SINGAPORE – Every day, Madam Pearlie Ow, 69, uses the MyTransport.sg mobile application to check for bus arrival timings. She also reads the e-books she downloaded on her National Library Board (NLB) mobile application.
Madam Ow, who works as a finance clerk, says being digitally connected has allowed her to lead a more independent and empowered life as she goes about her daily activities.
“I can find my way around without constantly asking people for help with directions and this independent way of living is a very good thing to have at my age,” she told The Straits Times.
The digitally-savvy senior, who is a member of the Merdeka Generation, has been passing on her knowledge to peers around her age since she signed up to volunteer as a Smart Nation Ambassador in February this year.
At events organised by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), Madam Ow would teach seniors how to use the apps that she has found useful in her life.
She was in action on Sunday (July 28) at the inaugural Digital Inclusion Festival, a three-day event held since Friday by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) at the Lifelong Learning Institute.
The SNDGO said on Sunday that there are now around 600 Smart Nation Ambassadors since the initiative was launched in February this year.
Individuals can sign up at Volunteer.SG to volunteer as Smart Nation Ambassadors at Smart Nation roadshows and events.
Private sector companies, research institutes and schools can also approach SNDGO to volunteer their services and capabilities.
Speaking on Sunday, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is the Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, highlighted the role and contributions of Smart Nation Ambassadors in helping the society get digitally ready.
He was speaking at a Smart Nation breakfast session specially organised during the festival for members of the Merdeka Generation, who are born between the years 1950 to 1959.
Speaking to over 3,000 participants, Dr Balakrishnan also encouraged seniors who are not familiar with technology to keep an open mind and take small steps to stay digitally connected.
This can be done by getting acquainted with the basic functions of a smartphone, learning how to connect to the Internet and downloading useful mobile applications that can help seniors in their daily activities, he added.
“Technology can bring about a lot of convenience. Many of the applications available today, whether they are from the Government or private sector, allow people to transact anywhere and anytime,” he said.
Information and communications technology trainer Mohd Saiful, 32, is a Smart Nation Ambassador who volunteers at least once a month at events to teach seniors how to use apps such as MyTransport.sg and do online banking.
He said: “When they see that there are people out there who care for them and is willing to teach them these things that make their lives easier, they’ll always smile. That’s the biggest satisfaction I get.”