Better access to information and communications technology (ICT) and service delivery are needed to boost living standards as the ageing population in the Asia-Pacific is piling pressure on shrinking workforces and budgets.

The APEC Secretariat issued a press release after member economies and representatives of the private sector met at a workshop in Singapore on June 19 to look at how ICT applications will reach out to more senior citizens and those with disabilities.

It is essential that governments and the business community work together to bridge the digital divide by harnessing data analysis for greater citizen engagement and improved public service delivery, said Yasushi Yoshida, Director General of ICT Strategic Policy Planning at the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

He told attendants that Japan’s ratio of people 65 years old and older is the highest among advanced economies and continues to steadily grow. Its working age population is expected to drop by 13 million during 2010-2030 and over 30 million by 2050.

Chair of the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group, Nur Sulyna Abdullah, said developed and emerging economies are also facing a demographic crunch.

Massive increases in digital data, the rise of cloud computing and public use of smart phones are among game changers guiding the direction of our cooperation, he explained.

Concluding the event, Dr Alan Bollard, APEC Secretariat’s Executive Director, said further emphasis will be placed on the strengthening of online government services, including the exchange of strategies and the best practices to optimise technology infrastructure, and back data use based on inputs from companies and citizens.-VNA