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Indian Institute of Technology (Guwahati) Launches Programmes in AI, Cybersecurity – OpenGov Asia

The Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati (IIT-Guwahati), in partnership with a private player, has announced the launch of a postgraduate (PG) certificate programme in cybersecurity and a PG certificate programme in artificial intelligence (AI). The demand for cybersecurity domain experts has increased two-fold in the past year as tech-enabled solutions and digitalisation became a staple addition to institutions, governments, and organisations. This has globally increased the risk of security breaches as well.
The 8-month-long course focusing on cybersecurity will equip students with subjects that will help them become adept for careers as network security specialists, cybersecurity analysts, cybersecurity architects, cybersecurity managers, etc. The 9-month-long course on AI and deep learning will cover fundamental modules such as Python programming, data analytics, neural networks, computer vision, image recognition, etc. The course will prepare students for careers as AI and ML engineers, computer vision experts, software R&D engineers, cloud support engineers, etc.
A news report stated that the PG programmes have designed their pedagogy to cater to the latest industry requirements. Leading faculties from IIT-Guwahati and the industry player will conduct live instructor-led sessions over the weekends, along with prominent experts from relevant industries. The students will showcase their learnings and skills by participating in a Capstone project and solving real-world business problems.
The courses are currently accepting applications from candidates who have scored at least 50% marks in a relevant bachelor’s degree and have a minimum of two years of work experience in IT or software development. After the course, the students will receive certificates issued by the partner organisations. Speaking at the launch event, an official noted that IIT-Guwahati has been working to offer professional courses in futuristic areas of technology, science, and management. Since data science and AI-based technology have made rapid inroads through its seamless mechanisms and improved productivity through reduced human intervention, IIT-Guwahati has initiated undergraduate and doctoral programmes in the fields through its new Mehta Family School of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.
With the greater adoption of technology, there is a growing need for people with the best-in-class technical skill sets to meet this demand. This public-private collaboration will fulfil the requirements for AI, deep learning, and cybersecurity across all sectors. The official informed that the curriculum is meticulously developed with foundational and advanced subjects to provide learners with comprehensive knowledge leading across these specialised domains conforming to industry requirements. These programmes will enable professionals to upgrade their skills, knowledge about evolving technologies, and upscale their career graphs.
Earlier this month, OpenGov Asia reported that IIT-Madras and an Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-Ahmedabad)-incubated start-up, GUVI, are offering Python and AI upskilling courses for free. They are available to more than one million socially and economically disadvantaged youngsters in India. The Python and AI skills included in this initiative focus on face recognition technology that any beginner can master. The courses will be taught in various vernacular languages including English, Tamil, Hindi, and Telugu, among others. Free access to the courses will be available through a registration process enabled on GUVI’s official website.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly boosted the e-commerce market, with non-cash payments accounting for 70% of total retail transactions in Vietnam last year. According to a survey of 15,000 retailers, cashless payments in 2021 made up 72.8% of total transactions, up 9% year-on-year. Payments through bank accounts became the most popular method, accounting for 36.5% of total transactions at retail shops, restaurants, and cafés followed by cash (29.8%), e-wallets (14.8%), QR code (9.9%), bank cards (8.5%), and payment gateways (0.5%).
Notably, 89.3% of retailers have positive assessments on non-cash payments, considering them a trend at present and in the future. New cashless payment tools are expected to be launched in the time to come to reduce difficulties that retailers currently face. Telecommunications is not the booming industry it once was as the mobile market has become saturated over the past few years. This has forced telecom providers to look for “new spaces”, one of which is mobile money.
In early December, the State Bank of Vietnam officially licensed three carriers, VNPT, Mobifone, and Viettel, to pilot mobile money services. VNPT and Viettel are the only two that have so far put mobile money services into commercial use. According to a news report, mobile money is expected to be a push towards cashless payments in the country, where only 70% of the population have bank accounts. The biggest difference between mobile money and e-wallets is that customers can pay for services and goods of small value, without a bank account. Additionally, mobile money accounts can also be used on feature phones, which do not connect to the Internet.
Mobile money services will be easy-to-use in rural and remote areas, where bank branches and the Internet have not yet been strongly developed. Once mobile money services are licensed, in theory, any telecommunications subscriber can access the service. However, operators must ensure that subscribers have the correct identification information to provide services, as well as bring convenience and trust to customers, an official noted. The country’s telecom market currently has about 126.3 million subscribers, of which the three largest carriers and those licensed to pilot mobile money account for more than 97% of the market share.
