Digital Pivot Boosts Western China's Economy – OpenGov Asia – OpenGov Asia

 It’s hard to imagine a more compelling case of how digital transformation can actually be the main driver of a region’s economy than the economic output itself. China’s East-to-West digital pivot may be recent but it’s already giving a substantial boost to the region’s industrial output.
The industrial economy in China’s western regions has registered speedy growth in the first quarter. What is becoming apparent is digital adoption and emerging industries are key in injecting fresh impetus into regional economic development amid uncertainties both at home and abroad, industry experts observed.
Specifically, the industrial output of Southwest China’s Guizhou province increased 15.2% year-on-year in the first three months. That is 8.7 percentage points higher than that of the nation, according to the Provincial Bureau of Statistics.
The western regions have ratcheted up efforts to build a modern industrial system and develop Big Data and cloud computing technologies, showcasing strong resilience and great potential in bolstering the development of high-tech and emerging industries.
– Luo Zhongwei, researcher, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
High-tech and emerging industries have seen solid growth. Firstly, output from the new energy vehicle batteries and materials industry surged 44.9% year-on-year in the first quarter, 29.7 percentage points higher than that of overall industrial output in the province. Moreover, industries directly using digitalisation put up even greater numbers. Output from the computing, telecommunications and other electronics equipment manufacturing sector in Guizhou surged 35.4% on a yearly basis.
Investments into the region rose after Beijing decided to do an East-to-West digital pivot which meant the country’s digital transformation should move to the less-developed western regions. During the January-March period this year, investment in high-tech industries surged 96.1% compared with the same period of the previous year. Among the total, investment in high-tech manufacturing and high-tech services industries increased 129.6% and 66.8% year-on-year, respectively.
The government’s decision to establish eight national computing hubs and 10 national data centre clusters demonstrate that the country is taking steps to channel more computing resources from its eastern regions to less-developed but resource-rich western regions. The move will speed up digital transformation and upgrade industries in western regions, Luo added.
In January, China issued a guideline to support Guizhou in breaking new ground in the country’s pursuit of fast development of its western regions in the new era. The guideline, released by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, underscored the importance of promoting the construction of an inland open-economy pilot zone and developing the digital economy.
Guizhou has seen rapid development in its big data industry in recent years, with tech giants from home and abroad stepping up efforts to set up data centres in the province due to its cooler climate and ample power resources.
Chongqing, another Western province, has also witnessed its industrial output rise 8.5 per cent on a yearly basis in the first three months. The output of emerging industries, such as photovoltaic cells, industrial robots and service robots, expanded 92.9%, 34.1% and 20.7%, respectively, higher than the overall first-quarter industrial output.
The East-to-West pivot, indeed, has its inherent advantages. The western regions have abundant renewable energy and will become a key base for developing strategic emerging industries in the nation, one industry stalwart disclosed. Plus, compared with the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta areas, manpower costs are relatively low in western regions, he added.
Digital transformation has defined China’s economic rise. Just recently, industry stalwarts announced that the year 2022 is the Year of the Metaverse, the latest emerging technology from ICT. Additionally, its approach to digital adoption is reflected by its desire to build over 2 million 5G bases by the end of 2022.
Singapore’s Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP) and a leading provider of advanced design and validation solutions have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate in accelerating research, development, and education in quantum technologies.
Under the MoU, the two will closely cooperate in the development of quantum instrument packages, as well as the technologies that enable quantum systems to be scalable and deployable. They will establish a Quantum Joint Innovation Accelerator programme to make it easy for researchers participating in QEP to access software design tools and advanced test and measurement equipment. Researchers can apply to evaluate the provider’s measurement tools in their laboratories and access equipment hosted at its premises in Singapore.
QEP and the tech provider will establish a collaborative framework to accelerate research and development in the emerging quantum technology ecosystem. According to an official, the partnership will open up new frontiers and developments, which will propel industry innovations for years to come.
