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46 SG Digital community hubs to be launched islandwide by end August

46 SG Digital community hubs to be launched islandwide by end August

SG Digital ambassadors helping seniors with their phones. (Photo: Grace Yeoh)

SINGAPORE: Anyone facing difficulties with their digital devices will soon be able to get help from new SG Digital community hubs that will be set up across Singapore. 

Located in community centres and public libraries, the 46 one-stop help centres will be opened by end August. 

READ: Wider variety of mobile plans and financial assistance for seniors to help them go digital

Five centres have already commenced operations: The community hubs at Heartbeat @ Bedok, Leng Kee Community Centre, MacPherson Community Centre, Our Tampines Hub and West Coast Community Centre. 

The SG Digital office @ West Coast community hub at West Coast Community Centre. (Photo: Grace Yeoh)

"The SG Digital community hub is another milestone in the effort to be deeply embedded in the community," said Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran, during a visit to the SG Digital Office @ West Coast community hub on Tuesday (Jul 7). 

"(The hubs) become a node in the community, where people know that they can go to get help and advice. Our facilities are a physical reminder and assurance that we are walking the talk."

PRIORITISING SENIORS AND HAWKERS

Even though the community hubs are open for all, seniors and hawkers are the "immediate priority", said the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and SG Digital Office (SDO) in a joint media release.

As part of IMDA's Seniors Go Digital and Hawkers Go Digital programmes, Digital Ambassadors will be stationed in each hub to provide one-to-one assistance on digital skills and knowledge, so seniors and hawkers can "pick up digital skills and progress at their own pace".

READ: 1,000 digital ambassadors to be recruited to help stallholders, seniors go online

They can also participate in small group classes and learning journeys at each hub.

The services rendered are divided into three broad tiers. The first tier is catered towards teaching seniors basic communication skills, such as how to use WhatsApp and connect to WiFi via Wireless@SGx. 

In the second tier, seniors learn how to use Government digital services, like SingPass Mobile for SafeEntry.

The third tier covers how to use e-payment tools, such as QR codes at markets and hawker centres. 

Meanwhile, hawkers can drop by any hub to learn how to employ e-payment tools to better serve their customers' needs. 

In order to reach their targeted senior clientele and familiarise them with technology, Mr Iswaran said that the community hubs will roll out classes in various languages and dialects, if necessary. 

OVERCOMING FEAR OF TECHNOLOGY

Another prevalent concern that these community hubs will attempt to address is the slow adoption of technology among the elderly due to the fear of "appearing silly or asking silly questions", said Mr Iswaran. 

READ: Commentary: COVID-19 has revealed a new disadvantaged group among us – digital outcasts

"(Our seniors) fear that people won't have the time or patience to help them. I think it's a legitimate thing, and I think it's not something that's just unique to seniors. Everybody has that kind of concern from time to time," he added. 

Minister for Communications and Information Mr S Iswaran speaking to a senior citizen. (Photo: Grace Yeoh)

"The inhibition arising from a certain fear of embarrassment is real. But that's where something like the (SG Digital community hubs) can help because seniors know that there are other people like them there. There's a sense of camaraderie in the learning."

These community hubs will act as a "digital haven" for seniors, said Mr Iswaran, adding that the people involved in the whole exercise are "going to try their best to help them". 

Getting assistance at the community hubs is also "not a one-shot deal". The Digital Ambassadors will be work with seniors "through the months, and through the years, if necessary", he added. 

"It's really how you create a nurturing environment, which allows people to ask questions without inhibition, knowing that it will all be taken seriously, given the due attention and importance, and that they will be helped without any judgment," he said.

Source: CNA/ad(mi)

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