Posts Tagged ‘aging population’

EFP Brief No. 263: The Future of Aging in Upper Austria

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

The foresight study aimed at exploring what technological solutions and social innovations for ambient assisted living (AAL) can offer widest coverage in a demographically-challenged rural area such as the Mühlviertler Alm (Upper Austria). To increase the acceptance of the identified findings among the local population and the success of the implementation of the AAL solutions in a potential follow-up project (e.g. as a model test region), strong emphasis was put on the integration of potential users and other stakeholders throughout the whole study.

Active and Assisted Living (AAL): Intelligent Technologies for the Elderly

The social foresight was part of the project
“WEGE2025: Our ways to an age-appropriate region 2025 – Living independently in the Mühlviertel” as part of the Austrian national funding programme “ICT of the Future: benefit – Demographic change as a chance” (project no. 846222).

For the last decades life expectancy has been increasing continuously throughout Europe due to improvements in life conditions and healthcare. Meanwhile, the share of elderly people (aged 65 and over) among the total population has reached an average of 18.5% across the EU-28 and 18.3% in Austria (EUROSTAT 2015). For 2050, it is expected that these numbers will double. This demographic change often goes along with changing family structures (e.g. reduced family sizes with fewer potential family carers for the older people at hand) and limited numbers of available local care facilities. Consequently, new and innovative solutions are necessary to ensure an independent living of the elderly in their own home for as long as possible.

Intelligent technical solutions have a huge potential to meet the upcoming healthcare challenges of aging societies and become an important pillar in the personal healthcare and care of elderly people in the years to come. Active and Assisted Living (AAL), an emerging multi-disciplinary field, specifically aims at providing technical aids and technology-assisted services to the elderly as well as care givers by exploiting information and communication technologies (ICT). However, the overall success and acceptance of AAL systems in practice will crucially depend on how well the new technological solutions can address the needs of the elderly and maintain or improve their quality of life. Therefore, it is vital to know the specific needs of the elderly in their respective living environments and how innovative solutions can be tailored to both the needs and the living environment.

AAL in a rural region

So far, AAL solutions have mainly been developed for users with a focus on specific indications, independent of their place of residence and hardly ever for an entire region. In particular, for rural areas there are hardly any visions on how to improve the attractiveness of the region for an independent life for senior citizens and their needs in their third and fourth phases of life. Rural areas and the people that are growing old there have to cope particularly with the rural depopulation of young people and are confronted with a general decrease in public utility infrastructure.

Mühlviertler Alm

The Mühlviertler Alm is an association of ten municipal communities situated in the north-east of Upper Austria. Agriculture is the predominant economic sector. Each community consists of between ten and 20 villages, each of which consists of a densely populated village centre as well as numerous individual, scattered farmsteads far from the village centres. Consequently, the region is characterised by long supply routes and require high mobility in the daily life of the residents.

The Mühlviertler Alm is currently undergoing a process of demographic change. An increasing number of elderly people is opposed to a decreasing share of younger people. The highest pressure is expected in the coming decades when the baby-boom generation retires. At the moment, about 18.000 people live in the region Mühlviertler Alm. Some 4.000 of them are already older than 60 years. Until 2030, it is expected that this number will rise by 50%.

Active and independent aging is an important topic in the region. Since 2010, the communities have been actively facing the demographic change with local projects. They consider the demographic change a chance for a new social interaction.

Aiming to Become Model of the Future

The project WEGE2025 analysed what AAL solutions can offer the widest coverage in a rural area such as the Mühlviertler Alm. The major question was therefore what AAL technologies and social innovations can be implemented for a maximum of end-users and will also be applied by secondary users, such as managed care organisations.

As a result of the project, the region Mühlviertler Alm is expected to become a model for the future development of a test region for active and assisted living solutions.

Exploring the Potential for AAL in a Rural Region

A major focus of the project was on the methods used for the exploration of AAL test regions. While ongoing test region projects in Austrian are mainly technologically driven, the WEGE2025 project pursued an interactive stakeholder approach. Within a comprehensive future-oriented stakeholder process, both project partners, AIT and Verband Mühlviertler Alm, together with some 100 stakeholders (end users, medical staff, and providers of services in the general interest and other stakeholders) from the region worked together to explore future needs for an attractive life during old age and to assess by means of scenarios, a roadmap and a vision of the future the potential for implementation of the suggested solutions in real life. The interactive approach included personal interviews and large group settings (workshops) with stakeholders and was preceded by a qualitative background research.

