Press Release 19 Oct 2021

HELPING 1,000 RESIDENTS BRIDGE DIGITAL DIVIDE

Helping 1,000 RESIDENTS BRIDGE DIGITAL DIVIDE

 

North West CDC’s new programme will create safety net to prevent residents from falling through the gaps

 

 

                    For some residents, owning a laptop and maintaining a home broadband connection could be financially challenging. With the pandemic accelerating digitalisation and the need to be connected digitally, these vulnerable residents risk being left behind in Singapore’s Smart Nation and digital movement. Recognising this urgent gap in the community, North West Community Development Council (CDC) launched DigiReady @ North West to assist residents who do not qualify for national schemes on digital readiness, or are unable to afford the digital tools despite subsidies. Through the programme, the CDC aims to help around 1,000 vulnerable North West residents annually in closing the digital divide.

 

2                 Due to close linkages with ground agencies from the Grassroots Organisations (GROs) and Social Service Agencies (SSAs), CDC was able to pick up on the residents’ increasing need for greater digital assistance. North West CDC, in collaboration with Engineering Good and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), will be scaling up existing efforts on digital readiness into a full-fledged programme, DigiReady @ North West, to provide holistic support to vulnerable residents in the following aspects of digital readiness:

 

  1. Free-of-charge refurbished devices and accessories – Engineering Good will refurbish donated devices, to be provided completely free-of-charge to low-income adults, seniors, and students. This is part of North West CDC’s efforts to provide additional support on top of IMDA’s NEU PC Plus Programme, which provides targeted assistance to low-income students.

     

  2. Subsidised broadband – North West CDC will further subsidise the co-payment amounts for beneficiaries of IMDA’s Home Access scheme[1]. With the CDC’s additional subsidy of up to $10 per month, beneficiaries will enjoy 500 Mbps broadband for free, or the 1 Gbps connection at lower cost.

     

  3. Free-of-charge coaching on troubleshooting faulty digital devices – Engineering Good will conduct workshops to equip corporate and community volunteers with basic troubleshooting and repair skills, to the prolong the lifespan of digital devices.

[More details on the eligibility criteria and application process may be found in Annex A – FAQs]

 

3                 Sharing on the launch of DigiReady @ North West, Mr Alex Yam, Mayor of North West District, said, “North West CDC has been regularly sensing the needs of the ground, through our own engagements with residents, and feedback from our community partners who also serve the residents. From our findings, there are some families who are unable to afford digital devices, broadband access even at subsidised rates, or repair fees for faulty devices. We hope to step in and close this urgent gap in the community, particularly with digital tools becoming more crucial to residents in the current climate.”

 

4                 To prepare a programme that would address the holistic digital needs of residents, the CDC rallied partners from all sectors – NGOs, Government, Companies and resident volunteers – to contribute their expertise and resource to the meaningful cause. The CDC works closely with IMDA to champion the Digital for Life movement which encourages Singaporeans to enrich their lives by embracing digital. In addition, the CDC has also rallied companies and resident volunteers to support the scheme by donating digital devices and accessories, or coming forward to coach residents on basic troubleshooting and repair.

 

5                 One key partner which has been critical to the programme is Engineering Good. On the partnership with the North West CDC, Mr Johann Annuar, Executive Director of Engineering Good, shared, “Engineering Good has been refurbishing old laptops and distributing them to low-income families since the Circuit Breaker period. We work closely with partners like North West CDC who knows the community better and have direct access to residents, making it easier for us to serve the community and channel our resources more effectively to those who need them the most. This is part of our ongoing efforts to build more digitally inclusive communities, in support of the Digital for Life movement.”

 

6                 A corporate partner which has offered strong support to the programme is Corning Incorporated, a multi-national company which is one of the world’s leading innovators in materials science. Mr Ho Cheong Tong, General Manager of Corning Singapore, said, “The Corning Cares programme supports under-privileged groups every year. Because of the challenges of Covid-19, we sought advice from North West CDC on how we can better serve the community this year. With the donated laptops and IT accessories, our hope is that all students in Singapore will not be deprived of learning regardless of their family situation. We hope that our actions will inspire other corporates to come forward to contribute more.”

 

7                 North West CDC sprang into action at the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, as community partners such as SSAs and COs highlighted that there was an increasing need for digital devices. The CDC worked closely with Engineering Good, a non-profit organisation, to refurbish and distribute the laptops to residents in need. To date, the CDC has helped over 400 households (with Engineering Good) with donated IT devices and accessories. [See Annex B for Beneficiaries profile stories]

 

8                 Companies and individuals that would like to donate IT devices and accessories to be refurbished and issued to less-privileged families that need them, may visit www.go.gov.sg/digiready to indicate preference of either doorstep collection or drop-off.

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Media Invitation

                   The initiative is open for immediate reporting. Media interviews with the beneficiaries at Annex B, and selected corporate volunteers and donors could be arranged.  

 

Contact Persons for Media:

Clare Chua (Ms)

Manager (Corporate Communications)

North West Community Development Council

HP     :  9880 1153

E-mail :  Clare_chua@pa.gov.sg

 

Melvin Tai (Mr)

Senior Manager (Corporate Relations)

North West Community Development Council

HP     :  9789 1824

E-mail :  Melvin_tai@pa.gov.sg


 

Enclosed:

Annex A – FAQs for DigiReady @ North West

Annex B – Profile Stories of Beneficiaries

Annex C – Translation for Key Terms



[1] IMDA’s Home Access scheme offers subsidised fibre broadband subscriptions to low income households, with co-payment amounts of as low as $6 per month.

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