Research Paper

Topics: Disability, Geriatrics Pages: 7 (2448 words) Published: March 28, 2013
Smart Home Technology; Technology supporting independent living - does it have an impact on health? Toril Laberg The Delta Centre Directorate for Health and Social Affairs PO Box 7000 St. Olavs plass, N-0130 Oslo E-mail: Phone: + 47 24 16 35 26

Abstract Smart home technology has proved to contribute to increased independence and safety. Two surveys has been conducted in Norway to collate experience on smart home technology as part of home care services. We found that the technology is installed in newly built residential flats, aiming at old residents in need of care. The findings inspired us to further investigate the implications of installing smart home technology in existing houses and flats. The paper presents the findings from all three projects, and will discuss the technologies impact on health and some financial aspects.

Definition Smart Home Technology is a collective term for information and communication-technology in homes, where the components are communicating through a local network. The technology may be used for monitoring, alarming and executing actions, according to the programmed criteria. The local network communicates with the external world by telephone or through the Internet, sending messages or alarms to one or more recipients. These may be the resident of the house, his family, a private security-company or the community-team. This communication makes it possible to program the smart home from inside or outside the house. In a smart home one may integrate: • Safety (for example alarms) • Environmental control systems (for example remote control or programmed control of doors, windows and lights) • Communication (linked to the telephone or the Internet) • Energy-control-systems (for example adjusting the heating at all hours) • Entertainment (for example television, film and music) None of these devices are new inventions; they have all been available for a long time. The smart aspect is the integrated communication between the devices, and the possibility to generate automatic actions. An automatic action often used is the generation of alarms when something abnormal occurs, or when a normal action fails to appear.

State of the art in Norway Norway has 10 years of experience using smart home technology as part of home care services. It all started with the BESTA-project in 1994, a project focusing on the use of smart home technology for elderly people. As part of the project, smart home technology was installed in residential flats, aiming at residents with dementia.


We have, along with most of the European countries, a long history of building institutions for people in need of medical, practical or emotional care. The trend changed during the 1990´s, supported by political incentives like grants and cheap loans to the local authorities. This plan of action led to a massive increase in the building of residential flats, thereby enabling people to stay in private homes, instead of having to move to an institution when their need for care increased. There was some 20 000 flats built, but we have no exact register as to how many of them are installed with smart home technology. We do know that several local authorities made advantage of modern technology as part of the community services, when planning and building the new residential homes. In our study, we excluded institutions and focused only on homes. Some flats are served by staff dedicated to the flats only, while others are served by the community-team serving all residents in the community. Often there is a combination of the two; due to the use of smart home technology; a set group of staff during daytime, and the community team to respond to alarms at night. The flats are homes, not institutions. This is an important distinction, as laws and regulations controlling the economic and public goods depends on the type of ownership to your dwelling. In a flat, the resident pays the rent and is for...
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