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Singapore touts open platforms in smart nation drive, acknowledges need to do better in security

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Singapore is pushing out several new initiatives, including a drowning detection system, as part of its ongoing smart nation drive, whilst touting the importance of an open API-driven framework in driving such efforts. It also acknowledges the country needs to do more to improve its security posture, particularly in the aftermath of the SingHealth data breach.

Smart city models are no longer a novelty, with countries such as China, Malaysia, and Germany embarking on various projects to improve their local environments and citizen services.

Compared to other global smart city projects, though, Singapore is taking a different approach by creating common, open platforms, according to Minister-in-Charge of Smart Nation Vivian Balakrishnan, who is also the country’s foreign affairs minister.

With this open ecosystem, comprising open access to data, APIs (application programming interfaces), and toolboxes, both its citizens and private sector then would be able to create and develop services, said Balakrishnan during a briefing with local media.

“It’s an integrated approach to create more relevant, responsive services for citizens. That’s where we can deliver a competitive advantage,” the minister said.

He added that Singapore was able to do so because the country operated on a single layer of government and was small enough to function as a city in itself.

Singapore needs to “up our game” in security

The open access to data, though, may potentially expose citizens to added security risks, especially since organisations still are entrenched in poor security practices, as revealed in the SingHealth data breach.

Investigation into the July 2018 security incident had uncovered, amongst others, the use of weak administrative passwords, unpatched workstations, and inadequacies in the network that allowed hackers to run bulk queries.

The SingHealth breach had compromised personal data of 1.5 million patients as well as outpatient medical data of 160,000 patients that visited the healthcare provider’s facilities.

Asked if the incident had prompted the government to relook its smart nation approach, Balakrishnan highlighted the need to first recognise that security was “a clear and present concern”, and one that was evolving.

He also noted that Singapore was subject to “very sophisticated, ongoing advanced persistent threats”, which further underscored the need to take the country’s cybersecurity strategy “very very seriously”.

“There’s no [one] final solution. It’s [an] ongoing effort. Security has to be baked into the rollout of digital services,” he said, pointing to the government’s focus on five key projects in its smart nation strategy, which included the National Digital Identity (NDI), e-payments, and the Smart Nation Sensor Platform.

The minister noted that the SingHealth breach demonstrated that humans were fallible and would make mistakes. This meant systems would need to be constantly monitored and upgraded, and skillsets also would need to be updated.

In addition, every vulnerability must be plugged, access controls should be properly managed, proper validation should be made, and so on. Efforts needed to ensure all the different components adequately were safeguarded, he said, noting that multiple loopholes needed to be aligned for hackers to break in successfully.

Commenting on the oversights that led to the SingHealth breach, Balakrishnan acknowledged: “We definitely need to up our game, but we cannot go back to paper and pen.”

Detecting potential drowning, shuttling passengers without drivers

In pushing ahead with its smart nation plan, the minister revealed several pilots that recently launched or were slated to commence later this year and in 2019.

For instance, an ongoing trial uses computer vision and recognition technology to monitor swimming pools and detect potential drowning incidents based on behavioural patterns. Alerts then are sent out to lifeguards who can respond to such incidents.

A three-month public trial involving autonomous shuttle buses also would begin next year along a 5km route on Sentosa island. This would be an extension of a previous on-road pilot, launched in June this year, along a 1km road at Tanjong Beach, also located on Sentosa.

There also were plans to launch, later this month, a mobile app for the country’s citizen account SingPass, which was used to access e-government services. Currently in beta test mode amongst a selected user base, SingPass Mobile would offer an added layer of security by allowing citizens to use the biometric feature on their mobile phones to log into their account, Balakrishnan said.

He also pointed to ongoing efforts to expand the reach of the MyInfo service, a centralised repository that enabled certain data fields to be automatically populated with the citizen’s personal information, such as passport number, residential address, and mobile number.

The service works by extracting data provided to–and archived by–the respective government agencies, as and when they were required to pre-fill forms. All SingPass accounts have a corresponding MyInfo profile.

To date, 110 government services and 90 private sector services are linked to MyInfo, including local banks and insurance companies.

According to Balakrishnan, there also are plans to release an upgraded version of the “above-ground boxes”, or AG boxes.

First unveiled when the government debuted its smart nation vision in 2014, these boxes served as all-in-one containers with power and fibre connectivity, and held data sensors from different government agencies. These boxes were touted to reduce the need for unnecessary groundwork, hence, cutting deploying time and cost.

While he declined to share details, the minister said tweaks to the AG boxes were likely to focus on their connectivity such as wireless technologies, which currently were being trialled.

The Singapore government last week laid out plans to move some of its systems to the cloud and build a suite of standardised software components to help quicken application development.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the government would need to “reengineer” its systems and processes to drive the country’s smart nation goal, including transforming the way it developed software. Lee revealed plans for a Singapore Government Technology Stack (SGTS), which would comprise common software components used in application development.

(Source: Singapore’s Smart Nation and Digital Government Office)

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Alpha Motors Superwolf is a completely decked out electric pickup

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Alpha Motors unveiled a new version of its all-electric pickup called the Superwolf. The difference between this particular version of the truck and the ones that have been shown before is that the Superwolf is completely decked out with all sorts of accessories you might expect to find only on the aftermarket. One of the more interesting accessories seen on the truck is tube doors similar to what you commonly see on Jeeps.

