Today is World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, with “Digital Technologies for older persons and healthy ageing” as this year’s theme (see related story). It’s quite timely, because the need to do more virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed that seniors are among vulnerable groups regarding access to and the use of information and communications technology (ICT).
What’s more, with banks as well as other institutions phasing out cheques and/or cash payments, getting the elderly connected is becoming increasingly urgent. Concern over this matter has already been expressed by, among others, the St. Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association (SMSPA).
It’s a sign of the times as well. Take the ransomware attack at GEBE that has its offices closed already for two months. Consumers were asked to pay the last monthly amount online even without receiving a current bill, but for many, especially older people, that is a big step and easier said than done. Some who couldn’t – or preferred not to – were understandably worried for a while, until the government-owned company announced that it had suspended all disconnections until the problem is resolved.
Bureau Telecommunication and Post (BTP) sees ICT as an important driver for the social inclusion of senior citizens. Interim director Judiane Labega-Hoeve called on industry stakeholders to support the elderly in staying active and independent.
The library is doing its part and recently announced the relaunch of its Senior Cyber Training Programme. BTP’s suggestion to develop related comprehensive policy approaches in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) certainly seems like a worthwhile endeavour.