The QEP was launched in 2018 by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF) and hosted at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to support quantum technologies research and ecosystem building. The programme funds projects in quantum computing, quantum communication and security, quantum sensing, and quantum foundry, which are expected to lead to practical uses. The solutions provider is well-positioned to provide modular and scalable quantum control systems, by leveraging the company’s expertise in advanced measurement equipment, qubit control solutions, and precise measurement instrumentation, which enable researchers to engineer and perhaps scale next-generation systems to harness the power of quantum computing and other quantum devices.
In February, QEP announced it would conduct nationwide trials of quantum-safe communication technologies that promise robust network security for critical infrastructure and companies handling sensitive data. The 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.
Hosted by NUS, the initiative will receive $8.5 million over three years. Collaborators will bring expertise, equipment, and use-cases to the project. As OpenGov Asia reported, the joint research team expects to have the first nodes up within a year. In parallel, they will establish a Quantum Security Lab to commence advanced quantum security vulnerability research and secure design. They will also organise workshops with potential end-users to better understand their needs and build awareness of the new technologies available.
Initial plans for the deployment are for ten network nodes to be installed across Singapore connected to fibre, including two at NUS, two at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), and others at government and private company premises.
The nodes will be connected to provide a public network that can act as a living lab for organisations wanting to experience quantum-safe communication technologies, and separable government and private networks trialling dedicated users’ applications. A further experimental node at NUS will make a free-space connection to the public network, developing technologies that could extend secure links to locations that cannot be connected to fibre or may even be moving, such as boats.
As China’s digital economy rises, its appetite for more Big Data processing centres becomes more pronounced. As a response, the country plans to invest even more in this sector in the years to come. Specifically, China’s investment in big data centres is expected to grow by more than 20% annually during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25). Thus, the cumulative investment in related fields is set to exceed 3 trillion yuan (US$ 471 billion), the country’s top economic regulator detailed recently.
Sun Wei, Deputy Director of the Department of Innovation and High-Tech Development at the National Development and Reform Commission, said the big data centres play a key role in supporting the operation of the digital economy.
The development of big data centres will drive the investment in upstream and downstream industries such as the research, development and manufacturing of information technologies and related products, telecom networks and energy. That also will drive the digital transformation and upgrading of the economy and society, promote the smooth flow and application of data and further boost the growth of China’s digital economy.
– Sun Wei, Deputy Director, Department of Innovation and High-Tech Development
China is investing significantly to attain its Big Data goals. The country has recently approved the building of eight national computing hubs and plans for 10 national data centre clusters. This is a way to boost overall computing power and resource efficiency, according to the NDRC.
The agency detailed that the eight national computing hubs will be built in the following areas:
The NDRC data showed that 25 new projects have been launched in the 10 national data centre clusters this year, driving a total investment of over 190 billion yuan (US$ 28,673,618,200). Among the total investment, the investment in western regions has grown by six times over last year.
In the next step, the NDRC said it will ramp up efforts to effectively spur the investment in upstream and downstream industries and promote the large-scale and green development of Big Data centres.
Think of Big Data as humongous library storage of books. Data collected could be structured, semi-structured or unstructured. By collecting all the needed data, organisations can have access to relevant information in their operations. For instance, banks and the financial sector will be able to discern trends in their customer habits and come up with needed regulations to encourage or discourage a particular behaviour. Without needed information, the ability of an organisation to act when it needs to can be greatly compromised.
Though Big Data doesn’t really put a limit on volume, data deployments have been labelled according to the size of the transaction. Thus, it can be called terabytes, petabytes and to a certain extent, even exabytes of data collected and processed.
China has been aggressive in the pursuit of its digital transformation. It’s easy to see that as more data become available from China’s digital economy, more data centres are needed. For instance, as it puts up its fourth 5G operator, that would mean more customer data and customer data transactions will happen.
Vietnam’s digital economy revenue reached US$ 53 billion in the first quarter of this year, according to a report by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), which was presented at a meeting held by the National Committee on Digital Transformation.
