivity while safeguarding individuals’ privacy and ensuring responsible AI usage within the public service.
Efforts to advance digital identification in Australia align with the country’s broader initiatives to establish a national Digital ID system, as discussed by the Minster. The focus of one pilot program, reported on by OpenGov Asia earlier, was on enabling individuals to prove their identity without the need for multiple physical documents corresponds to the principles of Digital ID outlined by the Minister, emphasising secure digital verification over physical information exchange.
Additionally, student volunteers from Deakin University demonstrated practical applications of digital identity within the education sector, mirroring the efficiencies mentioned by Senator Gallagher in her speech. These developments reflect Australia’s growing interest and innovation in the digital identification ecosystem.
Minister of PANRB Abdullah Azwar Anas stated that in 2023, the diplomatic relations between the Republic of Indonesia and Korea will reach its 50th year. Both countries continuously work to enhance their relations and cooperation, both bilaterally, regionally, and multilaterally.
In light of this, the governments of Indonesia and Korea are continuing their cooperation in Electronic Government Systems (EGS) through the Digital Government Cooperation Forum. This event, organised through the collaboration of the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB), the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MoIS), and the National Information Society Agency (NIA), discusses the implementation of cooperation in 2023 and the cooperation project plans for 2024.
“The closeness of this relationship and cooperation is certainly supported by the complementary nature of resources and advantages possessed by Indonesia and Korea, in addition to the excellent economic and political progress, making opportunities for cooperation in various sectors increasingly wide open,” said Minister PANRB Abdullah Azwar Anas.
In 2023, the governments of Indonesia and Korea embarked on a cooperation project related to digital ID development strategies and poverty alleviation digitalisation strategies. As for the extension of the DGCC cooperation project in 2024, there are several project proposals from the DGCC Committee, including support for government efforts in digitalising Nusantara City into a smart city focusing on intelligent government aspects.
“These cooperation proposals include the use of Big Data and AI for government administrative services, open-source technology-based designs, and big data designs in service provision,” explained Anas.
In his opinion, strengthening the strategic partnership between Korea and Indonesia for a shared future, especially in digital transformation, is not just an aspiration but a necessity. Indonesia’s digital transformation is already on the right track, where digital transformation serves as an accelerator for development acceleration.
Strengthening partnerships with Korea, one of the global technology industry leaders can bring Indonesia significant benefits. Korea has extensive experience and expertise in digital transformation and cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 5G. Through knowledge sharing and close collaboration, Indonesia can accelerate the implementation of these technologies to support various sectors, including industry, education, healthcare, and public services.
Furthermore, strengthening this partnership can also open doors for investments in Indonesia’s technology ecosystem. With financial and technical support from Korea, Indonesian startups and technology companies can further develop their innovations and compete in the global market. This will create new job opportunities, drive economic growth, and strengthen Indonesia’s position in an increasingly interconnected international community.
“Interoperability of systems and applications continues to be pursued to realise integrated services nationally. However, we continue to strive and learn best practices from various countries, especially Korea, to strengthen digital transformation breakthroughs in Indonesia,” he said.
NIA President Jong Sung Hwang stated that in the future, his agency will actively assist Indonesia in digital governance, similar to what they did by establishing NIA in 1987 to support the digitalisation of the South Korean government. “The South Korean government used to have 17,060 silo systems, but they managed to integrate them all into an all-in-one service,” explained Jong Sung Hwang.
Jong Sung Hwang added that in the era of digital governance, everything should run smoothly, and data should be easily accessible. “Usually, data preparation takes a lot of time, but with data infrastructure, it can be done more quickly and data is easier to use,” he added.
In an era where technology defines many aspects of daily life, strengthening a strategic partnership with Korea in digital transformation is not just an option but a necessity. This step will help Indonesia address challenges and seize opportunities from the global digital revolution. With strong cooperation between the two countries, Indonesia can achieve a brighter and more sustainable future in the digital era.
In a resolute move to drive technological innovation and secure a prominent position on the global stage, China significantly bolstered its investment in research and development (R&D) in 2022. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the country allocated an impressive 3.08 trillion yuan (S$422.1 billion) to R&D, marking a 10.1% year-on-year increase.
This surge in R&D funding underscores China’s unwavering dedication to advancing basic research and achieving breakthroughs in critical technologies.
The amplified R&D investment not only fuels technological innovation within Chinese enterprises but also enhances their core competitiveness on the international front. Experts believe that this substantial investment will inject a potent dose of momentum into China’s ongoing economic recovery.
