HIER-OS - Exploring the possibilities of conversational interfaces to fight social isolation among senior citizens

Social isolation
Senior citizens
Conversational interfaces
Citizen-centric innovation

HIER-OS explores the possibilities of conversational interfaces to fight social isolation among senior citizens. The central concept, Hello Jenny, is focused on two main challenges: (1) detecting the need for social contact and  (2) initiating communication to arrange a visit by a ‘buddy’, a volunteer in the neighborhood. This is achieved through the development of a social isolation index (the CNI, contact need index), which triggers a voice interface to propose a visit to the senior citizen. When this offer is accepted, the buddy is asked to call the voice interface through a mobile application and plan the visit. In this project,  the buddies are also considered ‘sensors’ for other issues (‘signals’) and ‘interfaces’ to provide the appropriate information to the senior citizens (e.g. on a certain type of care offer, activities in the neighborhood, …). To facilitate this, senior-buddy interactions can be managed by local health care providers, through an interface that also allows two-way communication between the volunteers and the health care professionals.

This project originated from the first City of People 'cycle', these projects apply a bottom-up, experimental and interdisciplinary approach to develop new technologies for urban societal challenges. Through co-creation, rapid prototyping and experimentation new solutions are explored together with different stakeholders.

We at imec-mict-UGent are doing the City of People Project coordination, user research on drivers and barriers, citizen co-creation, rapid prototyping, field trials.


Partners: City of Ghent, imec-IDLab-UGent & imec.EDIT

Project Duration: 01/09/2019 - 31/03/2022