Singapore has set up the new SG Digital Office (SDO) to boost technology adoption as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery effort.
To help promote inclusive access to digital tools and skills, including for older people, for stallholders in hawker centres and for small businesses, SDO will recruit 1,000 ‘digital ambassadors’ by the end of June. Comprising both full-time staff and volunteers, they will work with companies, community groups and the public.
This month, the team will focus on Singapore’s 112 hawker centres and wet markets to encourage stallholders to adopt the SGQR code for e-payment. From July, the outreach will be expanded to include coffee shops and industrial canteens, with the goal of engaging 18,000 stallholders within a year.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), which SDO will be under, the National Environment Agency, Jurong Town Corporation, Housing Development Board and Enterprise Singapore will provide a bonus of $300 (US$214) per month over five months to encourage more businesses to use e-payments.
“They should not be left behind as the whole economy transforms,” a statement said.
Digital ambassadors will also be tasked with boosting the digital skills of 100,000 seniors by March 2021, up from the current annual target of 10,000. Older citizens from lower-income households will be offered financial support for devices.
Mr S. Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, said: “COVID-19 has irrevocably changed the way we lead our lives. While some of us have been able to make the necessary adjustments to work, learn or socialise from our homes because we are digitally connected, that is not the case for some of the elderly and vulnerable amongst us. Their lives can be better if they too are as digitally connected.
“The government recognises that in the wake of COVID-19, digitalisation is now both an imperative and an opportunity. Digitalisation can significantly improve the lives and livelihoods of our people. SDO will drive Singapore’s national digitalisation movement, to ensure that everyone has a place in Singapore’s digital future,” he added.
Cities Today recently reported how Singapore developed an app to help trace and record citizens’ movements to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Singapore is also piloting a four-legged dog-like robot called Spot to promote social distancing in parks.