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Digital Partner to help senior community and bridge the digital gap

Zhu Shenshen
Shanghai has launched a Digital Partner campaign on aging and barrier-free transformation.
Zhu Shenshen

Voice-controlled navigation and taxi-hailing services, a guidebook for application use, easy hospital reservation services and specific online radio and food delivery services – Shanghai has launched a Digital Partner campaign on aging and barrier-free transformation.

China is projected to have 300 million people age 60 and older by 2025. The campaign will bridge the digital divide and make the city "warm" for the silver community, according to the Shanghai Urban Digital Transformation Committee. 

The committee, founded last year and led by top officials including the city party secretary and mayor, will accelerate Shanghai's digital transformation in the next two years, including the Digital Partner program. 

To deal with digital gap challenges, Shanghai will upgrade government sites and applications, publish guidebooks and offer free trainings for older and disabled people. 

Under the campaign, 66 government sites, 46 applications and digital services from 23 firms will complete barrier-free adoption by the end of the year. They will be more easily accessed and controlled, with bigger fonts, simpler display and one-click access in some cases.

For example, older people can use taxi services via voice or facial recognition, seniors and blind people can open personal online radio programs on platforms like Ximalaya offering, while special assisting and government platforms will offer simplified online health-care services, reducing waiting times in hospitals. 

A guidebook for digital services use, with many pictures and step-by-step instructions, will be sent to local communities. 

Meanwhile, free digital services training will be offered throughout the city, covering residential communities, culture centers, libraries and other public sites. More than 1,700 volunteers have been recruited as "digital service promoters" and " information services assistants" to provide on-site and one-on-one services. 

City's long-term digital transformation targets 

The Digital Partner campaign is part of the city's blueprint to boost digital transformation, released during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) 2021 held in Shanghai earlier this month. 

The blueprint targets Shanghai's transformation into a world-class innovative digital hub by 2023, covering 12 special projects and 40 key tasks.

By 2023, Shanghai is looking to have the value of its core digital economy exceed 600 billion yuan (US$93 billion), and be home to 100 digital economy and Internet industry leaders and 50 cyber traffic-driven firms, each with a market value over 10 billion yuan, Wu Jincheng, chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization, said at the WAIC conference.

"We will establish the city's own high-quality standards and ecosystem for artificial intelligence and the digital economy based on local advantages. We will test applications like AI text books and driverless taxis on city streets," said Wu.

By 2023, the city plans to welcome 100 key technologies, more than 100 standardized algorithm-driven and over 100 smart hardware products. It also intends to attract 100,000 algorithm developers.

The city will continue to move forward in four sectors – data opening, usage and innovation; digital infrastructure construction; cybersecurity and personal information protection; and integrated support for platforms, policy, standards and cooperation.

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