Technological disruptions are creating new business opportunities for companies that are not afraid to experiment.
Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim engaged in a conversation with the team from SP Services, Merit Award Winner for Most Innovative Product/Services in the Private Sector- Open Category.
By Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop
After more than 20 years in the security business, Alan Chua, Executive Director of Concorde Security, considered leaving the industry. While margins were good, the business was laborious and little had changed. With salaries remaining low and the hours long, it was getting harder to fill vacancies. So Alan began thinking about how he could transform the industry’s operating model.
A seminar on business transformation he attended that year gave him the impetus to forge ahead and bring about changes with technologically driven solutions that could address the labour shortages and improve the working conditions of his security guards - all without compromising security.
In late 2015, Concorde Security launched the I-man Facility Sprinter (IFS), a mobile command unit that provides surveillance for a cluster of buildings. Manned by three specially trained employees, the vehicle uses an advanced wireless infrastructure to provide a private network for real-time surveillance using “intelligent” cameras with video analytics capability. “The guards do not have to constantly watch the screens as the system alerts them to any problems,” Alan noted.
In the event of a security breach, staff can respond immediately online and be onsite within minutes of an alarm being triggered, and the trained technicians can also perform building maintenance. The work now attracts and retains staff who are better educated, with a good technical background, and Concorde has been able to double pay rates, while also halving work hours.
The security company’s efforts to reinvent itself as a technology solutions provider have earned it a National Infocomm Award (NIA), Singapore’s highest accolade for infocomm innovation, taking the top prize in the Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology (Private Sector – SME) category.
The company was one of 16 winners announced on 10 November by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF).
Now in its eighth edition, the biannual awards recognise organisations that exemplify the spirit of innovation in the development of new products or services that will allow Singapore to remain competitive and propel it to the next level, said Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive Officer (Development) at IMDA. This year, the NIA organisers received 179 submissions, with 136 coming from SMEs like Concorde, representing a 10% increase in overall submissions.
Khoong said judges looked not only at how innovative the product or service was, but also how innovative its deployment has been; how easy it is to operate for the end-user, how much impact it has had in terms of operation and competitiveness; and what potential contribution it would make to empower Singapore’s Smart Nation vision.
From intelligent machine learning to artificial intelligence and big data analytics, the innovations celebrated by the awards embrace a range of cutting-edge technologies with consumer and business benefits.
Winning the category of Most Innovative Infocomm Product/Solution, CashShield, developed by CashRun (team pictured left), helps online merchants prevent fraud and chargeback risks. According to Lee Junxian, Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of CashShield, the cost of managing US$1 of fraud loss is US$3.52, with fraud costs accounting for up to 4-6% of a merchant’s total annual expenditure.
Using a proprietary financial risk management algorithm that crunches big data to map user behaviour and incorporating machine learning to detect patterns and micro-changes, CashShield offers a fully automated system that eliminates the need for manual reviews.
Soft-launched in Europe in 2013, the Singapore-based company is now expanding in Asia and is so confident of its algorithm that it offers clients 100% Chargeback Protection for both physical and digital goods. “This means that any unauthorised transaction that had not been detected by the system will be automatically refunded to the merchant,” Lee explained. Clients using the system have enjoyed an immediate, sharp increase in their revenue and their total accepted transactions are over 90%, added Justin Lie, CEO and co-founder of CashShield.
Among the other winners, Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) clinched the top award in the Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology (Public Sector) category for its Project Land Transport Real-time Info@SG, or POLARis, which integrates various innovative solutions like smart sensors and uses advanced analytics that comprise predictions, real-time event processing and correlation algorithms.
With the help of ruggedised (industrial-grade) SIM cards, all public buses are in effect transformed into mobile phones that collect and send data to bus operators every second, providing reliable information that allows them to make operation adjustments if, for instance, a bus route becomes too crowded or there is an accident that could cause delays. In addition, POLARis gives commuters more accurate bus arrival timings and information on how many seats may be available.
This system allows LTA to match the supply and demand for bus services more effectively, which translates into shorter waiting times, more comfortable rides and, ultimately, an enhanced travel experience for commuters.
Jurong Port won the award for Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology (Private Sector — Open) with Smart Gate, a new gate processing solution that integrates various technologies including biometric verification with a vascular vein reader. Smart Gate has helped reduce labour needs and potential bottlenecks by reducing the processing time at security gates by as much as 61% through automation, without compromising security.
Speaking at the awards presentation, Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said he was encouraged by the level of innovation demonstrated by local companies, and urged them to continue to develop a culture of innovation. He pledged that the IMDA would support them on their innovation journey, such as facilitating regulatory sandboxes for companies to experiment with new technology.
The 16 Finalists of NIA 2016 championed infocomm innovations that have empowered possibilities in a Smart Nation.