University plans digital platforms for rural communities

Janet (second from left) exchanging documents with Sains chief executive officer Datuk Teo Tien Hiong.

KUCHING: Swinburne Sarawak University of Technology will work with Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (Sains) to set up digital platforms for rural communities in Sarawak.

Both parties recently inked a RM2mil agreement on a research and development programme to develop digital services and apps which will have a positive socioeconomic impact in rural areas.

“With the basic requirements in talent and technologies established, the opportunity is now present to create unique digital services for our rural communities,” said Swinburne Sarawak’s Research Centre for Digital Futures director Associate Professor Patrick Then.

The programme, which will start immediately, will focus on three key areas – healthcare, transportation and eco-tourism.

In healthcare, an app will gather data from simple medical devices or medical practitioners stationed in rural communities.

The collected data will be analysed through machine learning and bio-statistical methods to uncover the general health of the community or recommend early intervention measures.

The programme will also develop digital services and business models to enable communities to share their transportation schedules and needs with each other.

Getting to rural communities is expensive and this system will encourage the movement of goods and services between communities and boost the rural economy.

In eco-tourism, it will develop a new app to consolidate information from local communities about services and places of interest and thereby encourage their participation.

The communities can add their own folklore, legends and natural hotspots to the platform.

“Swinburne Sarawak has the privilege of guiding many young talents in the digital space through our ICT and multimedia programmes.

“We now look forward to playing our role in close partnership with our industry partner to bring the positive impact of digital technologies to the rural communities,” deputy vice-chancellor Prof Janet Gregory said.

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