Since the pandemic started, there has been a significant increase in the use of e-wallets, payments via smartphones and QR codes, and high demand for ‘instant credit’ solutions such as buy-now-pay-later, particularly among those segments of the population that remain unbanked or underbanked. Fintech and e-wallet penetration reached 56% in 2021 for Vietnam, a hike of 40 percentage points from 2017. This penetration level is higher than the average of Asia-Pacific (APAC) emerging markets (at 54%) and developed markets (43%).
Last year, Vietnamese people spent most of their time using social networks, texting, watching videos, shopping online, and emailing, OpenGov Asia reported.  The number of goods categories purchased by Vietnamese online shoppers went up 50% compared to 2020, while that of online stores in Vietnam also rose by 40% year-on-year, resulting in a 1.5-fold increase in total online retail sales nationwide. Some 49% of Vietnamese consumers switched to a new online marketplace, based on considerations of price incentives (45%), product quality (34%), and availability of goods (33%).
The digital economy is expected to play a bigger role in bolstering China’s high-quality development and accelerating digital transformation and upgrading traditional industries. Innovative digital technologies like big data, cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence are increasingly being integrated into all other sectors of economic and social development. This trend is injecting new impetus into global economic recovery as well.
By 2025, China will establish a market system for data elements and see the digital transformation of industries reach a new level. Moreover, digital public services will become more inclusive and a sound governance system for the digital economy will be established.
Facilitating the growth of the digital economy is of vital importance to cultivate new driving forces, boost high-quality and innovation-driven development and effectively address the unbalanced development in society. Technologies like big data, cloud computing, AI and the internet of things are evolving fast and finding a wide range of applications across industries and other economic sectors, speeding up their integration with the real economy
Long Haibo, Senior Researcher, Development Research Center, State Council
China also needs more efforts to make breakthroughs in core and basic technologies, expand the industrial application scenarios of leading technologies as well as strengthen the protection of data security and personal information. China’s digital economy was worth nearly $5.4 trillion in 2020, up 9.6% year-on-year, ranking second in the world.
Moreover, the plan details key tasks in eight areas, including optimising and upgrading digital infrastructure, pushing forward the digital shift of enterprises and expanding international cooperation on the digital economy. It stresses enhancing innovation of key technologies in strategic and forward-looking fields like quantum information, network communications, integrated circuits, key software, big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain and new materials, as well as fostering new business forms and models.
The emerging digital technologies represented by 5G, big data and AI have played a critical role in enhancing operational efficiency, cutting costs and improving the core competitiveness of traditional industries amid economic downward pressure. China’s intensified efforts to develop the digital economy will inject fresh impetus into the country’s economic growth and speed up digital and intelligent upgrades in enterprises. The in-depth integration of digital technologies with the real economy will further reinforce China’s advantages in global supply chains.
The digital economy has become a major driver of economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic and network security provides a good foundation for boosting the digital economy. internet-driven companies should collaborate with traditional industries, and leverage their advantages in technologies, talent and capital to support the latter’s digital transformation.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, China will further promote the development of a digital economy during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, according to a circular issued by the General Office of the State Council. By 2025, the digital economy should be in full expansion mode, with the added value of core industries in the digital economy accounting for 10% of GDP.
According to the plan, efforts will be made to accelerate the construction of the information network infrastructure, and a national-level integrated big data centre system coordinating computing power, algorithms, data, and application resources. High-quality data elements will be provided.
The plan also emphasised industrial digital transformation. To accelerate digital transformation and upgrading in enterprises, qualified large-scale enterprises will be encouraged to build integrated digital platforms. Efforts will also be made to deepen comprehensive digital transformation in key industries, including the all-around and full-chain digital transformation of traditional industries and higher digitisation level in the agricultural industry.
While data is an important factor in the digital economy, more effort should be made to bridge the digital divide to benefit more user groups. To be specific, we need to improve infrastructure construction and the sharing of computing power from leading companies to smaller ones
Medical and nursing students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine will be using three-dimensional holographic technology from Microsoft to help them learn certain medical procedures and study anatomical structures. The collaboration, which spans NUS Medicine, the National University Health System and a tech company add mixed reality to the learning experience.
Through holographic technology, medical and nursing undergraduates can expect to better hone their skills through training. This progressive use of mixed reality in healthcare education stems from the tech company’s work with the National University Health System, which is embarking on Holomedicine research in Singapore to enhance patient care.
The holographic technology will be used to project three-dimensional holograms to give medical and nursing students a visual appreciation of actual clinical scenarios in practice. The suite of instructional software developed by the team from NUS Medicine and Microsoft Industry Solutions provides 3D, mixed reality technology that will be used to help students practice clinical procedural skills.
We are continually pursuing new and innovative teaching methods to help medical and nursing students better understand the medical curriculum and gain a new appreciation for healthcare and health, while striving to maintain a balance with time-tested traditional approaches. This incorporation of holographic mixed-reality learning fits in well with our teaching initiatives
– Associate Professor Lau Tang Ching, Vice-Dean for Education, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
The project comes with three levels of difficulty, with a goal to train and provide sufficient direction to allow students at varying levels of competence to achieve the highest standards of clinical practice in a safe. With the ongoing pandemic, virtual reality and mixed reality has been identified as a must-have tool for teaching and learning in onsite and remote environments.
The project aims to train students in clinical soft skills and clinical anatomy respectively, positioning NUS Medicine as the first in Southeast Asia to introduce holographic mixed reality as a teaching tool to train medical and nursing students. The medical and technical expertise of NUS Medicine and the tech company will pave the way for the development of a niche technological competency, in which clinical training tools can be developed to introduce realistic clinical scenarios for use in medical education.
From delivering better healthcare experiences at the frontlines to helping neurosurgeons keep patients better informed of what could happen during their surgeries, technology has been an empowering tool for healthcare workers as they protect and save the lives of patients. As one of the few hospitals in Southeast Asia that has a tertiary education arm that collaborates with a training hospital, NUS Medicine is in a unique position to use mixed reality solutions.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, a team of researchers from the NUS Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as the NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology has invented a smart suture that is battery-free and can wirelessly sense and transmit information from deep surgical sites. These smart sutures incorporate a small electronic sensor that can monitor wound integrity, gastric leakage and tissue micromotions while providing healing outcomes that are equivalent to medical-grade sutures.
In future, the team is looking to develop a portable wireless reader to replace the setup currently used to wirelessly read out the smart sutures, enabling surveillance of complications even outside of clinical settings. This could enable patients to be discharged earlier from the hospital after surgery.
The team is now working with surgeons and medical device manufacturers to adapt the sutures for detecting wound bleeding and leakage after gastrointestinal surgery. They are also looking to increase the operating depth of the sutures, which will enable deeper organs and tissues to be monitored.
Aviation students at the University of South Australia will be training in cockpits of the two most popular jetliners in the world going forward. UniSA is due to take delivery of its second simulator this year – the Airbus A320 – allowing budding pilots to learn their way around a new cockpit, alongside the existing 737 flight simulator which is used for training undergraduate aviation students.
Bachelor of Aviation Program Director stated that the state-of-the-art Airbus A320 simulator, manufactured by a New Zealand firm, should be in place by mid-2022. He noted that for students to be able to train on both the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 simulators is a very rare opportunity. To his knowledge, UniSA will be the only university in Australia offering both Boeing and Airbus based flight simulators as part of its undergraduate aviation experience.
The exposure to two very different simulators will give UniSA’s aviation graduates a competitive edge by aligning their competencies with the industry requirements. While flying these planes may only happen later in their career, the fact they have been trained in two different cockpit environments will give them a definite advantage.
Apart from training students to fly, the new simulator will also be used for research purposes, investigating how fatigue, lack of movement, and other aspects of human factors affect pilot performance.
UniSA also hopes to incorporate virtual and augmented reality into the simulator training. The software components of the new simulator are similar to the Boeing 737, but the hardware is a fully enclosed shell structure with a 180-degree visual range.
Approximately 100 Bachelor of Aviation (Pilot) students use the simulator in their third year, putting into practice the theory they have learned up to that point in aircraft systems, flight plans, aerodynamics and navigation. The simulators allow students to work as a crew, giving them exposure to abnormal procedures, including engine failures, tricky weather conditions, and other scenarios that might not be suited for actual flight.
Simulators save lives and training costs, and with the addition of a second simulator, they will also give the university’s students a broader range of aviation experience that will serve them well in the real world. The idea that 100 pilots a year could walk out of university at a much higher bar, is great for the Australian flying community, the Program Director said. While COVID-19 has grounded many pilots temporarily and forced some into early retirement, the airline crisis has a silver lining for new students, he added. Most pilots who stood down or were made redundant during the height of the pandemic will not return, he predicts, providing plenty of job opportunities for newly trained pilots in the next few years.
According to a recent paper released by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, aviation is central to Australia’s economy and quality of life. Aviation underpins Australian business: transporting workers, tourists and high-value freight. The sector directly employed over 90,000 people and contributed $20 billion to the economy before COVID-19. Furthermore, the sector indirectly enables the tourism, mining, manufacturing and higher education sectors.
