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Executive Yuan unveils digital infrastructure project

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The Executive Yuan held a press conference today to explain the digital infrastructure component of the government's Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program.

Executive Yuan Spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung said digital infrastructure efforts will include deregulation and investments for the future, focusing on five themes: infrastructure as security, internet access as a human right, cultural and creative new media, one-click service, and an innovative work force.

Regarding "infrastructure as security," the overall goal is to provide 1 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) internet access in 90 percent of the country to eliminate the urban-rural gap and make broadband service readily available, Hsu said. Specific projects include building a green energy cloud computing center for schools and government agencies, enhancing government data protection and regional defenses, improving mobile communication infrastructure for disaster operations, and strengthening Taiwan's cybersecurity infrastructure.

"Internet access as a basic human right" means promoting digital rights for all citizens, Hsu explained. To make the internet more inclusive and guarantee people's rights to broadband, the government will ensure that all disadvantaged groups have access to basic broadband services and cloud resources. Three specific projects include raising internet quality for remote public health offices and mobile clinics, improving broadband access environments for rural residents, and encouraging all citizens to upgrade to broadband connections.

Discussing "cultural and creative new media," he said that three projects will be launched to make high-definition digital cultural and creative content universally available and make that sector a trillion-dollar industry: enhancing the nation's cultural memory bank and digital value-added applications, promoting an ultra-high-definition television pilot production center along with innovative applications, and encouraging the production of new media content using multiple platforms.

The "one-click service" concept involves setting up convenient, open-government and smart urban-rural services that will have high penetration rates and improve the quality of life. Projects include smart urban-rural lifestyle applications, a smart living internet-of-things platform for the public, and a motion-sensing technology base (dubbed "FunTech").

To cultivate an "innovative work force," the government will create a next-generation scientific research and smart learning environment, and build an easily accessible digital innovative learning environment, Hsu said. Specific initiatives include installing intelligent networks on school campuses, strengthening the information application environment for digital teaching and learning, upgrading bandwidth to increase academic networking in general and vocational high schools, establishing cloud service and big data computation platforms, promoting facilities and service platforms for the domestic manufacturing of high-level research instruments, and setting up bases in the science parks for smart robot innovators and makers.

Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang said all of these digital infrastructure initiatives will improve cybersecurity and information security while ensuring access by disadvantaged groups to broadband internet and cloud resources. The initiatives relating to cultural content, public services and work force cultivation also emphasize the concepts of openness, interoperability and collaboration.

As an example, the government currently has different systems for disaster prevention, water resource and earthquake alert services, but the one-click service initiative will integrate those systems into a single interoperable program and create a one-stop platform capable of accessing multiple systems.

While Taiwan has built a strong hardware infrastructure for digital learning, it has focused less on interdisciplinary collaboration, machine learning or other new technologies, Tang noted. The government hopes this forward-looking infrastructure program will encourage the private sector, civil society and the academic sector to make use of high-speed computing platforms and other research facilities to work together more closely.

Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee said developed countries like the United States, South Korea, Japan and Singapore are all pushing 1-Gbps internet infrastructure. As a promoter of pioneering technologies in Taiwan, the ministry has incorporated artificial intelligence applications into its policy plans, particularly for personnel infrastructure and services infrastructure. The ministry will expedite work on broadband and smart living services to lay a foundation for Taiwan's smart living infrastructure.

The personnel infrastructure plan calls for a next-generation research and smart lifestyle environment, science park bases for smart robot innovators and makers, and facilities and service platforms for the domestic manufacturing of high-level research instruments. To build an artificial intelligence environment after the basic infrastructure is in place, a cloud services and high-speed computing platform will also be required to support scientific research and intelligent learning functions. This kind of infrastructure will help the younger generation acquire core knowledge, Chen said.

In addition to creating new services to support open government and smart urban-rural services, the ministry will integrate interministerial resources to set up a smart living internet-of-things platform that will provide important public services such as air quality monitoring, earthquake early-warning information, disaster relief and reporting, and water resource management, Chen said.

Minister without Portfolio and National Development Council Minister Chen Tain-Jy said that national digital infrastructure construction will also drive private sector investment, so in addition to the government, private businesses such as broadband providers can play an active role in infrastructure construction. According to Ministry of Science and Technology projections, government investment of NT$46 billion (US$1.49 billion) will provide significant leverage, driving NT$238 billion (US$7.70 billion) in private sector investment.

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