The National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Andhra Pradesh recently launched a short-term online course to provide an overview of public and private blockchains. According to a statement from the institute, the course was aimed at computer science engineers, research scientists with an interest in blockchains and IT professionals working as blockchain architects, developers and network operators.
The course provided in-depth information on blockchain and its history. It was offered under the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) initiative, launched by the Institute’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The Institute said that the course provided an exposure to the evolution of trust and drew parallels to significant societal developments where information technology tools played a key role. The approach enabled the participants to understand the origins of blockchains in a unique way, NIT claimed. In addition to providing a comprehensive study, the course explored a critical look at the architectural elements of public and private blockchains and discussed various trade-offs.
During the course, instructors showed how consensus mechanisms play a vital role in developing highly available distributed solutions and argued that given that foundation, building distributed applications becomes extremely easy. This argument was supported by presenting a case study involving the construction of serverless gold exchange. It was concluded by discussing possible topics for future research. Participants were taught through lectures, case studies and hands-on laboratory sessions. The primary objectives of the online course were:
As blockchain adoption is growing rapidly, there is a need to support studies and research at the postgraduate (PG) level and encourage PhD students to tackle problems in the field. According to the government’s National Strategy on Blockchain, which was released last December, the government plans to work with educational institutes to retrofit blockchain courses in the existing undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum. Blockchain is inherently complex, and, therefore, academia should be involved in designing and implementing courses to address the skill requirements, the strategy explained. Further, as blockchain applications have legal and regulatory dimensions, appropriate courses should be designed for law schools.
The government launched the Future Skills PRIME programme in 2018 to upskill and reskill the country’s workforce in emerging technologies, including blockchain. The programme has an ecosystem backed by the IT industry, the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) and the government. The strategy claimed the programme can be leveraged to foster the blockchain talent pool in the country. It also suggested the creation of sandbox environments to develop and test blockchain applications and to offer virtual training.
A seminar was recently organised to gather experts’ opinions on amendments and supplements to Decree 72, which is regarding the management, provision, and use of services and information on the Internet. The decree aims to create more relevant regulatory frameworks for the growth of the Internet and digital economy in Vietnam. The seminar was held by the Vietnam Digital Communications Association (VDCA) in collaboration with the Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development (IPS) and the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC).
According to a report, at the event, the VDCA Chairman said that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed how people interact with the world. Meetings, entertainment activities, video games, and transactions of goods are all non-fungible tokens (NFTs) made trans-nationally he noted. Digital technology plays a critical part in recovering, sustaining, and boosting economic growth in the post-pandemic period. As Vietnam expects the digital economy to account for 20% of its GDP by 2025, the government has not only been accelerating the development of digital infrastructure but also improving related policies, particularly those related to Internet-based services. For example, cross-border information provision services, cloud computing, data storage, online games and social networks are included in the draft decree.
Attendees at the seminar made recommendations related to cyber-information security, the settlement of disputes on copyright, fake news, domain names, licensing social networks, online games, among others. The IPS will continue collecting feedback on the draft decree online which will be submitted to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and relevant agencies for finalisation.
The Internet infrastructure in the country is set to receive considerable investment in 2022 to meet users’ growing demands. The number of Internet subscriptions in Vietnam hit a record last year with nearly 71 million mobile broadband subscriptions and 18.8 million fixed ones. Respectively rising 4% and 14.6% from 2020. Internet users accounted for two-thirds of the population. Internet traffic also grew strongly, by over 40%, in 2021. Telecom businesses have also stepped up developing broadband infrastructure. So far, the 5G network has been piloted in 16 provinces and cities, 4G covers 99.8% of the population, and cable Internet services reached 100% of communal-level localities.
As OpenGov Asia had reported last month, although there has been steady growth, repeated breakdowns of undersea international cables greatly affected the domestic Internet quality. There are five undersea cable routes currently operating in Vietnam, namely AAG, SMW3, IA, APG, and AAE-1. Two others, SJC 2 and ADC, are scheduled to be put into use in 2022 and 2023. Meanwhile, other countries in the region have more routes such as Singapore (30), Malaysia (22), and Thailand (10). Compared to them, international infrastructure serving internet connection in Vietnam remains modest. Experts believe that it is crucial to develop infrastructure for international Internet connection on par with regional countries.
