Digital for Life Festival draws encouraging support from Singaporeans

SINGAPORE – More than 80,000 Singaporeans have pledged their support to help vulnerable groups gain digital access and connectivity through the Data for All initiative launched on May 21 at the Digital for Life Festival, a hybrid event.

The festival ends on Sunday (May 29).

Through this initiative, three major telcos – StarHub, Singtel and M1 – have each committed to providing 10,000 mobile data lines , which will benefit 30,000 Singaporeans.

Users of StarHub’s Giga can utilise the Giga app to show their support for people with disabilities and their caregivers. Each beneficiary will receive 6GB of data a month and other bonuses, such as free data rollover, which allows unused data to be carried over for another two data renewal cycles.

Singtel’s Gomo users can donate their access data and the telco will consolidate the data into Hi SIM cards. Vulnerable seniors will get 3GB of data a month through this donation.

M1 will be donating up to 10,000 SIM cards with free mobile plans to youth from lower-income families. They will get to enjoy benefits such as 50GB data and unlimited incoming calls for a year.

At community and lifestyle hub Heartbeat@Bedok where the festival is being held this weekend, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said on Saturday (May 28) that the festival has drawn more than 13,000 participants who attended various activities physically since its launch on May 21.

She said: “We are very encouraged by the response. It shows that there is interest among Singaporeans on what it takes to succeed in the digital domain. It can be in terms of keeping in touch with families and friends, making digital transactions and upskilling themselves to be more ready for jobs of the future.”

Mrs Teo added: “Although digital has become so much a part of our lives, there are still Singaporeans who feel uncomfortable. We hope that through more of such events, we can build up their confidence.”

Mrs Teo was joined by President Halimah Yacob and Minister of State for Communications and Information and National Development Tan Kiat How.

They visited exhibitions put up by Lions Befrienders, Google and the Association of Information Security Professionals (AiSP), and observed workshops held by for-impact organisation Vivita as well as volunteer group SGBono.

Lions Befrienders and AiSP are recipients of the Digital for Life Fund, which was launched in February last year, along with the Digital for Life movement.

AiSP’s Cyber Wellness project enables seniors, youth and those with special needs to learn the importance of cyber security and cyber wellness through webinars, roadshows and online learning resources.

Meanwhile, Lions Befrienders’ IM-OK device aims to allow remote monitoring of seniors’ well-being.

Every morning, seniors will have to press a button on the tablet to indicate that they are fine. It also contains digital literacy-related features such as cyber-security tips and a scam simulation app to educate the elderly on how to stay safe online.

Madam Ng Soh Guat, 77, a Lions Befrienders beneficiary, said that since receiving the device this February, she feels a lot safer.

She said: “I live alone. With this device, if anything were to happen to me, at least people will know.”

Helping to bridge the digital divide in Singapore

SINGAPORE – When president of SGBono Felicia Seah went to a one-room rental flat to deliver a desktop and a laptop to a family with six children, she realised that a desktop was not the right device for them.

As space was scare in the flat, SGBono, a volunteer group which provides refurbished laptops and free laptop repairs to lower-income families, replaced the desktop with another laptop.

On the voluntary work that she has done, Ms Seah, 36, said: “The most fulfilling thing is to help bridge or fill some gaps in the digital divide.

“Technology is advancing and the ones who have access to it are just getting more and more advanced… Some of the low-income family children are just getting started on having their first laptop or their first Internet enabled device.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for digital devices increased as schools adopted home-based learning and Singaporeans worked remotely.

More than 34,000 low-income families were on the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s Home Access and NEU PC Plus programmes in 2020 and last year.

The Home Access Programme provides two years of subsidised fibre broadband connectivity to low-income households, while the NEU PC Plus Programme aims to help full-time students aged 25 and younger and people with disabilities from low-income households own a subsidised computer, with three years of free broadband service.

Mr Hassan Abdullah, 46, who has two primary school children, was at Heartbeat@Bedok on Saturday (May 28) to get his laptops repaired.

He said that the two refurbished laptops have been excellent as they allowed his children to use video-conferencing platform, Zoom, and play games.

While waiting for their laptops to be repaired, his children attended a workshop held during the Digital for Life Festival.

The nine-day festival will be held from May 21 to 29, and The Straits Times, in partnership with Singapore Pools, set up the Stop Scams exhibit to highlight the number of scam variants and educate the public on the growing scourge.

Mr Ronnie Tan, who visited ST’s exhibit, said it has very good information to educate the public about scams.

The clinical informatics manager’s friend was almost scammed $68,000 after revealing his one-time password, but managed to call the bank in time to stop the transaction.

Mr Tan said: “(The exhibition) has taught me to be vigilant and be alert.”


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