i3 | December 30, 2018

Tech Helps Vulnerable Populations in Need

Steve Ewell

Hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico in the past few years have massively impacted the communities across those regions. When a disaster strikes, it often effects vulnerable populations like the elderly and people with disabilities the most. Consumer technologies can ensure that these populations receive the necessary services when catastrophic events do occur.

After Hurricane Irma struck Florida in 2017, the country was shocked to learn that eight seniors died in a nursing home when the air conditioning was cut off by a blown transformer. When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, many of the islands deaths were seniors unable to receive medical care. Recognizing the needs of the older inhabitants, FEMA has specific resources on ready.gov to serve this community.

Consumer tech can play an active role in helping these communities plan and respond. A few technologies that can help include:

Communications: Social connections and access to information are two critical pieces to planning and recovery. Many traditional forms of telecommunications like landline or cellular telephone systems are critical. Innovations in mesh networks or using drones to augment coverage in regions with outages can help people connect to alerts. Social media solutions like the Facebook Crisis Response allows users to report themselves safe to their networks.

Power: When the power grid goes down, there are automated operating functions in place to keep systems, and the devices connected to them, online. These include solar solutions like GoalZero and WakaWaka. Generators and battery systems also can help offset periods of time without power.

Transportation: Ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber can help augment public transportation when residents are trying to leave a disaster area. Also, this could be an opportunity for self-driving vehicles to help provide fleets of cars that can operate for long periods of time without suffering the exhaustion of human drivers.

Health Tech: One of the biggest impacts for seniors amid a disaster is losing access to medication or other medical services. Technology can provide medication reminders, health tracking, and alerts to inform individuals and their caregivers about issues before they reach a critical state.

Many of these products and services that aid in the planning and response to a disaster will be at CES 2019. However, there are still lots of opportunities for the technology community to provide innovations to serve these groups. Recently Call for Code, a program supported by IBM and other companies, issued a challenge to developers to create new solutions for disaster response.

The CTA Foundation is excited to see the continued emergence of these types of technologies. Join us as we help support the use of technology in improving the lives of older adults and people with disabilities. Learn more at CTAFoundation.tech.

Support the CTA Foundation

Be recognized by the CTA Foundation at CES 2019 and other events:

  • Be highlighted on the CTA Foundation website and in materials
  • Receive opportunities to engage in discussions about these technologies at CES and other events
  •  Receive opportunities to engage in special research or service projects
  • Gain access to staff subject matter experts and in the CTA Foundation network
  • Ensure your resources make a true difference to communities in need Support us at SupportCTAF.org

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