Last Saturday saw President Tony Tan Keng Yam officially launch the 16th President’s Challenge at Microsoft’s We Tech Care 2016. Held at JTC LaunchPad @ one-north, it was a little different from last year’s gig, which Microsoft held in its One Marina Boulevard headquarters.
This year, Microsoft has made good on its mission in wanting to empower every person (and organisation) on the planet to achieve more: focusing the spotlight less on what Microsoft does, and more on how the local IT industry and Tech ecosystem as a whole can create a smarter, more inclusive Singapore. While fundraising is obviously a core topic in any charity showcase, it’s nice to see local startups pitching in and working together with non-profit organisations, and actually taking a technological approach to solving some of the problems that many of us take for granted.
We got to take a look at startups such as “Jaga-Me” (a play on the Malay words “Care For” and “Me”), in which its three founders saw an opportunity in linking local healthcare professionals with the growing body of patients – mostly the elderly. It’s basically an “Uber for Nurses” of sorts. Need a nurse to do an annual blood test on Granny’s blood sugar levels? They’ve got you covered!
As Singapore works towards building the world’s first Smart Nation, technology will no doubt have a greater role in the lives of everyone living here.
Likewise, the Guide Dogs Association of the Blind, who empower the visually impaired, have started to take on technological advancements – through the partnership with Microsoft and the likes of the Cities Unlocked programme – to allow them to live fuller and more independent lives through the gift of mobility. With the use of a pair of headphones and a trusty map app, they are able to follow beacons (a series of audio pings) with audio directions to get to where they need to be, much like how bats “see through sound” in echolocation!
Apart from pushing the boundaries, it’s important to also start them young – and in this case, Microsoft was pretty serious in making sure anyone from all ages could take their first steps into technology by learning to code through several of their own IT workshops and talks. Ranging from the familiar Minecraft to Microsoft’s very own Kodu Game Lab, kids and adults alike were taught on the basics of logic and computing. They were also able to see how their very own Surface tablets interpreted their lines of code to reach their goals.
Possessing newfound IT skills, seniors now have a doorway to the wider digital world that can improve their quality of life; from free information to easily available entertainment.
Microsoft’s particular emphasis on the elderly and disadvantaged groups presented itself through programmes that helped to educate and equip them with technology skills relevant to today’s employment standards. That’s at least 2,200 people with disabilities and 22,461 seniors who now possess practical IT skills – which might mean you’ll be saying hi to Grandpa on Facebook very soon. But it’s even more heartening to hear and see that some of them have gone on to find job opportunities in IT-related fields as a result.
Summing it up, We Tech Care 2016 marked the start of Microsoft’s fundraising activities in support of the 16th President’s Challenge, which raised a total of S$268,963 from Microsoft and its employees, partners, and members of the public, which President Tan accepted on behalf of the President’s Challenge. If you’re wondering about the rest of Microsoft’s record in its continuous support of the President’s Challenge, they’ve raised a donation total value (in cash and software) of a whopping S$4 million, since 2002.
Nonetheless, we shouldn’t stop there! You can donate to the cause, or even join one of the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drives! Likewise, check out the rest of the moments we’ve managed to capture on our Facebook Page. As the saying goes: Give Freely, Live Fully!