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Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative recognises Singapore’s Smart Nation Ambassadors

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative made a speech at the Smart Nation Ambassadors Emerging Stronger Conversation and Appreciation Event on 25th September 2020. The Minister began by thanking the 1600 volunteers who have joined the Smart Ambassador movement since January last year.

The Smart Nation Ambassadors range from university students teaching coding to underprivileged youths, techie maker groups who have been passionately fixing old devices, making them “smart” again, making them available to the wider public and especially to the less privileged, to grandmothers who want to teach other seniors how to use apps like Life.SG and Singpass Mobile.

The Minister highlighted the contributions of a few Star Ambassadors and paid special tribute to those who have gone over and above, to motivate others along their digital journey.

Star Ambassadors are individuals who have contributed to Smart Nation efforts in various capacities – from taking the initiative to lead and coordinate our events to rallying their friends and communities to become better advocates of Smart Nation. We hope to award more Star Ambassadors in the coming years as they continue to be role models for our community.

Smart Ambassador Initiatives

The RSVP Organisation of Senior Volunteers is collaborating with Smart Nation Digital Government Office to develop a training curriculum and portal. It will have relevant and exciting e-learning modules on Smart Nation initiatives, as well a showcase of soft skills for engagement especially in the areas of communication and active

For Smart Nation Ambassadors with young children or are keen to volunteer with kids, the Minister announced that the government are working with TOUCH Community Services, Facebook and MeshMinds to produce an Augmented Reality book for children aged five to seven years old. They hope to distribute to all pre-schools and libraries. The book will take kids on a journey to discover the possibilities of how technology can improve the way we work, live and play.

Using Tech for a greater purpose

The Minister highlighted that technology is to enhance everyday lives. He said “This is actually a very important reminder that it is not about tech but about human beings, human relations, and human interaction. There’s still no substitute for face-to-face meetings and direct contact, and that is why the other idea that we perhaps need to, in the next phase, look at organising our Smart Nation Ambassadors at a regional or local level, makes sense. It also dovetails with the idea that real value is when the virtual world meets the real world.”

“This interface ultimately reminds us of what we are trying to do; which is to make our real world a better world using digital technology and the virtual world. It’s not the other way around. We’re not trying to leave the real world to enter a purely virtual world. Of which, some parts are not necessarily edifying, pleasant or unified. So that’s one key idea which I have taken away; to not forget the human dimension and the human touch.”

Another key point that the Minister highlighted was that Smart Ambassador initiatives ensure that no-one is left behind. “We need to make sure we are inclusive regardless of age, language, and digital familiarity. And that’s why all the efforts which you all have put in such as direct hand-holding of seniors, of people who are disabled or people who are just less familiar and even scared of technology. These efforts are absolutely critical, and I just want to thank all of you who have really put your energy and passion into making sure no one is excluded from the digital revolution.”

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