To improve broadband Internet quality, the government should focus on upgrading bandwidth and modem devices’ capacity, widening domestic and international bandwidth, and amending standards. Developing digital and cloud computing infrastructure and boosting the digital economy and telecoms, are among the country’s top priorities between now and 2025.
The Education Ministry’s (MOE) National Digital Literacy Programme (NDLP) has enabled students to have access to digital devices amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal learning devices have helped students greatly to access digital information in so many different ways.
President Halimah Yacob gave an overview of its technology plan, cyber-wellness programmes and rollout of the NDLP. Under the NDLP, all secondary school students became owners of a personal learning device in 2021. This was rolled out in two phases, at 86 schools in Term 2 and 66 schools in Term 3. The roll-out was made seven years ahead of the original target announced by former Education Minister Ong Ye Kung at 2020’s committee of supply debates.
Digital literacy is very important not only for the learning, development and growth of students, but for them to integrate into society after they leave school. With technology, students can also seek help online for their mental well-being.
– President Halimah Yacob
As one of its NDLP initiatives, Pasir Ris Secondary also implemented fortnightly home-based learning where students attend lessons for four hours in the early part of the day and are given a one-hour slot in the afternoon to pursue other areas of interest such as learning another language or playing musical instruments.
The students search for their own resources online on websites, or work with adults knowledgeable in the area, then fill in a reflection log that allows teachers to monitor their progress. While the wellness corner in the school library encourages self-directed learning, Secondary Four student Teng Jiamin, 15, said that it is also a good place to relax.
One of the activities at Pasir Ris Secondary School helps students to identify problems they may face when they share information on websites or social networking platforms without thinking carefully. Excessive gaming has also become quite a serious problem globally and in Singapore. Children and students should be taught about the dangers of excessive gaming, which can become a problem.
Teaching students or young people about the importance of accessing information, being on social media, the Internet, and yet using it safely and responsibly, is important. Raising your awareness of the potential of causing that harm is important so you become more responsible, so the place that you’re leveraging on the Internet is safe for others.
Going digital has become a way of life. Today, people live in a digital universe filled with many wonders. From education, finance and medical, to music, games and shopping, the digital life connects us to these and more, enriching lives.
The possibilities of the digital future are endless. That’s why the Digital for Life movement is here to bring together the community to help Singaporeans embrace digital as a lifelong pursuit, to enrich their lives – so that no one is left behind in Singapore’s journey into the digital future.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, The Digital for Life (DfL) movement aims to galvanise the community to help citizens of all ages and walks of life to embrace digital learning as a lifelong pursuit and to enrich the lives of others with digital technology. The movement promotes good digital habits as our society engages in the digital domain. With the combined effort of corporates, community groups, government and individuals, more Singaporeans will be able to enjoy a better quality of life through technology.
Recently, the President of Singapore, Halimah Yacob has announced that The Digital for Life Fund will set aside $4.8m to support 21 new ground-up community projects to bring the benefits of digital technology to 100,000 people. This year’s President’s Challenge 2021 theme is ‘Building a Digitally Inclusive Society’. With DfL movement, the President hopes to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital transformation journey.
Vietnam has ranked 62nd in the 2021 Government Artificial Intelligence (AI) Readiness Index, jumping 14 places since the year before. The index is an annual report released by a UK-based research group in collaboration with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). With an overall score of 51.82 out of 100, Vietnam ranked 6th in the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN). This is the first year its score has surpassed the global average of 47.42.
The index, published yearly, ranks countries based on 42 indicators across three pillars: government, the technology sector, and data and infrastructure. According to the Deputy Head of the High Technology Department under the Vietnam Ministry of Science and Technology, the index also evaluates human resources training, technology application, and the development and deployment of a national strategy on AI. In the 2021 release, for the first time since the index was created, one-quarter of the countries in the top 20 are from East Asia, namely, Singapore (2nd), South Korea (10th), Japan (12th), China (15th), and Taiwan (18th). Apart from Taiwan, all these countries score significantly above the global average in both the human capital and infrastructure dimensions, marking the region’s global success in AI research and its advanced computing power.
Vietnam and Indonesia released national AI strategies in the time since the 2020 index was compiled, meaning that they both scored the maximum in the Vision dimension this year. Vietnam’s AI strategy sets out its ambitions to be amongst the top countries in the region for AI research, development, and application. Meanwhile, Indonesia’s AI strategy focuses on health services, bureaucracy reform, education and research, food security, mobility, and smart cities.
