Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is no laughing matter. I profess no expertise but I am led to believe that it is a highly complex range of lung diseases that result in people having difficulty breathing. It is not pleasant yet it is a major socio-economic issue for the North East region. I’m not sure why. I can guess at that it is in part due to our industrial heritage and in others down to lifestyle issues (a euphemism). As I said I am no expert.
This week, however, I was in a room filled with people who understand the wide range of issues that contribute to the problem. I was in a Pit Stop Challenge, put on by Business Durham around social isolation and COPD (including self-care and self-management). Why? What has this to do with technology?
Tell me what hasn’t to do with technology these days. My interest has always been in using our investment in technology for the benefit of the people of Durham as well as the role of technology in creating wealth in the region. Altogether wealthier. Technology is often seen as a cause of social ails but I think there are huge opportunities to connect people better and influence behaviours, perhaps through sentient devices and the so called internet of things. Things such as dampness, oxygen levels and proximity, all which I think would be relevant to the subject.
I’m leading on a couple of major programmes which also may help and are digital connectivity across the region, the framework on which all of this lies and an open data big data programme to set our data free into the wild.
So that is why I was there. It was a fascinating morning. Unfortunately I had to leave at lunchtime.
The problem was described to us and then we broke into our tables to think of ideas. One of advantages of Durham is that it has a fairly stable population and so is ideally placed as a living lab. Health development can be tried and tested here in readiness for rolling out across the national and global market. We have a lot of opportunity.
We ended agreeing on a couple of ideas around how we can use sensors, the internet of things and ambient devices to modify people’s behaviours and their environment. There were also huge opportunities around data. I look forward to seeing what the outcomes are.