Walks in the City (WalkInCT) is an experiment conducted by Eurob Creative, which tackles the challenge of ageing-well in the city of Santander, Spain. More precisely, it is based on the mobile application InCity Together (InCT) that aims to keep senior citizens healthy and socially active, while making the city and the local neighbourhoods more lively.
In order to answer the question of why WalkInCT is experimenting in Santander, at Eurob Creative, we would like to highlight the concerns local government have about the ageing population, the availability of groundbreaking technology in the city that enables the development of innovative solutions, the possibility to test with real users and the interest of local communities participating in the experiment.
Due to increasing life expectancy and the age structure, all European societies are experiencing a shift towards an overall older population. Focusing on a local level, according to the regional Institute for Statistics in Cantabria, 20% of the population in the city of Santander was aged 65 and over in 2015. This figure represents an increase of almost 11% from a decade ago. Moreover, Vice-President Eva Díaz Tezanos announced in November 2016 that the Government of Cantabria has begun to work on a Strategic Plan on Demographic Change to confront the current situation of lower fertility and increased life expectancy, with the consequent ageing of the population.
In 2010, the Spanish city of Santander was chosen to become one of Europe’s experimental facilities to test smart city technologies. Since that moment, more than 12,000 sensors have been deployed across the city that collect a great variety of real-time data with the aim of improving local infrastructures and citizens’ quality of life.
It should be mentioned that the emergence of experimentation platforms, such as OrganiCity, are playing an important role in making the smart city concept a reality given that they are providing significant tools that enable the testing and development of new services and applications for citizens and local authorities, such as WalkInCT.
Thanks to OrganiCity, at Eurob Creative we are testing the beta version of our service for senior citizens, InCity Together, and are obtaining valuable feedback from users.
Participants are able to monitor their daily activity and, at the same time, they feel more motivated to improve their physical condition and stay healthy through walking through the city. They are also encouraged to be socially active by obtaining information on places of interest, cultural events and other leisure activities.
WalkInCT experiment has involved local citizens from the seniors’ association Eulalio Ferrer in Santander. Moreover, people from other civic centers and current users’ friends and relatives of the city have shown interest in taking part in the experiment.
It should be mentioned that the first presentation of the project was a success with a great number of interested attendees, including the Councelor for Family and Social Affairs María Tejerina, which delivered a welcome speech to emphasize the importance of active ageing.
To conclude, we believe that experimentation facilities like OrganiCity can really give a boost to the development of innovative services and thus, help shape the cities of the future.