Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 21 January 2016


We take a look back at some of the exciting events and initiatives that IDA organised in 2015 to connect people through technology.

The third thrust of Infocomm Media 2025 plan is to connect Singaporeans through infocomm media to enhance their quality of life and to promote a stronger national identity. 

In this bold vision, Singapore will be a place where infocomm media enables a better quality of life for everyone through world-class connectivity, compelling local content, and technologies that make everyday lives better.

The latest ICT usage trends show that the country is moving in the right direction and the benefits of infocomm media are enjoyed by citizens and residents, including the elderly, low-income families, and persons with disabilities.

The rise of the silver surfers

Silver IT Fest 2015

The Silver IT Fest drew some 11,330 participants who got to preview exciting technology such as a robo trainer.

According to IDA’s Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households 2014, tech adoption is on the rise, especially among older Singapore residents. Internet usage rate rose to 75 per cent for seniors aged 50-59 and to 31 per cent for those aged 60 and above – an increase of 24 and 15 percentage points compared to 2012. 

More than three quarters of the 50-59 year olds and one third of those aged 60 and above are using their smartphones to access the Internet. These findings come on the back of a sustained, long-running effort by IDA to encourage the use of ICT amongst seniors. 

A key annual highlight of the IDA calendar is the Silver IT Fest, which aims to promote IT literacy and enhance the lives of seniors while learning infocomm skills. Organised in collaboration with Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) as well as industry and community partners, the event included seminars, hands-on workshops and exhibitions. 

It features a wide range of technologies such as augmented reality and 3D printing, smartphone applications and games that promote healthy living. In October 2015, the 11-day Silver IT Fest attracted over 11,300 participants and their families. 

Avid seniors and youth cyberguides also gathered for Singapore’s largest Intergenerational IT Bootcamp which took place in March. Over 420 seniors took part in the six-day event, held at 13 schools in the Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency and Radin Mas Single Member Constituency. They were guided through a basic infocomm lesson by their grandchildren or student volunteers aged between 10 and 16.

Organised by IDA in collaboration with the People’s Association and participating schools, the workshops were conducted in English and Mandarin and covered a range of skills such as how to use the computer, surf the Internet as well as lessons on eHealth and cyber tips to remain protected online. Since 2010, a total of 71 schools have co-organised 123 bootcamps and reached out to some 2,500 pairs of seniors and students.

Building bridges with Home Access 

In another targeted effort to ensure that no one gets left behind on Singapore’s digital journey, IDA developed the Home Access programme to provide more needy households with access to ICT. Since 1 April 2015, households with incomes less than $1,900 and no school-going children, and with at least one Singapore citizen, have been able to apply for 100Mbps fibre broadband connectivity and a tablet at a subsidized rate of $6 per month. 

The programme, which is supported by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), is expected to benefit 8,000 households over four years.

"In Singapore, no one should be left behind by the march of technology,” said Ms Jacqueline Poh, Managing Director of IDA. “Whether it is for video conferencing, surfing the internet or simply maintaining contact with family and friends on social media, these Digital Inclusion initiatives are designed to help all groups to live, learn, play and feel included in a digitally connected Smart Nation."

Celebrating tech

Signals of Tmrw

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative, gave the opening address at the Signals of Tomorrow conference.

On the community outreach calendar, one of the highlights of the year was Festival of Tech, IDA’s first art-and-tech festival which was held to kick-start conversations and spark public imagination about the possibilities of a Smart Nation.

Running from 10 to 18 October, the interdisciplinary festival brought artists, designers and tech communities together to present and discuss ideas of the future, some made tangible through interactive artworks.

Headlining the event was FutureEverything Singapore, a collaboration between IDA and FutureEverything, an award-winning innovation lab for art, music and digital culture based in the UK.

In its first major collaboration in Asia, FutureEverything featured curated activities that meshed tech and art such as interactive street furniture (Hello Lamp Post: Singapore), a public art installation (The Chronarium), an innovation workshop, and a public conference (Signals of Tomorrow).

Showcasing Smart Nation possibilities

In other outreach efforts, IDA and several Singapore companies and IHLs have come together to put up a Smart Nation showcase at IExperience – the Information and Communications Technology Experience Centre at Esplanade Xchange.  


