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Australia bins $41m app contracted to Accenture

Plus: Chinese chips supported in key management spec; Singapore/UK digital services pact; Fujitsu's vision for oldies; and more

Asia In Brief Australia's government has scrapped an app that had been intended to replace paperwork for incoming visitors to the country.

Commissioned last year with a AU$60 million ($41m) budget, the software developed by Accenture worked, but was notoriously difficult to use. Worse still, passengers were still required to complete a paper form when entering Australia.

Australia recently changed government, and incoming cyber security and home affairs minister Clare O'Neill got the job of binning the app.

O'Neill has been in the job less than two months so was able to pin this one squarely on the previous government.

Among other things, the app required users to declare their COVID-19 vaccination status. The requirement to do when entering Australia has since been discontinued entirely, justified in part as a measure to ease queues at airports. – Simon Sharwood

Singapore anti-misinformation law goes into effect

Singapore's Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act went into effect last week. The government has touted it as an effort to prevent misinformation campaigns from foreign parties who might want to meddle in the city-state's domestic politics or incite tensions.

The law provides Singaporean authorities with the ability to summon user information from internet and social media service providers, remove content or block users altogether.

The law also requires "politically significant persons" – mainly politicians – to disclose affiliations with foreign entities and donations over around $7,000.

Critics have argued that the law will stifle free speech and discourse from the likes of academics and foreigners, and is rife with potential for abuse.

The country's Ministry of Home Affairs has responded that the law is not targeted towards those who are open and transparent in their comments.

More than half of Chinese associate space with tourism

Sixty percent of survey respondents in China associate space with tourism, compared to a global average of just 20 percent. This curious tidbit was revealed by British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat in a report released last week.

The 51-page report, titled "What on the Earth is the value of space" reveals global consumer attitudes towards the space industry across age and country. It covers issues such as what problems the populace thinks the industry can solve, and whether they find space as a whole terrifying or exciting. It also uncovers the fact that nine percent of people surveyed associate the industry with Star Wars.

The authors call China's unusual enthusiasm for space tourism "a fascinating divergence" that could be explained by China's deliberate attempts to generate interest in joy rides by opening its (still under construction) space station to private citizens.

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

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

SMBIOS delivers management information via system firmware, so motherboard and system vendors can present management information about their products. Doing so makes devices more easy to identify and manage.

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

Doing so makes it easier to manage devices that use the silicon, which will help China to realise its ambition to replace western PC tech.

Loongson trumpeted its inclusion in the spec as likely to accelerate its relevance and adoption. – Simon Sharwood

Fujitsu watches Granny fall out of bed – without cameras

Japanese multinational Fujitsu has developed tech to protect patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities by estimating their body posture and predicting unsafe scenarios, like falls.

Fujitsu explained the tech 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 movement.

While Fujitsu claims the camera-less experience will ensure patients' privacy, the technology still predicts an awful lot about a person that undoubtedly will come in handy for future undefined uses of the technology.

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

Singapore and UK sort out digital government public services

Singapore and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last Monday to share experiences that further both nations' delivery of government digital services.

Singapore's GovTech agency and the UK's Government Digital Service (GDS) announced they will share existing knowledge on how to build 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 establishes rules and standards for cross-border data flow and data protection – including situations like international electronic payments and how to accept 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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