According to the ministry, the digital economy is made up of the information communication technology (ICT) digital economy, the Internet digital economy, and the digital economy of industries. In the first quarter of this year, the Internet digital economy’s growth rate was 28%, reaching US$8 billion in revenues. The ICT digital economy and digital economy of industries each had average revenue growth rates of about 15%. By the end of February, the number of newly-established digital technology enterprises reached 65,329, an increase of 487 enterprises compared to 2021.
Regarding the e-government, so far, the National Public Service Portal integrated 3,552 online public services, creating favourable conditions for people and businesses. In the first quarter of this year, the portal registered more than 167,000 accounts, synchronised over 14 million records, and clocked 163,000 online payment transactions worth US$15.9 million. Further, earlier this year, the country deployed a nationwide electronic invoice system and, according to the tax authority, it has currently received and processed 77.7 million e-invoices. MIC’s report also revealed that human resource training for digital transformation has been a government priority. Nearly 1,000 officials and civil servants have been trained so far. About 10,000 government personnel are expected to be trained by October.
The Ministry of Public Security has coordinated with relevant ministries to deploy a national database on the population with information of nearly 78 million citizens and over 133 million COVID-19 vaccinations. The digitisation rate of business documents reached 100% in the national database of business registration.
In terms of digital infrastructure, the speed of broadband network access in Vietnam in the first quarter of this year improved compared to the same period last year. Specifically, the download index in mobile broadband, increased by 26%. The download index in fixed broadband increased by 44%. Presently, the proportion of adults using smartphones in Vietnam is 73.5%. Vietnam aims to increase the rate to 85% by the end of 2022.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, who is the head of the National Committee on Digital Transformation, said that digital transformation is a driving force for innovation and the foundation for a modern economy. The committee needs to implement mechanisms and policies to digitally transform the country and administrative tasks. He pointed out several tasks that the committee must focus on, including developing digital transformation infrastructure, applying digital technology, mobilising resources through public-private cooperation, and improving the management capacity and quality of human resources. Creating a robust digital society is expected to make people happier, participate in more comprehensive social activities, and enjoy more favourable social security policies, contributing to making Vietnam a safe, secure, and connected country.
Planning is crucial to ensure the greater success of any digital plan. Taiwan’s biggest tech corridor in the South, by virtue of size and possible computing power, is getting the support it needs from key government agencies. Its needed transportation access has been given the nod.
Qiaotou Science Park has been promoted as the biggest technology corridor yet for Southern Taiwan. Recently, a slew of the country’s government agencies met and approved greater access to the computing hub. Specifically, the National Development Council of the Executive Yuan held a review in a recent meeting and the body duly gave ascent to the needed transportation access plans.
Council and relevant ministries and agencies of the Central Government that gave approval were the cabinet members of the Executive Yuan, subordinate agencies of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. In addition, Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Lin Chin-jung led representatives of the Transportation Bureau, the Public Works Bureau, the Water Resources Bureau and the Land Administration Bureau to attend that meeting.
The results of the detailed that The Qiaotou Science Park Access Transportation Overall Project proposed by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) have been reviewed and approved. Consequently, The MOST will submit the project to the Executive Yuan for final approval in accordance with the procedures.
The Qiaotou Science Park Access Transportation Overall Project proposed by the Ministry of Science and Technology includes three constructions:
As per the plan, the total construction budget for this project is about NT$ 15.155 billion (US$ 513,920,598.80); it is expected to be completed between 2026 and 2028.
Deputy Mayor Lin Chin-jung says the Qiaotou Science Park will connect Luzhu and the Southern Taiwan Science Park, and become the most important tech corridor in southern Taiwan. For that, the key to the success of the Science Park lies in the construction of its access transportation.
