EXPERTS working to help disabled and older people lead more independent lives have called for a national plan to develop fully integrated systems and services that meet their needs.
The delegates at a ‘Smart Living’ seminar – organised by the charity PhoneAbility with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – were told that although there were many excellent pilot schemes for providing various components of such smart living systems and services there was a serious lack of an overall plan.
Mr Peter Bonfield, chief executive of Building Research Establishment, said: “By 2050 half of us will be of pensionable age in the United Kingdom.
“The homes and communities we build and retrofit today have to meet the needs of our future population. Our industry must begin to address the ‘smart living’ agenda and embrace the technologies that will keep us all living independently for longer in our own communities.”
Mr Bonfield supported an overall plan that would involve many sectors including architecture, professional engineering, building, medicine, energy, communications, transport and organisations providing caring resources and bodies representing disabled and older people.
Dr John Gill, chairman of the charity PhoneAbility, said: “There is a need for a consensus on a roadmap for future research in this area. This will need to include a quantified assessment of the needs of potential users and bearing in mind the obvious significant technological changes which will come about in the near future.”
Other speakers included: Mr Martyn Gilbert of UK3.0; Professor Patrick Roe of Cardiac; Mr Peter Ball of BRE; Mr Brian Collins, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Transport and BIS; Ms Angela Single of Choose Independence; Ms Colette Nicolle of Loughborough University; and Ms Evelyn Pellow of Enabling Concepts.