Harnessing technology to address real-life concerns

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan (left) and HDB CEO Cheong Koon Hean watching a demonstration of a device that can monitor an elderly resident in bed.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan (left) and HDB CEO Cheong Koon Hean watching a demonstration of a device that can monitor an elderly resident in bed. PHOTO: ST FILE

We thank Mr David Lam Yan Choon ("Not smart to let technology dictate our lives"; Wednesday)for emphasising the need to adopt a citizen-centric approach to building a Smart Nation.

We see technology as a tool to improve the quality of life for our citizens on a daily basis in our homes, our jobs and our society.

For example, HDB has just commenced home trials at Yuhua estate to help caregivers look after elderly family members and to save on their utility bills. The aim is to use smart technologies to address real-life concerns of residents.

Technology cannot replace human-to-human interactions, but it can help people to connect, interact and serve one another.

As a case in point, the Singapore Civil Defence Force's MyResponder app calls on nearby volunteers to be a "first responder" to render first aid in the event of a medical emergency.

Using open data released by the Government, many people have also used their coding skills to build apps that contribute to the wider community and social causes.

These initiatives help build trust and strengthen the sense of collective stewardship for our future.

We are also ensuring that our education system and SkillsFuture programmes provide our students and adults with the latest skills to meet the changing demands of the workplace in the face of the ongoing technological revolution.

We have taken fledgling steps to tap technology to improve our lives, create opportunities and forge a closer community.

The potential is tremendous.

To succeed in building a Smart Nation for all, we need people, businesses and the Government to work together. It is worth our while because, ultimately, citizens, not technology, are at the heart of our Smart Nation.

Tan Kok Yam
Head, Smart Nation Programme Office

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2015, with the headline 'Harnessing technology to address real-life concerns'. Print Edition | Subscribe