IExperience offers a fun way to experience the Smart Nation vision, for the young and the young-at-heart!

Unveiled by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, on 2 October, the showcase highlights the benefits of Smart Nation innovations and services to the public and businesses through a range of interactive and engaging exhibits presented in different zones such as Smart Living, Smart District and Smart Workspace.

At the autonomous vehicle (AV) exhibit, for example, visitors can try to pit their manual navigation skills against a self-driving car which is able to crunch data on traffic jam, roadworks and other obstructions to work out the optimum route. 

In ping pong telerehabilitation, augmented reality enables the elderly to engage in table tennis, providing them with an interactive environment for physical exercise and cognitive training involving all the intuitive movements of the game. Data captured during the game is analysed to help healthcare professionals track the condition of each individual and craft personalised training programmes. 

Drones and other ICT action at Tech Saturday

Another initiative aimed at bringing exciting technologies to the community and igniting the imagination of the young and old was Tech Saturday, a one-day carnival that was held at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre. The event, which attracted more than 10,500 visitors, featured the largest organised indoor drone race and activities such as building a tofu piano with Arduino. 

tech sat

A record crowd turned up to enjoy tech-related fun activities including tinkering classes and drone racing.

Visitors were also treated to a suite of cool technologies brought together by various research institutions, institutes of higher learning, and Singapore tech companies. These include gadget demos such as the Talking Map for the visually impaired by Nanyang Polytechnic, a 3D printed solar car designed and built by students of College of Engineering at NTU  and the Robotic Kayak and Stingray for deep sea research by Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology.

120 young builders aged between 10 and 14 also had the opportunity to put their coding and computational skills at the Tech Saturday Kids’ Hackathon. Their challenge was to programme a smart vehicle that was able to avoid obstructions in either 2D animation or using mOway robotics. 

Engaging tiny tots through PlayMaker


The PlayMaker range of tech toys include Bee-Bot, which helps kids to learn sequencing, estimation, problem-solving and planning skills.

Separately, IDA has announced a PlayMaker programme to introduce technology-enabled toys to preschool centres to enrich the children’s learning experience and to foster creativity, problem solving and confident learning.  

Guided by educators, children will acquire abilities like logical thinking, reasoning, sequencing, estimation and inventive thinking. 

The toys also encourage children to work in small groups and develop social and communication skills through collaboration.

For the PlayMaker pilot that is being launched in January 2016, IDA is investing $1.5m for 160 initial preschool centres to be equipped with the technology-enabled toys, ongoing tech support, as well as workshops for educators to understand how to integrate them into the existing curriculum. 

Giving recognition to teachers at Young Tech Fest

In recognition of the teachers’ role in promoting computational thinking and instilling an interest in ICT amongst students, IDA and the Ministry of Education also presented the first-ever Outstanding Computing Teacher Award to two teachers at the IDA’s inaugural Young Tech Fest in September. 


Both Ms Shashariza Bte Jupri (left) and Mr Scott Ng Tze Feng won the Outstanding Computer Teacher Award.

They are Ms Shashariza Bte Jupri, Computer Applications coordinator from Chua Chu Kang Secondary School and Mr Ng Tze Feng, Scott, Computer Applications and Maths teacher from Bedok North Secondary School. 

The inaugural Young Tech Fest in September attracted more than 2,000 youths over two days. Participants were also given an opportunity to do good by participating in Code for Charity to help the less fortunate by solving coding challenges. 

Since its pilot in January 2014, Code for Charity has seen more than $180,000 worth of donations pledged by various industry partners like SAP and “unlocked” by more than 10,000 students across polytechnics and universities to assist needy students. 

At the Young Tech Fest, youths and the general public came together to unlock $160,000 ($150,000 donated by Singtel and $10,000 donated by the Singapore Computer Society) to their appointed beneficiary, SG Enable.

“As we build Singapore into a Smart Nation, we need people of all ages to imagine and build new creative ways to solve real world challenges,” said Mr Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman, IDA. “Young people are especially critical to these goals as they are the "digital natives" with tech having always been a part of their lives. The Young Tech Fest is aimed at encouraging young people to have both the curiosity and the confidence to be part of creating cool things.”


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