When people think about smart cities, they tend to think about sensors, communication devices, IoT, smart mobility, security cameras, etc.
However, smart cities are also about being inclusive, and about building strong and close-knit communities, enriching everyone’s lives, and making the city a more liveable place for all.
This is why last year, the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo has organized a hackathon focusing on solution to different challenges faced by our senior citizens.
Help on the Way (AKA LightApp), the winner of the hackathon, has presented a solution around one of the biggest issues of the elderly today – loneliness.
With trends clearly showing an increase in in-home care rather than nursing homes or assisted living for the ageing population, the challenge, beyond providing physical and medical assistance when needed, is to create a social framework for the independent elderly.
Naturally, there are many different initiatives operated by the municipality itself, as well as different organizations from within the civil society, but how can technology assist us in doing a better job?
LightApp provides a great answer to this question. The team has developed a platform enabling any senior citizen to ask for assistance – changing a light bulb, a ride to the doctor’s appointment or playing chess – this request goes directly to young volunteers in the vicinity, and just like an uber driver taking a ride, one of them provides the required assistance.
The LightApp team has discovered that young people want to volunteer, but not necessarily on a regular, long-term basis. They would, however, do things “on the way”, and with great pleasure. LightApp provides them with this opportunity exactly. No strings attached.
The beautiful outcome is that strings are eventually created voluntarily – the team reports that in about 20% of the cases, the volunteer and the senior citizen exchange contact details and keep in touch beyond the specific assistance provided.
This solution also benefits the municipal welfare system, that now has more scouts visiting homes of the elderly, instructed to alert the authorities if they spot a situation requiring their intervention, following prior consent of the senior.
The team is also building its offering to companies that wish to manage the volunteering of their employees around senior citizens, with a dedicated platform monitoring the activity, company-wide. This opens up another aspect of community – not just neighbouring residents, but also businesses and their employees that are considered members of the community.