Last year, the Vietnamese Minister of Science and Technology, Bui The Duy, said the strategy aims to put Vietnam among the four leading countries in ASEAN, and 50 nations globally in terms of AI research, development and application by 2030. It will also build 10 prestigious AI trademarks in the region and develop three national big data and high-performance computing centres. Also, by 2030, Vietnam plans to have set up 50 interconnected open databases in economic sectors. The country is fine-tuning legal documents and creating a legal framework regarding AI, as well as promoting international cooperation in the field, the Minister had noted.
Nearly 40% of the 160 countries ranked in the 2021 AI Readiness Index have published or are drafting national AI strategies, demonstrating that AI is quickly becoming a top concern for world leaders. 30% of ranked countries have already published a national AI strategy while 9% are drafting one. The global interest in AI comes amid a wider turn to digital government, spurred in large part by social distancing measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The US topped the rankings with 88.16 points owing to the size and maturity of its technology sector. Singapore ranked second with 82.46 as a result of its institutional strength and government digital capacity. The other countries in the top five are the UK, Finland, and the Netherlands.
Society’s use of technology reflects the perception of value. Taiwan cares about whether digital technologies bring public benefits to society as a whole. The development of new technology makes people worry about losing job opportunities and Artificial Intelligence (AI) may compete with humans, but it also leads to more exploration of human potential.
AI can augment our collective intelligence. For example, sorting through hundreds of thousands of input from citizens is very tedious. Now that AI can power this conversation at scale, a hundred thousand people can listen to one another because the facilitation is in AI. The more people join, the better the quality.
– Audrey Tang, Digital Minister of Taiwan
Using AI to power conversation can scale the idea of listening to scale to tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people talking together. People can still listen to each other’s main points. This is how Taiwan is using AI to power its public service consultation. One example of this is an AI-powered conversation platform that very cleverly takes away the chores but opens up the agenda-setting for people.
Technologies that Help Taiwan most to Manage the COVID-19 Pandemic
In Taiwan, the pandemic has strengthened its model of collaboration between people, government, and the private sector, deepening “people-public-private” partnerships. This is because Taiwan has built a digital infrastructure that lets people freely express opinions on policy reforms. When the COVID-19 outbreak struck last year, masks, the most essential personal protective equipment, were in short supply and the central government had to adopt a “real name registration system” for ordering face masks.
The contact-tracing system 1922 SMS is another case in point. It was a solution jointly proposed by civic tech communities in Taiwan to ensure both privacy protection and efficient contact tracing. Civic technologists enthusiastically discussed how to improve existing registration systems, which primarily relied on paper and pencil, or primitive web forms and were often confusing or counter-productive to virus suppression measures.
Inspired by these discussions, the government worked with five leading telecoms firms to develop 1922 SMS. By scanning a QR code using a smartphone camera and sending a text message to the toll-free number 1922, check-in records are created and stored—with no need for an app. When necessary, contact tracers can retrieve data from the system for quick and effective tracing. From discussion to deployment, the 1922 SMS system was built in a week. This would not have been possible without a robust partnership between the public and private sectors and the people.
Digital Social Innovation in Taiwan
Social innovation refers to using innovative methods, such as digital technology and cross-disciplinary cooperation, to find effective solutions to social and environmental challenges. Social innovation means “everyone’s problem; everyone helps”: Everyone uses innovative methods to spontaneously invest and participate in things that contribute to the world, and then change the relationship between different groups in society and find solutions for the common problems.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, when it comes to digital democracy, democracy is the main idea, and digital is just an objective to assist democracy. Around the world, there is the other way of ideas that somehow democracy must give way to the public health measures, to counter disinformation measures. However, technology needs to adapt to the people’s will and the people’s norms, and people’s co-creation and real needs.
In Taiwan, the system has been successful in hearing younger people. A lot of the most impactful ideas came from very young people. To shorten the time that a genuinely good idea gets thought by a teenager or young people, and the time that it is understood by the senior people and implemented, is key to moving democracy forward. The younger people, because they are digital natives, they do not think that once every four years is sufficient to upload bandwidth, the latency is too high, they prefer to collaborate on a day-to-day basis.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, public consumption has played an important role in maintaining the economy. Shifts in consumer behaviour, demographic conditions and technological developments are increasingly driving the increase in global consumption. The digital native population will certainly become the pillar of global consumption in the future.
