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Birmingham to use digital logbooks for old folks’ mobility


City council plans trials to connect personal portals with wearable technology to support public health initiative

Birmingham City Council is planning to test its digital logbooks, so far used for public housing tenants, in supporting the mobility of elderly people.

It is preparing to run a trial, beginning in January, to feed information from smart watches and public space sensors into the logbooks so officials in public health and social care can monitor how much the senior citizens move about the city.

This will be used to identify trends, and to prompt those who seem too sedentary to take part in community activities or ‘buddy up’ with others to get out and about.

Digital logbooks are personalised portals in which users provide their individual details then share them as much as needed with service organisations.

Birmingham began to use them in 2013, working with supplier Etive and backed by the Department of Work and Pensions, in a pilot for the implementation of Universal Credit. After this showed savings the council began to use the portals with social housing tenants in 2015.

Annette King, Birmingham’s innovation manager, told UKAuthority this is now being extended to people on the waiting list and that there will soon be 64,000 logbook sin operation.


The council is also working on the City4Age project to equip a group of elderly people with Withings Activité watches, which can track their movements against the sensors, to feed information about their mobility into the portal.

The users will be able to view it for themselves, and a group of council officials will have access to the information.

“We’ll be trying to identify where we need to make early interventions,” King said. “We might be setting some people targets for their movements, and working with some to identify baseline data for their everyday habits.

“It will be a four-week process to understand, then set targets in line with public health and social care. We want to encourage people to increase their mobility.”

She said the logbooks enable the sharing of specific or limited information, for which the users provide their consent, and provide information to the users on what they can do locally to get out more.

The trials are scheduled to take place in two parts of the city next year, Sutton Coldfield and Yardley, which have differing levels of affluence. This should give the council some insights into the mobility of elderly people from different social groups.

King added that the use of the logbooks for managing social housing rents had so far led to a £177,00 reduction in arrears, with an estimate this could rise to £1 million, and that it could ultimately lead to savings of £3.5 million for housing overall.

Image by Joan Sorolla, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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