Search
Close this search box.

We are creating some awesome events for you. Kindly bear with us.

Singapore government announces slew of initiatives to build digital society and sets up central office for coordination

Singapore government announces slew of initiatives to build digital society and sets up central office for coordination
Singapore government announces slew of initiatives to build digital society and sets up central office for coordination

Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information (OpenGov file photo)

A range of initiatives were announced last week by the Singapore government to ‘nurture a digital society where Singaporeans have access to technology, understand it, and are passionate about using technology in their lives’. This will go hand-in-hand with building a digital economy and a digital government.

Speaking at the Ministry of Communications & Information (MCI) Workplan Seminar 2017, the Minister for Communications and Information, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, outlined a three H strategy to enhance digital readiness: ‘Heart’ for Improving access to digital technology, ‘Head’ for enhancing digital literacy, ‘Hands’ for developing digital makers.

In addition, he announced the establishment of a new digital readiness programme office to coordinate the efforts of the public and private sectors and voluntary organisations.

Improving access to technology for people with disabilities

The government has been running the Enable IT programme to help people with special needs adopt infocomm and assistive technology (IT/AT) to support their daily living, education and employment needs. The programme is implemented through collaboration between IMDA (Infocomm Media Development Authority), disability sector organisations and various other stakeholders, such as policy makers from Government agencies, disability voluntary welfare organisations and help agencies, as well as private sector organisations.

The grant support to voluntary welfare organisations for the Enable IT Programme will be doubled to $100,000 per project, helping them acquire assistive technology devices to help more people with disabilities gain independence in their daily lives. This is expected to help an additional 3,000 beneficiaries over four years, doubling the current number.

IMDA will also set up a library to loan IT/ AT devices to people with special needs and voluntary welfare organisations, so that the people can try out a device before making a purchase.

In addition, IMDA is creating a pool of people with special needs to be Assistive Technology Ambassadors, through collaboration with technology companies such as Apple and Microsoft. The ambassadors will spread the use of built-in assistive technology on their devices and platforms (such as VoiceOver in-built screen reader on the iPhone and iPad or magnifier, narrator and speech recognition features on Microsoft products).

They will also receive training on how to help people with different disabilities, including  autism, or physical, visual, and hearing disabilities, use the features on their regular mobile devices to improve their quality of life.

Developing holistic outreach and education programmes

Dr. Ibrahim said that different parts of the MCI family are running separate outreach and education programmes today. The National Library Board (NLB) provides tools to check the credibility of information online through the S.U.R.E campaign. IMDA, together with the Media Literacy Council, runs the Better Internet Campaign to raise awareness of safe and responsible online behaviours. The Cyber Security Agency’s Cyber Security Awareness Campaign to make the public aware of the dangers in cyberspace and the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) helping organisations and individuals adopt good data protection practices are two other examples.

A design thinking approach has been adopted to identify areas where new programmes can be developed in a more holistic manner. More details will be shared when the programmes are ready.

There are two segments of the population which were highlighted as in need of outreach: lower skilled and lower wage workers and parents. Parents have to keep up with their children’s technological knowledge, so that they can guide them and have meaningful conversations with them.

Dr. Ibrahim announced that the Media Literacy Council (MLC) will be launching a new Call For Proposals to empower youths to initiate projects to help promote digital literacy to the community. MLC will provide funding, training and incubation facilities for development of social innovation solutions, working with partners, Google, Garena, MyRepublic, Facebook and Mediacorp. Young Singaporeans will also be encouraged to start their own platform, movement or enterprise, to develop solutions that tackle issues such as cyber-bullying and fake news.

Encouraging curiosity and innovation among citizens and companies

Dr. Ibrahim launched the Digital Maker Programme in order to encourage Singaporeans of all ages to tinker and create. The programme will introduce simple and open-ended technology that allows kids as well as adults to start off as hobbyists to create and prototype their own inventions.

Over the next two years, IMDA will work with MOE to introduce digital making to schools by providing primary and secondary schools with micro:bits to enable fun and hands-on learning. The micro:bit is a pocket-sized, codeable computer with motion detection and Bluetooth technology, which is already being used in schools in the UK. Students will be encouraged to experiment with the micro:bits to design useful contraptions that can solve real-world problems. Microsoft will provide training for teachers to incorporate digital making into their school programmes

There are plans to introduce digital making to the community by providing micro:bits to participants at Digital Maker workshops through partnership between IMDA and the People’s Association, the Science Centre Singapore and Centre for Fathering. Self-help groups would help extend such workshops to low-income households.

Dr. Ibrahim gave examples where the Digital Maker workshops strengthened bonds among families and communities. In IMDA’s early trials, residents created digital greeting cards which could play their family’s favourite tunes and created their own automated water system for their community garden.
Local companies form an important piece of the jigsaw. Seed funding will be provided to local companies with the potential to commercialise. Examples of potential successes include a breakout board developed by a start-up that easily connects to a wide variety of sensors and displays for more complex creations, without having to deal with messy wiring and soldering and a Digital Making Starter Kit that allows the user to build 15 different projects with the micro:bits by a local SME.

New digital readiness programme office

To ensure greater alignment among all the various initiatives set up by public, private and voluntary organisations, MCI will set up a digital readiness programme office to drive a whole-of-nation strategy to build a digital society.

This office is supposed to function as the centre of an extensive network of organisations, helping coordinate initiatives. It will also study international initiatives for digital readiness, identify existing gaps in Singapore’s efforts, and recommend a long-term strategy and manifesto to build a digital society.

Click here to read the transcript of the speech by Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.