iAGe progress update
The project iAge is right on track: a myriad of relevant regional and transnational activities is arising around the theme of e-inclusion of the elderly. Research is being done on various interesting subjects relating to labour market issues and independent living.
Tools and apps have been developed in close cooperation with the end-users, factsheets and guidelines about learning have been processed and the design of the toolbox is now ready. Transnational exchange was secured by the production of presentations, reports and newsletters to spread the experiences and lessons to other stakeholders within and outside the iAge partner regions, as well as partner meetings,
social media and website updates.
The partners in iAge intensified their cooperation this reporting period. This was not only fostered by two partner meetings in Groningen and Kiel, but also by bilateral visits and exchange of knowledge on divers topics about elderly and ICT-use. The University of Abertay shared their knowledge with the Wirtschaft Akademie in Kiel on app-development and co-design with elderly people. WAK students delivered 3 prototypes of applications, especially designed for the elderly: two software tools facilitating especially older workers to run their businesses and a smartphone app called Opamator, which guides older users easily through the main smartphone functionalities.
A group of volunteers (end users) from Vennesla visited Hedensted in Denmark (partner University College Lillebaelt) to learn about local initiatives with older voluntary workers. Vennesla municipality focuses on maintaining and developing voluntary work, including activities for seniors. With this as background, they planned a visit the to the Danish partner in the iAge project. The purpose of the visit was to be informed of the work being done in Hedensted and to xchange experiences and get new ideas. People from Hedensted will pay a return visit to Vennesla later this year. Lillebaelt paid a visit to Abertay to hear about end-user involvement in the building and running of a local website. Lessons were put into practice as the Danish launched their local website in Hedensted, as a platform for all kinds of activities for and by the elderly in the region.
Within the partnership interesting research with transnational value on the topic of sustainable employment was finished and published. The Hanze University of Applied Sciences finalised research on gradual retirement and managed to get it published as an article in "The Research Chronicler", an international journal, which ensures good international exposure. Results suggest that workers between 50 and 65 like to retire gradually, using flexible working schemes, reducing the workload and reducing the weekly hours. ICT tools are considered as helpful tools as long as they do not affect workers' health. Partner Leiedal came up with the results of a large scale longitudinal research (>550 respondents) about the computer
use of the elderly. Conclusion of this longitudinal research is that policymakers need to be alert regarding e-inclusion in terms of accessibility and skills, but that real intervention is needed more and more on evaluation.
New promising pilots started as well in this period. Hardenberg stands out in end-user involvement and building a strategic structural network around the theme of e-inclusion of the elderly people in its region. The end-users in focus groups chose "safety", "social contact" and "services" as most relevant, aiming at learning and discovering IT-solutions for living independently as long as possible. The
participating elderly may also choose their own IT tools for the pilot-setting (i.e. cameras or light sensors in the case of fall detection). In relation to the labour market the pilot of the Hanze University of Applied
Sciences on self-tracking devices is innovative. The main idea is to increase insight into personal health by giving employees the opportunity to use self-tracking devices to measure several functions, like daily physical activity, food and nutrition, sleep, stress and social interaction ( the "big five"). Both pilots mentioned above use existing technology, but combine and apply them in close cooperation with the end-users in a new setting to stimulate e-inclusion.
Of course, technological development, implementation and deployment continue to be important parts of the iAge project. Abertay contributed to this goal by developing an application for low vision users that can be used to introduce a platform for gaming, internet and visual rehabilitation for elderly people who have not had prior experience with information communication technology. Partners Drenthe and ZIF continued to test and implement screen-to-screen applications in (home and informal) care situations. The WAK introduced Runpat-software into the partnership to stimulate the elderly to build their own businesses. The Raspberry-Pi, introduced and developed by students of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences offers possibilities to use the TV screen as a computer, which is very interesting for areas with low or unstable internet accessibility. Leiedal implemented the volunteer-matching database in their municipality and welfare organizations.
The ZIF investigated stakeholder involvement in innovative technology and concludes that the process of
introducing new technology starts with awareness or knowledge! Drenthe acknowledged this and started a publicity campaign on the topic of combining work and care (Drenthe friendly in informal care) and the use of supportive ICT tools. Other awareness raising events on the elderly and ICT, aimed at a wider public were the conference on the 14th of November in Kortrijk, the Health Battle on the 20th of November 2013 in Groningen and the Hack for Care and Cure in East Flanders.