To speed up the progress of the construction project, the city government will provide assistance in the urban planning changes and land expropriation for the prioritised sections of the Provincial Highway 39 extension line, and ramps and connecting roads. Furthermore, for the prioritised sections of the Provincial Highway 39 extension line, the design, construction and subsequent temporary road management will also be assisted. A turnkey solution will be taken, and it is expected to be completed in mid-2026, a year and a half earlier than the original schedule.
According to the Transportation Bureau, once the three constructions are completed, the accessibility to Qiaotou Science Park will be effectively improved, and logistics and employee commuting will be more efficient by connecting expressways and surrounding local roads, which is beneficial for the future development of Qiaotou Science Park.
All this means the digital transformation of Taiwan is getting the attention it needs to grow. The country has been laser-focused on ramping its digital adoption in accordance with its decision to be an ICT powerhouse in the region.
Collaborative studies in science and technology have the potential of easing the burden as well as producing more impressive results. That may not be more applicable than these days with countries being deeply impacted by the onslaught of the virus. The Philippines is partnering with a premier Australian institute to do joint research and upgrade its digital health system with the latest tools in ICT. According to the DOST, the new partnership with RMIT is for scientific cooperation.
The Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia have agreed to work together on digital health programs. This should provide needed results given that the collaboration is planning to use the latest emerging technology.
DOST sees this as an important area for innovation in the Philippines, especially with our current experiences in addressing the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Telemedicine, for instance, played a huge role as an alternative means of healthcare delivery in the past year. This innovation may also be expanded to provide healthcare services to more Filipinos in far-flung communities.
Rowena Guevara, Undersecretary, Department of Science and Technology
Moreover, Rowena disclosed both parties may also pursue cooperation in developing a virtual healthcare system that employs the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in interpreting health data. She acknowledged that the Philippines is yet to develop a broad individual and institutional capacity in telemedicine. Thus, the DOST hopes that its partnership with RMIT would result in capacity-building programs, such as scholarships and training for the Filipino people and institutions.
The partnership would enable the Philippines to maximise the benefits of these technologies, Guevara added. She acknowledged that RMIT carries a strong curriculum and instruction in health science, including allied fields which are complemented by their modern facilities for health education.
To facilitate the collaboration, Guevara, along with other DOST officials, conducted a scientific visit to Australia this month to strengthen established partnerships with Australian institutions, and to connect with other institutions of common interest.
However, the deal is still in its initial stages. Guevara shared that the details of the partnership have yet to be fleshed out by their concerned councils in separate meetings with their counterparts in RMIT in the coming months. Thus, they hope to keep the ball rolling, particularly in their capacity-building programs on digital health.
Meanwhile, the official said that through the scientific visit, the DOST was able to jumpstart initial discussions with Australian institutions for possible partnerships, with some institutions expressing their willingness to formalise the cooperation.
It’s definitely a big step forward as these agreements could facilitate STI (science, technology, innovation) partnerships in areas such as digital health, sustainable mineral processing and mine restoration and rehabilitation, bioengineering, and new technologies for coral reef restoration, among others.
DOST has an existing partnership with James Cook University and the Swinburne University of Technology. Some of the research taken up are emerging diseases and tropical diseases, Internet of Things (IoT), agriculture, and food security; as well as marine science scholarships and sandwich programs in the field of biomedical engineering. Certainly, the collaboration between these two countries, Australia and the Philippines is bound to push forward the digital transformation.
Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city edging out even the capital Wellington. Now, it’s once again leading the way in clean energy with its two electric marine vehicles for the public. Auckland harbour ferries are set to get quieter, cleaner and greener, thanks to two new fully-electric ferries for commuters and sightseers to travel on, Minister for Energy and Resources Dr Megan Woods announced recently.
Auckland Transport will operate the two electric fast ferries across all major inner and mid-harbour services, and the new ferries will provide a pathway for further ferry electrification in the future.
