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Smart City grant enables help for vulnerable adults

Innovative real world trial will address issues of slips, trips and falls

2019 GRAPHIC for Slips, trips and falls

Issued on: 6 September 2019


West Berkshire Council has awarded a local company a grant of £100k to help vulnerable people to stay independent and mobile. 

Berkshire-based Thingitude received the cash as part of the Thames Valley Berkshire Smart City Cluster project funding and will work with the Council's Public Health Team to deliver an innovative real world trial addressing the issues and impacts that slips, trips and falls have on the elderly, helping them to look after themselves better and providing valuable information to help with care planning. 

The trial will continue until February 2020 across West Berkshire in the homes of 30 volunteers identified as being at risk of falling.  Thingitude will install several sensors and some 'smart' lighting in each home - the sensors will measure different risk factors related to falls, such as mobility and balance, room temperature, dehydration and activity levels, and will send data to the partners for analysis.

The Smart City project, funded by Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership covers four local authority areas and aims to further the application of smart city thinking and the internet of things (IoT), a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.  This award is one of four to be made in the first round of competitive calls.

Commenting on the initiative, Councillor Graham Bridgman, West Berkshire's Executive Member for Adult Social Care said:

"We are proud to be involved in this Smart Cities Cluster Project as it gives us the opportunity to work directly with an innovative local business to improve services for our residents.

 "Preventing falls among our most vulnerable residents and, more widely, providing excellent adult social care are among our top priorities as a council and we are continually looking to improve - this ground-breaking project will further that aim. 

 "We look forward to working with the LEP and Thingitude on this project and to the delivery of even better outcomes for those in our care."

Mark Stanley, founder of Thingitude said :

"Caring for an ageing population is one of the big challenges for the UK and internationally in the coming years.  Falls among older people cause loss of independence, mobility and well-being, and place a huge burden on families and care professionals." 

 "This is a great win for local business - we are taking on two new staff, and a new sensor we are creating for falls prevention is designed and built here in Berkshire. The grant and the trial with two housing associations will help our consortium refine the falls prevention system and get it ready for the wider market."

"Thingitude has been helping local authorities develop their own Smart Cities agenda for the past four years and the Thames Valley Smart City Cluster is a brilliant example with four councils working together to encourage local enterprise and innovation for the benefit of communities."

Tim Smith, Chief Executive of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP added:

"The Smart City Cluster project is exciting on a number of levels and has so much potential to act as a trailblazer for future investments by the LEP: as our emerging Local Industrial Strategy says, we have to find technological solutions to infrastructure and local challenges. This project is using Berkshire's intellectual assets in a focussed way, to do just that."