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The PROGRESSIVE Project

The PROGRESSIVE project aimed to make a profound voice in changing mindsets when it comes to the ethics support of ICT-related standards for active and healthy ageing, especially as older people comprise nearly a fifth of our population.

According to the International Organization for Standardization, when developing standards, practitioners should include ‘input from a broad range of stakeholders’.

However, when it comes to 20 % of the EU’s population – namely older people (aged 65 years or over) – this may not be the case.

As most older people are active and contribute to society as entrepreneurs, innovators, workers and consumers, the oversight was worrying.

With these statistics in mind and the fact that top-down solutions which can view older people as a problem or burden, the EC funded and supported the PROGRESSIVE project to promote ICT product and service approaches for AHA through standards that are co-created.

Crucially, the project called for explicit acknowledgement that older people have ICT knowledge, skills and interest and so must be involved in the standardisation process.

PROGRESSIVE has set new benchmarks for good practice when it comes to standards for ICT and AHA. Raising awareness of the issues, the project has provided a platform for discussion and debate among a broad range of stakeholders from policy makers to standards bodies (internationally and nationally), crucially facilitating the engagement of older people.

The work has included the development of a website offering a newsletter and, among other features, access to information on over 250 relevant standards.

Furthermore, developing a framework to help identify and nurture good practice, PROGRESSIVE set out nine ethical tenets.

These benefited from the work of the former EU-funded project, ICT for ALL, and that of the World Health Organisation regarding age-friendly cities.

The tenets called for ICT products and services to consider: accessibility and usability; affordability; autonomy and empowerment; beneficence and non-maleficence; care, protection and support; equality, equity and justice; inclusion, non-discrimination and social impact; interoperability; and privacy, safety and security.

These tenets then underpinned co-production of guidelines that can be widely applied, as well as guidance on standards specifically related to interoperability, age-friendly communities and smart homes.

By acknowledging older people as assets and active contributors within what is dubbed the ‘silver economy’, PROGRESSIVE contributes to European policy perspectives which support greater inclusion and social integration, while promoting innovation and commercial activity linked to AHA.

The project’s work on good practice guidelines, particularly regarding co-production, is being considered for adoption by the three European standards bodies: CEN, CENELEC and ETSI.

Additionally, awareness-raising about the issues is continuing through the STAIR platform STAIR-AHA and the activities of associated EU projects such as REACH and Homes4Life.

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