HDB elderly alert system well-received in test-bed

SINGAPORE - A sensor system that alerts caretakers when their elderly charges are in trouble has proven popular, after being tested in some Housing Board flats here.

The Smart Elderly Monitoring and Alert System (Semas), developed by HDB and four small and medium enterprises, was placed in 12 rental flats from June to November last year.

All 12 households supported the use of the system, and 10 of them felt that it was elder-friendly and easy to use, according to an HDB survey.

With the use of motion sensors, the system tracks the living habits of the elderly in their homes, and alerts their caregivers via alarms and text messages when irregular patterns appear, such as when there is an unusually long period of inactivity. It also comes with a portable panic button which the elderly can press in times of distress.

The survey also showed that eight of the test-bed households felt that the system does not compromise their privacy, while the other four remained neutral.

Pre-school teacher Doris Oo, 50, and her 78-year-old mother, Madam Mabel Chen, were among the first to try out the system at their Yishun flat.

"I'm not at home most of the time, so this really helps very much," said Ms Oo, who is her mother's sole caregiver. "I'm much less worried about her now."

The alert system is part of the Smart HDB Town Framework, which aims to equip public flats here with the digital infrastructure for "smart homes". The first of these homes will be launched in two housing projects in Punggol Northshore, during the upcoming sales exercise in May.

Referring to the alert system, HDB's chief executive officer Cheong Koon Hean said: "Smart technology helps to improve the lives of residents. In this instance, it enhances the safety of our elderly residents and offers their children greater peace of mind.

"Moving forward, HDB will continue to explore innovative ideas and partner the industry to develop solutions that residents can consider adopting for their HDB flats."

yeosamjo@sph.com.sg