The Life 2.0 project aims at generating innovative services to support elderly people’s independent living. The services will use location technologies and social networking to enhance elderly peolocalple’s access to information about what happens in their neighborhood.
The project will be based on the hypothesis that technological infrastructure, such as Web applications (e.g. google maps, social networks) Internet based communication tools (e.g.skype or Twitter), and geographicalpositioning tols (e.g. GPS devices) can be integrated in meaningful applications that allow elderly people to “extend” their social life beyond the walls of their home, to increase the possibility to create “intersections” between their life and the life of other people (elderly or younger) around them and to create an “augmented neighborhood”, in which individual capabilities are exchanged and social interaction is enhanced. Such applications can provide elderly people with a constantly updated map of friends, relatives, helpers and services available in the area. Having a chance to know who is around would make it easier to find someone to spend some time together, to join for a walk or for lunch, to ask for a favor or for help.
The challenges and the innovation content
The challenges of this project, and consequently the area were this project is expected to produce innovative knowledge, can be exemplified in the following questions:
- To what extent can the use of those application support social and healthcare services in local context? Can those applications really support the activation of elderly people and reduce the costs of healthcare services? What technologies can be used to support people working in those services? How can those technologies be integrated in those people’s everyday life?
- Can new forms of social/support service emerge from the use of those technologies? Can elderly people become providers of some of those services, beside being the target for traditional health services?
- Social networks have been developed for youngsters or relatively young adults, can they be used by the elderly, too? What kind of change would motivate elderly people to use those technologies?
- Elderly people have always been unfamiliar with computers, however the coming generation of elderly people will have spent a good part of their professional work using computers. To what extent will this facilitate the creation of social networks for the elderly?5. Social networks are substantially indifferent to geographical location: facebook or skype can be used in the same way by people working in the same building or people communicating across the planet. Yet some applications, such as google maps, are giving more relevance to geographical locations; but can those applications be integrated and strongly linked to a local context?