Today’s ferries contribute about 20% of Auckland’s public transport emissions. These electric ferries promise to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with each electric ferry displacing approximately 1000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
– Dr Megan Woods, Minister for Energy and Resources
Moreover, the minister detailed this project will be a major boost to the rapidly developing maritime clean technology sector in New Zealand and will further upskill the maritime transport sector in New Zealand. Plus, this is a boost for our climate goals and our economy, which is especially vital as the country continues our economic recovery from Covid-19.
Further, she stressed the government’s commitment to supporting low-emission transport options. She disclosed how much the government has invested significantly in on-road electric vehicles and has pledged to decarbonise the public transport bus fleet. It’s but natural that electrifying water transport happens, Woods affirmed. As such, she is looking forward to boarding one of Auckland’s first electric ferries once they hit the harbour, the energy minister detailed.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw said that with the announcement the Government had taken another important step on the journey to a low emissions future. It’s but timely for Auckland as a harbour city. Getting around by ferry is the norm for many thousands of Aucklanders. Shaw elaborated that today’s announcement means that instead of fossil fuels powering many of those journeys, people will be getting around in ways that help create a climate-friendly, prosperous future for New Zealand.
In the near future, the Emissions Reduction Plan will include many more initiatives to cut emissions from transport so that more people across New Zealand have access to low carbon ways of getting around, Shaw added.
However, the ferries are still on the drawing board. They are expected to launch in 2024. The project itself will be led by council-controlled Auckland Transport which has received a $27 million grant funding from the Government to pay approximately 75% of the costs of constructing two new electric ferries.
Auckland Transport will own and operate the two electric ferries. Per the report, the ferries can reach a top speed of 25 knots (on par with today’s diesel ferries) with a range of 40km. As for the funding, it comes from the Infrastructure Reference Group’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
Approaching digital transformation with clean energy is a wise choice. It means that a country such as New Zealand is after the planet’s welfare in the long term.
The development, integration and implementation of information management are critical in an era when data quality is more important than ever. As attempts are made to create and manage data-driven agencies to achieve goals, public sector leaders must accelerate the current framework to connect dependencies across processes for reliable information.
The public sector is also working hard to gain access to information, which it sees as a valuable asset. To better support important decision-making and meet the demands of demanding citizens, it is necessary to quickly secure and analyse both structured and unstructured data. Obtaining trustworthy data while adhering to data governance and compliance will improve data quality, accuracy and accessibility.
The idea that the public sector should focus more on preventing crises rather than just responding to them is not new. What is new is the ability to successfully predict and mitigate critical events on a regular and consistent basis.
Recent advancements in data analytics, business intelligence, machine learning and artificial intelligence have allowed the public sector to better detect and forecast operational issues. This exponential improvement in the ability to track patterns and identify potential problems in massive historical data sets and millions of pages of unstructured text is revolutionary. Departments can instantly understand where to increase efficiencies, when to manage costs and how to satisfy citizens with the right services by creating business intelligence dashboards.
Further, data analytics develops a single source of truth for compliance and methods to build trust among citizens.
Data governance is the most successful technique for formalising accountability where employees define, produce, and use data to execute their job functions efficiently. Good data is needed to improve productivity and citizen experience – and organisations adopting technology that enables employees to gather instant data will more quickly accelerate their mandates than those that do not.
The rate at which data is generated is increasing all the time. In light of this, it is vital that people prepare themselves to function and engage with data in the larger environment and are empowered to do so. Hyperintelligence, a term that has only lately been coined, makes data accessible to employees at their convenience.
The public sector must have greater proclivity in times of uncertainty to explore and exploit new technology opportunities that have the potential to mitigate risk and ensure business continuity. Decision-making must be based on actionable insights and intelligence garnered from the vast amounts of data the government has access to.
Thus, the necessity to improve usable data analysis while becoming increasingly data-driven in decision-making is almost unanimously acknowledged. And this cannot be done without reliable analytics tools capable of desegregating and connecting previously siloed data, making it manageable from a single place.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight held on 27 April 2022 at Sheraton Towers Singapore aimed to provide the latest information on how the public sector can use data analytics to drive mission outcomes.