This project provided the unique opportunity to include a whole region in the preparation for a test region and to make allowance for the needs and views of their residents on active and independent living and aging. This approach should increase the success and the participation rate in the follow-up test region.

Exploring the Framework Conditions of the Region

A series of qualitative interviews with 15 residents of the Mühlviertler Alm working either professionally or as volunteers in healthcare and care for the elderly were made to explore the framework conditions and major needs of the region. The interviewees highlighted the following key challenges of the region Mühlviertler Alm:

  • Peripheral geographic location
  • Demographic change
  • Lack of awareness of the aging
  • Increasing number of people suffering from dementia
  • Increasing professional activity by all family member (resulting in a lack of family member carers)
  • Increasing need for new forms of neighbourly help
  • Lack of social activities for people with physical impairment
  • Decrease in the public transport
  • Lack of comprehensive provision of medical care (e.g. medical specialists)
  • Lack of available places in institutional care and support facilities
  • Lack of a network of providers of care and nursing institutions
  • Lack of a central contact point for information (e.g. regarding healthcare and other care)

With respect to the potential implementation of AAL solutions in the region, the interviewees expressed reservations as regards technologies in general and pointed out the lack of suitable infrastructure (e.g. poor mobile phone coverage, lack of access to high-speed broadband services).

Future-Oriented Stakeholder Process

To identify the needs of the elderly in the region and to define the requirements for AAL solutions, a foresight exercise was implemented. In four workshops, potential end-users, representatives of companies, for services of general interest, and research organisations discussed together what it needs to be able to lead an independent and age-appropriate life in a rural region such as the Mühlviertler Alm.

Stakeholder Workshop I – Visioning

In this workshop the participants worked on the megatrends of the future and developed a common vision 2050 of the Mühlviertler Alm. Megatrends are influential, global developments with long-term effects, which can change the future and should therefore be considered in strategy and policy development processes. Among the megatrends discussed in the project were climate change, demographic change (aging), social and cultural inequalities, urbanization, digital culture and knowledge-based economy. Guided by these megatrends, relevant external factors (drivers), which impact the living at Mühlviertler Alm were discussed for five areas: social, technological, economical, environmental and political developments (STEEP factors), and the most important influencing factors were identified. The findings were summarised in seven fields of actions:

  • Autonomy and health
  • Occupation, education and recreation
  • Communication (social, ICT)
  • Accommodation and public space
  • Mobility
  • Infrastructure (traffic, energy and ICT)
  • Environment and resources

For the development of a common vision of the Mühlviertler Alm for 2050, the workshop participants worked in small groups on the fields of action as well as on additional “disaster” fields of action and drew together representative pictures. In follow-up discussions, objectives were derived for each field of action and prioritised. A visual facilitator compiled the most important objectives in a new picture, which now depicted the common vision 2050 for the Mühlviertler Alm.

As a preparation for the second workshop, small groups developed three different types of scenarios: a) business as usual, b) sustainability, and c) disaster. To anchor the scenarios in daily routine activities the groups built their scenarios around a selection of different personas:

  • 35-year old top manager and mother of a handicapped child
  • 87-year old, wealthy widow
  • 53-year old, nursing male relative
  • 24-year old, female student in Cambridge

The project team subsequently added to the scenarios the trends and drivers that had been previously identified by the workshop participants.

Stakeholder Workshop II – Scenarios and Roadmap

Some volunteers among the workshop participants worked out the central turning points of each of the scenarios and presented them by means of improvisation theatre to the plenary audience.

Based on the visual and emotional impressions that the theatre play created in the audience, further objectives were derived and discussed within the frame of four key topics: health awareness, services of general interest & coordination office, diversity & inclusion and change process (politics & infrastructure).

As a result, for each key topic up to three main objectives were selected. The necessary actions for their implementation were defined and the most relevant actors singled out. These sets of measures were placed along a timeline and compiled to a roadmap according to the estimated time of implementation.

