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QuartiersNETZ

Older people as (Co-)Producers of living quarter networks in the Ruhr area

The demographic trend of population aging is one of the central challenges for our society in the upcoming years. It is essential for society to utilise the abilities of older people. They need to be empowered to actively take part in society and to shape their own environment.

The research project “QuartiersNETZ”, which can be translated as neighbourhoodNET, concentrates on the immediate residential environment, the living quarters or neighbourhood. Together with local residents, service providers and the local authority we create sustainable, new digital and tangible support solutions. 

One central element will be the Digital Neighbourhood Platform, designed to connect all participants within a neighbourhood and to make (digital) services available. Four districts in the city of Gelsenkirchen have been selected. Each district will be supplied with a version of the platform which will be individually customised for that neighbourhood. It is also possible to combine the functional building blocks of the four variants with each other across the system. There is an emphasis on personal data protection and on dynamic extendability of the system. An innovative architecture is fundamental to ensure the distributed operation of heterogeneous neighbourhood platforms and highly secure data exchange.  

Additionally, we plan to use technology not only to connect people with each other, but also to assist them in their home environment. However, older people especially can be a demanding and critical user group, even though they may benefit hugely by using assistive technology. 

To address this dilemma, we are going to evaluate, adapt and develop targeted smart home technology together with disabled, immobile and older people, and those less familiar with technology. People will be able to interact with their devices according to their knowledge, skills and experiences. Finally, we are going to create a dedicated technology space in each of the four neighbourhoods, where people can experience the developed solutions for themselves using, for example, gesture or speech control for everyday household technology. Customised, mobile technology controls will be generated that can be adapted to individual needs and used for, among others, haptic control of the domestic environment.

The sustainability of these technical innovations should be guaranteed by a bespoke business model and the training and qualification of comitted members of the public as technology companions. The introduction and handling of new technologies for interested members of the community is made as easy as possible. At the same time, the joint implementation of technological development with all participants ensures that the solutions are adapted to the wishes and requirements of the user community. The transfer to other cities of the Ruhr area and beyond is envisaged.

The project QuartiersNETZ is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Besides the University of Applied Science and Arts Dortmund, the project partners are Generationennetz e.V., FoGera e.V., Pallas GmbH, Quinscape GmbH and Caritas Gelsenkirchen e.V.. The project is managed by the University of Applied Science and Arts Dortmund and supports the development of the Ruhr area towards a healthcare and service oriented region.