Social activity with GPS

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Social activity with GPS

Norrköping, Sweden
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Self-managed social activity for older adults based on geographic positioning where new technology is used in order to stimulate the activity.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We are trying to prevent loneliness and inactivity among elderly people with different tools and measures. Both these factors are essential in health promotion. It is desirable to find activities that give a social network and meaningsfullness in the same time as it gives physical and mental training. This will help elderly stay well longer in their life. The challenge for the future is to find interesting and tempting acitivities for the elderly, or better even earlier in life, to promote health. If activities also may be self-managed by older adults, i.e. with no need for specific staff for the execution, it will add to the independence and also to resource efficiency which is highly desired in the society for the future, due to the rapidly ageing population. Another part of the problem is how to get older adults to really use new technology. Pure education is a possibility, but if the education may be carried as "learning by doing" it is both more fun and more effective.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We use new technology, with excisting applications and tools to make physical exercise and social activity more tempting to older adults. The basic tool used is a surfpad with certain applications. Any surfpad is possible to use, but in the development phase Apple iPad 2 with 3G network connection has been used. Only one surfpad per group is required, but it is also possible to use more than one if desired. In addition to the surfpad a new system for wireless sound distribution to head-sets has been created in a rather simple way, using commercially available ordinary wireless headphones. Normally the headphones are intended for in-home use connected to ordinary power outlets. The headphones themselves are wireless and charged in a docking station. The new thing is that the sending device has been made portable by means of chargable battery unit and an amplifier which makes it possible to connect the headphone outlet to the system as well as a microphone. The sending unit is packed in a bag which may be easily carried by the group leader, who has a headset connected to the sending device by a chord. This headset also has a microphone. The entire system is stored in a bigger suitcase when not needed or when in charging mode. The system enables group of older adults to perform activities originally intended for single use. Typical such assplications are tourist or historic information provided through smartphone and/or surfpad apps sensitive to the current geographic position. The system has been tested in such an application provided by the Municipality of Norrköping in order to give historic information on buildings and places in the famous former industry quarters in the city centre. However, the solution may be used for any surfpad or smartphone app or any application able to be executed on a portable device, originally intended for a single user. The solution is entirely language independent and may be implemented among older adults in any country. However, it is desirable to execute the activity in areas where the coverage by 3G networks is good, which in fact today is a reality in most European urban areas. But, still some applications may be executed off-line, with only the GPS network active, which is entirely global.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A group of older adults find each other in an open activity centre, maybe they have previously attended social activities provided by the centre. The centre has a complete GPS activity equipment to borrow. One individual in the group had earlier attended a walk with the equipment lead by one in the staff of the centre. The knowledge and experience thus achieved should be enough in order to lead other people for a walk. They start from the centre at a certain time agreed on beforehand. Each individual in the group get a charged headphone from the suitcase and the leader takes the leader bag on the shoulder and the iPad in the hand. The leader starts the iPad and the app "The industrial landscape". On the iPad screen everyone can see the current position as a blue dot. The different destinations to pass during the walk are marked by red headed needles. They start to walk and when they arrive at the first destination/needle on the map, the leader starts the pre-recorded story behind the house/place in question, which everyone in the group then hear in their wireless headphones, which also cut possible surrounding noise. In addition, it is possible to look at historic photos.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We are not aware of a similar use of such technology other than typical guide systems, normally only used in order for an audience to listen to a guide during a tour. Such systems are also considerable more expensive than this system, even though their functionality is much more limited than our solution. The existing solutions are no threat and our solution is not primarily intended for commercial exploitation, although it might be an opportunity for a company, but we are open to disseminate it while describing how to implement the solution, step by step on the web and via other channels.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


Implementer(s) and cooperation partners



Public body

Country where main implementer is located

, OG, Norrköping

How long has the main implementer been operating?

1‐5 years

Please provide a short description of the main implementer.

The implementer is an activity center run by the municipality of Norrköping which is open for all elderly in the area and in the city. The activity center is open evry day all year and provides a broad variaty of activities. All activities are free of charge and each individual can choose to come just for company with others or the participate in a group activity.

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Cooperation partner

New tools for Health



How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? What competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

The organisation did the initial evaluation in order to find the proper tools for the intended activity and did some development and the final set-up based on technical knowledge in the area in question as well as previous experience from test bed and living lab activities.

Cooperation partner

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How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Cooperation partner

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How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Cooperation partner

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How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Problem and solution
Which of these fields of Active and Healthy Ageing are addressed by your initiative?

Personalized health management, Independent living solutions, Social inclusion (intergenerational practice, work and volunteering), Age friendly buildings, environments, and communities.

If none of the above, answer here:
Please describe if and how your stakeholders (cooperation partners, funders, users, etc.) have been participating in defining the problem and developing the solution.

The system in question was composed by New Tools for Health, a regional innovation initiative, based on discussions with staff at the Granen activity centre of Norrköping Municipality. The test group of end-users got an introduction to the idea prior to the first walk.

