*OGCIO: Office of the Government Chief Information Officer
Internet Learning Support Programme
In the 2009-10 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced that convenient and suitable Internet learning opportunities should be provided for students in need through tripartite collaboration between the community, the business sector and the Government in order to mitigate the impact of the digital divide on the quality of learning.
In the 2010-11 Government Budget, the Financial Secretary proposed to facilitate Internet learning by students of low-income families through a two-pronged strategy. It includes the granting of a cash subsidy on Internet access charges to these families, and offering economical Internet services and complementary support to the parents and students.
The Internet Access Subsidy has been disbursed annually to eligible families since 2010/11 school year. On the other hand, the Internet Learning Support Programme, named “i Learn at home”, was launched on 14 July 2011 to help the eligible families acquire affordable computer equipment and Internet access service through flexible payment arrangement, and to provide the students and their parents in these families with user and social support to enable their effective use of the subsidy and proper use of the associated educational opportunity.
Targets of the “i Learn at home” programme are families eligible for receiving Internet Access Subsidy under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) scheme or through the Student Finance Office (SFO) of the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency (WFSFAA). According to the figures from 2011/12 to 2014/15 school year, it is envisaged that some 310 000 low-income families are eligible and can benefit from the programme.
The OGCIO has engaged two non-profit organisations, namely The Boy’s and Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong (BGCA) and WebOrganic, to implement the programme in the Eastern and Western parts of Hong Kong respectively. The two implementers have set up a total of 31 service centres across the territory to deliver the programme services to the target beneficiaries.
Development of Assistive Technologies for Persons with Disabilities
Hong Kong is a well-developed and mature digital economy. Use of the Internet for accessing information and online services has become a part of many people’s daily lives. People who are out of touch with the digital world will find it difficult to integrate into the mainstream community. Advancement in information and communications technology (ICT) has improved the quality of life of the underprivileged groups.
Owing to physical limitations, persons with disabilities (PWD) often encounter many obstacles in using ICT. As such, they need a variety of assistive tools in order to operate and use computer smoothly. However, some of these assistive tools are so expensive that some of the PWD can hardly afford. In addition, as the type and severity of disabilities vary among PWD, different PWD need different assistive tools. Some of them may not be able to find a suitable tool in the market and therefore need a tailor-made one which greatly increases the cost and time required.
In view of the above, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer allocated a one-off funding of HK$3.6 million in 2010-11 to support the development of ICT-based assistive tools and applications for persons with disabilities. The nine selected projects, ranging from software development, input and control auxiliary device, online services and rehabilitation tools, etc, cater for persons with different types of disabilities such as the physically disabled and visually impaired persons.
The funded projects commenced development works in April 2011. All of them were completed in April 2012. The products are available for public’s reference and free download or use as a basis for further development.
Free Wi-Fi Facilities at Government Premises
The Government Wi-Fi (GovWiFi) Programme aims to provide FREE wireless Internet access services to all citizens and visitors by installing Wi-Fi facilities at designated government premises with high public patronage. Besides providing convenience to citizens and visitors, GovWiFi also stimulates development of other Wi-Fi initiatives by the private sector. Through a combination of government investment and market forces, we are developing Hong Kong into a wireless and ubiquitous city.
GovWiFi brings about benefits on all fronts:
People can surf the web freely for business, study, leisure or accessing government services whenever they visit the designated Government premises.
Business organisations can extend their services to a wireless platform to reach and connect with their clients.
ICT industry players can make use of this wireless platform to develop and provide more Wi-Fi applications, products and supporting services to their clients, and open up more business opportunities.
Visitors can conveniently enjoy Internet access at major tourist spots.
Development of Digital Inclusion Mobile Applications
The Government is committed to promoting the use of information and communications technology among underprivileged groups. The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer launched the support scheme in 2012-13 and 2014-15 respectively to encourage the development of mobile applications (apps) that provide practical content and services for various needy groups, so as to help them enhance their quality of life and integrate into the community through the use of these apps. Twelve apps were developed in the two rounds of the support scheme. All these apps have been launched and available for free download and use.