The Sunday Times says

Bridging the elder digital divide

More volunteers should step up to help seniors negotiate online services as the nation pushes forward with providing all with a digital identity in the future.
More volunteers should step up to help seniors negotiate online services as the nation pushes forward with providing all with a digital identity in the future.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Gaps exist in an integrated wired and wireless world which are typically occupied by seniors who lack digital tools or find infocomm processes altogether confusing. For now, many might be able to get along without smartphones and personal computers, as their needs can still be met in old-fashioned ways. But how will they manage when the environment gets increasingly driven by technology that seeks to link everyone and everything?

In a data-rich, digitised and automated world, free or cheaper options, and smarter and faster services will be mostly delivered electronically. At an everyday level, if seniors want low-cost rides, they would need to use apps to compare prices, rather than hail taxis on the streets. If they seek government services, scores of them can be obtained easily online. But there's the rub: the digital process is not that easy for many seniors.

As Member of Parliament Saktiandi Supaat noted last week, older folk find the use of the Singapore Personal Access (SingPass) gateway and "2nd Factor Authentication" bewildering. The verification system for government e-services calls for a personalised password to gain access, plus a OneKey device which provides a one-time password. In the private sector, banks, for example, have their own digital platforms and their separate security tokens.

More volunteers should step up to help seniors negotiate online services as the nation pushes forward with providing all with a digital identity in the future. Critically, elders need to appreciate the basics of technology as more of it is used in a manpower-lean city to monitor their health from their homes and to receive care when necessary.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 12, 2017, with the headline 'Bridging the elder digital divide'. Print Edition | Subscribe