Parliamentary Question, 12 February 2019
Ms Anthea Ong asked the Prime Minister (a) whether the Smart Nation narrative includes a Smart Giving Nation narrative as part of our aspiration to be a caring, inclusive and resilient society; and (b) if so, how has the Smart Nation blueprint and architecture been planned to support the vulnerable groups as well as to integrate with social sector agencies and giving platforms.
Mr Teo Chee Hean (for the Prime Minister): Our Smart Nation narrative, and the framework for implementation has three broad, equally important, thrusts: Digital strategies to help citizens, businesses, community groups and the Government use technology in an inclusive way to build a caring and resilient society.
We want all Singaporeans, regardless of age or ability, to be enabled by digital technology to pursue their dreams and aspirations. This means that everyone should have the digital access, literacy, and confidence to participate in Smart Nation. The Ministry of Communication and Information (MCI) has worked with our community partners to drive readiness programmes at our libraries and community centres. Building a caring, inclusive and resilient society is a whole-of-Nation effort, and our Smart Nation initiatives seek to enable this with technology.
Technology allows better partnerships to serve our vulnerable communities. For example, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is looking to using digital platforms to work more closely across the social sector agencies, including Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWO)s. This allows agencies to have a comprehensive understanding of families in need, and coordinate support to get families back on their feet. The Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth (MCCY)’s Volunteer.sg and SG Cares app will help volunteers in both public agencies and non-profit organisations to be more engaged and more effective. Platforms such as the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC)’s Dementia Friends and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)’s MyResponder allow individuals in need to receive help from the community in real-time.
MCI’s Digital Readiness efforts encourage and educate organisations to design for digital inclusion. The Government itself subjects our digital services to regular usability checks. We involve diverse users in the design process.
The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group, together with social sector agencies and officers across the public sector are keen to partner community groups and volunteer organisations, so that together, we can better serve all Singaporeans using digital technology.
Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)
The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities.
She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.