New Tools for Health is a regional innovation initiative and cluster, with Norrköping Municipality as one of its members. Other members are the County Council (main care provider in the region), Linköping University and some 50 companies. A major aim with the initiative is to increase independence and to reduce loneliness among older adults with technology as an enabler.

The test was a part of the Norrköping Municipality project Bo vital, in which New Tools for Health was one of the participating and executing organisations.

End-users were interviewed before, during and after the execution of the test walk.

Has your solution been tested in trials, experimentations, or pilot projects? If yes, please describe the process and outcome.

The solution was tested during a test walk with a smaller group. The results were very positive. One obvious experience was that the contents of the information given during the walk inspired to discussion and talk among the participants while walking from one point of interest to another. It induced memories to come up and was regarded as inspiring. The discussions also made the walking much easier, thus inspired to physical activity in a fun way. During the test walk each one in the test group got the opportunity to hold the iPad and to play the pre-recorded stories and display photos. Thus, knowledge about how to use the application and a surfpad was spread in the group.

How long has your solution been in operation?

for less than a year

Please select the relationship between your solution and related solutions currently established in our society. Is your solution…

adaptive (your solution builds on existing solutions and is improving them without radically changing them)

What barriers might hinder the success of your initiative? How do you plan to overcome them?

There is always a barrier when aiming at extended use of new technology among older adults. However, the experience so far shows that it is easily overcome. The reason for this is the choice of a user-friendly platform, a surfpad, and that older adults may help other older adults to overcome the barriers. When the threshold is passed a phase of self-learning will start.

Another barrier may be the reluctance among some employees at activity centres and the like, when it comes to using new technology. But, one enthusiast per centre is enough in order for the solution to be implemented. And, it may not be excluded that the enthusiast in question might be found among the older adults regurarly visiting the centre. A general aim should always be to find early adopters among the elderly, in order to assist other in the target group to overcome the barriers and eventually become adopters and leaders themselves.

Organization and funding
Regularly paid employees



A small group of 5 volunteers in the testing phase


Each participant may be regarded as a trainee in this case

External advisers and experts

Project manager from New tools for health

Others (please specify)

Project manager from the project Bo vital and the head of R&D unit in the municipality (PUFF)

What are the specific professional backgrounds and competencies your team brings to the initiative?

Knowledge about how to use the system in order for groups of older adults to carry-out the activities themselves and knowledge about what might be found interesting and accepted among the older adults in question.

New Tools for Health is a regional innovation initiative operated as an association, in which Norrköping Municipality is one of the members. Other members are the County Council, Linköping University and some 50 companies. The initiative is base funded by the Swedish government. It has a role in the project Bo vital as initiator and to be responsible for test activities.

Please describe your management or coordination structure in the initiative.

The activity was carried-out as a sub-project of the main project Bo vital, with a project manager from New Tools for Health.

Bo vital has a steering committee with representatives from the major stake-holders, including end-users from the local elderly organisations.

On the operative level of the activity in question, decisions were made in a smaller group, close to the end-users.

Please provide the total yearly budget in Euro that your initiative spends on implementing the solution.
National public funding


European Union public funding


Economic return from own products/services


Foundations and philanthropy capital


Single donations from private individuals


Donations from private companies


Crowdfunding platforms


Participation fees


Other (please specify)

Crowdfunding, donations and participation fees may options for a wider use in other environments and countries.

Target group, scale and impact
Which target group(s) do you want to reach with your solution?

Elderly people living by themselves in their own homes with a desire to meet other people now and then, in connection with stimulating social and physical activities.

Please estimate the number of persons within your target group (users, clients, etc.) that you currently reach directly with your solution.


In which local/regional/national area(s) is the solution currently implemented?

The solution is curently implemented in a local area, the city of Norrköping, but is possible to be used in any geographic area.

What is the impact on your target group (users, clients) you want to generate?

- Better physical and mental health,
- A feeling of being participative in the society.
- Reduced barriers of using new technology among older adults.
- Getting in contact with a group of other persons

What is the wider impact on society you want to generate?

Increased self-management and independence. In the long run it´s also a way to stay healthier longer.

What are the impacts on your target group you already achieved?

The older adults who have participated in the activity report that it is a nice combination of social interaction and physical activity and that they would like to try it in other contexts as well.

How has the impact of your initiative been assessed?

Experience-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on your experiences with the target group), Feedback-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on feedback from the target group without using specific methods).

Public information and strategy
What information on your initiative is publicly available?

Mission and strategy, Organisational structure, Activity report.

Please indicate webpage or contact for obtaining the respective information.
What are your milestones for further developing, implementing, and establishing your initiative in the next three years? Please describe 1-3 milestones.

The initiative will be tested in more activity centres and will be evaluated in more specific ways, such as testing if it is possible to measure physical and/or social improvements.

It will also be investigated how the solution may be used for other applications, such as "WhatWasThere" which makes it possible to upload historic pictures with the geographic position and direction in which it once was taken. Then the app may show the pictures during a group walking tour, with the ability to make them partly transparent on a surfpad equipped with a camera in oder to compare with today.