Aviation plays an important role in servicing the needs of regional and remote communities across Australia by providing and maintaining access to air services that include transport and freight, medical, search and rescue, social and law enforcement, and business/tourism travel.
Aviation is key to the tourism sector which accounts for around six per cent of GDP and is Australia’s fourth-largest export industry. Total international passenger traffic increased by around 75 per cent over the past 10 years to 2019.
The aviation sector acts as a crucial enabler across mining, construction, manufacturing and higher education. More than 60,000 people work more than 350 kilometres from their usual place of residence, the vast majority are likely to travel by air. Thousands of fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) workers serve the mining, construction, and oil and gas industry. A large majority (about 86%) of FIFO workers work in remote or very remote areas. Thus, training the pilots of Australia’s future is a necessary and important task.
Argonne National Laboratory is expanding its digital presence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education with two channels aimed specifically at students and teachers: STEAMville and a social media account that focuses on education. These new virtual programming initiatives, led by the laboratory’s Educational Programs and Outreach (EDU) department, will connect EDU and Argonne to STEM-driven students, teachers, and communities in Chicagoland and beyond.
Online social networks are a big component of how students and schools interact today. While other parts of the laboratory have used digital platforms before, this is a relatively new area for EDU, and we’re excited to dive into the field. By stepping into digital platforms, we can advance STEM learning to new audiences and influence the STEM growth of more students than ever before. And at the same time, these networks expose us to new perspectives on STEM learning that we can use to further develop our interactive programs.
Jessica Burgess, Outreach Lead, Argonne EDU
One of the new platforms being explored by EDU is STEAMville, a combination of a social learning network and a learning management system. Northwestern University has developed the network over a decade to give schools, students, and science organisations their own virtual space to share and utilise STEM activities. This creates a rich catalogue of STEM programming that individuals and institutions can use and apply to their own programs, while also letting different groups and individuals interact with each other.
The platform closes the learning gap by providing kids with 24/7 STEM learning opportunities, so they can engage in STEM anytime, anywhere — whether they are at school or home for the summer. By joining STEAMville, Argonne creates the opportunity to reimagine itself as a national educator. The platform allows Argonne to extend its reach and connection to young people across multiple states.
In addition, EDU now has its own social media account. Although Argonne National Laboratory has maintained its own account, EDU’s separate social media account will allow it to more personally connect with audiences and inform them about EDU opportunities — and for some, introduce Argonne and its research.
Furthermore, this account will build ties with other youth-serving STEM institutions in the Chicagoland youth area by providing an educational social media presence in addition to their main channels. This in turn will increase EDU’s presence in the Chicagoland out-of-school learning community.
For teachers and students who are interested in STEM but do not usually look at things related to Argonne, EDU’s page will act as a friendly virtual introduction to the lab and Educational Programs. Through these new outreach initiatives, EDU can create new ways to communicate with our audiences — both youth and adults — and welcome them into our STEM education community.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have been using AI to search through a vast number of small molecules to find usable drug candidates. Recently, they have utilised new computing hardware to speed the process, reducing searches that might have originally taken years to mere minutes.
The advantage of using AI is that it can quickly adapt to and accommodate chemical structures that it has never seen and that has never been synthesised and do not exist in nature. ​Artificial intelligence gives us both the speed and flexibility that pure physics-based computation would have a very hard time achieving.
In tests on a large dataset of small molecules, the researchers found they could achieve 20 million predictions, or inferences, a second, vastly reducing the time needed for each search. Once the best candidates were found, the researchers identified which ones could be obtained commercially and had them tested on human cells.
National University of Singapore (NUS) students had a glimpse of Singapore’s possible transport future by using self-driving golf carts and devices such as a scooter. In place of a steering wheel, there is a large computer screen that shows the devices’ reading of their surroundings. Brake pedals are depressed without anyone stepping on them, while internal sensors track how far the vehicles have moved by calculating the number of turns their wheels have made.
They were designed by Singapore-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alliance for Research and Technology (Smart), a research enterprise set up more than 10 years ago to introduce future mobility solutions.
I envisioned a future where people could book driverless golf carts on an app to take them to a driverless car pickup point. He predicted that autonomous vehicles (AV) would eventually be safer than cars driven by humans, touting them as a solution to do away with what he called the bad Ds – dangerous tasks, degrading tasks, demeaning tasks and driving.
