The video of the recent launch event for ACOD’s report on Next Generation Services for Older and Disabled People is now linked to from the Ofcom website and up on YouTube.
I’ve also embedded it below.
On Monday, over 60 stakeholders and Ofcom colleagues attended the launch of a publication on the benefits super-fast broadband could bring to older and disabled people. The report was commissioned by Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Older and Disabled People (for whom I act as Policy Manager and Ofcom liaison).
The report stemmed from ACOD’s view that the case for NGA is all too often dominated by provision of entertainment services, for example, faster downloads, HDTV, multi player gaming etc. to the detriment of the wider social case.
Many committee members were aware of a range of NGA trials and pilots, but we were unable to find an authoritative single source which brought these examples together. The research aimed to redress this, by showcasing the wider benefits of NGA technology – with a particular focus on products and services which would particularly (but not exclusively) benefit older and disabled people.
Attendees heard first from Ofcom CEO Ed Richards, who outlined the importance of ACOD to Ofcom and the challenge of stimulating interest in NGA amongst a group that often thinks they don’t need broadband, nevermind super-fast broadband!
Jonathan Freeman, from i2 media who led the research, then talked through the main findings before joining a panel which also included Simon Roberts from Intel, Stephen Dodson from DC10plus and Maurice Mulvenna from ACOD.
Questions from the audience focussed on the need to turn the ideas and benefits in the report into a reality, as well as a rally call for Government and industry to take the lead (like ACOD a number of stakeholders feel there is a large untapped commercial market here). Attendees also discussed the principle of developing services based on what consumers want, not what the technology can offer/deliver.
Unfortunately the event overran, so there wasn’t as much time for questions as everyone would have liked, but it didn’t stop many of them staying for well over an hour after the event to chat and network.
The report has generated some online coverage; I’ve posted a few selections below. It was also promoted and discussed on twitter. Links to the slides, video of the event
Annex A: Extended summary of research report
Annex B: R&D activities
Annex C: Written responses
The research gives examples of a range of services already being piloted or in development. It also explores how existing services could be enriched as a result of faster broadband connections.
Services such as remote health monitoring and consultations, enabling some people to be diagnosed from their home, mentoring and befriending schemes, teleworking and life-long learning initiatives can all play a role in promoting independent living so that older and disabled people can lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.
The research also identifies some of the challenges and barriers which might hinder this potential including usability, accessibility and cost.
Jo Connell, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Older and Disabled People, said:
“For many people next generation broadband is already a reality. Our research shows that next generation broadband is about much more than multi-player gaming, faster music downloads or high definition TV.
This report offers a glimpse into the potential services and how this new technology could help to transform many older and disabled people’s lives.”
A copy of the full research can be found here: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/about/how-ofcom-is-run/committees/older-and-disabled-people/research/.
ENDS NOTES FOR EDITORS
The publication’s findings are based on desk research and in-depth interviews with senior representatives from across a range of industries, government, academia and the third sector.
Advisory Committee for Older and Disabled People
0207 981 3590
Media & Corporate Relations
0300 123 4000
Press release originally published here.
Over the past couple of months I’ve been involved with a Steering Group which has explored ideas around using digital technology – and digital inclusion – to tackle issues of loneliness and isolation amongst older people.
Today saw the publication of a report; “Older People, Technology and Community” which includes the fruits of our discussions as well as a whole raft of other useful data, examples and ideas.
The press release notes:
“Social isolation and the feelings of loneliness it leads to are common problems for older people living in the UK today. Recent research reveals that a fear of being alone is a major source of anxiety as people grow older and that some older people go for days without seeing another person. The report highlights however that communications technologies can help prevent and alleviate social isolation and loneliness.”
The project was led by Independent Age and funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Steering group members were:
Emma Solomon – Digital Unite,
Damian Radcliffe – OFCOM
Adam Oliver – BT
Brian Lamb – RNID
Leela Damodaran – Research School of Informatics, Loughborough University
Guy Giles – Looking Local
Alan Taylor – BBC
Ben Brown- UK Online Centres
Kevin Doughty – Centre for Usable Home Technology, University of York
Paul Cann – Age Concern Oxfordshire
Kevin Johnson – Cisco
Jacques Mizan – Young Foundation
Andrew Barnett – Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch)
Luis Jeronimo – Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Portugal)
Annabel Knight – Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch)
Everyone played a key role in making the report happen, but I was delighted to see that my contribution was (unexpectedly) cited in the foreword.
Given that, you’d expect me to say the report is well worth a read. But it is. Honest.
First published here on 23/10/08.
Current discussions about next generation broadband have typically focussed on business and consumer needs, to the detriment of the social case.
Most articles on super-fast broadband major on how it will increase economic productivity or add further opportunities to turn your home into an increasingly fabulous entertainment hub.
This is all true – and of course very exciting – but I’m continually surprised that people aren’t beating down our door (and those of Government, business and any one else who will listen,) with examples of how super-fast broadband can promote social inclusion, improve medical care or be the delivery mechanism for a wider range of life changing and life enhancing products; especially products which help people often at the periphery of our society such as disabled or older people.
As a result, The Broadband Stakeholder Group was recently able to say that “so far, there is limited evidence of significant social welfare being derived from next generation access networks or services.”
I’m not quite sure why this is the case, but it could be that the technology and the applications which would deliver this does not really exist yet. If I’m wrong, then do let me know. I’d be really interested in hearing any examples of technology and projects in use at present or in development that use super-fast broadband networks to support citizens and consumers.
Of course it may be that a far better use of investment capital would be to focus on improving the reliability and consistency in today’s broadband. If services such as remote health monitoring and consultations, mentoring and befriending schemes, home and community security initiatives or life-long learning programmes can be delivered in this way, then would this not be a better use of resources?
On Friday City University London hosted a conference for the Inclusive Digital Economy Network . The event saw the presentation of research into digital access methods and the challenges facing older and disabled people within the digital economy. I attended part of the day and participated in a panel session towards the end of the day along with Caroline Needham from Help the Aged, David Bott from the Technology Strategy Board and the BBC’s Michael Evans.