Seniors, hawkers can pick up digital skills at nearly 50 community hubs from August

Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran (left) talks to Madam Tay Ah Louy (centre), 80, and SG Digital ambassador Lo Wei Jian at West Coast Community Centre, on July 7, 2020. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY
Seniors and hawkers needing help with their digital devices will be able to get assistance at SG Digital community hubs islandwide. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - From August, seniors and hawkers needing help with using their digital devices can get assistance at nearly 50 SG Digital community hubs islandwide as part of Singapore's continuing digitalisation push.

At these hubs, located in community centres and public libraries, residents can learn how to use common mobile apps such as WhatsApp and SingPass Mobile in one-to-one sessions with digital ambassadors.

Meanwhile, stallholders can find out how to integrate payment tools smoothly into their day-to-day business.

Both groups can also participate in small group classes to pick up new digital skills at the hub.

Speaking after a visit to the SG Digital Office community hub in West Coast Community Centre on Tuesday (July 7), Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said the hubs are a "welcome addition" to Singapore's broad slate of national digitalisation initiatives.

"(The hubs) are important because they become a node in the community where people know that they can go and get help and advice," he said.

"Essentially, the hubs are a physical manifestation of our assurance that we will walk the (digitalisation) journey with you."

The West Coast community hub is one of five hubs that have already started operations, along with others at Heartbeat @ Bedok, Leng Kee Community Centre, MacPherson Community Centre and Our Tampines Hub.

Another six hubs will open by the end of this month, with the rest to follow in August. The hubs are open to the public from 10am to 6pm.

Madam Ng Pek Low, 73, went to the West Coast community hub with her husband on Tuesday, after she found out about it from community centre staff.

She said she wanted to learn how to use some of the more advanced functions on WhatsApp, such as sending voice messages.

"My daughter has tried to teach us before but she's too fast and has no patience," said the retiree in Mandarin.

"The digital ambassadors (at the hub) were very patient and taught at a pace and in a way that was comfortable for us old people."

She added that she is keen to learn how to buy things online on e-commerce platforms next.

In the past few months, the Government has ramped up efforts to promote digitalisation in response to widespread economic and social disruption brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Singapore Digital Office was set up in May under the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to spearhead these efforts, which include the Seniors Go Digital and Hawkers Go Digital movements.

The former aims to reach 100,000 seniors by the end of this year, while the latter is targeting to get more than 18,000 stallholders in hawker centres and wet markets to adopt the unified Singapore Quick Response Code e-payments solution by the middle of next year.

Retirees Audrey Goh, 70, and Teresa Fong, 74, learning about Zoom video conferencing by SG Digital ambassador Yeo Beng Choon, 73, at West Coast Community Centre on July 7, 2020. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

The Seniors Go Digital movement has reached about 2,500 seniors so far through virtual coaching sessions and webinars, the IMDA said.

Digital ambassadors also reached all 112 hawker centres in Singapore last month.

Last month, Mr Iswaran also announced increased support for low-income seniors in the form of more affordable mobile data plans that cost as little as $5 a month for 5GB.

Basic smartphones starting at $20 will be bundled with the mobile plans, which are available for sign-up as of this month.

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