Singapore seeks to address digital divide with readiness blueprint launch
- 05 June, 2018 09:30
Singapore has launched its first digital readiness blueprint, following an announcement made by S. Iswaran, Singapore’s minister for communications and information, at Tech Saturday (upsized).
Tech Saturday (upsized) is a yearly event, designed to get the adult and senior population of Singapore involved in and excited about technology. This event compliments Tech Saturday, which is primarily for kids and teens.
At heart of the digital readiness blueprint announcement was inclusivity - included in the blueprint are strategies and recommendations that will enable Singaporeans to thrive in a smart nation.
Furthermore, there are specific recommendations to help the digitally vulnerable, the general public, as well as businesses and other organisations.
"We all know that technology has a major impact on our lives, and it is creating many opportunities for all of us, to connect with each other and to also enhance our lives,” said Iswaran.
"But we also know that there are segments of our community who – either because they are not familiar, or because they do not have access to the technology – may not be able to fully participate in technological change and enjoy the benefits that it can bring."
Singapore is a rapidly changing city, investing heavily in upgrading its infrastructure and building up its technology-savvy workforce. In its push to be the world’s first smart nation, the country will face many challenges such as a growing digital divide.
Addressing this gap between the digital haves and have-nots was a major focus of the digital readiness blueprint.
"Digitalisation will have a profound impact on our quality of life – our access to opportunities, our ability to engage in social networking and in terms of the services that we can enjoy,” said Iswaran.
"We want to ensure that no one is left behind in this digital transition. We want to ensure that every Singaporean has the means, skills and the confidence to embrace digital technology to improve their lives."
The recommendations included in the blueprint focus on making basic digital access more widespread, providing one-on-one assistance for digital queries, and identifying a set of basic digital skills as a starting point.
In response to these recommendations, info-communications media development authority (IMDA) has developed a curriculum for basic digital skills and will be offering this at selected Silver Infocomm Junctions.
Furthermore, the ministry of communications and information (MCI) and IMDA are also working with the smart nation and digital government office, GovTech and the people’s association to have dedicated one-on-one assistance at community touch points.
“We will be piloting this at some community centres in the latter half of the year,” said Iswaran. “In the longer term, we hope to make this service available at many more community touch points.
"It needs to be ubiquitous like the Internet if we have to make an impact in people’s lives and lifestyles."
IMDA also made efforts recently to improve the security posture of locally-based ICT companies with the announcement of GoSecure, an initiative to help bolster Singapore’s efforts to improve the cyber security capabilities of these companies.
On the topic of security, deliberate online falsehoods and scams were also addressed in the digital readiness blueprint. This is a hot topic not just in Singapore, but globally, and is widely seen as a security threat.
In this regard, it is recommended that the government step up efforts in information and media literacy as a means to mitigate this threat.
Businesses and community organisations also have a role to play in building up digital readiness. In this regard, the establishment of a digital participation pledge is recommended.
Specifically, this would mean organisations commit to building digitally inclusive services and equipping their employees with digital skills.
Iswaran spoke of the need to develop deep partnerships and collaborations between businesses, the community, and the government.
“Ultimately, the heart of every nation is our people. And we want to ensure that all Singaporeans can thrive and lead fulfilling lives in a digital era, using technology as a critical enabler,” Iswaran added.