Pilot programme at Geylang East Public Library helps seniors access public services

Madam Siti Hajar, a 64-year-old retiree, at the pilot SG Digital Office at the Geylang East Public Library. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Madam Siti Hajar, a 64-year-old retiree, visits Geylang East Public Library twice a month to look up recipes and baking courses using the computers there.

She enjoys going to the library to use its digital resources as the sole computer at home is often used by her children, and there are ambassadors at the library whom she can turn to for help.

Now, Madam Siti can also access public services - such as applying for the Community Health Assist Scheme or making Central Provident Fund (CPF) nominations - at the pilot SG Digital Office at the Geylang East Public Library.

Since the pilot started in early November, around 1,200 online transactions with various government agencies have been made.

In addition to the three self-service kiosks available on the ground floor of the library, seniors who need help with more complex services can make appointments for virtual one-on-one consultations via a video conferencing pod.

The pods are available from 10am to noon every Wednesday, with ambassadors present to help seniors with services which include making appointments with government agencies such as the CPF Board and Housing Board.

While all 25 public libraries in Singapore have digital ambassadors to help seniors with basic digital skills, for instance, in using mobile apps such as WhatsApp and SingPass, the Geylang East Public Library is the only one which also offers them assistance for government services.

Integrating the work of different agencies will further boost digital services and reach more segments of the population, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran during a visit to the library on Wednesday (Dec 23).

"About 50,000 seniors have been reached through the Seniors Go Digital Programme and the goal is to reach 100,000 seniors by March next year. I think we're on track but the key is to persevere in the effort and be consistent in outreach," he added.

The Seniors Go Digital Programme was launched in June by the Infocomm Media Development Authority to help seniors learn how to use e-payment methods using apps or QR codes, with demonstrations at public libraries and community centres.

Mr Iswaran also told the media that 5,400 seniors have benefited from the Mobile Access for Seniors programme, launched in July to help lower-income seniors secure a device and mobile plan by making these more affordable.

He added that 12,000 computers have been distributed to low-income households, and 5,000 families given free broadband access this year, under the NEU PC Plus programme.

Separately, to help seniors learn how to use the library's services and e-resources, the National Library Board will be launching Library Learning Journeys at all 25 public libraries from February next year.

They will be led by digital ambassadors who will teach seniors in classes of four how to scan QR codes and access e-newspapers. Each free session will last about an hour.

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