| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
a. Feasibility Study and Research ( May 2005 to January 2006)
A high-level steering committee was convened to spearhead the development of Singapore's 10-year masterplan to grow the infocomm sector and to use infocomm technologies to enhance the competitiveness of key economic sectors and build a well-connected society. iN2015 is a living blueprint, jointly developed with the people and the private sectors, to navigate Singapore's exhilarating transition into An Intelligent Nation, A Global City, Powered By Infocomm.
The findings from national-wide surveys on ICT adoption among the Singapore population were examined to identify population segments that require IDA’s interventions or help for digital inclusiveness.
b. Formulation of Implementation Plan (January 2006 to November 2007)
i. Stakeholders were consulted and engaged in course of formulating detailed implementation plans for each identified population segments
ii. The consultation included focus group discussions, surveys, dialogues etc
iii. Approval for the following implementation plan and funding was obtained:
o NEU PC Plus to equip the needy students (August 2006)
o Infocomm Accessibility Centre to empower the disabled (April 2007)
o Silver Infocomm Initiative to engage the seniors (November 2007)
c. Implementation, Enhancement & Operations (August 2006 to present)
i. Students from low-income households
o Launch of NEU PC Plus (October 2006)
o Launch of iNSPIRE Fund under NEU PC Plus to allow students to perform community service in place of co-payment (November 2007)
o Enhanced NEU PC Plus to provide more options for computing devices and Internet connectivity and launched complementary Broadband-Only Scheme (June 2009)
o Raised qualifying household income cap and increased subsidy value to help more beneficiaries and introduced grant to schools (November 2011)
o Streamlined application process for students who are beneficiaries of MOE-FAS (October 2013)
o Raised qualifying household income cap and reduced community service hours to make the assistance more accessible (May 2014)
o Organised annual Silver Infocomm Day (SID), a mass IT training event (2007 to 2014)
o Presented Silver Infocomm Champion Award annually (2008 – 2011)
o Presented Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors Award annually (2012 to 2014)
o Launched tailored curriculum for seniors (2 to 3 modules a year) – Silver Infocomm Curriculum (2008 onwards)
o Launched Silver Infocomm Junctions (SIJs) that offer IT training for seniors (December 2007)
Set up 14 SIJs (as at March 2012)
o Launched Silver Infocomm Hotspots (SIHs) that offer free surfing to seniors (March 2010)
Set up 124 SIHs (as at March 2013)
o Launched Intergenerational IT Botocamp (March 2010)
Co-organised 100 Bootcamps with 62 schools (as at August 2014)
o Launched Silver Gen PC Specials that offered seniors discounted PCs (August 2010)
o Launched Silver IT Care, a dedicated free IT helpdesk for seniors (October 2013)
o Launched Silver IT Care database to improve turnaround time and provide optimal solutions to beneficiaries (September 2014)
o Launched Infocomm Accessibility Centre (July 2008)
o Annual award of Youth Spark IT Scholarship (2010 to 2014)
o Kick-started the development of courseware on Accessibility Features of Mainstream Devices and the train-the-trainer programme (March 2014)
o Developed Enable IT Proramme to enable PWDs through Infocomm and AT (October 2014)
d. Formulation of New Initiatives (February 2014 to present)
o Reviewed existing programmes and identified gaps.
