Australia is giving away $41 million app to Accenture • The Register


Asia in brief The Australian government has discontinued an app intended to replace paperwork for incoming visitors to the country.

The Accenture-developed software, which was commissioned last year with a budget of A$60 million ($41 million), worked but was notoriously difficult to use. Worse still, passengers still had to fill out a paper form when entering Australia.

Australia recently changed governments and the new Secretary of State for Cybersecurity and Home Affairs, Clare O’Neill, was tasked with disposing of the app.

O’Neill has been in office for less than two months and has been able to trace this directly to the previous administration.

Among other things, the app asked users to provide their COVID-19 vaccination status. The requirement to do something when entering Australia has now been completely lifted, partly because of a measure to ease airport queues. – Simon Sharwood

Singapore’s anti-misinformation law comes into effect

Singapore’s Foreign Interference (Counter Measures) Act went into effect last week. The government has touted this as an attempt to thwart misinformation campaigns by foreign parties who might want to interfere in the city-state’s internal politics or stoke tensions.

The law gives Singaporean authorities the power to retrieve user information from internet and social media service providers, remove content, or ban users altogether.

The law also requires “politically significant persons” — mostly politicians — to disclose affiliations with foreign organizations and donations in excess of around $7,000.

Critics have argued the law will stifle free speech and discourse by academics and foreigners, and is fraught with potential for abuse.

The country’s interior ministry has responded that the law does not target those who are open and transparent in their comments.

More than half of the Chinese associate space with tourism

60 percent of survey respondents in China associate space travel with tourism, compared to a global average of just 20 percent. This odd tidbit was unveiled by British satellite telecom company Inmarsat in a report published last week.

The 51-page report, titled What on Earth is the Value of Space, reveals global consumer attitudes towards the space industry across all age groups and countries. It covers topics such as what problems the public thinks the industry can solve and whether they find space as a whole scary or exciting. It also reveals that nine percent of respondents associate the industry with it War of stars.

The authors call China’s unusual enthusiasm for space tourism “an intriguing divergence” that could be explained by China’s deliberate attempts to stimulate interest in pleasure cruising by opening its (still under construction) space station to private individuals.

Desktop Management Taskforce adds support for Chinese chipmaker Loongson’s architecture

The Desktop Management Taskforce has added Chinese chipmaker Loongson’s LoongArch32 and LoongArch64 architectures to its System Management BIOS (SMBIOS) Reference Specification.

SMBIOS provides management information about the system firmware, allowing motherboard and system vendors to present management information about their products. This makes devices easier to identify and manage.

The specification has long supported x86 and its derivatives, as well as the ARM architecture. Version 3.6.0 [PDF] the specification, released in June, added support for the MIPS-like architecture.

This will make it easier to manage devices that use silicon, which will help China realize its quest to replace Western PC technology.

Loongson touted its inclusion in the specification as likely to speed up its relevance and adoption. – Simon Sharwood

Fujitsu watches Granny fall out of bed – no cameras

Japanese multinational Fujitsu has developed technology to protect patients in hospitals and care facilities by estimating their posture and predicting unsafe scenarios such as falls.

Fujitsu explained the technology as using coarse-grained point cloud data with a 79GHz millimeter wave sensor and applying the company’s Actlyzer AI model to the data to refine the data points and analyze human motion.

While Fujitsu claims that the cameraless experience will ensure patient privacy, the technology still predicts a lot about a person that will no doubt prove useful for future undefined uses of the technology.

Although trials to verify its accuracy and effectiveness have not yet started, the company hopes that the product will be on the market by the end of 2023.

Singapore and UK take care of digital state public services

Singapore and the United Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last Monday to share experiences that boost the delivery of digital government services by both countries.

Singapore’s GovTech Agency and the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) announced that they will share existing knowledge on building digital services while exploring new techniques for similar future endeavors.

The three-year agreement follows last month’s signing of the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (UKSDEA), which sets out rules and standards for cross-border data flows and data protection – including situations such as international electronic payments and the acceptance of digital versions of trade documents for cargo.

In the past, the two countries have collaborated on data security reviews, cloud strategies, and more. ®


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