– Professor Marcelo Ang, Department of Mechanical Engineering, NUS
The current vehicles’ ability to bypass obstacles remain fairly limited – they rely mostly on travelling along a fixed route and often stop dead in their tracks when, say, a group of students are in the way. When exiting a small lane onto a bigger road, the vehicles also take time to calibrate to match the new driving speed and road conditions. The wheelchair, scooter and golf carts travel at a maximum speed of 5 kmph – a brisk walking pace – while the car’s speed is capped at 30 kmph for safety reasons.
The industry worldwide is still figuring out the technical details of autonomous driving, but Singapore is one of the most AV-ready countries in the world. To have widespread AV use, Singapore needs to be able to overtake or change lanes. The ultimate test is manoeuvring at a roundabout, and that will take time. Predicting human behaviour and the actions of other drivers remain difficult.
Driverless vehicles are already allowed to use the whole of western Singapore as a testbed, once given permission. A self-driving car test centre was opened in 2017 outside the Nanyang Technological University where AVs can be put through their paces and be subjected to rigorous tests, including aggressive driving and interactions with other road users.
The future of Singapore’s transport system with driverless vehicles as the enabling technology could bring greater mobility for the elderly and the disabled. AV promises a more efficient transportation solution and lowers the environmental footprint by optimising road usage. In Singapore, the North-East and Downtown MRT lines, and LRT already use driverless technology to improve the punctuality of our mass transport and overcome our manpower constraints.
AV-enabled mobility could be a central feature in our future town-planning, enabling commuters to get around effortlessly by offering first- and last-mile connectivity within neighbourhoods. The sharing of autonomous vehicles will reduce the number of vehicles on the roads, thereby increasing convenience to commuters.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, reports indicate that an autonomous vehicle start-up recently secured multimillion-dollar funding to boost its production and operations in the country. An autonomous car is a vehicle capable of sensing its environment and operating without human involvement. A human passenger is not required to take control of the vehicle at any time, nor is a human passenger required to be present in the vehicle at all.
An autonomous car can go anywhere a traditional car can go and do everything that an experienced human driver does. Autonomous cars create and maintain a map of their surroundings based on a variety of sensors situated in different parts of the vehicle.
The country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has set up a department to help create regulations for the financial technology sector and its upcoming central bank digital currency (CBDC). It will facilitate innovation and identify and address challenges and opportunities in the field. The bank explained that the erstwhile fintech division under the Department of Payment and Settlement Systems (DPPS) has been subsumed into it.
The agency will deal with matters related to inter-regulatory and international coordination on fintech. It will report to the RBI’s centralised administration division. Further, the department will provide a framework for research in the field that can aid policy interventions. In an internal circular, RBI said that the department will address matters related to the facilitation of constructive innovations and incubations in the fintech sector if they have wider implications for the financial sector/markets and fall under the purview of the bank. The department will be headed by Ajay Kumar Choudhary, the executive director. He will also look after the risk monitoring department and the inspection department.
RBI is working on two kinds of CBDCs, wholesale and retail. The new department will be tasked with overseeing their development. It will be administratively attached to the centralised administrative division (CAD) of the central office. A media report stated that the department is expected to address new-age challenges that arise from fintech applications, and crypto is only a part of its brief. This means that while the department will oversee cryptocurrencies and their challenges, it may not necessarily be first on its agenda.
According to a report by The Times of India, the majority of fintech start-ups had started operating as unregulated entities. In 2018, RBI created a fintech unit in the department of regulation. In 2019, RBI came out with a framework for a regulatory sandbox to provide a structured avenue for the regulator to engage with the ecosystem and to develop innovation-enabling or innovation-responsive regulations. RBI decided to push innovation primarily to bring down the cost of financial services and boost financial inclusion. As most fintech activities then were in the area of payments, the unit was transferred to the DPPS in July 2020.
Earlier this month, RBI issued a statement regarding its new Framework for Facilitating Small Value Digital Payments in Offline Mode, which allows offline digital payments up to IN₹ 200 (US$2.65) per transaction, subject to an overall limit of IN₹2,000 (US$26.9). OpenGov Asia reported that the move is an attempt to boost digital payment penetration in rural and semi-urban areas. An offline digital payment means a transaction that does not require internet or telecom connectivity.
Under the offline mode, payments can be carried out face-to-face (proximity mode) using any channel or instrument like cards, wallets, and mobile devices. These transactions will not require an additional factor of authentication (AFA). Offline transactions are expected to give a push to digital transactions in areas with poor or weak Internet or telecom connectivity, particularly in semi-urban and rural areas.

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