Stakeholder Workshops III & IV – Services & Action Plan

During an evening event the roadmap was presented to and discussed with regional service providers and other economic operators in order to add practical ideas for AAL solutions in the following areas: social interaction, information & education, occupation, mobility, health & wellness, hobbies, care at home, supply of everyday consumer goods & support with household tasks, and safety & privacy. Ultimately, four key topics could be identified as the core topics of Mühlviertler Alm:

  • Mobility
  • Social inclusion
  • Health incl. telemedicine
  • Comfort & living

In the fourth stakeholder workshop these topics were taken up and defined more specifically concerning objectives and contents in action plans. By means of “collaborative mapping” all relevant services and actors of the region that could be relevant for a follow-up project were gathered and visualized on a map.

Approaching the Needs of the Elderly

Mobility

Remaining mobile even in old age is of uttermost importance in rural areas that are characterised by long-distance ways for daily routines. Mobility is often also a prerequisite for social inclusion of old and impaired people and participation in social life. There is a need for a wide variety of individual transport for elderly and impaired people. Transport services need to be flexible in terms of booking services and availability, e.g. with short waiting times. Building up a network of transport service providers is therefore essential. Information on the availability of barrier-free busses, their timetables and existing boarding aids and wheelchair accessibility on vehicles as well as shared taxis for quick and flexible trips (e.g. to physicians or for leisure time activities) could be provided via mobile apps and ICT-supported lift-sharing exchange. All offers could also be collected on a simple internet platform for mobility offers.

Social Inclusion: Information Platform & Coordination Office

The local communities want to have access to and be able to exchange information in the best possible way. For issues concerning care and nursing, a coordination office (e.g. for multi-professional services) would ensure an optimal information transfer to the public, when needed. The office should be located centrally and could also serve as a hub for telemedicine services. A web-based platform could constitute another source of information for the population. It can serve as a market place for supply and demand of various sorts, e.g. meetings for senior citizens, midday meals organised as social events, or other cultural, sportive leisure time activities. Such an events calendar ideally embeds functions for registration for the events as well as for mediation of shared lifts in private cars or shared taxis and buses that offer also transportation of wheel-chairs, etc. It can also provide information and booking facilities for mobile care and nursing services, experts and delivery of goods. A crucial prerequisite for the acceptance of such a platform is the simple operation and intuitive handling of the platform by the users.

Health incl. telemedicine

Establishing structures which ensure the care and medical surveillance / monitoring of health data and alarm functions for threatening deviations is also important for the region. Such structures would particularly help people with chronic diseases to live longer in their own homes. To benefit of telemedicine services it will be important to develop a system that integrates already existing measuring devices such as blood pressure monitors, blood glucose meters or warning devices in case of falls. Simple operation of such telemedicine devices is again the key to widespread use. Tying in with the idea of a coordination office the residents of the region also wish for immediate help in emergency situations. A competent medical phone service with decision-making competency that is available around-the-clock and linked to a medical care network could be based in the coordination office and compensate for physicians off duty.

Comfort & Living

Autonomous living with comprehensive care in one’s own home is of major importance in the region. Medical care should be available across the region and flexible enough to cater for the needs of the residents. There is also need for social networks of neighbourly help, including support for household tasks and help in the garden. Supply of everyday goods should be ensured by means of service providers that could be contacted via mobile app. In addition, homes should be “smart” and provide a system of automatic components, such as door openers, automatic night lights, fall alarms, as well as assistance systems for automatic notification of attendants in emergency situations. IT professionals and other service providers should be available in the region to ensure installation, maintenance and repair work when needed.

Authors: Manuela Kienegger    manuela.kienegger@ait.ac.at
Sponsors: FFG – Austrian Research Promotion Agency
Type: Social Foresight as part of an exploratory study for a test region for ambient assisted living
Organizer: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Verband Mühlviertler Alm
Duration: 2015 Budget: € 126,000 Time Horizon: 2025 (2050) Date of Brief: August 2016

 

Download EFP Brief No. 263: The Future of Aging in Upper Austria

Sources and References

This foresight brief is based on the final report of the Project WEGE2025.

