Thursday 19 March 2015

HDB to further assess feasibility of elderly monitoring, alert system

By Olivia Siong, Channel NewsAsia, 17 Mar 2015

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will further study whether the Smart Elderly Monitoring and Alert System should be made available in suitable HDB flats in the future.

This was after 12 households completed a trial of the system. In a survey of the participating households, HDB said all were supportive of using the system in their daily living. Ten agreed or strongly agreed that it is an elderly-friendly and easy-to-use system. The other two households were neutral.

It was also observed that the longest time taken for the elderly's loved ones to make a phone call to check on them, after receiving an SMS notification, was 5 minutes.

The Smart Elderly Monitoring and Alert System was test-bedded in 12 HDB rental flats in Woodlands, Yishun, Clementi and Marine Parade from June to November 2014. HDB worked with four small- and medium- enterprises, that were awarded a grant by SPRING Singapore, to develop and test-bed the system.

The monitoring system comprises various components like motion and door sensors that are installed within the flat. These sensors then collect information and "learn" the living habits of the elderly residents in their homes. It then provides alerts to their caregivers and family members, via SMS notifications, when irregular patterns in behaviour are detected. For example, an alert would be sent if no movement is detected for a period of time.

The system also includes a panic button, which seniors can carry around at home, so they can alert their next-of-kin in times of need.


Ms Mabel Chen, 78, was one of the participants to test the system. She spends most of her time alone in her one-room flat in Yishun. This worries her daughter, who is at work for a large part of the day.

"She fell once before," said her daughter Doris Oo. "So we might worry for her that she might have fall badly while bathing, or here and there."

However, with the new system installed, there has been greater peace of mind for Ms Oo.

Motion sensors 'learn' the living habits of the elderly at home, including their sleeping hours and time taken in the bath.

"With this system, I feel so much relief," said Ms Oo. "I don't need to call my mother as and when, because of this beeping sound. Once it beeps, I know my mother is having problems or in trouble already."

According to a survey done by HDB, all 12 households that took part in the trial were supportive of using the system in their daily living. Many of them said the system did not compromise their privacy.

HDB also observed that the longest time taken for the elderly's next-of-kin to make a phone call after receiving the SMS notification and to check if the elderly is fine, was five minutes.

Said Mrs Chen: "They told me 'Mum, don't be scared, you'll be all right'. If you learn the system slowly, you'll know what the benefits are."


The Smart Elderly Monitoring and Alert System is part of HDB's Smart HDB Town Framework, which was unveiled in September last year.

HDB hopes to collaborate with industry professionals to harness ideas and capitalise on their experience to develop a Smart Urban Habitat Master Plan. It will guide the implementation of smart solutions on a town-by-town basis starting with Punggol Eco Town.

Industry partners will also be invited to give ideas where new smart technologies can be used in areas like water, energy, waste, security and maintenance.

With more of such technology being used, HDB is also looking at building and operating a 'Smart Hub' - with the help of industry professionals and companies - to integrate, manage and analyse data centrally.

HDB's first smart homes will also be launched in two housing projects at Punggol Northshore in its upcoming May sales exercise.

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