Jo Giles, Customer Safeguarding Manager, shares our latest update on how we are embracing innovation to change the lives of people living in vulnerable situations.
You might remember my last article about the ‘Dementia – Call 4 Action’ workshop
in London, which we co-hosted with EIC
, late last year. On the day, we were joined by innovators, businesses and charities to discuss innovative solutions to help people live as independently as possible with Dementia(s).
Since then, we’ve received a range of interesting and innovative proposals, which we are reviewing regularly via the NMCF Utilities Working Group
to look at what ideas we can further support.
We recently hosted an online ‘Dragons’ Den’ style competition with innovators, making the most of remote working technology so we could continue to observe and develop their great ideas while adhering to the government’s crucial social distancing guidelines. It was great to see the breadth of thinking to support customers across a range of utilities including gas, electricity, water and communications.
As with any research, we’re starting to narrow down our thinking based on the great ideas that our partners and innovators have shared to date.
We put out an ‘innovation call’ on the topic of alternatives to audible alarms
to detect, for example, carbon monoxide
. Through this, we’re hoping to find viable alternatives to audible alarms for those may have hearing difficulties or who may be left uncomfortable or distressed in their home by loud noises.
We're also exploring ways to verify the identity of engineers on the doorstep, to provide the added peace of mind that a customer is not letting a stranger into their home. This supports our work to help customers identify and prevent potential scams
In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever before to recognise that we can all find ourselves in vulnerable situations. We’re all making sacrifices to safeguard the people around us, and it’s easy to feel isolated. That’s why we’re developing a design challenge with RS Components
and Nordic Semiconductor
, where talented young engineers/students/academics will be invited to put their creative thinking to use during the lockdown and develop smart technology solutions to support those who feel vulnerable or isolated in the current climate. We’ll be sharing more on this later in the month.
While exploring the art of the possible, we also recognise how important it is to draw on the existing expertise of our partners. Working closely with Alzheimer’s Society
and their network of carers and NHS specialists, we’ve been exploring what existing products already out there and how we might support them. I had the privilege of attending Alzheimer’s Society’s Annual Lecture, where I found out about some products they are developing through their own research and development which can benefit utilities customers across the board.
We have so much work still to do, and I look forward to seeing the exciting range of solutions put forward by our colleagues and partners to support people with Dementia(s). If you have an idea to help improve the lives of those living with Dementia(s) and/or those who care for them, or want to find out more about how to submit ideas, visit www.ukeic.com/opportunities