The surge in R&D investment reflects China’s resolute implementation of an innovation-driven development strategy, positioning the nation as a science and technology powerhouse. This strategy equips China with a competitive edge in the fierce international arena, driving the creation of new growth engines.
Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Centre at Zhejiang University’s International Business School, underscores the pivotal role of continuous investment in basic scientific research.
He highlights its significance in fostering high-quality economic growth and promoting the intelligent transformation and upgrading of traditional industries. Pan calls for harnessing the leading role of enterprises in driving technological innovation, thereby ensuring sustainable progress.
Enterprises in China are indeed heeding this call, expanding their investments in vital sectors and laying a robust foundation for pioneering core technologies in key domains. The NBS highlighted the government’s commitment to providing continued financial support and encouraging local authorities to amplify their R&D investments while optimising the efficiency of capital utilisation.
China’s prowess in science and technology innovation has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. The 2022 Global Innovation Index, released by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, positioned China at the 11th spot globally, making it the only middle-income economy within the top 30.
Further, Luo Zhongwei, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Industrial Economics advocates intensifying investments in cutting-edge and forward-looking fields, including quantum information, artificial intelligence (AI), biological sciences, new energy, and new materials.
According to him, these investments are essential to achieve breakthroughs in key domains through independent innovation, particularly as protectionism continues to rise in some countries.
China’s intensified investments in cutting-edge fields like quantum information and AI confer a multitude of advantages. This commitment propels China to a position of technological leadership on the global stage. By allocating substantial resources to these transformative technologies, China not only sets industry standards but also influences international trends and fosters innovation.
Besides, these investments fuel economic growth by catalysing the development of new industries and markets. Quantum information and AI have the potential to spawn high-tech startups, generate employment opportunities, and stimulate economic prosperity.
As China excels in these domains, it enhances its global competitiveness, exporting technological advancements, products, and expertise while strengthening its standing in international trade and diplomacy.
Also, this strategic move ensures China’s national security and technological sovereignty. Quantum information and AI play pivotal roles in safeguarding against cybersecurity threats and advancing military capabilities.
Likewise, these investments reduce China’s reliance on foreign technology, allowing greater control over critical infrastructure and ensuring resilience against external disruptions. Overall, China’s intensified focus on these advanced fields promises not only technological leadership but also economic growth, national security, and global influence.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) spearheaded an initiative aimed at promoting innovation and technology in the biotech sector, showcasing Hong Kong’s pioneering advancements and entrepreneurial spirit.
This initiative was part of the “Think Business, Think Hong Kong” event organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) in Paris recently. The event was a platform to underscore the potential for cross-border collaboration between Hong Kong and France in the field of biotechnology and innovation.
The CEO of HKSTP emphasised the critical purpose behind this endeavour. He pointed out the immense potential for synergy and cooperation between Hong Kong and French biotech ecosystems, highlighting their role in propelling startups and pharmaceutical companies to global prominence.
The journey of biotech innovation is long and arduous, and comprehensive support is essential. This initiative aimed to highlight Hong Kong’s ability to nurture and support biotech innovators throughout their growth trajectory and establish the city as a global hub for innovation and technology.
At its core, this initiative sought to underscore Hong Kong’s strengths in driving innovation to global success. It aimed to showcase the city’s unique ecosystem that fosters innovation and technology, making it a prime destination for biotech entrepreneurs. Moreover, it underlined the immense market potential in Asia as a growth engine for the global biotech industry.
The thematic session organised by HKSTP and the accompanying pavilion, titled “Unlocking Asia’s Opportunities in Healthcare Innovation,” was central to this initiative. These components received a warm reception from the French biotech and pharmaceutical industry.
Four distinguished biotech experts from Hong Kong-based ventures were featured, collectively illustrating Hong Kong’s capacity to lead in global innovation and technology. They highlighted the city’s potential as a gateway to the Asian market, positioning it as a central hub for biotech growth and development.
To further accentuate the significance of this initiative, a special gala dinner was convened, attended by influential leaders from the French, European, and Hong Kong business communities. Key dignitaries including the President of the Ile de France Region, the Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Government, and the Chairman of HKTDC were present. This gathering aimed to foster meaningful connections and collaborations that would propel innovation and technology in the biotech sector forward.
HKSTP’s initiative was not just about an event; it was about catalysing collaboration and innovation in the biotech sector. It sought to highlight Hong Kong’s unique strengths as a global player in biotech innovation and technology. By bringing together experts, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders, this initiative aimed to pave the way for groundbreaking advancements in biotech, positioning Hong Kong as a prominent player in the international innovation and technology landscape.
