10,000 abused women across Spain to receive a prototype personal alarm system

Early next year 10,000 abused women across Spain are due to receive a prototype personal alarm system operated by Vodafone and the Red Cross. The system stems from the results of CONFIDENT, which developed mobile services to enhance the independence of people with special needs.

“CONFIDENT allowed us to validate the technology, the new trial with victims of domestic violence will show whether such systems are socially acceptable,” explains Rafael Lamas, the coordinator of IST project CONFIDENT at Fundación Vodafone in Spain.

The project ended last year having developed a system to provide the disabled and elderly with immediate access to personalised assistance over wireless devices. Employing secure UMTS technology, it allows social and medical workers to monitor users’ status and users to obtain help in an emergency.

“The aim of the project was to increase the independence of people who have special needs by giving them the ability to be in immediate contact with a call centre where they can obtain assistance,” Lamas says. “The use of the system with abused women is a continuation of that work and the technology itself is a direct result of CONFIDENT.”

Funded by the Spanish government, the trial with victims of domestic violence could lead to a permanent mobile assistance network being operated by the Red Cross and Vodafone across Spain. The Red Cross in other European countries has also voiced interest in the system, which provides important reassurances to users.

“The trials we carried out during and after the CONFIDENT project received positive responses from users who found the system increased their independence and allowed them to go about daily life more normally, confident in the knowledge that someone was watching over them,” the project coordinator notes.

With the chronically ill or disabled, for example, the system can be used to remotely monitor their blood pressure on a daily basis, allowing medical workers to intervene if anything appears abnormal. “It is like going to the doctor for a check up every day without the inconvenience,” Lamas notes.

With an estimated seven million people across Europe needing some kind of daily living assistance because of age, disability or illness the market for the system is huge, especially if abused women are taken into account.

“After testing this system with victims of domestic violence we are looking to initiate further collaborations with the Red Cross in more areas and more sectors of the population, using the system to help other people with special needs,” Lamas says.

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