Meeting demands of citizens and upholding data governance
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered the opening address.
Data on a global scale has taken on an entirely different dimension and Singapore is no different. In fact, compared to other countries in the region, the nation is well ahead of the curve and leads in data analytics. The public sector has spent a huge amount of money on technological innovations.
“Data can enable governments to make informed decisions,” Mohit asserts.
While Singapore collects massive amounts of data, quantity alone is not enough to make informed decisions. Where, how, and when is critical as is how the data is structured and made uniform. For better and more relevant data, information silos need to be broken down. Democratisation, integration and sharing will all be key.
To democratise data, the public sector needs to empower its entire workforce – from top to bottom. For the most part, data is often only accessible to people in higher positions or specific departments, creating disparity and lacunae. The information gap must be bridged with appropriate empowerment – be it through awareness, training, or skill up-gradation.
Access to large data sets is essential for a government’s digital transformation journey. Of course, data in and of itself is not the end goal – data must serve as a tool to derive understanding that enables effective decision making. Actionable insights from analytics will ultimately enrich the citizen experience.
In closing, Mohit emphasised the importance of partnerships that could help leverage data analytics for an organisation. “Use technology and minimise customisation,” Mohit emphasises. “By working with the right people, a company can accelerate its digital journey towards effective digital transformation.”
Deepening insights through data analytics
Kyung-Whu Chung, Director, Sales Engineering, APAC at MicroStrategy spoke next on the criticality of quality of data in digital transformation. To set the context, Kyung-Whu revealed that a recent survey showed that 94% of respondents say that Data and Analytics are important to their business growth and digital transformation.
There are huge benefits for organisations to using data analytics, including improved efficiency and productivity. Better data analytics leads to faster and more effective decision-making and results in better financial performance. Data analytics also assist organisations to identify and create new promising products and services.
While benefits are clear internally, there are advantages for the consumer as well. Customer satisfaction and experience are both critical for a company to thrive was the key. Data analytics help better understand consumer behaviour, trends, demands and identify issues. It has improved customer acquisition and retention with enhanced customer experience.
However, 70% of the people are not using any analytics tool. The vast majority (97%) of real-time decisions are data deprived. This indicates, surprisingly, that organisations and agencies are still relying on their intuition and manual analysis to solve complex problems with multiple variables.
Barriers that limit the uptake of analytics have been well articulated. Kyung-Whu identified the top three concerns – data and privacy concerns, limited access to analytics and lack of talent and training.
On the issue of privacy, 38% of organisations said more than 50% of their data is certified by an organisation authority or adheres to corporate policies. Despite this, customers are concerned about their sensitive and personal data. Organisations need to build trust and communicate properly on the use of data responsibly. This will encourage customers to be more inclined to provide their information.
When it comes to access, data-driven culture often gets stuck at the top. Access to the organisation’s data and analytics is usually concentrated on specific roles. Democratising data is important as it empowers all departments and encourages data-driven decisions at all levels throughout the company.
The last challenge that organisations need to tackle is the lack of talent and training. While simple enough to understand, there needs to be a more intentional drive and strategy to reskill and upskill employees.
In closing, Kyung-Whu encouraged delegates to expand their thinking and embrace a multi-tool environment. A data-driven culture can only be built on data democratisation, enabling everyone to access every process and every app. Collecting data is only a start, organisations need to enrich the data to gain deeper insights.
The future of citizen experience
Lim Chinn Hwa, Senior Director, Smart Nation Platform Solutions, GovTech elaborated on GovTech’s experience in building a Smart Nation.
Quoting PM Lee, Chinn Hwa shared three ways to understand Singapore’s vision for a Smart Nation: “We see it in our daily living, where networks of sensors and smart devices enable us to live sustainably and comfortably;  We should see it in our communities, where technology will enable more people to connect to one another more easily and intensely; We should see it in our future, where we can create possibilities for ourselves beyond what we imagined possible.
