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Tech Connect fosters digital inclusivity

Pic Credit : Minister S Iswaran (from Facebook)

We all know that one person who can’t seem to connect with technology. “How do I download this app?” or “Where’s the on button to this thing?”

This demographic is not between far and few. Cognisant, the Singapore Government has launched Tech Connect. This is a new initiative to provide dedicated one-on-one tech assistance to individuals who may require help with their digital devices and services. Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S Isawaran, launched Tech Connect at the Digital Carnival @ West Coast.

Why Digital Inclusion is Important

The slew of technologies which constantly being pushed out have a myriad of benefits which anyone regardless of age can enjoy. Unfortunately, not everyone is confident in using the technology. This could be an issue of a lack of trust in the technology, or simply the lack of knowledge to fully embrace what the technology can offer.

If our society is becoming increasingly digital, then in tandem, a base level of tech-savviness must be instated.

In his opening remarks, Minister Iswaran said, “We know that technology is present in the work place, living and social environments. We want to make sure that our people, and especially those who may not be naturally exposed to technology such as our older Singaporeans, are able to get exposure and access.”

“We want to recognise that not everyone shares the same starting point, and we want to bring everyone up to speed so that, for example, you are able to watch Channel 8’s broadcast of the SPOP Grand Finals on Toggle, use e-Payment to order chicken rice at the hawker centre, and to log on to participate in the latest season of the National Steps Challenge.

In other words, for you to be able to use technology to have a more meaningful engagement with friends and family, and to benefit from the broad range of services available.”

Connecting Everyone with Tech

This is where Tech Connect comes in.

Citizens can reach out to their “Tech Connect Kakis” (Kaki means ‘buddy’ in Singlish; colloquial Singapore English) at any of the eight participating Community Centres during the pilot. These community centres will have a #ShowMeHow sign at their doors.

The sixty dedicated staff, trained by the Infocomm Media Development Authority, will provide personalised assistance to citizens. Kakis can teach citizens how to send videos using their mobile devices, how to make a QR code payments, or even more rudimentarily, how to connect to the WiFi.

Any and every query will be answered with quick responses. Should this segment of citizens want to explore and deepen their knowledge in areas such as coding, the Tech Connect Kakis will be able to recommend courses. For some of these courses, SkillsFuture credits can be used to offset the cost of the course.

The Tech Connect pilot is expected to run for a period of one year. Following which, a review shall assess room for improvement. However, to do more, the Minister urged that everyone should be engaged.

He emphasised, “All of us are ‘Tech Connect Kakis’ – a grandchild can help his or her grandparents, children can help their parents, and we can advise friends and family… So, do not be shy to ask your friend, grandchild or neighbour to “show me how” to use digital devices and services.”

“Ultimately, that is what Tech Connect is really about – it is about linking people, minds and hearts so that we can better connect with other through technology. It is only when we have such inclusivity in digital technology, and connection becomes part of our DNA, can we truly say that we have become a Smart Nation.”

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