Sensors to monitor elders' health

Jing'an District is leading the early wave of digital revolution in the country with plans of putting sensors under the bed of elders to monitor their health.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A man looks at a bluetooth sensor that has been installed in the Linfen Road Community in Jing’an District. Senior citizens suffering from dementia will be given a bluetooth bracelet that will connect with sensors and alert officials when they get lost. 

Officials in Jing’an District will be using “digital sensors” to check on the health of elders in another significant step forward in the digital revolution.

By the end of this month, 21,000 sensors will be placed in the Linfen Road Community, some of them under the beds of elders to monitor their health.

Other sensors will be put up in restaurant kitchens for smoke warning and in sewers for manhole cover thefts among other places.

Sensors can automatically upload data on to a big data analytics platform. Alerts will be triggered once “abnormal figures” — at odds with pre-set statistical model and parameters — are detected.

The community has more than 100 elders over the ages of 80 who live alone.

Their complex has been installed with three sensors. One of the sensors is installed on the gate to ensure that they are back home safely.

The second, an infrared sensor, is installed in the living room, and detects whether they move from time to time.

All other information about them is automatically deleted.

The third sensor is installed under the bed to check on their health.

Besides checking on their blood pressure — before and after they lie down on the bed — it can also find out the number of times they wake up in the night.

The sensors can also detect their heart beats.

“Elders don’t need to touch anything or pay for it. They just have to live their lives the way they are used to. If they feel sick, we will automatically be alerted and we will send officials to check on them,” claimed Zheng Weijing, director of the neighborhood on Lane 380, Linfen Road.

“It can monitor for 24 hours,” said Zhou Jun, director of Jing’an’s science and technology authority.

So far, only 323 sensors have been installed. Officials have received more than 600 useful alerts and 16 potential accidents were nipped in the bud, said Yu Linwei, chief of Party’s Working Committee in the Linfen Road Community.

“Many of the small retailers and restaurants don’t use electricity in a proper way. Several times, smoke sensor alarm went off and we acted in time to prevent the fire from spreading,” Yu said.

“Actually, there are many problems,” Yu continued, “like people throwing trash, drivers parking cars in non-parking areas and elders living alone and fainting at home.”

Yu gave an example of an incident involving himself.

Somebody living above his apartment dropped a lighted cigar that fell on his quilt, which was put out in his balcony to dry.

Fortunately, he was at home and put off the fire immediately.

“Now, we have sensors on every six floors. So, we can catch the offender,” he said.

Shanghai, which has been designated by China to pioneer the concept of smart cities, has named Jing’an District to trial the concept as it is home to the Shanghai Data Exchange, China’s leading big data center.

Everything from infrastructure and service is connected to data and analyzed that is commonly called the Internet of Things. It means everything about our lives will be connected for optimum efficiency and convenience.

By the end of September, 500,000 sensors will be installed covering a total of 14 communities in Jing’an.

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