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Singapore Deputy Prime Minister: important to close digital gap

Image credit: www.pmo.gov.sg

As the world continues its digital transformation amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore is trying to further address the issue of the digital divide among its citizens and organisations. This was a key issue raised by Singaporeans at conversations on how to forge a better future post-Covid-19, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, speaking at the launch of the Smart Nation & U 2021 event, a tech-focused jobs and skills fair, and free online courses to support Singaporeans in leveraging technology amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that while a digital future holds tremendous potential, they must ensure that they progress together as a society. He said he is heartened that many individuals, community partners and companies were keen to contribute to bridging the digital divide and improving the lives and livelihoods of citizens.

Accordingly, the government set up the SG Digital office, which aims to reach out to 100,000 seniors, 18,000 hawkers and 20,000 heartland enterprise to go digital. Lower-income families and seniors are also being provided with affordable devices and internet access, he added.

In addition to government efforts, individuals have also stepped forward to contribute time and energy to helping others with digitalisation. In perspective, he praised a volunteer-driven non-profit tech collective where people from all backgrounds come together to build digital solutions to address societal issues, as well as another non-profit initiative that allows migrant workers to call their loved ones back home for free.

The Deputy Prime Minister also encouraged people to contribute their time and expertise to close the digital gap, such as by volunteering as Smart Nation Ambassadors or donating to the Digital for Life Fund to support community-initiated projects. Ultimately, building a more inclusive society will require a collective effort from all of them. To progress together as one, everyone must do their parts to help those around us be part of this digital journey, he added.

During his speech, the Deputy Prime Minister noted the role played by digital technology in Singapore’s fight against Covid-19, such as the use of TraceTogether and Safe Entry to facilitate the tracing of close contacts of confirmed cases, as well as the use of virtual meetings to conduct business and keep in touch with loved ones.

He further said that in the coming years, technology and a growing digital economy will create many new opportunities and good jobs for the people, but they must ensure that workers are ready for the digital world. Singapore’s Smart Nation journey is not just about the economy, but fundamentally about using technology to improve the lives of the people.

This includes areas such as the creation of a better living environment, intelligent homes being built by the Housing and Development Board (HDB), and a wider range of digital services offered by companies, the Government, and the community.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that Singapore will continue to invest in digital infrastructures, such as fibre broadband and a 5G network, to support the shift to digital. He also urged citizens and organisations to remain nimble and work together as one people and one economy, so that the nation can achieve its vision of being a Smart Nation, which will improve lives and build an enduring advantage that will enable the country to emerge stronger from this crisis.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, the Singapore Government led by DPM Heng Swee Keat allocated over S$24 billion over the next three years to help businesses and workers transition to a post-pandemic world, well-equipped with technological resources. This budget also aims to enable firms and businesses to emerge stronger, together. About S$1 billion will be allocated to mature firms to get co-funding for the adoption of digital solutions and technological improvements.

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