Kienegger, M. et al. (2016). WEGE2025 – Unsere Wege in eine altersgerechte Region 2025 – Selbstbestimmt leben im Mühlviertel. Endbericht zum Projekt Nr. 846222 im Auftrag der FFG. AIT-IS-Report, Vol. 119

EUROSTAT (2015). Population age structure by major age groups, 2004 and 2014 (% of the total population). [Accessed 28/07/2016]

EFP Brief No. 235: Nanotechnology for Podlaskie 2020

Friday, December 21st, 2012

The general purpose of the project was to elaborate a strategy of nanotechnology development up to 2020 based on the desired priority directions of the Polish Podlaskie province development oriented towards the application of nanotechnologies and the identification of the key nanotechnology research trajectories.

Nanotechnology to Boost Disadvated Region

The project Technological foresight NT FOR Podlaskie 2020. Regional strategy of nanotechnology development was granted the financial support from the EU Operational Program „Innovative Economy 2007-2013” (Priority 1: „Research and development of new technologies”, Measure 1.1.: „Support for scientific research for the building of knowledge based economy”, Sub-measure 1.1.1: „Research projects with the use of foresight method”.)

The project is an attempt of breakthrough technologies promotion in situation when the development of the traditional sectors does not contribute to regional growth. It is located in one of the least economically developed regions of Poland (and of the European Union) with a low level of population’s economic welfare, little business competitiveness and low innovation intensity in the spheres of technology, processes and products. The project is based on the feed forward logic which assumes that the future changes of the environment will be effectively forestalled owing to the project results. This should allow the region to chart the development trajectory which doesn’t imitate others but heads in the direction where the leaders will be in the future. The assumed goals of the programme are:

  • elaborate a strategy of nanotechnology development in Podlaskie province till 2020
  • identify and mapp critical nanotechnologies up to 2020
  • identify the most important factors influencing the development of nanotechnologies
  • put forward scenarios of nanotechnology development
  • stimulate the process of regional vision building between the key stakeholders.

Nanotech Research Defined by Six Panels

Six panels defined the research priorities for the project:

  1. Nanotechnologies in Podlaskie economy (RF1)
  2. Nanotechnology research for Podlaskie developement (RF2)
  3. Key factors of nanotechnology development (RF3)

In addition to the three content-oriented panels another three focusses on methodologies: STEEPVL and SWOT panel (SSP), Technology mapping and Key technologies panel (TMKTP), Scenarios and Roadmapping panel (SRP) (figure 1).

The results of the six panels are integrated by the Key Research Team (KRT) which is also a platform of interaction and knowledge transfer between the panels.

From STEEPVL Analysis to Strategy

The methodology of the project is based on the intuitive logics school of scenario construction and comprises the following research methods and techniques: STEEPVL analysis, SWOT analysis, technology maping, key technologies, scenario method, roadmapping (figure 2). The main research methods are supported by brainstorming, moderated discussion and bibliometrics.

The selection of methods and techniques was conditioned by the aim of the project, planned funds, research duration and availability of data – both quantitative and qualitative.

One of the innovative elements of the project is the implementation of the concept of triangulation to experts’ recruitment in the aspect of researcher triangulation, data triangulation and theoretical triangulation.

Researcher triangulation was manifested in the project by the involvement of experts representing varied professional background, sex and age. Special attention was paid to the recruitment of women and young people (under 35) (min. 30%).

Data triangulation was achieved by involving experts representing different institutions as well as by drawing information about the factors shaping nanotechnology development via experts’ opinions verified by the existing published works (reports, books, publications, Internet sources on nanotechnologies).

Theoretical triangulation consisted in the involvement of experts representing different research fields, but still salient to the nanotechnology development in Podlaskie province.

Other innovative element of the project was the application of the two-dimensional assessment of STEEPVL factors taking into account (1) the influence and importance of factors and (2) the application of factor analysis in order to reduce the number of considered factors that shape the nanotechnology development.

Great attention in the project was paid to the development of technology mapping methodology, to the identification and the assessment of wild cards methodology and to roadmapping methodology.

Scenarios of Nanotechnology Development in Podlaskie Province

 

As a result of the conducted sequence of procedures four scenarios of nanotechnology development in Podlaskie province were developed. They were constructed along two axes, one of which related to the level of R&D in the region and the other to the level of collaboration among the actors from business, science and administration spheres (fig. 3).