OpenGov Asia previously reported that the Government Chief Information Officer of Hong Kong led a delegation from the city’s innovation and technology (I&T) sector to the 25th China International Software Expo (CISE). The mission aimed to strengthen collaboration and explore business opportunities in the technology sector.
The Hong Kong Pavilion at CISE showcased more than 20 innovative I&T products and solutions sourced from esteemed competitions like the Hong Kong ICT Awards and the “Maker in China” SME Innovation and Entrepreneurship Global Contest. These exhibits covered cutting-edge domains such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cloud computing, and biotechnology.
These innovations spanned sectors like fintech, smart construction site management, and digital entertainment, demonstrating the integration of digital technology into the tangible economy. To engage potential buyers and partners, the Hong Kong Pavilion featured a mini-stage for exhibitors to present their products and services.
This delegation’s participation in CISE emphasised Hong Kong’s technological capabilities and commitment to international collaboration. It aligned with Hong Kong’s goal of becoming a global hub for technological innovation in a rapidly evolving I&T landscape.
The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of three separate memoranda of understanding (MoUs) from earlier this year between India and Sierra Leone, Antigua & Barbuda, and Armenia. These MoUs will facilitate cooperation in the realm of exchanging successful digital solutions that have been deployed at a national level to boost digital transformation initiatives.
Under the memoranda of understanding, the countries will share experiences and digital technology-driven solutions, such as India Stack, in the execution of digital transformation projects. It is expected that the MoUs will result in more employment opportunities in the information technology sector.
India Stack is a collection of indigenously developed APIs and digital public assets that strive to enable the widespread utilisation of digital identity, data, and payments as fundamental economic elements. India Stack includes apps like Unified Payments Interface (India’s instant payments system), Aadhaar (the government’s digital identity card), and DigiLocker (a secure document access platform on a public cloud).
Both government-to-government (G2G) and business-to-business (B2B) cooperation in the realm of DPI will be strengthened through the MoUs. The endeavours outlined in the agreements will be funded using the regular operating allocations of their respective administrations. The MoUs shall remain in force for three years.
The MoUs were signed between the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Ministry of Information and Communications of the Republic of Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Information, Communications Technologies, Utilities and Energy of the Antigua & Barbuda, and the Armenian Ministry of High-Tech Industry.
MeitY is actively working with multiple countries and international organisations to promote both bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the field of ICT. Over time, MeitY has established MoUs, memoranda of cooperation (MoCs), and agreements with counterpart organisations and agencies from various countries. These arrangements serve as vehicles for fostering cooperation and facilitating the exchange of information within the ICT domain.
The MoUs were originally put forth at a meeting of the G20 Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG). The event served as a global platform for discussions on both foundational and sector-specific DPIs. It featured experience zones that highlighted the various DPIs that have been successfully implemented, including digital identities, fast payments, open networks for digital commerce, language translation technology, online learning solutions, and telemedical consultations.
The agreements align with the several initiatives undertaken by the government, including Digital India, Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India), and Make in India, among others, aimed at advancing the nation towards a digitally empowered society and a knowledge-based economy. Given the evolving landscape, there is a need to explore business opportunities, exchange best practices, and attract investments within the digital sector.
According to the government, over the last few years, India has showcased its leadership in the deployment of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) and has effectively delivered public services, even amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, many countries have expressed an interest in learning from India’s experiences.
India Stack Solutions are Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) created and implemented by India on a national scale. This infrastructure facilitates access to and the delivery of public services. It aims to universalise connectivity, foster digital inclusion, and ensure effortless access to public services.
These solutions are built on open technologies, are interoperable and are designed to encourage active involvement from both industry and community stakeholders, fostering innovation. However, each country has unique needs and challenges in building DPI, although the basic functionality is similar, allowing for global cooperation.
The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) has garnered accolades at the “Hong Kong Business Technology Excellence Awards 2023” for its commitment to driving technological innovation across traditional industries and property management through the application of smart manufacturing and robotics technology.
Two inventions, “Smart Pack@TCM” and the “IoT Smart Toilet Cleaning System,” have been recognised in the categories of “Smart Technology-Manufacturing Technology” and “Robotics-Property Service,” respectively.
The Executive Director of HKPC underscored the importance of integrating technology and innovation in line with President Xi Jinping’s recent call to harness technological and innovative resources. President Xi emphasised the need to drive emerging and future industries while accelerating the establishment of new productivity standards.
