In Bolzano, Italy, almost a quarter of the population is over the age of 65. In fact, Italy, along with Japan, has one of the oldest populations in the world. As a result, Bolzano currently spends close to half of their social services budget on services for the elderly. This includes assisted living facilities where they receive around-the-clock care. But assisted living facilities can cost a city and the people who stay there vast amounts of money that, within these economic conditions, municipalities and families just don't have. The solution: Keep them in their homes where they are comfortable.
IBM's Smarter Cities team recently partnered with the city of Bolzano to pilot a program titled "Living Safe," in which they outfitted a small group of elderly residents' homes with sensors which would in turn report data back to a central database closely monitored by the city. Any abnormality, like a water leak, a rise in CO2 levels in the home, would trigger a signal which would be forwarded to the support center.
From there, the city could dispatch a care worker to visit the home. By allowing Bolzano to keep the number of their staff members the same, the program stabilizes the city's costs while simultaneously allowing it to care for its growing elderly population. Bolzano estimates that it would receive close to 30 percent in savings in its social services programs by using a solution such as this. Not only does the program benefit the city monetarily — but it also, and perhaps more importantly, benefits its residents by affording them the choice to stay in their own home where they want to be.