Basic characteristics of the produced scenarios are presented in table 1. Further in the process, each scenario was enriched with a detailed description of the remaining 19 STEEPVL factors. Short descriptive visions were also written in each of the four cases.

  1. Megatrends

Scenarios formulation was preceded by a detailed characteristics of megatrends influencing the nanotechnology development. Following megatrends were identified:

  • technological progress,
  • ageing population,
  • increasing importance of alternative energy sources,
  • intensified activity of the states in the realm of security,
  • new patterns of social inequality,
  • shaping of the new economy,

All megatrends were further divided into branching trends.

  1. Priority technology groups

Additionally, seven priority technology groups for the Podlaskie region were identified by the experts:

  • nanomaterials and nanosurfaces in medical equipment (T20),
  • composite materials for dentist fillings (T17),
  • powder technologies in plastic, paint and varnish production (T31),
  • surface nanotechnologies in biomedicine (T21),
  • nanotechnology for cutting instruments and wood processing (T3),
  • nanotechnology for specialised textiles (T24),
  • nano-structuring of metals (T38).

The leading project experts attempted to embed the priority nanotechnologies into four scenarios by assessing the chances of each technology’s development in the context of a particular scenario. The results of that exercise are presented in fig. 4.

According to experts’ opinions in conditions of high R&D potential for nanotechnology and effective regional collaboration of business, science and administration, very high chances of development have five out of seven technologies, namely: powder technologies in plastic, paint and varnish production (T31), composite materials for dentist fillings (T17), surface nanotechnologies in biomedicine (T21), nanotechnology for cutting instruments and wood processing (T3), nanomaterials and nanosurfaces in medical equipment (T20). In S2 scenario high chances of development have only nanotechnologies for specialised textiles (T24). The situation in S2 and S3 scenarios changes fundamentally as there are no nanotechnologies of high chances of development.

For each identified key technology a roadmap of its development was elaborated comprising layers such as: resources, R&D, technology and applications.

Increasing R&D and Strengthening the Network

Technology foresight NT FOR PODLASKIE 2020. Regional strategy of nanotechnology development has allowed to identify the most important factors of the nanotechnology development in the region. In the course of the project, the participating experts identified key technologies that might contribute to creating a competitive advantage of the province. The scenarios presented will be the basis for developing the roadmaps of nanotechnology development and eventually for formulating a regional strategy to that end.
 
As the results of the project have shown so far, increasing the region’s R&D potential and strengthening the networks of entrepreneurs, scientists and authorities would create an environment most conducive to the development of nanotechnology in Podlaskie province. These two key factors therefore will be the vital elementsof the nanotechnology development strategy to be formulated at a later stage. The strategy, according to the project organisers, will set the direction for the introduction of nanotechnology into the economy of Podlaskie province and provide a sound proposal for a path towards the sustainable development of the region.
Authors: Anna Kononiuk a.kononiuk@pb.edu.pl

Lukasz Nazarko l.nazarko@pb.edu.pl

Joanicjusz Nazarko j.nazarko@pb.edu.pl

Joanna Ejdys j.ejdys@pb.edu.pl

Katarzyna Halicka k.halicka@pb.edu.pl

Urszula Glinska u.glinska@pb.edu.pl

Alicja Gudanowska a.gudanowska@pb.edu.pl

Sponsors: European Regional Development Fund, Operational Program „Innovative Economy 2007-2013”

Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Polish Republic

Type: regional/technological foresight exercise
Organizer: Bialystok University of Technology

Joanna Ejdys j.ejdys@pb.edu.pl

Joanicjusz Nazarko j.nazarko@pb.edu.pl

Duration: Apr 2009-Jun 2013 Budget: 588,256 € Time Horizon: 2020 Date of Brief: Aug. 2012  

Download: EFP Brief No. 235_Nanotechnology for Podlaskie 2020.

Sources and References

Feasibility study of Technology foresight „NT FOR Podlaskie 2020”. Regional strategy of nanotechnology developement [Studium wykonalności projektu Foresight technologicznyNT FOR Podlaskie 2020”. Regionalna strategia rozwoju nanotechnologii], Białystok 2008.

