Interoperability: defining the future of smart-living systems

People’s needs are continuously changing. Technology, organisations, and cities are always evolving and with this evolution, new social, economic and environmental challenges emerge. Often, communities (e.g., of cities, authorities, managers, etc.) are looking for novel ways of identifying human needs and difficulties, to take rapid and effective actions that improve lives.

This is where smart solutions designed by pioneering high-tech companies like Ubiwhere arise, to completely change the way we look at people’s interactions and behaviours by collecting, digitalising, and analysing data from sensors, platforms, and applications.

Data represents a valuable tool to support decision-making and strategies in diverse contexts. Collecting and correlating data from distinct sources within an environment – a city, building, healthcare facilities, etc. – gives people a holistic view of the communities living, visiting or working in it. Decision-makers and responsible entities can use this information to identify the need for altering certain services or infrastructures to suit people’s needs and expectations.

Ubiwhere, for instance, typically collects urban data (on mobility, environmental conditions, as well as safety and quality of life) to provide city managers and other authorities real-time information about a city’s ecosystem. By drawing indicators on the quality of life of people living or visiting a particular city or building, we help city managers visualise and be conscious of what works and what needs to improve. Our responsibility is to cross-reference the data from a variety of sources and display it in intuitive and customisable dashboards, which give decision-makers valuable insights and help enable coordinated responses. 

But in any context, with the purpose of presenting assorted information in a unified, integrated, and understandable way: one must ensure that different devices, platforms, and networks are able to communicate with each other and that the data is open and available for use. Interoperability amongst different systems is thus a determining factor.

But what is interoperability?

Interoperability is, in a very succinct way, “the ability of different systems, devices and applications to exchange and make use of information.”

There are a myriad of useful devices, networks and platforms, but even when there is a high offer of all of these components, if they do not speak the same language, they will not be able to work together and create an efficient smart system.

Interoperability and standardisation are what allow software developers and managers, for instance, to get contextual information from different sources and operate with the purpose of optimising different services collectively. They can manage multiple applications through well-defined interfaces and without being tied to a particular vendor or technology.

Interoperability is decisive when it comes to the success of digital systems for assisted living and healthcare

TeNDER brings together renowned organisations from the healthcare sector, research centres, and companies with vast experience in high-tech development, to create an integrated care model to help manage multi-morbidity in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

To achieve such an innovative vision, it is essential to design a standard tool able to support interoperability among different systems operating in diverse settings.

Collecting data in a safe manner from different sources in different contexts (through location and environmental sensors, cameras and affective recognition technology, etc.) and cross-referencing it with background information on the patient, will help alert us to changes that could lead to health complications.

Towards more personalised healthcare

The system will store this information as a set of indicators and patterns on the patients’ quality of life under certain conditions. Healthcare professionals will get a holistic view of their patients so they can proactively address specific needs and support the autonomy of those who live independently.

It aims at transforming the way healthcare professionals interact with their patients and with each other.

Projects like TeNDER represent an opportunity to seize the findings and know-how in data orchestration, standardisation, and interoperability and apply in many other contexts to provide truly smart living across all sectors.

We aim at building a standard and interoperable solution that centralises the collection and processing of data from heterogeneous sources and systems in a single platform; and harmonises diverse types of integrations, standards, and protocols with applicability in different communities and, to improve the lives of all people and create a safer, more inclusive and sustainable world.

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