Superwolf also has custom KMC wheels with large off-road tires, a custom front bumper with tow rings and skid plates, as well as a complete roof rack featuring an LED light bar and large locking case. In the bed of the truck is a rack that adds more style to the truck and supports the roof basket.

Under the doors are also compact step rails that look like they are intended to protect the vehicle’s body while off-roading. The truck also features wide fender flares and looks fantastic in general. Other interesting features of the truck include a bed cover that appears to be made out of aluminum and a rack that spans the bed allowing for items to be attached on top of the bed itself.

Several other accessories are available for the truck, including a bed extension and more. Other than the accessories, Superwolf features a driving range of up to 300 miles per charge. It has two motors for four-wheel drive and can reach 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. The truck has a tow rating of 6724 pounds and features a rapid charger with battery cooling and heating.

The truck’s interior can hold four passengers and has a digital display for the driver along with the wide-format center display. Bluetooth connectivity and premium sound are also featured. Superwolf can be reserved now with a starting MSRP listed at between $48,000 and $56,000.

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Classic 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am racer heads to auction

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When it comes to muscle cars of the 60s, one of the most iconic is the Chevrolet Camaro. The value of a normal Chevrolet Camaro from the era is often very high. The value of this 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am is even higher as it’s an actual successful racing car from the era. This vehicle is the first of six Sunoco Trans Am Camaros that Penske Racing built.

This particular car has an extensive racing history with drivers Mark Donohue and George Follmer behind the wheel. The car has been completely restored by Kevin McKay in its iconic Sunoco racing livery. The car is said to be one of the most significant Chevrolet-powered racing cars ever built. Because of its rarity and racing pedigree, the car is expected to bring as much as $2 million at auction in Pebble Beach.

The car features a 302 cubic inch overhead valve V-8 engine and a single four-barrel carburetor. It’s estimated to produce 450 horsepower and has a four-speed manual gearbox along with four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. The front suspension is independent wishbone with coil springs, while the rear has a live axle with leaf springs, a setup common in the era.

The racing series the car was built for required a 302 cubic-inch engine. The Z/28 was born due to the need to produce examples for homologation. The Z/28 became the Camaro performance production model, with 602 examples being built in 1967. The first 25 of those cars off the assembly line were sent to racers. This particular car was the 14th produced and was sent to Roger Penske.

This car is the first of only six Penske Camaros built between 1967 and 1969. The auction house says that over $330,000 was spent to restore the iconic car completely. The car comes with a file documenting its extensive racing history and photos of the car as it was discovered and during its restoration.

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VW Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept has 300HP under the hood

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We all know the VW Atlas Cross Sport as a five-seat version of the Atlas SUV. But as the German automaker unveiled its Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept, we’re pretty much convinced it has the gravitas to trounce other sporty crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 and Infiniti QX50.

The concept starts with a range-topping Atlas Cross Sport SEL Premium R-Line version with a 3.6-liter V6 engine, race-inspired R-Line exterior styling, and standard all-wheel-drive. But instead of having a V6, the folks at Volkswagen Chattanooga gave the concept a modified EA888 motor from the VW Golf R. It also gets a new front-mounted radiator (from the Mk7 Golf R) and a new IS38 turbocharger.

Pumping out no less than 300 horsepower, the 2.0-liter mill sends the grunt to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Mind you, the 2.0-liter four-banger produces more power and torque than the stock V6 motor while being lighter, too.

“The launch of the all-new Golf GTI and Golf R got us thinking about how to inject some of that VW magic into our SUVs,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. It seems VW started it right by giving the concept a properly sporting engine. If you’re wondering, the Mk8 VW Golf R is the most powerful Golf ever made. It has 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque from its high-strung EA88 2.0-liter four-banger.

But Volkswagen didn’t do it alone. It sought the help of long-time VW collector and professional auto builder Jamie Orr in dressing up the Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept. If you remember, Orr also created the Tiguan SE R-Line Black RiNo concept, a lowered and dressed-up Tiguan with a Thule bike rack. It also came with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower.

After lobbying for the Golf R’s 300 plus-horsepower engine, Orr gave the concept four Recaro Sportster CS sports seats in place of the usual five-seat configuration. After painting the entire thing in striking Kingfisher Blue paint, the Atlas Cross Sport GT concept received gloss black exterior trim, GT badging, and a set of magnificent 22-inch ABT Sport HR aero wheels wrapped in Yokohama Advan Sport V105 ultra-high-performance tires.

Underneath, the concept has ST XTA Plus 3 coilover suspension with GT-concept springs and TAROX eight-piston front brakes. Those wheels not only look incredible, but it enhances the crossover’s ground-hugging vibe. “This concept is proof that it’s possible to build SUVs that could appeal to our performance enthusiast base,” added Keogh.

Meanwhile, the interior has custom Eisvogelblau blue trim and non-animal-based materials. The Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept may be a one-off, but it’s one of the best-looking and most desirable production-based concepts we’ve seen in a while.

Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept Gallery

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