1. Slightly hazy conditions in Singapore on Tuesday, 2 March, due to hotspot in Johor
On Tuesday (2 March) morning, parts of Singapore were faced with a slight haze and burning smell, with 1-hr PM2.5 concentration readings entering Band II (Elevated) between 6 and 7 a.m. in the east of Singapore. The readings later returned to Band I (Normal) at 8 a.m..
According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), this can be attributed to a hotspot detected in Johor in the late afternoon of Monday, 1 March. The smoke plume associated with the hot spot was blown by prevailing northeasterly winds towards Singapore, and subsequently dissipated in the evening.
Slightly hazy conditions may still be expected over parts of Singapore in the next few days, as the NEA mentions that prevailing winds over Singapore are expected to continue blowing from north to northeast. NEA will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates when necessary.
2. New initiatives to help Singapore firms go digital
Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran announced a range of new initiatives on Tuesday, 2 March, as part of efforts to help Singapore firms go digital.
One such initiative was the new Chief Technology Officer (CTO)-as-a-Service scheme, a one-stop, self-help tool for small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) to assess their digital needs and gaps. This service will come in the form of a web application accessible via computers or mobile devices.
All registered SMEs will have access to this, including home-based businesses which are sole proprietorships.
The tool will allow SMEs access “customised recommendations on digital solutions based on the company profile, and information on Government support.” Should more in-depth advice be required, SMEs can reach out to a shared pool of CTO-equivalents or digital consultants with expertise in areas such as data analytics, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.
Moreover, firms will be entitled to both digital consultancy and project management services to identify needs and solutions, as well as manage project implementation.
Besides the CTO-as-a-Service scheme, Mr Iswaran announced the Digital Leaders Programme on the same day, a programme managed by IMDA and Enterprise Singapore, as well as other economic agencies.
This programme will “equip firms with the capabilities and talent to accelerate their digital transformation journey”, providing them with up to 70 per cent support on qualifying costs to help them build a core digital team to develop and execute their digital strategy.
Through the programme, firms will be able to connect with tech partners to develop new digital products and services, empowering them to compete internationally.
For a start, the Digital Leaders Programme will support up to 80 companies, starting with those more advanced in their digital journeys who already have management teams “committed to [driving] digital transformation for sustained growth.”
The programme will be launched in April 2021, with participating firms undergoing a two-year pilot. These firms will receive funding support to help them build an in-house core digital team, and develop proof of concepts for new digital products and services.
Additionally, the IMDA is launching the Better Data Driven Business (BDDB) programme, which will provide firms with free tools and guidance to improve on their data protection services, while helping them utilise data more effectively using data to remain competitive.
Under BDDB, firms can access a free business intelligence tool that can help them visualise raw data to “aid business outcomes such as better sales and operational efficiencies”. It will also allow for more advanced data uses, such as for R&D and innovation, through curated resources such as case studies and videos.
Finally, S$50 million will be invested in IMDA’s Open Innovation Platform – a crowd-sourcing platform that matches business challenges to technology solution providers – to enhance its capabilities.
This grants more firms access to innovative solutions and accelerates the deployment of digital innovation at scale. IMDA will also co-fund the prototyping of matched challenges to help innovative tech companies expand their market base.
3. AirAsia’s food delivery service launches in Singapore with 80 restaurants on board
AirAsia has announced the launch of its food delivery service in Singapore, which will initially feature close to 80 restaurants, including renowned brands such as Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant and No Signboard Seafood. 300 other restaurants are in the process of being integrated into the platform.
This comes as the aircraft carrier continues to pursue alternative sources of income.
AirAsia said that 15 per cent commission per delivery will be charged to each restaurant, which is lower than GrabFood, Deliveroo and foodpanda. This would be passed on to customers in the form of lower charges.
500 delivery riders have been recruited, and AirAsia said that it intends to double that number by the third quarter of 2021.
Listed restaurants will be available for delivery to locations within 20km of the restaurant, and delivery fees will normally range from $2.99 to $20.
Chief executive Tony Fernandes said that value and reduced costs were a priority for AirAsia’s food delivery platform.
“Just like (how) AirAsia doesn’t have all the frills of Singapore Airlines, AirAsia food, for instance, we don’t have maps. We don’t think you really need to know where your driver is because that costs us,” he said.
AirAsia also said that all orders will be delivered within 60 minutes, which Mr Fernendes said would be shortened. Customers will be able to accumulate reward points, which may then be used for AirAsia flights.
To raise awareness of its service, AirAsia food intends to offer unlimited free delivery services for a span of two weeks, between 2 March and 16 March, which will be applicable for deliveries within 8km of the restaurant.