How to Create an “Internet of Things for Active and Healthy Ageing” (IoT-AHA) Ecosystem

As stated by Sergio Guillén in the first post of this blog, the main goal of ACTIVAGE is to build the first interoperable IoT-AHA Ecosystem.
I have discussed what the IoT-AHA ecosystem is with Sergio and, like true engineers, we see the IoT-AHA Ecosystem as a “cogwheel” that makes two other cogwheels move, the “Active and Healthy Ageing” and the “Internet of Things” cogwheels, that together create a brand new mechanism.


We are not alone in this process: ACTIVAGE was presented at the eHealth week in Malta last 10-12 May. Among others, Stefan Biesdorf from McKinsey & Co gave an inspiring speech in which he pointed out that the health sector needs a “Creative Approach to Successfully Compete with Digital Champions” such as banking, music, travel and retail. In all these sectors, digitalization has already changed business models across industries, which have almost duplicated their relevance in the last 5 years.

On May 3-5, the AIOTI Strategy Meeting took place in Toulonne. Its main objective was to launch the second phase of the Alliance and become an independent organism and think tank. In this context, the AIOTI Working Group 5 “Smart Living Environment for Ageing Well” is defining the vision, objectives and plans for the next three years, and I have felt the awareness of this group about the role that IoT will play in the Digital Revolution of the AHA sector.

ACTIVAGE can be the Creative Approach mentioned by Stefan Biesdorf (or the new mechanism I am referring to…), which converts the AHA sector in a Digital Champion too. That is why ACTIVAGE not only belongs to the partners that are working on a daily basis in the project activities. Rather, it is a unique opportunity to create a European IoT-AHA Ecosystem. Our Large Scale Pilot will put this mechanism in place over nine interconnected Deployment Sites , with the aim of creating benefit for consumers and value for stakeholders of the AHA and IoT ecosystems.

We do not have so much time to bring this mechanism to life. Our ambition is to do it in the next three years.

During this time frame, the communities of the two ecosystems need to interact through a structured and harmonized co-creation process that allows to identify unmet needs and challenges of the AHA domain (the “cogs” of the “AHA wheel”), the possibilities and opportunities that the IoT paradigm can bring (the “cogs” of the “IoT wheel”), and consequently the value proposition of IoT for the AHA domain (the “third cogwheel”).

In order for the mechanism to work and be sustained over time, we need to define the performance parameters and put the appropriate maintenance activities in place. Additionally, a dashboard must be created to ensure that everything is under control and that the expected impact is made (what we have called the Global/Local –> GLOCAL Evaluation Framework).

Once the mechanism is in place, we will realize that we are generating something new, which is more than a mere combination of the two communities. That is why the IoT-AHA will be an ecosystem on its own, composed of a common identity, key messages, standards, new type of data -> information -> evidence for stakeholders, new business models for service providers, new solutions for purchasers and innovative procurements for public institutions.

How are we creating the IoT-AHA Ecosystem in ACTIVAGE?

In the first months of the project we have defined three Clusters, resembling the three wheels:

1) The AHA Cluster: to understand the real and unmet needs for senior citizens to live independently, actively and with dignity, feeling useful in their neighbourhoods and in harmony with society, and to define a set of services designed with and for them.
2) The IoT Cluster: services have to be built on top of technologies that are transparent, adaptive and configurable, allowing senior citizens to be in control of the data they are providing and the benefit they are receiving from multiple suppliers.
3) The Business & Ecosystem Cluster: to set up a Person Centric IoT Ecosystem for AHA, over which local business cases can be tested and interchange elements with each other, in order to achieve interoperability between local ecosystems.

After defining these clusters’ needs, challenges and propositions, we have identified 5 Burning Topics to be discussed, digested and harmonized, this time by joining the three clusters in one single discussion forum:

  1. IoT-AHA for Deployment Sites: which are the benefits for a local authority of interoperating with other platforms?
  2. Open Cross Pilot Architecture: how can this interoperation be realized?
  3. Data Model for IoT-AHA: which are the data to be stored in the edge, which information needs to be shared in the cloud and what features need to be delivered to third parties?
  4. IoT Trust in AHA: how are we going to preserve humans’ dignity (i.e. ethics), guarantee their freedom (i.e. privacy) and make them feel safe in every moment (i.e. security) when defining solutions for them (i.e. ethics, privacy and security “by Design” )?
  5. Measuring the IoT “effect” on AHA: how are we demonstrating that a positive effect is produced by an “IoT approach”?

There are two important elements that need to be considered in such discussion:

  1. We have to keep our feet on the ground when carrying out our Large Scale Pilot, therefore we need a solid, well designed and reliable study protocol.
  2. The pilot must produce results to show that a long term vision is being achieved through the validation of reference models, which are:

• a reference IoT-AHA Data Model,
• a reference IoT Architecture for AHA,
• reference Model on IoT Trust for AHA,
• reference Scenarios and Use Cases,
• reference Business models and Purchasing models.

These reference models will make up the IoT-AHA ecosystem, to be delivered to the AHA and IoT domains.
It is likely that next posts will discuss these topics in further detail. Interact with us and help us to advance!!!

Giuseppe Fico, ACTIVAGE Technical Manager