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Monday, December 4, 2023

Shanghai’s Age-Friendly Society: How Digital Technology is Revolutionizing Elderly Care

ChinaShanghai's Age-Friendly Society: How Digital Technology is Revolutionizing Elderly Care

A digital pavilion in downtown Shanghai has caught the attention of passers-by with its red, modern design and advanced technology. Previously a traditional telephone booth, the pavilion has been transformed by the local government and telecommunications companies to offer much more than just phone calls.

The spacious pavilion now includes a smart screen, a public phone, and intelligent cameras. Users can request a ride through the screen by touching “car hailing” and entering their phone number. The screen provides essential information like the taxi license plate number, distance, and waiting time.

In addition, senior citizens without mobile phones can use the smart screen to contact their families quickly. By scanning their faces, they can inform pre-set emergency contacts, who will then receive the location of the elderly person and can call the pavilion where they are.

This smart pavilion is a remarkable example of how technology is transforming public amenities and making them more accessible to people. The conversion of traditional phone booths into high-tech kiosks has become a growing trend worldwide, as cities look to adapt to the digital age and provide innovative solutions for their citizens.

Shanghai’s digital pavilion showcases how technology can improve the lives of citizens, especially those in need of urgent assistance. As more cities embrace digital transformation, we can expect to see more smart public amenities emerge, creating a more connected and efficient urban environment.

In downtown Shanghai, a unique red digital pavilion is turning heads and attracting continuous attention from passers-by. The pavilion, located on Middle Huaihai Road, was once a conventional telephone booth that has been transformed into a modern structure with digital capabilities. The spacious booth contains a public phone, smart screen, and intelligent cameras, with a row of seats in front of it for convenience. The pavilion, which was converted and decorated by the local government and telecommunications enterprises, now serves a wide range of functions beyond just making phone calls.

The smart screen on the digital pavilion offers numerous features such as the ability to request a ride by touching “car hailing” on the screen, providing taxi license plate numbers, distance, and waiting time. Another service provided by the smart screen is an emergency feature designed for senior citizens who do not own mobile phones. The feature allows senior citizens to quickly contact their families by scanning their faces, which informs pre-set emergency contacts of their location.

Senior citizens can also use the screen to find the nearest hospitals and community canteens within a 15-minute walk. This integration of digital technology has brought a renewed interest in telephone booths, which had fallen out of use in recent years due to the popularity of mobile phones. The municipality has installed dozens of digital pavilions on busy roads, and plans to increase the number to 500 by the end of 2023 and 1,000 by 2025. These pavilions serve as an effective way for the municipality to better support the emergency needs of senior citizens.

Digital technology has also found its way into the homes of elderly people in the city’s suburban areas. In Xinqiao Village of Fengxian District, the local village committee partners with China Telecom Shanghai branch, a state-owned telecommunications company, to provide smart terminal devices for villagers aged 80 and older. The terminal device is similar in size to a small clock and provides additional functions beyond telling time and playing music. Elderly citizens can access three main buttons on the device that are designed especially for them.

Shanghai is taking steps to provide digital infrastructure that caters to the needs of its elderly population. In addition to the city’s innovative digital pavilions, digital technology devices are being introduced in suburban areas to help the elderly remain connected with their families and support services.

In Xinqiao Village, Fengxian District, the China Telecom Shanghai branch and local village committee have collaborated to provide smart terminal devices to residents aged 80 and above. The terminal device is the size of a small clock and is equipped with a few buttons that cater to the specific needs of the elderly.

One of the buttons on the terminal device allows seniors to seek help in emergencies by contacting the village committee. Another button enables them to listen to notifications from the committee. They can also pre-set phone numbers belonging to their families to be able to make and receive calls easily.

Around 100 sets of these terminal devices are currently in use in Xinqiao Village, with the monthly usage fee of approximately 10 yuan paid by the village committee. The elderly service using smart terminal devices is part of the city’s new digital infrastructure to build an age-friendly society in Shanghai. The project is being rolled out in other pilot streets and towns in the city.

Senior citizens who have difficulty using mobile apps can benefit from the municipal helpline previously used for phone number enquiries. Upgraded to cater to their needs, it can now be reached by dialing 114. The hotline provides age-friendly services such as ride-hailing and non-emergency patient transport for senior citizens in Shanghai.

According to recent data, the hotline has already provided ride-hailing services over 155,000 times and answered 183,000 calls through its elderly service.

The city of Shanghai has taken on projects integrating digital technology to address challenges faced by vulnerable groups with internet and intelligent applications. These efforts are part of an attempt to promote digital inclusion, according to Zhang Ying, deputy head of the municipal economy and information technology commission.

The projects aim to create an age-friendly society by using digital technology, including the municipal helpline and the installation of digital pavilions throughout the municipality.

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