A smart nation is about data and what we do about the data, Chinn Hwa asserts. It involves the systematic use of technology that is integrated into a coherent whole, networks of connected smart devices and sensors, and a community connected by technology. It also requires government-built infrastructure and framework, secure and trusted systems, and a culture of experimentation
Accordingly, the key to a smart nation are as follows:
Chinn Hwa shared that with the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP) the government is able to develop a 360° view of Singapore with:
SNSP helps to achieve 360° awareness with sensor data that comes from static sensor platforms, mobile sensor platforms and data exchange platforms.
With the SNSP in place, Chinn Hwa emphasises the possibility of data-driven capability in decision making. He adds that GovTech takes the approach of looking at partnerships with agencies but also with industries.
GovTech is the centre of excellence for smart systems and processes but they work with agencies to understand what architecture is optimal for cyber-physical data collection. From the sensor lake, an API is created to extract knowledge out of the data.
SNSP brings meaningful Impact to agencies and citizens because of its secured and scalable Sensor & IoT (Internet of Things) network infrastructure based on GCC. It is a reliable, connected, and interoperable sensor data platform where agencies can Plug ‘n’ Play their sensor assets.
The other benefits include:
Chinn Hwa shared that in GovTech’s work with JTC, they have a better idea of what is going on in the country from the facilities management point of view – they can start thinking about how they can do more with less human resources.
In conclusion, Chinn Hwa forecasts that next-generation smart districts must have smart district technologies that enhance economic competitiveness and sustainability. , They must bring added convenience and security to tenants and visitors to improve their quality of life. He reiterates the importance of data-driven decision-making and the criticality of that within citizen services.
Data analytics in public health
Dr Tan Hwee-Pink, Chief Data Officer, Health Promotion Board (HPB) talked about HPB’s journey of harnessing data analytics to better understand HPB programmes and strategising engagement based on data.
He shared that the HPB began the journey by envisioning a centralised and aggregated dashboard that pulls data from various HPB programmes onto one platform for visualisation and analytics. There was a desire to focus on a data-driven understanding of HPB programmes that can be translated into actionable insights.
According to Dr Tan, there are two ways using data has helped:
Geo-spatial information is regularly collected (since NSC season 1 in 2015) but has rarely been used to characterise our customers. (Home addresses, Community Challenge GRCs, Roadshow locations, Event Locations)
There were many benefits of using data analytics. Using the case example of data from the National Steps Challenge Season 5, they can:
Layering geo-spatial information over NSC 5 participants’ characteristics allows HPB to understand the distribution of participants, and to evaluate the effectiveness of HPB’s various outreach channels. This aligns closely with:
HPB can identify and rectify gaps in real-time. Citizens have different levels of engagement after signing up for the programmes. With the ability to pinpoint registrants who drop off from the programmes, HPB can improve the participant retention rates and enhance the effectiveness of the impact measures.
HPB can also better understand the relationships and interactions between programmes. This can help to gain a more holistic understanding of the participants’ lifestyles in terms of their activeness.
HPB can enhance cross-marketing capabilities by reaching out to registrants or participants in similar programmes. For instance, HPB can encourage corporate challenge and/or youth challenge registrants to also register for the community challenge.
By understanding the sign-up rates amongst eligible registrants or active participants for programmes, HPB can better appeal to the different segments of interest to encourage sign-ups.
In concluding his presentation, Dr Tan Hwee-Pink shared that there is tremendous potential in extracting knowledge from data to make informed and data-driven decisions that can yield a tangible impact on the way citizen services are delivered.
Interactive Discussions
After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This session is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences, and impart professional learning and development to the participants. It is an opportunity for delegates to gain insight from subject matter experts, share their stories and take back strategies that can be implemented in their organisations.
The opening poll inquired about the main challenge delegates face in their data strategy journey. Most (38%) chose a lack of data culture/literacy/skill across employees as their primary challenge. One-third (33%) thought that missing an overall strategy that crosses departments and teams is their biggest obstacle. A lack of a centralised tool for sharing and collaboration was troubling for 19% of the delegates while 10% chose data privacy and security concerns.
