Public funding and financing to scale up the usage of AAL solutions – status quo and research approaches.
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In recent years, emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as pervasive computing, ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence, have received a great deal of attention also in terms of ageing well. Especially within the European joint programme “Active and Assisted Living” (AAL), solutions based on these ICTs have been funded within transnational R&D projects for about 10 years. AAL solutions are often stated as highly promising means for enhancing the quality of care and quality of life of elderly (e.g. by providing additional safety and security or supporting mobility, independent living and social participation). However, despite the increasing socio-demographical demand and already existing structural challenges in long-term care, AAL solutions are not common-place in care takers’ or care givers’ lives. Due to considerable barriers to market entry, a large-scale usage of AAL would need sound policies developed by multiple stakeholders (insurance companies, funding bodies, municipal bodies, advocacy groups, industry etc.) but also funding and financing instruments integrated in public health frameworks. Although there is growing evidence from evaluation research that AAL solutions can result in significant personal benefits for elderly and their care givers, there is also still a need for robust evidence. Not only academic questions need to be addressed, but also key questions related to socio-economic impact on aging in place, improving the cost-effectiveness of long-term care, acceptance or needed adoption for large-scale deployment need to be covered. This paper presents a snapshot of the current state of the art with focus on Austrian funding policies and points to directions for future research, which aims to design a solid evaluation framework and secure reliable, representative and accessible findings for policy and decision makers.