By Kami Navarro
As the nation embarks on its first, tentative steps towards reopening the economy, it’s safe to say that life in Singapore has been dramatically reshaped by the pandemic. In public, mask-wearing is now the norm, as is safe distancing. When entering local venues, scanning NRIC cards or using SafeEntry has become second nature.
Amidst all these drastic changes, digital tools have helped many individuals and businesses maintain some semblance of normalcy. Digitalisation has enabled doctors to conduct consultations through telemedicine, school children to learn even at home, and businesses to continue operations remotely. Indeed, recent data from McKinsey indicates that COVID-19 has prompted the world to adopt five years worth of digital change in just two months.
In a post-COVID world, it’s clear that digitalisation is no longer an option—it’s a necessity. Recognising this, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has set up the SG Digital Office (SDO) to lead nationwide efforts to empower and equip our community, especially seniors and stallholders who are not digitally savvy, with the digital tools and skills to navigate in our new normal. Here’s five things to expect from the SDO and IMDA’s digitalisation initiatives.
SDO aims to raise the digital skills of 100,000 seniors
Based on the 2019 IMDA Household and Individual Infocomm Usage Survey, relatively few seniors above 60 report being able to use instant messaging (46.5%), buy products online (16.6%) or transact digitally with the Government (12.9%).
This is why since 2007, IMDA has sought to bridge the digital skills gap among seniors through its Silver Infocomm Initiative (SII). Through programmes like the Digital Clinics (which have gone virtual amidst the COVID-19 situation) and Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors, over 50,000 seniors are annually engaged by the SII.
But with the rise of digitalisation due to COVID-19, it’s clear that efforts to reach out to seniors need to be significantly ramped up. After all, not only are they the most vulnerable segment in our community to COVID-19, but they are also the group that is least equipped to use digital technology.
Therefore, SDO’s Seniors Go Digital programme aims to raise the digital skills of 100,000 seniors by March 2021, up from the current annual target of 10,000 seniors reached through one-to-one reskilling efforts.
Seniors Go Digital will address three gaps: skills, affordability and mindset
To achieve their goal of reaching 100,000 seniors in less than a year, the Seniors Go Digital programme seeks to address the barriers Singapore seniors commonly encounter in their digital journeys via a three-pronged approach. The first prong involves improving the digital skills of seniors through a tiered learning programme.
From using common communication tools like WhatsApp to becoming familiar with digital services like SingPass and SGQR codes, these one-on-one or small group learning sessions will equip seniors with much-needed basic digital literacy.
Meanwhile, to ensure that no senior will be left behind as Singapore digitalises, the second prong addresses the issue of affordability. Accordingly, seniors can sign up for exclusive telco deals to enjoy mobile services at lower cost, and seniors from low-income households will be provided with financial assistance to obtain their data plans and smartphones.
Achieving a fully digitalised Singapore, however, is a collective effort. To cement this mindset in the wider community, IMDA worked with industry, corporate and community partners to continue opening more digital opportunities for seniors. For more information on the online resources and classes for seniors, visit www.go.gov.sg/seniorsgodigital today!
Reaching out and supporting 18,000 stallholders to adopt a unified e-payment solution.
Singapore is famed worldwide for its vibrant food culture, made possible by the hawker centres, industrial canteens and coffee shops we all know and love. But in the age of safe distancing, it’s best for stallholders to reduce physical contact with their customers as much as possible. This means leveraging on the unified e-payment SGQR solution.
In partnership with Enterprise Singapore and IMDA, with support from the Housing and Development Board (HDB), JTC Corporation and National Environment Agency (NEA), SDO will reach out to and support 18,000 stallholders to start using the unified SGQR code in NEA hawker centres, HDB coffeeshops and JTC industrial canteens. Through e-payment, stallholders will be able to receive payments through 19 different payment schemes, ranging from DBS PayLah! to GrabPay.
To incentivise SGQR adoption, through the newly launched Hawkers Go Digital programme, stallholders will receive an e-Payment Bonus of $300 per month over a period of any five months to stallholders who come onboard the initiative before the 31st of December, 2020 . Signing up is free for eligible stallholders. For more details on eligibility and requirements, check out the Hawkers Go Digital page or contact IMDA through email via email@example.com or phone via 6377 3800.
1,000 digital ambassadors will drive SDO’s efforts
Helping 100,000 seniors and 18,000 stallholders go digital is no mean feat. Hence, the SDO is set to recruit and deploy 1,000 digital ambassadors by the end of June 2020 to provide personalised support to seniors and stallholders who require additional assistance as they embark on their digital transformations.
So where can you find these digital ambassadors? For the Seniors Go Digital programme, they’ll be stationed at familiar haunts like the public library or community centre.
Meanwhile, stallholders in hawker centres can expect a visit from a friendly digital ambassador by the month’s end.
Starting July 2020, efforts will be ramped up to also reach out to stallholders in coffee shops inside industrial canteens. To make things even more convenient for our seniors and stallholders, digital ambassadors will also be roving the streets and offering their assistance if needed. So keep your eyes peeled—your helpful digital ambassador could be just around the corner.
Eligible businesses can receive up to $10,000 for going digital
Given the unprecedented two-month suspension of dine-in options and brick-and-mortar stores, food services and retail are two sectors where the impacts of COVID-19 have been heavily felt. Digitalisation, however, could be the lifeline that these sectors are looking for.
In a bid to spur the adoption of digital tools by food services and retail enterprises, IMDA has launched the Digital Resilience Bonus (DRB) to provide support of up to $10,000 for businesses that start using solutions from three-predefined categories, namely: (1) business process solutions like accounting and inventory management, (2) food delivery and e-commerce solutions and (3) advanced data analytics. To be eligible for the DRB, solutions must be adopted by 30 June 2021 in addition to PayNow Corporate and Peppol e-invoicing. For more details on e-invoicing, check out the Nationwide E-invoicing Initiative here.
These exciting initiatives are just the beginning of the IMDA and SDO’s efforts to spark a nationwide push towards digitalisation and build a resilient digital future. Find out more about the initiatives by the SG Digital Office at www.sdo.gov.sg.