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Call for Commonwealth to fund large-scale ICT aged care project

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Dr Mounir Mokhtari (second form left) presenting to the eHealth research centre – Digital Productivity Flagship CSIRO in Brisbane

The Australian Government should launch and fund a large-scale ICT project on the health and wellbeing of older people that links with similar international projects, a visiting international expert on smart homes has said.

Dr Mounir Mokhtari, a Professor at Institut Mines-Télécom in France, which specialises in education and research for innovation in engineering and digital technology, said more was needed to combat the issues of demographic ageing than meetings and conferences.

Professor Mokhtari was in Australia recently for a series of meetings hosted by Community Resourcing Worldwide discussing future projects on the quality of life of ageing people, an area he has specialised in for 20 years.

He said the Australian Government should launch a big project focusing on ageing and wellbeing that brought together the key players including universities and laboratories.

“There is a need for Australia to be visible internationally and the only way is to have a large-scale pilot covering a big part of a city; many aged people in their homes, many nursing homes and many hospitals altogether,” Dr Mokhtari told Technology Review.

Professor Mokhtari said such a project would demonstrate proof of concept and lead to proof of value with companies as well as act as a reference program that international researchers could to contribute to.

He pointed to the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 initiative, which was pushing academics to work with industry to run large-scale projects in many areas including active ageing, and was a key a key enabler for developing and implementing smart home technology.

“The EU decided to put €7 billion into ICT for health. It covers all the ICT issues in terms of healthcare and medical issues. A large part is dealing with inclusion of dependent, ageing and frail people. Many projects are dealing with improving the quality of life of ageing people in place.”

As the projects were open to non-European countries, there were many opportunities for international collaboration, said Dr Mokhtari, who called on Australia’s funding body to help facilitate cross-continent research through joint agreements.

As Technology Review reports today, two Australian researchers have just received funding to participate in a global Horizon 2020 project, which will involve 50 older Sunshine Coast residents.

International Conference On Smart homes and health Telematics

Elsewhere, Dr Mokhtari said there was potential for Australia to host the International Conference On Smart homes and health Telematics (ICOST) in 2018.

The event, which Dr Mokhtari founded in Paris in 2003, alternates each year between Europe, Asia and North America.

An Australian delegation attended the event in Geneva last year, and another is heading to Wuhan, China this year.

Community Resourcing Worldwide research lead Anne Livingstone, who is chair of the Australian committee for an ICOST, said the event had provided a unique opportunity to link industry, researchers and developers to come up with solutions for assisting more independent, engaged and inclusive living.

“Today, ICOST is a vibrant community of participants linked globally to foster engagement and research with individuals and organisations in their endeavours to promote the role of smart enabled technology has in informing more consumer engaged developments in the areas of smart technologies and health telematics,” Ms Livingstone told Technology Review.

“The 2016 Australian Delegation to ICOST in Wuhan China is demonstrating the commitment to work globally on some of the most pressing and significant aged care issues with an international community of researchers, developers and industry players,” she said.

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