The development of the digital economy in Indonesia is currently still a challenge. The need for infrastructure, human resources, digital literacy, regulation and mindset is very important for Indonesia to increase the use of technology in order to build a strong digital economy.
Various efforts have been made by the Government to accelerate the creation of new digital talent and the development of a digital-based economy has been carried out through improving digital infrastructure, training, issuing regulations, providing the MSME ecosystem, and providing financing.
– Airlangga Hartarto, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs
In 2022, technology adoption is expected to grow rapidly. The next industrial transformation will lead to “Society 5.0 or Society of Intelligence” where the physical space and cyber world will be tightly integrated. The boom of new technologies such as Metaverse, Blockchain, NFT, and Web 3.0 will also become a new trend in every line of people’s lives. Therefore, the young generation in Indonesia must be prepared to master the various skills required in these fields.
In the same year, Indonesia also holds the baton of the G20 Presidency. In this Presidency, Indonesia carries the theme “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”. This theme was raised to encourage an inclusive, strong, and sustainable global economic recovery, in which digital-based transformation itself is one of the priority issues in the 2022 Indonesia G20 Presidency.
In support of the Indonesian G20 Presidency, the theme raised is “Digital Economic Transformation for Economic Recovery in the Era of the COVID-19 Pandemic”. It is hoped that this theme can also motivate the students who attend to improve their quality, so that they can compete in the digital economy, therefore they can contribute to the recovery of the national economy.
acceleration in improving the quality of human resources would require coordination and synergy with all parties. So the concept of “pentahelix” development, in which elements of the government, society or community, university academics, entrepreneurs and the media unite to build togetherness in development is the key.
Since the importance of human resources as the main capital for national development, the government is also committed to improving the quality of Indonesian human resources through the 2022 State Budget, by providing an education budget that reaches Rp542.8 trillion. The main goals of digital transformation. In the last 2 years, the use of digital technology has accelerated through online learning from home, so it can be seen that most are able to take advantage of digital technology.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, To improve the quality of learning, including for madrasahs (Islamic schools), Indonesia improves efforts in digital transformation for education. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has made efforts to help madrasahs in Indonesia to adopt digital technology. In 2021, the ministry prepared the Madrasah Affirmation Assistance fund of Rp.399.9 billion implemented through the Realising Education’s Promise Madrasah Education Quality Reform program targeted at 2,666 madrasahs in the country.
The assistance is yet to target all madrasahs in Indonesia due to the ministry’s limited funds. For reporting, he affirmed that the ministry had implemented the e-RKAM system as an e-planning and e-budgeting for madrasahs. Therefore, the accountability of reports regarding the assistance for madrasahs can be guaranteed.
The madrasah digitalisation program had been carried out since 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Indonesia. Several programs had been carried out, including revising the technical guidelines for the utilisation of the school operational assistance (BOS) funds so that they can be used to support the online learning system.
Singapore’s Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP) will start conducting nationwide trials of quantum-safe communication technologies that promise robust network security for critical infrastructure and companies handling sensitive data. Supported by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF), the project kicks off with 15 private and government collaborators on board.
Network security is a cornerstone of today’s digital society. The public-key encryption that protects some of the billions of bits of data exchanged each day is known to be vulnerable to attacks by quantum computers, which have the potential to be millions of times more powerful than classical computers at some tasks. While today’s quantum computers are too small to break encryption, calls to address the cybersecurity threat become more urgent as technology advances.
Quantum-safe communication technologies are designed to counter the threat of quantum computing with specialised hardware and new cryptographic algorithms. They could secure communication systems for governments, critical infrastructure such as energy grids, and companies handling sensitive data in areas such as healthcare and finance. The new National Quantum-Safe Network (NQSN) will deploy commercial technologies for trials with government agencies and private companies, conduct an in-depth evaluation of security systems, and develop guidelines to support companies in adopting such technologies.
Singapore can build on its heritage in quantum science, optics and cybersecurity engineering to become a trusted global provider of quantum network technology and services. In NQSN, we will bring quantum innovation to deployed optical networks, where we can study operational issues such as a quantum network’s reliability and resilience together with our industry partners.
