Friuli Venezia Giulia recently approved its Smart Specialization Strategy RIS3 for the programming period 2021-2027. This is another step to tackle the demographic challenge that the region has been working on since 2012.
- Now it is important to implement the strategy in the field, improving the synergies among Regional Directorates to adopt the best solutions on a large scale and produce a concrete positive impact on citizens life, says engineer and leader of the Upper Adriatic Technology Park Polo Tecnologico Alto Adriatico, Franco Scolari.
In Friuli Venezia Giulia, all regional actors have the past years co-operated to introduce smart technologies tailored to the elderly as a tool to prevent loneliness and improve the quality of life of fragile people.
Polo Tecnologico Alto Adriatico specializes in tailor-made technology, which often is hidden technology that blends in with elderly people’s everyday life following the principles of Design for All.
The companion is a belt
An example of a tailor-made technology is a belt with a very simple kind of GPS designed for a man with Alzheimer's. It has four sensors and is connected with Google Maps. When the man has to walk right, the belt vibrates right.
- Something interesting we found is that he showed fewer symptoms when he left home wearing a life-saving location device. This means that he can take less medicine. So, if we can reduce the symptoms, it is a big advantage, says Franco Scolari.
This has the potential of reducing the fear of leaving home for elderly patients in general.
- The man has a companion and the companion is a belt. It helps him find his way like a blind person has a dog. And it helps him keep up his trousers so that he does not lose them, laughs Franco Scolari.
Hard technology is a disaster
Franco Scolari believes that at the end of the day, ITHACA is not a technological project but a social project, considering human behavior. The aim must be that technology should support the lives of elderly and fragile people.
- We have the experience that hard technology is a disaster. If you put a bracelet monitor on an old person, you can get a negative reaction because many old people want to feel free and do not want to feel monitored, regardless of whether the monitor helps them or not, he says.
Besides promoting products and services to the health sector, Polo Tecnologico Alto Adriatico is entrusted by the Region to organize the hackathon TRIESTE CITIZEN ACCELERATOR - HEALTHY & HAPPY OVER 65 in the contest of the European Week of Active and Healthy Ageing 2021.
Good for the government
As a strong innovator, Friuli Venezia Giulia Region works to boost a responsible innovation model taking care of the effects of innovation on citizen’s life and also considering the desirability of innovation in order to align the innovation process with broadly shared public values and expectations related to active and healthy ageing.
- For one person technology at home is good. For the government, it is very good because the cost of moving elderly people to an elderly home is around fifty thousand euros per year. If he stays home, it is less than ten thousand, says Franco Scolari.
So far, tailor-made technology for fragile people is distributed through pre-commercial procurement and direct sales to fragile and elderly people. It is still not certified as a medical product because as it happens in innovation it can not be defined so there is no procedure to certify it yet.
Friuli Venezia Giulia is the only Italian region classified as a strong innovator according to Regional Innovator Scoreboard of 2019 (based on data referring mainly to 2016). Among the strong aspects of the region is highlighted the high production of patents and remarkable scientific production in the international arena.