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Birmingham tests smart tech to support over-65s



City council to use internet of things technology to manage risks related to frailty and mild cognitive impairments

Birmingham City Council is planning a programme of tests of internet of things (IoT) technology in supporting elderly people with mobility and cognitive problems.

It will provide a testbed for capturing data on individuals’ behaviour through wearable technologies and smartphones, aimed at detecting behavioural changes among people who are over 65 and suffering physical difficulties.

It will also monitor their whereabouts as they move around at home and outside.

The plan is part of an initiative to manage the risks of people with mild cognitive problems, and to encourage them to interact more with others and exercise their mental capabilities.

While the details are still under discussion, one idea is to deploy street based beacons around Birmingham to push messages to participants’ smartphones about discounts and local events. The project team will use the technology to track how the participants react and provide support such as a 'buddy' system.

The technology could also be programmed to monitor sleeping patterns and to trigger alerts if wearers have not left their home for several days.

Log book role

Birmingham City Council plans to use the digital log book, developed by its in-house digital operation, Digital Birmingham, to track and record data. It is currently used by social housing tenants to record tenancy details and benefits-related data.

"City4Age will link data from within the log book with beacons, wearable devices and other apps to help people remain independent for longer based on reducing isolation and frailty," said Annette King, innovation manager on the council's Digital Birmingham team.

"It aims to reduce fraility and isolation to improve quality of life and keep them in their own home for longer using technology," she said.

The project is part of the EU’s Horizons 2020 funded IoT City4Age project, a collaboration between academic and public and private sector partners from Madrid, Athens, Montpellier, Singapore, Lecce (Italy) and Birmingham. 

The other City4Age participants are: Universidad de la Iglesia de Deusto, Spain; GeoMobileGmbH, Germany; Comune di Lecce, Italy; Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain; Consorcio Regional de Transportes de Madrid, Spain; DAEM, Greece; Università di Pavia, Italy; Athens Technological Centre, Greece; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique – IPAL lab, France; BELIT, Serbia; Università del Salento, Italy; MultiMed Engineers, Italy; University College London Centre for Behaviour Change, UK; and Future Cities Lab.

The project is led by the Politecnico di Milano in Italy.


Image:Horizons 2020 City4Age project


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