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AI-powered newsroom tool wins SPH an inaugural tech award, Tech News News & Top Stories

AI-powered newsroom tool wins SPH an inaugural tech award, Tech News News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – Artificial intelligence (AI) has found its way into Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) newsrooms, in the form of a tool that scans news articles and extracts relevant content from them.

The tool, named SPH Robbie, aims to shorten the time taken for journalists to write their articles, free up time for them to create more news content, and help video presenters succinctly deliver news to their audience.

This innovation bagged SPH an award in the Best Use of AI/Automation for Innovative Capability category at the inaugural Inspire Tech Awards 2021 last Thursday (Oct 28).

The awards recognise organisations that have deployed technology to overcome challenges posed by the shifting business landscape due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The awards are part of the ConnectGov Leaders Summit, organised by the Singapore-based think tank CIO Academy Asia (CIOAA).

SPH Robbie is used by The Business Times to shorten the time required by its journalists to write its daily Stocks to Watch articles.

The tool provides the journalists with relevant data taken from the paper’s previous articles on companies listed on the Singapore Exchange.

SPH Robbie is also able to generate summaries of a news article by scanning it and picking up the most relevant portions of its content.

This function was piloted in The New Paper (TNP) last week, for use when the publication adapts articles from The Straits Times. These articles will be summarised by the tool into a length more palatable for TNP readers, before the shortened content is published on the paper’s website.

Mr Eugene Leow, head of digital strategy for SPH’s English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, said feedback and data has shown that most readers prefer shorter articles, especially when reading from their smartphones.

“The summariser gives the TNP team the ability to crunch down content faster for its digital audience, freeing them up to offer a broader range of stories,” he added.

“Similarly for the video team, certain news stories can be crunched down as a draft for our news presenters on our weekday news programme The Big Story.”

Mr Ashish Verma, who heads SPH’s AI-Labs, said the tool took about three months to develop. There will be more features to come, he added.

A total of 21 entries from 17 organisations won awards, out of 83 submissions from 41 firms from various industries in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Winning the Most Inspiring Innovation award was robot barista Ella, by tech firm Crown Digital. It is slated for roll-out at 30 MRT stations here by the end next year, and will let users pre-order their coffee using an app and collect their drinks when they reach the station.

The National University of Singapore bagged an award for introducing a virtual reality option to its nursing course. This allows students to access the course content at their own time and from their own homes.

Other winners include the Government Technology Agency, Nanyang Technological University, Siam Commercial Bank and Telekom Malaysia.

CIOAA chief executive officer P. Ramakrishna said the awards were launched to recognise the unsung heroes in organisations that leveraged technology to cope with the pandemic crisis – and thrived by finding new ways of doing things with it.

Mr Gerard Chai, who was one of the six international judges who scrutinised the entries, hopes the awards will inspire other companies to start their digital transformation.

“Because of the way the world is transforming and the pandemic, if business models are not changed, there may not be a tomorrow for many companies even if they have a strong brand,” said the former chairman of consultancy firm Koran Ferry’s Singapore office.

Mr Chai, who is now retired, noted that some industries such as agriculture are still lagging behind in the digital transformation journey.

He also said the costs in digitalising remain a “continual challenge” for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which require assistance in this aspect.

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