SINGAPORE: As Singapore presses on with its Smart Nation drive, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged seniors to embrace and master information technology, which he said brings with it job opportunities and benefits in their daily lives.
In his Mandarin speech at the National Day Rally on Sunday evening (Aug 20), Mr Lee spoke at length about how becoming more IT savvy can benefit everyone, regardless of age, and highlighted how technology is being used to improve the safety of seniors living alone.
“Nowadays, there are many elderly couples or singles who live alone … In case they fall down, or feel unwell and cannot get out of bed, how are we to know and how to help them in time? ” Mr Lee said.
This is where IT can help, he said.
Smart sensors, such as those being trialled by the Housing and Development Board (HDB), are able to detect and “learn” the movements of a house’s occupants. These include when they get out of bed to make breakfast and when they leave their homes.
An alert is sent to family members if the sensors fail to detect any movement from the expected activities.
After a pilot conducted in 2015, HDB extended the trial to residents in Yuhua last year. About 3,000 residents were given the option of testing smart devices such as an elderly monitoring system in their homes.
One beneficiary of the pilot is Madam Leow, who had sensors installed in her flat, Mr Lee said.
“One day, Mdm Leow’s son received an alert for the sensors had not detected any motion in the house, suggesting that something may be amiss. The son tried to call Madam Leow, but could not reach her. So he rushed home and found his mother sick in bed. He managed to rush her to the doctor in time. Fortunately, everything was under control.”
Mr Lee also shared the story of Singaporean Gillian Tee, who returned after living overseas for 15 years to care for and spend time with her mother, who was getting older. Realising that there were other seniors like her mother who needed to be cared for, Ms Tee co-founded Homage, an app that matches available caregivers like students and trained nurses with seniors.
The Prime Minister also highlighted Madam Teo Yoke Lan’s use of IT, and how it has improved her life. The 70-year-old, who works as an UberEats “walker” and delivers food to offices in the central business district, learnt how to use her phone’s GPS to find her way around.
“We should learn from her optimism and enthusiasm, her ‘can do’ spirit of life-long learning. Mdm Teo seized the opportunities that IT presents, and is able to make a living and keep fit at the same time,” Mr Lee said.
“IT can improve our lives in many other aspects. It is never too late to learn and use IT to make our lives more convenient, safer and richer.”