AIOTI WG Urban Society prepared a paper on IoT Improving Healthy Urban Living. The full paper can be found here.
This Paper reflects on the matter “How can IoT be deployed in a trustworthy manner to improve health and well-being in urban societies, placing focus on disease prevention instead of treatment?”
Modern society has become removed from several of the traditional ways of experiencing and interacting. Tactile information has always been central in understanding context and non-verbal signals. Research is being conducted to reintroduce this element in communication through technology: gloves with actuators, electricity to stimulate nerves, and a brain interface to directly convey the missing bits of jigsaw puzzle that is the human mind. The current situation is that we are still far from a working solution.
In the meantime, new fields within the domain of computer science have enabled the visualisation of large amounts of data through statistics and infographics, tools for simplifying scenarios through designing virtual users (personas), designing information architecture to make it more obvious what choices are relevant and how to avoid mental strain when navigating complex content.
Despite all the efforts being put into making cities smarter and homes more adaptable to individual needs, what is often observed in the domain of IoT is the focus on optimising the past and its problems. However, rapid urbanisation and the advances in the digital domain call for the deployment of innovation and technology as tools to help create a sustainable solution for individuals, the environment, and the future. New solutions require the development of new methods for those solutions to take hold and be widely adopted. In a smart society, healthcare responds to situations before they happen – not after. Prevention can save more lives than treatment afterwards. The cost for society will be much higher when the damage is already done.
Technology has been the driving force behind changes in human psychology, so it must be expected to take these aspects of human psychology into consideration when preparing living conditions and solutions that are improving lives. A good life does not only consist of a healthy body, but mental health is also just as important; in fact, it may be more important. Technology such as integrated home assistance devices and healthcare equipment can support fast response actions. Augmented reality and improved display technologies can contribute to the visual impact of a space by providing clearer images over a larger field of view, while noise cancelling or background sounds from natural sources can offer potential to soothe the mind or enhance the feeling of wellness.
IoT and related technology could play an important role in connection to physical and mental health and well-being. However, innovation does not come without its own risks and impact. The shift towards digitisation, particularly, in the domain of health care and healthy living must ensure that the right level of trust and accountability has been established in the relevant digital ecosystems. In order to do so, as a society, we must gain awareness and learn to appreciate and understand the various challenges and opportunities in order to work together to mitigate some of these risks and impacts. This is necessary to establish ideal scenarios that law a framework for an ecosystem that fosters innovation and development, not only of the relevant technological solutions but leaves room for truly healthy urban living, both on the level of the individual and the society.