Elderly left behind in 'smart cities'

A female NPC deputy of the city is seeking better care for the elderly in this information age.

ZHU Guoping, a Party secretary of the Hongchu neighborhood committee in Shanghai and an NPC deputy, wants senior citizens to be taken into account amid fears that they will struggle to deal with “intelligent cities” when they become a reality.

Speaking in a panel discussion, Zhu said that old people often encounter problems dealing with “intelligent” devices.

“When they go to a bank, they have to wait in a long line because they can’t use the self-service machine; when they want to hail a taxi, they have to wait on the roadside instead of using a car-hailing app.

“Some smart household appliances are not friendly to old people and have become a decoration at home. Then there is the issue about online appointment registrations for hospitals ...”

She urged the app developers to pay more attention to the needs of the elderly during the app-development process, especially on fonts, panels and instructions.

Neighborhood committees, she said, must encourage young cadres and volunteers to teach the elderly to learn and adapt to the intelligent devices.

Zhu also made a plea for retaining traditional channels. For example, rather than have just online registrations, some “green channels” should be maintained for old people to make appointments.

“New intelligent devices are popping up around us increasingly that brings convenience to life, but we should never forget the elderly group, which is growing bigger and bigger,” said Zhu.

“The information era should not leave them behind.”

By the end of 2016, the number of registered residents aged 60 or above in Shanghai was nearly 4.6 million, accounting for over 30 percent of the city’s registered population.

It is expected that by 2020, the figure will soar to over 5.4 million.

In China, data available till the end of last year showed that the population of elderly people aged 60 or above was 241 million.

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