o Conceptualised new initiatives to drive digital inclusiveness in Singapore. The new initiatives formulated focus on ways to continue to drive digital inclusiveness and also to expand the scope of IDA’s intervention. Newly announced in September 2014, the Digital Inclusion Fund seeks to help low-income households, the Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) to bridge the digital divide. The DI Fund supports two programmes: Home Access and Social Innovation.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
a. Students from low-income households (NPP), stakeholders involved include:
• 11 Self-help groups and VWOs (e.g. Chinese Development Assistance Council, Association of Muslim Professionals, SPD) - appointed as Lead Agencies (LAs) that do applications processing & co-market NPP
• Singapore Children Society - iNSPIRE Fund administration
• Schools, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) - grant schools deploys PC bundled to students, all schools and IHLs assist to collate application forms and send to Las
• MOE - streamlined application process for MOE-FAS students
• Singapore IT Federation, May Bank, Singapore Post - donated funds to support iNSPIRE Fund
b. Seniors (SII), stakeholders involved include:
• NPOs (e.g. RSVP, Council for Third Age (C3A), Community Club) - reach out to beneficiaries and premises support, appointed as Silver Infocomm Junction or Silver Infocomm Hotspot that offer training and free surfing respectively to seniors
• Schools, IHLs (including staff and student volunteers) - premises support and student cyberguides for annual SID for seniors and Intergenerational IT Bootcamps
• Other Government agencies, e.g. Ministry of Communication and Information, People’s Association Active Ageing Council, National Library Board, Media Development Authority of Singapore - co-champion and/or support for initiatives
• Industry players (e.g. Samsung, Xiaomi, Microsoft, SingTel, M1, Dell) - cash and kind sponsors for SID
c. PWDs (IAC), stakeholders involved include:
• SPD - appointed to manage, operate IAC and Provide consultancy and expertise on disabilities
• VWOs (e.g. Singapore Association for the Visually Impaired, Singapore Association for the Hearing Impaired) - reach out to beneficiaries and premises support
• Other Government agencies, e.g. Ministry of Communication and Information, National Council of Social Services, Ministry of Social and Family Development - co-champion and/or support for initiatives
• Microsoft - cash and kind sponsor to IAC , Youth Spark IT Scholarship
The private sector companies who have contributed in initiatives across the different groups of beneficiaries include both ICT and non-ICT solution providers. They include both multi-national companies as well as Singapore’s home-grown companies.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The total funding for the initiatives is $36.7M and the breakdown for the respective population segments is as follows (please note that the funding has been rounded off):
a. Students from low-income households ($27.6M)
b. Seniors ($3.2M)
c. PWDs ($5.9M)
The above funding is allocated from IDA’s funding set aside to drive digital inclusiveness. Other Government agencies have also put in their share for the initiatives it amounts to about $9M.
In addition to the fundings provided by IDA and other Government agencies, private sector organisations have also contributed to the initiatives by providing sponsorship in cash (e.g. donation to the iNSPIRE Fund which supports students from low-income households to own a PC), and/or kind (e.g. pro-bono services to develop online registration for training, products as lucky draw prizes for events). The estimated amount of sponsorship contributed by the private sector amounted to about $4.5M.
The people sector organisations such as VWOs, NPOs have also contributed their share. Some examples include:
a. For NPP: 11 Self-Help Groups and VWOs contribute manpower to process applications from students and support marketing of the programme.
b. For IAC: SPD’s contribution in physical space to defray rental cost, transport service to move the PWDs to and from IAC.
c. For SII: VWOs and NPOs contribute physical space to house and operate the SIJs and SIHs so that seniors can access to IT training and resources easily.
The digital inclusion initiatives are managed, developed and implemented by a team comprising 8 full time staff headed by a Deputy Director. All staffs have to take on multiple projects and each project team comprises 2 to 3 members so that they can support and cover one another to ensure smooth operations. To provide opportunities for exposure, project team members are rotated across the initiatives. Each project team member also has the opportunity to advance to project leader or project manager.
Like most organisations, the team faces human resource crunch especially when the need arises to expand the initiatives or to develop more in-depth work within existing initiatives. The team has to resolve manpower issue strategically and creatively. One effective way is through collaboration with other organisations whose objectives align with that of DI. This allows the partners and IDA to pull resources together and support common goals. Another effective method that resolved manpower issue is to leverage individuals who are positive to help and students who want to be involved in community involvement programme as volunteer cyberguide or ushers to support events such as mass IT training.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The concrete outputs (as at September 2014) that contributed to the success of the initiatives include:
a. Over 16,700 low-income households with school-going children have been equipped with computing device and/or Internet connectivity. Before owning computers through the programme, most of these school-going children and PWD had limited or no access to a computer. Beneficiaries such as Chan Yu Fan, a 14-year old secondary school student and Norliana Bte Mohamed Ajam, a 30 year-old PWD, shared that obtaining the computers through the programme made a significant difference to their lives.
