Application Powered by Satellites to Identify City-Wide Loneliness Levels in the UK
Leeds City Council has adopted the government-backed application which aims to confront levels of loneliness through access to essential support services for the most vulnerable and socially isolated. The main purpose of the satellite-powered application is to connect the vulnerable and isolated with their communities through the utilisation of technology.
The application enabled by satellites is known as ‘Care View’, and it works by enlisting the aid of professional volunteers such as postal workers, police officers, and charity workers in urban areas throughout a city who contribute their time and efforts by registering themselves on the app when they see indicators of social isolation. A digital tool is provided by the app whereby volunteers are able to locate those in need of support.
Face-to-face interaction is essential to health and well-being in everyday life, highlighted by the necessitated social restrictions put in place as a result of the global pandemic. Indicators of social isolation and lack of support include littered gardens and curtains that consistently remain closed. Individuals within the community are able to notify the app where such indicators are recognised, which generates a “heat spot” on an internet based city-wide map, signalling areas in which individuals may welcome some form of assistance or support.
This heat map highlights areas in which outreach efforts can best be focused, with individual homes then leafleted before being visited with the objective of generating NHS referrals and social care processes. By connecting those in need of support with services such as housing support or counselling, the likelihood of identifying those in urgent need is massively increased, all the while preventing the issues experienced from reaching a critical state, therefore precluding the need for more costly intercessions.
Care View was developed by the Urban Sustainable Development Lab and is available on nearly every type of smartphone. The app has been used thus far to locate and consequentially support vulnerable people with the help of Fire and Rescue services, charities, and Public Health teams. Through the application’s support of collaboration between emergency services, charities, and the Council, complete healthcare provision is made possible.
Additional storage space is not required on a smartphone to be able to download the Care View app, being names of the UK’s most “radical social innovation projects” by Nesta and The Observer.
The first Minister for Loneliness, Tracey Crouch, was appointed by the government in 2017 and in December 2020, announced an additional £7.5 million in funding to help provide support for those experiencing loneliness over the winter period.
1. GOV.UK (2021), Satellite-powered app to spot loneliness in hotspots in UK cities
2. UK Space (2021), Satellite-powered app to spot loneliness in hotspots in UK cities