Abstract and Objectives
Go-myLife(full title: “Going online: my social life”) is an AAL2 project aiming to improve the quality of life for older people through the use of online social networks combined with mobile technologies. Go-myLife develops a mobile social networking platform costumed to the needs of the elderly, allowing interactions with their peers and families, as well as easy access to relevant geographically based information.
In our increasingly dislocated and mobile society, online social network sites are proving valuable in bridging distances and facilitating interaction and communications. People are spending a significant amount of time at the top social networking websites in order to manage existing relationships with friends, reconnect with old friends, share media and find new contacts that have similar interests.
Fulfilling these needs is just as important for elderly people as it is for everyone else, but can become more difficult; As a result of their retirement from working life and increasing frailty, it is all too easy for older people to spend much of their time at home, thus missing out on a daily routine of social interactions. This can lead to increasing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Online social networks have the potential to tackle this issue by facilitating social interactions and communication and by bridging distances and physical limitations. However, for a whole range of reasons, older people tend to miss out on these benefits. This gap is exactly what Go-myLife aims to address.
A platform built around the needs of elderly people
Conventional online social networks were started with young people in mind and have only slowly expanded to include older demographics. Their culture can therefore seem alien to elderly people. Also, because they are largely used by people who have grown up with the online world, little attention is paid to usability and accessibility. Go-myLife will therefore develop a social networking platform that is built around the interests and requirements of older people.
A platform fully integrated with mainstream online social networks
Older people are keen to maintain contact with the different generations of their family. They also want to contribute to mainstream debate and discussion and not be boxed into communities with people of a similar age to themselves. Many older people have already invested significant time in building contact lists and relationships within the major social networks. Go-myLife will therefore not attempt to set up a new social network but rather a platform from where elderly people can post messages and receive updates and take part in discussions across a variety of platforms, thus bringing existing communities together.
A platform based on mobility and location awareness
It is important for older people to be supported not only in their homes, but also while they are out and about. Go-myLife will therefore provide a site optimised for access via a Smartphone to enable users to benefit wherever they are. It will also add on mobile social software applications, made possible due to the increasing availability of powerful Smartphones. Up to now, these have focused mostly on providing location based information. Go-myLife will take this the next step by providing greater contextual awareness of whom and what is around the user.
This will then allow serendipitous meetings with friends and family, help users to find out interesting information about places and add their own comments for the benefit of others, and help them to have greater security, knowing that it will be easier for them to get help and support should they get into difficulty.
The Go-MyLife Vision
The vision: Offering a widely accepted tool facilitating the social inclusion of older people.
About the technology
The technology: The architecture consists of a core social networking platform connected to disparate social networking sites through middleware that essentially addresses personalization, security and integration-related requirements, with an easy and accessible interface.