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Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at the Silver Infocomm Day

28 September 2014 - Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at the Silver Infocomm Day, at ITE College East, on Sunday 28 September 2014, 10.45am.

Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at the Silver Infocomm Day, at ITE College East, on Sunday 28 September 2014, 10.45am

Ladies and gentlemen

1. Good morning. I am happy to join you today.

2. Many of you are here today because you believe it is important to stay connected, be it staying in touch with your loved ones or picking up a new skill through online learning. Most younger people are digital natives, but the silver generation is catching up with digital trends. Today, we see many seniors who have embraced infocomm in their work and play.

3. The Silver Infocomm Day, organised by Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), is a platform for our seniors to gain the latest knowledge and skills, try out new devices and adapt to the changing infocomm scene. And in line with this year's theme of 'Make IT Your Way of Life,' we hope it will encourage more seniors to integrate IT into their lifestyle.

4. It is natural to be uncertain and anxious about keeping up with the rapidly changing technology. However, we should not be afraid to try. Today, we have many role models among us who have not only adopted the use of IT to improve their quality of life, but have also shared its benefits with others. One of them is Madam Lee Seoh Hwan, who uses email regularly to stay in touch with her family and friends, and browses the Internet for information. Madam Lee has also shared her knowledge with other seniors, who were not familiar with the Internet, by teaching them how to take photos and share them through social networking platforms like Facebook. She has even taught them how to use the voice recording function on WhatsApp.

5. We need more individuals like Madam Lee to support other seniors in their efforts to become more digitally savvy. Through the Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassador programme, organised by IDA and People's Association Active Ageing Council, we now have over 50 Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors. And today, we will welcome another 28 individuals to the programme.

6. Young and old, we want to make sure that every member of our community can enjoy the benefits of being digitally connected. With the Internet, everyone can have access to information at any time, without being confined to their physical locations. We can monitor our bank accounts, pay bills and even connect with medical workers through home-based health monitoring. To date, we have around 100 Silver Infocomm Hotspots that offer free Internet access at public libraries, Community Clubs and Resident Committees. In collaboration with the Council for Third Age (C3A) and the Organisation of Senior Volunteers (RSVP), IDA has also set up the Silver IT Care hotline, for volunteers to help their peers solve software and hardware technical problems.

7. As part of the Government's efforts to be digital inclusive, we have introduced programmes, such as the Silver Infocomm Initiative, NEU PC Plus Programme and the Infocomm Accessibility Centre, to reach out to the less advantaged in our society. IDA has enhanced the NEU PC Plus Programme to make it easier for school-going children and individuals with disabilities from low-income families to own new computers and gain broadband access. The increase in the qualifying income cap from $2,700 to $3,000 per household will allow a larger group to be eligible for the scheme. At the same time, they can also benefit from a faster fibre connectivity of 100mbps.

8. Earlier this year, I had announced that IDA will be setting up the Digital Inclusion (DI) Fund, with focus in two areas: home access and social innovation. As the use of ICT becomes ever more pervasive, there is a need to raise the level of adoption of infocomm especially among the low-income households. This will ensure they can benefit and enjoy from the improvements and services brought about by new technology. Our Home Access programme provides eligible low-income families with affordable fibre broadband connectivity. From $6 per month, some 8,000 low-income households without school-going children, will receive four years of internet fibre connectivity (100mbps) and a basic computing device. This way, our users can make digital videos or calls with their loved ones, surf the Web, and enjoy the many other benefits of IT advancements. While we make such services affordable and accessible, we also want to ensure that individuals are equipped with skills to benefit from such use. IDA will work with both industry partners and organisations from the people sector to provide training opportunities through courses or mobile IT clinics.

9. The Social Innovation Programme will support the development and deployment of social innovation projects in volunteer welfare organisations (VWOs). Through the Social Innovation Grant, we will fund projects that allow VWOs to reach out and help their beneficiaries. These can include projects that help the elderly to make use of mobile apps for their mental and physical exercises. Or even projects that manage dietary requirements through automated meal deliveries.

10. We want to empower our citizens through a greater exposure to IT, so that everyone can enjoy the benefits and lifestyle improvements that it brings. Collaborations among the Government, Institutes of Higher Learning, VWOs and the public will be crucial to ensuring that every segment of society can eventually become more digitally savvy. So there is no better time than now for everyone to gain as much IT knowledge as possible – be it to simply learn how to use mobile devices or navigate through social media.

11. In closing, I would encourage everyone to try out all the exciting activities lined up today. Thank you.