b. More than 93,000 training places have been attained amongst seniors (85,000) and PWDs (8,000). Seniors and PWDs have indicated that they would recommend their peers to attend the training offered by the programmes. For instance, the surveys conducted after SIDs indicated that more than 95% of participants were satisfied with the event.
c. More than 430 calls and PC repairs have been dealt with successfully by the Silver IT Care in 10 months since its launch.
d. Over 80 senior ICT advocates have been appointed as Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors since 2012. The advocacy is also demonstrated through collaboration between IDA and the ambassadors, for instance, digital photography service provided and sharing of IT knowledge as speakers at events for seniors organised by IDA.
e. 33% of the 181 trainees who have completed IT Apprenticeship training secured jobs in open employment market. With the skills attained from the training, trainees provided feedback that they were enabled to pursue their dreams, attain their sense of self-worth and financial independence through their employment.
In addition, the Intergenerational IT Bootcamp won the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) International Innovations Award in October 2012 under the Innovations in Citizens Engagement and Dialogue category.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The following common systems/processes were put in place for DII:
a. Contact Centre and email - to address queries from beneficiaries, general public.
b. Regular Operations Meetings - conduct monthly operations meetings with SIJ partners, half-Yearly NPP Lead Agencies Dialogues (LA)
c. Regular Partner Management Meetings - conduct yearly NPP LA Management Dialogues
d. Budget utilisation reports - to monitor utilisation and track sufficiency of funds to implement initiative
e. Progress reports to management - to monitor the efficacy of initiatives and ensure attainment of deliverables and report back to management and stakeholders.
f. Quality management framework (including standard operating procedures) - to ensure quality and consistency in service delivery to beneficiaries (e.g. turnaround time for processing applications from beneficiaries).
g. Risk management framework - to mitigate and manage risk factors.
h. Feedback and engagement of beneficiaries (e.g. interviews, surveys)- to gather inputs for enhancements of initiatives (e.g. community service in place of co-payment for students from low-income households is a result of beneficiary engagements) and evaluate the impact of initiatives for beneficiaries.
i. Feedback from private sector partners to gather inputs for enhancements of initiatives
j. Financial and procurement framework to ensure fairness and accountability in procurement
k. Internal and external audits - to ensure that compliance to guidelines and procedures, etc
l. NEU PC Plus Online System - to support NPP workflow from application processing to PC deployment
In addition, the IDA project teams conduct weekly/fortnightly meetings on operational matters and problem resolutions. The discussions and decisions made during the meetings were documented accordingly.
Other engagement platforms include Event Organising Committee meetings during the preparation and execution of SIDs; Advisory Committee meetings to review strategies and set direction for implementations at the IAC.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
a. Consistency and quality of service
Consistency and quality of service have to be managed when volunteers are co-opted to support the initiatives. For instance, different senior volunteers manning the IT helpdesk dedicated for seniors may have differing levels of experience and hence some may provide better advice than others. Another example can be a more experienced trainer can deliver comprehensive presentations to senior trainees.
To minimise the effect, the team devises ways to maintain and manage the quality by enhancing the initiatives. Examples of such enhancement include development of common knowledge base for volunteers manning the IT helpdesk, providing trainer guides for trainers and having train-the-trainer sessions.
b. Commitment of commercial organisations on pro-bono activities (services)
The team found it challenging to work with commercial organisations on pro-bono activities if the organisation’s corporate directions are not well aligned to the objectives of DII. The organisations may be less committed when compared to engaging them for a paid service, they may, for example, not adhere to completion timelines of the activities.
To alleviate the impact of this obstacle, the team engaged the organisations’ management early to help them understand the objectives of DII before seeking their commitment to provide pro-bono services. By adopting project management practices, for instance, communicate the timeline clearly and providing timely updates, the team was able to work with the organisations to complete the activities with minimal impact.