Limerick should use technology to help ageing population – IBM

31 May 2016

Limerick’s ageing population would be better served if the county embraced technology in a targeted away, IBM consultants have claimed.

Last year, Limerick was chosen as one of IBM’s 17 ’smarter cities’ around the world, with the company sending a team to investigate the area throughout May and determine ways to improve quality of life through smart solutions.

There was a focus on Limerick’s ageing population during the project, which is expected to grow at a faster rate than the national average.

Among its findings, IBM thinks Limerick should create a “master data management plan”, which would help departments manage, and respond to, the needs of older people.

Electronic patient record systems, telehealth and teleservice units to let elderly patients deal with medical staff without leaving the home, and smartening up security monitoring in areas where elderly people live are also recommendations included in the report.

The IBM team found that public transport, including walking, is a significant element of an older person’s ability to access critical health services. So being able to manage healthcare from the home would be a way of helping with that.

Work together

Dr Nader Nassar, of the IBM smarter cities challenge team, said plenty of the information required is already being collected across different agencies, but it’s not being shared.

“Limerick has common critical problems through transportation, housing, social isolation and also civic engagement with senior citizens,” he said, adding that he hopes the findings can “break down barriers” to information sharing.

The only way for these recommendations to be taken forward is for Limerick City and County Council to lead the delivery of the plans.

Pat Dowling, deputy chief executive of Limerick City and County Council, said he and his colleagues are “already looking” at how to improve the quality of life of people living in Limerick, but that IBM’s recommendations are “very innovative”.

“We already have a lot of proposals in the pipeline, but this is how we can use technology to improve the lives of older people, particularly in disadvantaged communities and rural areas around the county,” he said.

The other cities involved in this tranche of smart cities with IBM are: Denver, Detroit, Rochester and Memphis (USA); Melbourne (Australia); Amsterdam (Netherlands); Huizhou and Xuzhou (China); San Isidro (Peru); Allahabad, Surat and Vizag (India); Athens (Greece), Sekondi-Takoradi (Ghana) and Taichung (Taiwan).

Limerick image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic