How smart use of energy data will help people with care needs

Adam Lang, head of Nesta in

Scotland (left) and Murray Collins, from Space Intelligence (right) hold a banner with the AI for Good winners.

(Photograph: Callum Bennetts/ Maverick Photo Agency)

The simplest ideas are sometimes the most effective. In the case of Blackwood Homes and Care, it was the notion that a person’s electricity use could flag up the need for help. Blackwood cares for and sup-

ports disabled people in 1,500 homes across Scotland and responding to calls for help are an integral part of its role. By taking the data collected

by an electricity smart meter and using machine learning to establish what a resident’s normal habits are, unusual activity can be picked up and carers alerted. Called Smile (smart meters for

independent living evaluation), the project with Edinburgh Uni- versity and Te Data Lab – the na- tional innovation centre for data and AI – is one of the recipients of a Nesta AI for Good grant. Technology is nothing new for

Blackwood, as Anne Jenkins, the company’s innovation delivery manager, explains. “A number of years ago we recognised that technology was becoming more

AI for Good: the projects

ALLI-CHAT An AI-powered chatbot for young people to discuss mental health issues is being developed by a partnership between tech company Voxsio, NHS Forth Valley and groups of young people from Stirlingshire.

CITIZEN LITERACY A group from City of Glasgow College is using AI to develop voice recognition software for regional Scottish accents in order to support adult learners improving their literacy.

DIABETES TREATMENT Red Star AI, a Bishopbriggs technology firm, is using AI analysis of clinical notes and case histories to improve the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes patients.


Riverwoods is a joint project between Edinburgh satellite firm Space Intelligence and the Scottish Wildlife Trust which uses AI to interpret satellite data and to map habitats. This will help inform actions to restore and protect Scotland’s natural environment.

INDEPENDENT LIVING Data from smart energy meters is being analysed using AI to monitor changes in patterns of residents’ behaviour. It is being developed by Blackwood Homes

of a factor in determining how you deliver services and improve outcomes. “We were looking at replacing

call systems in our care homes but the options out there didn’t do all the things we wanted to do. So we went down the bespoke route to create CleverCogs.” CleverCogs allows Blackwood

customers to video call, sound an alarm, see their care rota and access the internet. Tere is an in- house digital skills team that car- ries out assessments and works with customers to show them how to use the equipment. “We can see the difference that

makes for us as an organisation but also the benefits it gives our customers. Somebody able to open their blinds when they want to and not have to wait for a carer is a really small thing but massive to people living independently.” Ultimately, Smile can become

part of CleverCogs but, at the mo- ment, it is still at the development stage. “We’ve installed equip- ment with 12 customers and we

have another 20 to install – when Covid allows,” says Jenkins. “Te project was meant to be running till March 2021, but we’ll have to extend that to get a better picture. “We haven’t pulled any patterns

out of the data; we’re still build- ing up the learning. Te algo- rithms are still being developed. It’s a small pool and unfortu- nately with Covid we’ve not been able to move that on as much as we’d like.” Jenkins is, however, excited by

the possibilities. “At the moment care is delivered in a reactive way: something happens and some- body calls for help. “Tis gives us the opportu-

nity to prevent some of that. You can see patterns of decline – if someone is taking longer showers or the fridge hasn’t been opened – that might suggest intervention before it becomes really urgent. Smile will give us the opportunity to monitor someone’s well-being in a really unobtrusive way – you don’t have to ask questions, you don’t have to probe.”

and Care, a specialist housing and care provider, working with Edinburgh University and The Data Lab.

MUSCLE POWER Edinburgh University researchers are developing AI-powered prosthetic limbs to help amputees have greater control of everyday tasks, such as gripping a pen or picking up an egg.

The Citizen Literacy team begin mapping out the learning design for its AI-powered app


Heriot-Watt University’s Interaction Lab is using AI to address gender stereotypes in conversational assistants, such as Alexa and Siri, by designing and testing new personas and adapting the assistants’ responses.

FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21 | 35

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