SmartTruck: Smart about Empowering Older People
In Saudi Arabia, people over the age of 50, especially those in remote areas, often face difficulties in using smartphones and apps.
The 'grey digital divide' is exacerbated by the fact that older people generally have lower awareness levels of new technology. In Saudi Arabia, the elderly are far less likely to use smart home technologies and apps that could directly raise their quality of life such as smart fridges, smart fire alarms, and smart locks, and healthcare apps. At the same time, elderly people are more likely to suffer loneliness, while an inability to use smart devices cuts off a communication channel with family and friends.
In today’s increasingly online world, this digital divide can exclude older people from vital services offered on Saudi Arabia’s e-Government portal. Older people also tend to have low awareness about personal data protection and privacy, making them more susceptible to fraud and identity theft.
Under its Vision 2030 initiative, Saudi Arabia has prioritized national digital transformation and creating a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation. Part of the vision focuses on boosting the quality of life for middle-aged people and the Kingdom’s increasing population of elderly citizens. Elderly people aged 60 years or over constitute about 4.19% of the total Saudi population, which is expected to increase to around 18% of the total Saudi population by the year 2050.
A key facet of boosting their quality of life is by improving digital capabilities.
Education for all
In partnership with Saudi telecoms operator stc Group, Huawei launched the Education for all initiative, a long-term action plan to promote digital inclusion and maximize the social value delivered by ICT. As part of this initiative, the Smart Truck was born. Over a period of three years, the mobile digital classroom will tour Saudi Arabia, providing training for older people in using technology and mobile applications with a view to raising their quality of life and empowering them to access digital services.
The sessions will also cover using the Internet, fraud protection, and maintaining online privacy.
In phase one, 69 trainers delivered 150 training sessions to more than 2,100 people. This phase ran over three months and covered the Riyadh region and 11 governorates. Phase two will head to the north and east, before changing course and visiting to the southern and western areas of the country in phase three.
Beneficiaries in phase one
SmartTruck is just one of the education projects running under Huawei’s TECH4ALL digital inclusion initiative, which pledges to use technology to enable a more inclusive and sustainable digital world. In the education domain, that means ramping up equity and quality on a global scale.