HKPC will continue to push the boundaries of innovation, striving to create industrialisation solutions that not only meet but exceed customer expectations. The recognition received at the local business technology awards underscores HKPC’s dedication to delivering cutting-edge solutions that enhance convenience and efficiency across various sectors. With a commitment to working closely with industries, HKPC aims to develop more innovative technology applications, bolstering competitiveness and productivity and contributing significantly to a smarter and sustainable future.
One of HKPC’s notable achievements is its collaboration with a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) manufacturer renowned for its certification with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for Proprietary Chinese Medicines. Together, they designed and established the “Smart Pack@TCM,” a GMP-compliant smart packaging system for traditional Chinese medicine powders.
The system leverages cutting-edge technologies, including intelligent robotics, machine vision systems, mechanical structures, and control software, to meet the complex and stringent requirements of packaging traditional Chinese medicine powders.
The “Smart Pack@TCM” system represents a groundbreaking leap in the traditional Chinese medicine industry’s journey towards new industrialisation. By integrating three industrial robots and nine machine vision systems, the solution achieves precise and high-speed insertion of small medicine vials into metal cans. It accommodates packaging materials of varying sizes, shapes, and colours, resulting in a remarkable doubling of packaging output and a staggering 90% reduction in manpower requirements.
The freed-up manpower can be redeployed to handle other essential tasks. Furthermore, the system significantly enhances packaging quality and stability while providing real-time data for improved production management efficiency and enhanced market competitiveness.
The Executive Director of the TCM manufacturer praised the collaboration, highlighting the brand’s strong emphasis on product quality and reputation in the traditional Chinese medicine industry. Traditionally, the packaging and production of traditional Chinese medicine involved intricate and labour-intensive processes that demanded a substantial workforce.
However, thanks to the tailored efforts of HKPC, an exceptional smart packaging system was devised for their factory. This revolutionary solution effectively doubled their packaging output, allowing manpower to be reallocated to tasks that cannot be automated, such as herb processing. As a result, the overall efficiency of the company experienced a significant boost, marking a transformative moment in its operations.
Another achievement by HKPC is the co-development of the “IoT Smart Toilet Cleaning System” with the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) of the HKSAR Government. This innovative system harnesses the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide autonomous cleaning functionality, making it more convenient for application and management in various venues. The system comprises a toilet bowl cleaning robot, an automated guided vehicle, and an IoT-based sanitation monitoring platform.
The system is equipped with the ability to collect real-time data on the usage and odour levels of individual toilet cubicles, enabling precise monitoring of toilet cleanliness. In addition to scheduled cleaning, the robot can dynamically adjust its cleaning frequency based on data collected through IoT monitoring, ensuring that high-traffic areas receive the attention they require.
The robot employs artificial intelligence to conduct real-time image analysis of toilet bowl interiors, categorising cleanliness into three levels. Based on this assessment, the robot employs specific cleaning modes with varying water usage and scrubbing procedures to effectively clean toilet bowl interiors and rims. After each cleaning cycle, the robot evaluates the cleaning results and initiates another cleaning cycle if stains are still detected.
Currently undergoing a trial run within the HKSAR Government premises, the “IoT Smart Toilet Cleaning System” represents a promising technological leap in enhancing sanitation and maintenance in public facilities. Plans are underway to commercialize this research and development outcome in the future. This remarkable innovation has also garnered acclaim at the “2023 World Genius Conference” organized by the International Federation of Inventors’ Associations.
The innovations showcased by the HKPC align with the goals of Hong Kong’s Smart City Blueprint. HKPC’s integration of advanced technologies, such as smart manufacturing and IoT, into traditional industries and property management resonates with the blueprint’s focus on technological integration.
These innovations enhance efficiency, foster innovation, and improve competitiveness while embracing sustainability principles. The collaboration between HKPC and the HKSAR Government in developing the “IoT Smart Toilet Cleaning System” exemplifies the blueprint’s emphasis on public-private partnerships.
OpenGov Asia previously reported on the establishment of the Committee on Innovation, Technology and Industry Development (CITID) by the HKSAR government. The move represents a pivotal step in aligning with Hong Kong’s Smart City Blueprint and its commitment to technological advancement.
CITID will promote research and development, nurture and attract I&T talent, and develop essential I&T infrastructure, all of which resonate with the objectives of advancing technology, innovation, efficiency, and sustainability as part of Hong Kong’s journey toward becoming a smarter city.
CITID will also contribute to the realisation of new industrialisation strategies; these are complemented by HKPC’s recent innovations and the government’s commitment to driving technological transformation across traditional industries and property management.