Digital for Life Festival draws encouraging support from Singaporeans

The festival is being held this weekend at Heartbeat@Bedok. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - More than 80,000 Singaporeans have pledged their support to help vulnerable groups gain digital access and connectivity through the Data for All initiative launched on May 21 at the Digital for Life Festival.

The festival, which is being held in person and online, ends on Sunday (May 29).

Through this initiative, three major telcos - StarHub, Singtel and M1 - have each committed to providing 10,000 mobile data lines, which will benefit 30,000 Singaporeans. Those who have pledged to help will do so in various ways, such as by donating excess data. 

Users of StarHub's Giga can utilise the app to show their support for people with disabilities and their caregivers. Each beneficiary will receive 6GB of data a month and other bonuses, such as free data rollover, which allows unused data to be carried over for another two data renewal cycles.

Singtel's Gomo users can donate their excess data, and the telco will consolidate the data into Hi SIM cards. Vulnerable seniors will get 3GB of data a month through this donation.

M1 will be donating up to 10,000 SIM cards with free mobile plans to youth from lower-income families. They will get to enjoy benefits such as 50GB of data and unlimited incoming calls every month for a year.

At community and lifestyle hub Heartbeat@Bedok, where the festival is being held this weekend, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said on Saturday (May 28) that the festival has drawn more than 13,000 participants who attended various activities physically since its launch on May 21.

She said: "We are very encouraged by the response. It shows that there is interest among Singaporeans on what it takes to succeed in the digital domain. It can be in terms of keeping in touch with family and friends, making digital transactions and upskilling themselves to be more ready for jobs of the future."

Mrs Teo added: "Although digital has become so much a part of our lives, there are still Singaporeans who feel uncomfortable. We hope that through more of such events, we can build up their confidence."

Mrs Teo was joined by President Halimah Yacob and Minister of State for Communications and Information and National Development Tan Kiat How.

They visited exhibitions put up by social service agency Lions Befrienders, Google and the Association of Information Security Professionals (AiSP), and observed workshops held by non-profit organisation Vivita and volunteer group SGBono.

Lions Befrienders and AiSP are recipients of the Digital for Life Fund, which provides funding assistance for ground-up digital inclusion initiatives.

AiSP's Cyber Wellness project under the fund enables seniors, youth and those with special needs to learn the importance of cyber security and cyber wellness through webinars, roadshows and online learning resources.

President Halimah Yacob observing the "Build and Code your Dream Metaverse" workshop held by Vivita at the Digital for Life Festival. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Lions Befrienders' IM-OK device aims to allow remote monitoring of seniors' well-being.

Every morning, seniors will have to press a button on the device to indicate that they are fine. It also contains digital literacy-related features such as cyber-security tips and a scam simulation app to educate the elderly on how to stay safe online.

Madam Ng Soh Guat, 77, a Lions Befrienders beneficiary, said that since receiving the device this February, she feels a lot safer.

The retiree said: "I live alone. With this device, if anything were to happen to me, at least people will know."

The festival and the fund are part of the Digital for Life movement, which aims to encourage Singaporeans to embrace digitalisation and build a digitally inclusive society together.

Lions Befrienders' IM-OK device aims to allow remote monitoring of seniors' well-being. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Helping to bridge the digital divide in Singapore

When president of SGBono Felicia Seah went to a one-room rental flat to deliver a desktop and a laptop to a family with six children, she realised that a desktop was not the right device for them.

As space was scarce in the flat, SGBono, a volunteer group which provides refurbished laptops and free laptop repairs to lower-income families, replaced the desktop with another laptop.

On the voluntary work that she has done, Ms Seah, 36, said: “The most fulfilling thing is to help bridge or fill some gaps in the digital divide.

“Technology is advancing and the ones who have access to it are just getting more and more advanced... But some children from low-income families are just getting started on their first laptop or their first Internet enabled device.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for digital devices increased as schools adopted home-based learning and Singaporeans worked remotely.

SGBono distributed around 600 devices to low-income families.

It organised a laptop repair workshop at the Digital for Life Festival, which was held at community and lifestyle hub Heartbeat@Bedok over the weekend.

Security supervisor Hassan Abdullah, 46, who has two primary school children, was there on Saturday (May 28) to get his two  laptops from SGBono repaired. 

He said that the refurbished laptops have been excellent as they allow his children to use video-conferencing platform Zoom and play games.

While waiting for their laptops to be repaired, his children attended a workshop held as part of the festival.

The nine-day festival, being held from May 21 to 29, and The Straits Times, in partnership with Singapore Pools, set up the Stop Scams exhibit to highlight scams and educate the public on the growing scourge.

The Straits Times, in partnership with Singapore Pools, set up the Stop Scams exhibit to highlight the number of scam variants and educate the public on the growing scourge. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Mr Ronnie Tan, 60, who visited ST’s exhibit, said it has very good information about scams.

The clinical informatics manager’s friend was almost scammed of $68,000 after revealing his one-time password, but managed to call the bank in time to stop the transaction.

Mr Tan said: “The exhibition has taught me to be vigilant and be alert.”

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