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Emergency aid - private alarm systems in a social and organizational environment. Experiences and perspectives of the German "Hausnotruf"

: Zoche, P.

Wild, -; Kirschner, -:
Technology for the Elderly. Safety Alarm Systems, Technical Aids and Smart Homes
Knegsel: Akontes Publishers, 1994
Book Article
Fraunhofer ISI ()
alarm call; emergency Call system; pilot scheme; social integration; visual communication

In 1980 the first prototype of an emergency call system based on telecommunication technology in Germany was presented and tried out in a limited local pilot scheme. Setting up an alarm call system requires a user (e.g. a physically handicapped person) with a user station and a service operator. The alarm call, activated by the user pressing a button on his of her emergency transmitter reaches the receiver via the public telephone network. Most of the alarm calls (about 90-95%) reaching a service station are not emergency calls triggered by a dangerous situation but so called "routine alarms", mostly socially indicated. Today, it is thought by experts, that between 30,000 and 40,000 people are connected up to an emergency call station. The largest operational service station (or operational headquarter) in Germany services more than 1500 people; 400 to 800 users per station is quite a usual figur in urban areas. More than four fifths of the emergency call system users are women. Most a re drawing pensions or annuities; the proportion receiving social assistance varies from 1% to 40% depending on the service station. The services provided for users of a private alarm call system by service operators could be made more personal in the future by including visual communcation. Considering the fact that many of the alarm calls reaching the service stations do not arise from acute emergencies but rather from the user's wish to speak to his or her fellow men, visual communication could represent an as yet unexploited means of supporting the formation of more intensive communication relationships, thus supporting social integration of the elderly, the handicapped and the infirm into a wider community, and securing the independence and dignity of the users of alarm call systems.