Self-service kiosk, VDI bag Singapore ICT accolades

Singapore Prison Service with its iKiosk initiative, and startup Puffersoft Labs with its improved virtual desktop technology are 2 of the 7 winners at this year's National Infocomm Awards.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) and homegrown startup Puffersoft Labs are just 2 of the 7 award winners at this year's National Infocomm Awards (NIA), which recognizes local organizations for innovative development and deployment of ICT.

Andrew Khaw, senior director of industry development at the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), said it received 266 nominations for this year's Awards, which was a 90 percent increase over 2010. Among these nominations, seven winners were picked for the four award categories, he added during a briefing session Tuesday.

NIA 2012 winners:
Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology (Public Sector)
KK Women's and Children's Hospital;
Singapore Prison Service
Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology (Private Sector - General)
Citi Innovation Lab Singapore;
Changi Airport Group
Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology (Private Sector - SMEs)
aSpecial Media
Most Innovative Infocomm Product/Service
Puffersoft Labs

In the "Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology (Public Sector)" category, SPS was one of two winners for the introduction of its self-service kiosk to enable inmates to submit and monitor personal requests. The other winner was KK Women's and Children's Hospital for its Surgical Counting and Operating Theatre Tracking system.

Chin Soon Theen, assistant director for technology at SPS, said the touchscreen Inmate Self-Service Kiosk, or iKiosk, cuts down the time needed for inmates to get certain items such as spectacles or print out personalized letter forms, which are used by them to correspond with loved ones. Previously, they had to go through prison wardens to make these requests and this usually takes more time, he noted.

Allowing inmates to use the iKiosk also gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility of their requests. This helps improve rehabilitation and their ability to reintegrate into society upon release, since many services are now made available via self-service kiosks in the country, Chin pointed out.

Prison operations benefit as well, since staff can now focus on enhancing the prison's overall security and having more purposeful interactions with inmates, he added.

This pilot project started in July 2011, with three iKiosks deployed in one wing of Changi Prison Complex. Full-scale deployment of the kiosks in the whole complex is currently pending approval by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Chin said.

Improving VDI technology
As for the "Most Innovative Infocomm Product/Service" category, Puffersoft Labs clinched one of the two awards on offer. Security-focused startup iTwin was the other award recipient for their hardware key-based technology that provides users with a simple, secure online environment to access and share their data.

For Puffersoft Labs, its intention was to improve the way conventional virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) works. David Mason, co-founder and CTO at the startup, said the number of physical servers used and the bandwidth these consume are not optimal and its Enterprise Service Provisioning (ESP) product aims to address these issues.

Elaborating, Mason said its ESP is based on a "reverse cloud" concept which retains the benefit of desktop virtualization but provides better functionality and lower infrastructure overhead requirements. This is because the processing of virtual machines, operating systems and applications are done on the client device, and not from the backend servers.

Companies that deploy ESP can also move apps from one OS version to another within the desktop without having to uninstall and reinstall the software. IT administrators can also track and see which apps are the most used, which helps them have better insight to software licensing and costs and make more informed purchasing decisions in the future, the co-founder said.

With the Award, Mason said Puffersoft Labs will have gained greater industry visibility and more customers after its "quiet launch" earlier in July 2012.

The IDA and the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) are joint-organizers of the biennial NIA and this year marks the sixth edition of the Award since it was established in 2002.

Editorial standards