How Smart Cities can address Adult Care challenges

by Gary Atkinson | Jul 21, 2017

Smart City, smart city technology


Over the last few months we have been talking about the challenge of deploying a smart city network that can grow as needs and budget allow. We would like to see existing infrastructure leveraged to create that network and in our mind the front runner is street lighting - it offers mains power in the street that is notoriously difficult to get permission for and it provides a 5-12m aerial position for greater radio range from one post to another.

Smart(er) Adult Care

We have been having these conversations with local authorities/municipalities for the last 6 months or so and it is really starting to resonate. The interest is not limited to the highways and environmental teams who do want to measure air quality and do want to know the temperature of the road surface during the winter but in getting the different departments to talk to each other, we are seeing the adult care teams showing great interest in the potential use of the system. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Reducing hyperthermia risk

There is a growing need in adult care to move from a reactive care model to a proactive model. Budgets are being squeezed, people are living longer but chronic disease is on the rise and it costs a lot of money to care for the elderly in sheltered housing or nursing home. It would be far better if they could stay in their own home for longer - just with a bit more protection to keep them safe. So with the street lighting augmented to create the network we were just talking about, a low cost temperature sensor can be left behind on the mantlepiece by a social worker. Now if Mrs. Smith fails to fire up the gas fire to keep herself warm for fear of racking up a big bill but unbeknownst to her, there is a snap frost on its way, social services can get a warning that she as at risk of hyperthermia. Intervention can be made and a life saved.

Protecting those with early stage dementia

As our life expectancy increases, the chances of developing dementia increase but there is no reason why those with early stage dementia cannot continue to live in their own home - with a few protective measures in place. Equipping the elderly with a low cost Bluetooth wristband that is very discrete, waterproof and can last months on one battery charge can enable the streetlight infrastructure to become a very low cost geo-fencing capability. This means that if Mrs. Smith walks down to the shop or gets on the bus to the library, everything is fine. But if she gets on a bus heading out of town, then an alert can be sent and Mrs. Smith can be found quickly and brought home.

Smart city/town/village technology will help improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion but that same network can allow our social services to spend more time with the people they are protecting knowing that the alerting infrastructure is in place to let them know if they need to intervene. This is instead of the current practice of making regular checkups that, on aggregate take a lot of time, but don't allow them to spend the amount of quality time with their charges that they would like. It isn't about removing the human contact, rather about improving the quality of that interaction by automating the mundane.

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