– Assistant Professor Charles Lim, Lead Principal Investigator, NQSN
Hosted by NUS, the initiative will receive S$8.5 million over three years. Collaborators will bring expertise, equipment and use-cases to the project. The new National Quantum-Safe Network aims to enhance network security for critical infrastructure with superior quantum technology and solutions, while also serving as a robust platform for public-private collaboration. This is a hallmark of translational research excellence and is also one of the key initiatives under the RIE2025 plan that bolsters Singapore’s ongoing transition into a trusted digital innovation hub.
The joint research team expects to have the first nodes up within a year. In parallel, they will establish a Quantum Security Lab to commence advanced quantum security vulnerability research and secure design. They will also organise workshops with potential end-users to better understand their needs and build awareness of the new technologies available.
Initial plans for the deployment are for 10 network nodes to be installed across Singapore connected to fibre, including two at NUS, two at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), and others at government and private company premises.
The nodes will be connected to provide a public network that can act as a living lab for organisations wanting to experience quantum-safe communication technologies, and separable government and private networks trialling dedicated users’ applications. A further experimental node at NUS will make a free-space connection to the public network, developing technologies that could extend secure links to locations that cannot be connected to fibre or may even be moving, such as boats.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, NUS has officially launched two new digital platforms, the Internship-As-A-Service (IAAS) and conNectUS, to prepare students for the working world. IAAS simultaneously meets the needs of industry partners for specialised talent and expands the scope of hands-on internship and gig opportunities for NUS students. conNectUS allows students to build greater connectivity with the University’s alumni and tap on their wealth of industry knowledge and experience as they chart their career journeys.
Against a backdrop of NUS’ strengthening commitment to preparing graduates for the workplace of the future, the platforms support the holistic development of graduates, particularly in the areas of interdisciplinary education, internship opportunities, intellectual flexibility, and diversity of skill sets, as well as instil the value of lifelong learning in graduates and alumni.
The Cebu City government plans to use a point-to-point microwave network to link the City Hall’s communication system with its 80 barangays or villages. The project will strengthen the capability of the city government to connect with the barangays in the event of disasters or emergencies using cutting-edge technology. The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC) made this announcement on 17 February.
Following the damage of Typhoon Odette and the challenges in communicating with village officials for rescue responses, the city’s Mayor Michael Rama issued a solution to improve connectivity among the city district officials. A report stated the Council has plans to adopt the point-to-point microwave network, which it claims is the fastest connectivity offered by telecommunication companies. 5G runs on the same radio frequencies currently used in smartphones via Wi-Fi networks and in satellite communications. Using point-to-point microwave technology, the network will serve as a backbone for radio communication and Internet connectivity for the 80 barangays, especially the 22 hinterland villages and the city’s early warning system.
“When we say connectivity, we are really planning to connect all barangays as far as Buot-Taop in the south and likewise Lusaran in the north,” Carillo said, stressing the technology’s reliability for faster response to incidents. Meanwhile, the CCDRRMC will launch a TV monitoring system in the villages, to fulfil the mayor’s plans to set up a communication tool to improve information dissemination to the barangays. The Council will launch 30 sites later this week, and by the first week of March, it will be able to connect all 80 barangays.
Research has shown that nearly 60% (300,000 square kilometres) of the country’s total land area is vulnerable to natural hazards, in large part due to the archipelago’s location along both the path of the tropical storms in the western Pacific and the Ring of Fire. Around 74% of its population of more than 100 million is subject to various impacts from these disasters, and the country routinely ranks among the top 10 natural disaster-prone countries in the world, as per the World Risk Index.
Mitigation efforts depend on a network of early-warning systems that are constantly being fine-tuned, and on establishing mechanisms to respond more quickly to natural disasters. For example, the National Exposure Database (NED) identifies vulnerable areas so agencies and local governments can come up with real-time analyses and respond quickly during a disaster. It also helps in planning and implementing disaster-ready solutions.
Earlier this month, the Manila Mayor, Isko Moreno, proposed using low earth orbit satellite technology to ensure communications are quickly restored in areas devastated by natural calamities. Low earth orbit satellites or LEOSATs are a new generation of satellites that orbit the Earth at a low altitude, thus speeding up the time data travels from one point to another. This is good for voice calls, video-conferencing, sensitive financial transactions, and operating machines remotely. While traditional satellites provide Internet in a fixed geographic area, LEOSATs can provide continuous connectivity for any given area if there are enough groups of such satellites, called constellations, spread out over the globe.