Making digital resources, public services more accessible
A collaboration by NLB, PSD, IMDA and SDO introduces senior-focused services at public libraries, an aim to ensure digital inclusion and outreach.
The National Library Board (NLB), the Public Service Division (PSD), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the SG Digital Office (SDO) have come together to make digital resources and public services more accessible for seniors. The pilot SG Digital Office (SDO@NLB) at Geylang East Public Library is a result of this collaboration and serves as a digital satellite to bring various public services to the doorstep of seniors in the community.
The SDO@NLB hosts digital kiosks to help seniors access over 200 selected digital Government services, such as the Central Provident Fund (CPF) nominations and Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) applications. Since the pilot started in early November 2020, seniors have made about 1,200 online transactions with various public agencies at this digital integrated public services satellite centre.
While all the 25 public libraries have Digital Ambassadors (DAs) to provide seniors with personalised assistance, Geylang East Public Library is the only library that offers both an SG Digital community hub and the pilot one-stop access point to public services together. This is part of the Government-wide effort to integrate and focus services around citizens, as well as foster digital inclusion.
Those who wish to access public services digitally can use any of the three self-service kiosks at the SDO@NLB, located on Level 1 of the Geylang East Public Library. Public Service Ambassadors are on-site to assist seniors who need help navigating digital platforms and making digital transactions. Seniors can also make appointments for virtual one-on-one consultations with selected Government agencies such as the CPF Board via the video-conferencing pod for assistance with more complex services. Seniors who may need personalised assistance to learn basic digital skills on how to use applications such as WhatsApp or SingPass, as well as making e-payments can also seek one-on-one assistance from SDO’s DAs at the SG Digital community hub on Level 2.
The SDO was set up in June 2020 to accelerate Singapore’s digitalisation by building on and ramping up existing efforts to equip every individual and business, including seniors and small businesses, with digital tools and skills to participate meaningfully in the social and economic environment post-COVID-19. SDO has since deployed 1,000 DAs and set up 55 SG Digital community hubs across Singapore to reach out to a wider community. So far, SDO has trained more than 50,000 seniors.
In addition to training, seniors who are 60 years old and above, and supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s ComCare assistance or Housing and Development Board’s Public Rental Scheme, may apply for the Mobile Access for Seniors scheme at these community hubs. To date, 5,400 low-income seniors have benefitted from the subsidised smartphones and data plans under the scheme.
To complement these services to ensure digital inclusion, NLB will be launching the monthly Library Learning Journeys at 25 public libraries from February 2021. Led by DAs, these sessions will teach seniors new ways of using our library’s services and e-resources, such as QR codes and eNewspapers. Seniors can register for the Library Learning Journeys at any of the SG Digital community hubs. Each session will take about one hour, is free and will be conducted in line with safe management measures due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The list of public libraries with SG Digital community hubs and upcoming Library Learning Journeys can be found in the Annex.
NLB’s CEO Ng Cher Pong said, “We are fully committed to helping every senior who is interested, to bridge the digital divide. By partnering with PSD, IMDA and SDO, we can bring these integrated services to our senior patrons, and equip them with the necessary skills to participate meaningfully in a digitally-connected society. With these services, seniors can learn many digital skills in our libraries and immediately put their newly-acquired skills into use. These also complement our growing array of digital and physical offerings for seniors and reinforce the role of libraries as vital community nodes for lifelong learning and reading.”
There is a total of 25 public libraries including Geylang East Public Library that houses the SG Digital community hubs and will be offering upcoming Library Learning Journeys. They include Jurong West Public Library, Marine Parade Public Library, Queenstown Public Library, Bukit Batok Public Library, Bukit Panjang Public Library, Cheng San Public Library, Clementi Public Library, library@chinatown, Pasir Ris Public Library, Sengkang Public Library, Serangoon Public Library, Yishun Public Library, Ang Mo Kio Public Library, Bedok Public Library, Bishan Public Library, Central Public Library, Jurong Regional Library, library@esplanade, library@harbourfront, library@orchard, Tampines Regional Library, Toa Payoh Public Library, Sembawang Public Library and Woodlands Regional Library.
** More information on the SG Digital community hubs can be found at www.sdo.gov.sg.
(** PHOTO CREDITS: National Library Board)