EFP Brief No. 159: ForeSec: Europe’s Evolving Security

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The objective of ForeSec is to tie together the multiple threads of existing work on the future of European security in an attempt to provide a more coherent guidance, orientation and structure to all future security-related research activities. It aims at enhancing the common understanding of the complex global and societal nature of European security in order to pre-empt novel threats and capture technological opportunities. The project takes a participatory approach in an attempt to facilitate the emergence of a coherent and ho-listic approach to current and future threats and challenges to European security. ForeSec builds a pan-European network around the European security foresight processes and helps foster a societal debate on European security and security research. As this brief is published, ForeSec still has a few months of project work lying ahead. Accordingly, all results presented here are merely intermediate.

EFMN Brief no. 159_ForeSec

EFP Brief No. 112: Démarche Prospective Transport 2050 – For a Better French Transport Policy

Friday, May 20th, 2011

This foresight initiative intends to initiate the elaboration of a long-term strategic plan for French Transport policy. The exercise uses a French methodological approach to carry out retrospective analysis of historical trends and build quantitative scenarios. It provides general insights on transportation flows and opens public debate on public policies designed to prepare for the “post-oil” era and cre-ate impulses for a serious effort to reduce greenhouse emissions.

EFMN Brief No. 112 – Transport France 2050

EFP Brief No. 93: Changes in German Production and Demography – the Supporting Role of ICT

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The automobile industry is one of the most important industries in Germany and one of the key areas for R&D. To hold this position the industry has to face two challenges: 1st, changing parameters in and for industrial production like minimizing the time to market or shortened product life cycles; and 2nd, demographic change. The purpose of the study was to identify need for action and to present sub-sectors in which ICT could take a supportive role for industrial production.

EFMN Brief No. 93 – Changes in German Production

EFP Brief No. 68: Dutch Biotech Scenarios 2030

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The purpose of the project was to gain insight in the future of biotechnology to support the work of COGEM, including technical and scientific risk analysis as well as the facilitation of public debate on biotechnology.

EFMN Brief No. 68 – Dutch Biotech Scenarios 2030

EFP Brief No. 46: Canada Looking Forward S+T 21C

Friday, May 6th, 2011

The NRC or National Research Council of Canada undertook a foresight exercise with a time horizon of 2020 to initiate planning for its strategic and organizational renewal. The exercise provided a global perspective and critical insights on the future and impact of S+T in Canada, and on opportunities for the NRC to address national challenges as part of Canadian National System of Innovation.

EFMN Brief No. 46 – Canada Looking Forward S+T 21C

EFP Brief No. 36: Korea 2030

Friday, May 6th, 2011

The Third Korean Foresight Exercise entitled ‘Future Perspectives and Technology Foresight for Korea – Identifying Challenges and Opportunities for Korea’s Economy and Society’ represents the most comprehensive effort to date by the Korean government in the field of S&T foresight. Capitalizing on previous studies conducted in 1994 and 1999 its chief purpose is to chart the future of Korean society and technology and link peoples future needs to innovations in science and in research. Systemic in both character and methodology this Third Korean Foresight Exercise accelerates Korea’s evolution towards a knowledge society.

EFMN Brief No. 36 – Korea 2030

EFP Brief No. 29: Futur Radar 2030

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

The population structure of the German federal state of Rhineland-Pfalz (The Rhineland-Palatinate) in South-West Germany will change considerably in the coming decades. This will have impact on every sphere of private and public life. Taking account of projections for population growth in the region Futur Radar 2030 (Zukunftsradar 2030) took a closer look at these developments and the impact they could have on citizens in the region. The goal was to sensitize the public and decision-makers to this and emerging related issue and to make proposals for various actors as to how they might handle the expected change.

EFMN Brief No. 29 – Futur Radar 2030

EFP Brief No. 5: Danish Technology Foresight 2015

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

The purpose of this technology foresight exercise is to gain insights into, and prepare for, future technological developments, market and social needs. It seeks to do so by developing well grounded advanced scenarios on future technological and societal developments that would engender a social debate and dialogue around the future and would help policymakers in setting policy priorities.

EFMN Brief No. 5 – Danish Technology Foresight 2015