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Keeping the Kampong Spirit Alive By Fostering Digital Connections

Highlights from the inaugural Huawei Tech4City Community event (Neighbour)

[Singapore, 6 September, 2022] On 25 August 2022, Huawei held its third instalment of the Tech4City Community event, themed Neighbour. Titled "Keeping the Kampong Spirit Alive by Fostering Digital Connections", the event brought together a group of distinguished guests including Dr Andrew Koh, Senior Lecturer of Computer Science at Singapore Management University (SMU); Mr. Tan En, General Manager at Ray of Hope; Ms Gina Sim, Founder at GreenSpace+, and Mr Charles Cheng, Managing Director at Huawei International.

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As the information and communications technology industry continues to pave the way for an increasingly digitalized world, it is inevitable that the development of new technology will leave some behind and even marginalized. During the event, panellists discussed the significance of utilizing technology to bridge social gaps whilst preserving Singapore’s distinctive “Kampong Spirit” – a sense of community and solidarity. Participants at the event also had the chance to network with industry experts and bond with other similar-minded peers.

The event began with speeches from the four speakers who shared their perspectives and recommendations on how technology can empower and reconnect our local communities.

The session covered the following topics:

1.1 Reaching the heart of migrant workers in Singapore Speaker: Dr Andrew Koh, Senior Lecturer of Computer Science, Singapore Management University (SMU)

Dr Koh emphasized the often-overlooked myopic perception we have of the role of migrant workers in our daily lives. We often view them purely through an occupational lens and forget that these workers have played a foundational role in Singapore’s infrastructure and its status as a global business hub. Dr Koh shared that during the outbreak of COVID-19 in the dormitories, he realized that many of the workers did not have the platform to seek the necessary help and made a case for a chatbot which could provide the resources for quicker and more accessible aid. The chatbot could be created using AI language models which enables applications like translation, which in turn contributes to the well-being of our migrant workers.

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“Neighbours First. Migrant workers Second. A smile or simple ‘Thank you’ brings you further than where modern AI can't go. And that is the genesis for deep impact through technology," said Dr Koh.

1.2 Using technology to scale a charity –The Ray of Hope experience Speaker: Mr Tan En, General Manager, Ray of Hope

During his speech, Tan En shared how powerful technology can be in uniting crowds with a common goal. He spoke about his charity organization – Ray of Hope – and how they provide a bridge for crowdfunding by ensuring the donated funds go directly to the beneficiary. During the session, Tan En showcased many campaigns that the charity has advocated for, such as meal funding for the elderly and raising money for children born with genetic diseases. He admitted that while crowdfunding has its challenges in terms of donor mistrust, the technology has also given beneficiaries the platform for their stories to be told in a transparent light. Tan En also underlined the importance of scaling responsibly by ensuring that the funds donated go directly to the beneficiaries.

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“It's great to see corporates like Huawei give back to the community by encouraging tech adoption. This can help all of us scale our impact in the non-profit sector,” said Tan En.

1.3 How to harness technology to shape future communities, designed by participation Speaker: Ms Gina Sim, Founder, GreenSpace+

Gina founded GreenSpace+ with the intention of establishing a green ecosystem to build community green activities which would nurture innovation and train people and volunteers into change-makers. She echoed similar sentiments to the other speakers in which she argues that tech has clear influence to scale up efficiency and pool together communities while speeding up development. Gina also further emphasized involvement and proactiveness in building a community for the future via technology.

She is also hopeful for the future given how powerful technology can be wielded to educate and train the future generations and turning everyday citizens to capable practitioners. Gina highlighted that by leveraging technology to build spaces like GreenSpace+, we can fortify human connections through a united vision, preserving community and promoting solidarity.

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“I look forward to seeing how the attendees can use technology to power up community participation for a positive impact. In GreenSpace + we welcome you to incubate your technology to bring out a societal change in people,” said Gina.

1.4 Contributing to a more sustainable, progressive Singapore with tech Speaker: Mr Charles Cheng, Managing Director, Huawei International

Charles spoke about Huawei’s long-term digital inclusion initiative – Tech4all – which aims to not only make the latest technology accessible to everyone but will also challenge and mould technological innovations in four fields – education, environment, health, and development. By leveraging digital technologies and digitized data, the goal and mission is to bridge the digital divide and unify every person, home, and organization to a fully integrated intelligent world. He also emphasized earlier discussion points mentioned during the event, in which communication and awareness of different perspectives must be considered when cultivating digital connections.

Charles also expounded on the numerous initiatives Huawei has embarked on to further democratize technology and how the company contributes to the local community. He stressed the importance of Huawei’s role in developing local talent in the community, “we believe that our collective effort will contribute to a more sustainable and progressive Singapore with tech, leaving no one behind in the digital world,” said Charles.

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Huawei Tech4City Competition

The submissions for the inaugural Huawei's Tech4City Competition ended on 31 August 2022. The shortlisted top 10 finalists will pitch their ideas on 27 September 2022. Stay tuned to our Facebook and LinkedIn for more updates.