A delegate opined that the main issue is that while there is a wealth of data, everyone wants their data warehouse and quick fixes rather than building long-term capability. Other delegates shared that policies are in place but that business users need to be receptive and willing to invest their time.
Another delegate shared the perspective that data is not owned by anyone. “Who has the KPI to ensure that data is being used?” he asked. “No one can hold others accountable for not using data.”
Chinn Hwa mentioned the importance of an augmented user – a user who can use data without needing to reach out to a data scientist. It is important to figure out what tools the user can use so that the person can be self-sufficient without going through specialists. The key is to understand the use cases for the people who need to use the data. When use cases are identified, tools can be customised.
Kyung-Whu shared his understanding of three kinds of users
Concern about data privacy and classification. People with the answer have the data. When a business person goes to the people with the answers, the solution tends to be centred on building the system to get the answers instead of getting the business users to be self-sufficient in getting answers.
There are two main concerns. The hesitation comes from not knowing if the business user will be able to come up with the right answer with the data. Secondly, handing over the data requires teaching the business user about the governance surrounding security and classification, which is the least of their concern.
Finally, when it comes to people without questions, Kyung-Whu suggests the importance of giving them the first touchpoint to change their mindset and create a learning path for them.
The second question inquired about the top analytic adoption challenge in their agency. Over one-third (35%) found data quality and accuracy concern the biggest obstacle. Others thought that the lack of talent and training (29%) was of concern. The remaining delegates found other unstated factors (18%) to be the issue while the rest found the limited access to analytics (12%) and complex and difficult tools (6%) challenging.
A delegate shared the difficulty of doing more when the priority is on operations and doing transactional work. Others brought up the inconsistency of data as a primary issue. The problem lies in the fact that everyone understands and captures data differently. It becomes a major issue because the inconsistent data upstream creates a problem downstream because of the time spent cleaning data.
Another delegate found it a challenge when faced with people who do not see how data analytics can bring impact and improve the quality of life. He emphasised the need for different levels of products for different needs.
When asked about their agency’s biggest data management barrier, most (35%) found data collection and cleansing the biggest barrier. Almost a quarter (24%) found providing trusted data to be a hindrance, while another quarter (24%) found data accessibility and sharing the biggest stumbling block. The remaining delegates found real-time insights, and the ability to analyse data in real-time (17%) the biggest challenge.
When asked about what their business users do when they have new data requirements, almost two-thirds (68%) would approach data analysts in their business unit for support. One-fifth (20%) went by their gut feeling, while the remaining would raise a Helpdesk ticket for IT (Information Technology) support ( 6%), or do not face the challenge because of a self-service analytic tool (6%)
On being queried about the application that delegates spend most of their working days on, an overwhelming majority (72%) spent their time on email, followed by productivity applications (like Microsoft Office) (22%) and their business intelligence application (6%).
Asked about whether delegates have considered zero-click experience for data, more than half (56%) have not considered it while 44% have.
Conclusion
The Breakfast Insight concluded with remarks from Kyung-Whu Chung who highlighted the role of data analytics and the need for agencies to begin leveraging it. He urged agencies to become data-driven and advised them to accelerate their digital transformation.
He suggests a paradigm shift that would help with the use of data analytics – bringing intelligence to the general audience (70%) who would not ask questions about data. The key is to offer them “answers to their first questions.” Instead of getting people to reach out to analytics platforms, the strategy should be about injecting intelligence to where people are – through zero-click analytics to solve the problem that we just discussed.
In closing, he invited the delegates to reach out to his team to explore ways they could work together to assist them on their journey. He emphasised that it is not a one-off event, but a long-term journey that MicroStrategy has walked and would be willing to undertake.
© 2022 OpenGov Asia – CIO Network Pte Ltd.

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