Make tech inclusive to elders, says experts


IN order to make the elderly more technology-savvy and cultivate their digital skills, experts believe that both the government and private sectors should make it more inclusive to them.

According to Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) executive chairman Datuk Dr Fadhlulah Suhaimi Abdul Malek (picture), the first step is to increase the coverage of the networks.

“There’s no point talking about how to use a smartphone with a smartphone connected. That was one of the first things that MCMC undertook in light of the Covid-19 in order to call the premises and announce the lockdown on March 17, 2020,” he said during a forum entitled “Ageing in a Digital World – From Vulnerable to Valuable” yesterday.

“You need to have consistent and fair policy, you cannot wake up one morning and change your policy. Hence, you have seen the investment undertaken by the various investors who have licences under MCMC,” he added.

THe private sector is urged to partake in this effort as it could take up to RM20 billion for the country to improve the coverage.

Fadhlulah also advised that devices should be affordable and also hopes that technology will be targeted and directed to the needs of the population.

On the other hand, UCSI Group CEO and UCSI University Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir believed that promoting learning through microcredentials would help senior citizens become technology-savvy and well-protected online.

“We need to provide them with accessibility to education. In this case, for UCSI we have our online distance learning where we bridge on microcredentials so with microcredentials, they can have access to all of this information.

“For example, if you want to assist them in making sure that they won’t be scammed due to or whether their information is being shared through social media platforms,” she explained.

Therefore, Siti Hamisah hopes that private sectors would sponsor these microdental modules for the elderly.

Unlike degrees or diplomas, microcredentials offer flexibility as those who are busy with their jobs or simply learning due to interest are not required to attend full-time lessons in a higher learning institute and they can access these classrooms online from the comfort of their homes.

She believes that making devices simpler to use for the elderly would be helpful.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the large digital divide where there are still many people who do not have access to smartphones or live with poor internet connectivity.

Therefore, Oppstar technology Sdn Bhd CTO Cheah Hun Wah highlighted how important inclusivity is.

“By getting left behind, it affects their likelihood to generate income and the overall social economy situation, so the inclusivity plays a crucial role in addressing healthy ageing for the citizens.

“And our role is creating new technologies and everytime we do so, it trickles down to all other technologies that are existing and this by nature will reduce the entry-level for technology consumption in a customer and not single out any demographic involved,” he explained.

Although we have come up with a lot of life-changing technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), there are still many problems that people are facing out there, especially in the rural areas.

“Our public healthcare service has made many people envious as it is affordable to the masses but the challenges that we will face are slightly different from what we see today as overnight.”