How tech has connected and uplifted Singapore in a difficult year
No sugar coating it, the past year or so has been tough on everyone as Singapore continues its fight against Covid-19. Front line workers have worked extra hard to keep the virus at bay. Businesses have felt the strain on their bottom lines. And social and family ties have been tested by heightened alert and safe distancing measures.
This year’s National Day Parade has even been postponed to Aug 21, with a simpler observance ceremony on National Day itself.
Yet in these trying times, we see the Singapore spirit shining through. Fellow Singaporeans are uniting the community through tech-driven initiatives – here are some of their stories!
2021, a National Day with a different feel. Photo by Max Oh on Unsplash
Supporting our hawkers
Eateries have been relying on delivery services when dining-in was restricted. But what about hawkers – especially the ones not comfortable with English and tech – who faced difficulties offering their fare online?
Redditor u/waffleboy92 kickstarted a crowd-sourced map of over 200 digitally disadvantaged hawkers and counting, with the aim of boosting their business.
Those who want to support these hawkers can pull out the interactive Google map, see which hawkers are in their vicinity, and patronise them. The map helpfully lists information such as the store name, opening hours, address, and other useful details. Some of the listings even have short backstories of the hawker running the store and the challenges they have been facing since the pandemic.
The redditor behind the project said he started the project so that people have a convenient way to see in one glance hawkers that are near them who need help.
Know a hawker that could do with a helping hand, but is not yet on this map? Contribute by filling up the details in this form!
Computers against Covid
The pandemic has made digital connections all the more important for all people. Two examples – home-based learning has made it essential for students to have access to computers and with job listings increasingly on online portals, job seekers also need computers to access the job market.
The charity organisation Engineering Good has been collecting used devices, refurbishing them, and then distributing them to low-income families. According to their website, they have distributed more than 4,000 laptops since May 2021 but are still trying to fulfil requests of between 150 and 200 laptops a month.
You can donate laptops and smartphones, as well as laptop accessories such as laptop bags, webcams, and headsets.
For social services organisations who want to request for devices for your beneficiaries, you can reach out to the charity at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Friendzone is a good thing
Friendzone started in 2018 as events for people living in the same neighbourhood to meet up and bond over common interests. Meetups were held at void decks with mats and cushions for people to chill.
Why organise according to geographical location? The people behind Friendzone found that it was increasingly common for youngsters to lament that only the older folks interacted with their neighbours, or that they felt no attachments to their neighbourhoods.
When the pandemic hit, its get-togethers shifted online. There are usually themes for discussion such as “adulting” but the goal is to keep conversations flowing and encourage deep conversations. These sessions continue to be organised according to neighbourhoods, although there are monthly sessions that welcome people islandwide.
While Friendzone is aimed at young adults, there is no official age limit. As the website says: “If you’re young at heart or even in the life stage of poly, JC or NS, we welcome you to join us.”
Seniors teaching seniors
It’s conventional wisdom that older people have a harder time catching up with the latest technology, but only one group truly have the lived experience of such difficulties – seniors themselves. That’s why there are close to 300 Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors today who share their digital skills with their fellow seniors regularly.
Aged 50 and above, these ambassadors hold classes and more informal sessions to empower other seniors with the ability to use technology for things that interest them, such as finding music from an earlier era and connecting with family through video calls.
Being from the same generation, they can also better understand the concerns and anxieties of seniors who are unfamiliar with technology.
Tech and bonding for the long haul
Even after the pandemic eventually subsides, it’s important to lock in these digital gains and ensure that the bonds forged through tech remain strong.
Events like Covid-19 have periodically challenged the country, but Singaporeans have always pulled together to get through the tough times. It’s no different now albeit with tech as a new ally.
We at GovTech certainly hope that our fellow Singaporeans continue to step up and make a difference.https://www.tech.gov.sg/media/technews/how-tech-has-connected-and-uplifted-singapore-in-a-difficult-year