A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge
TABLE OF CONTENTS     What is e-Knowledge?   © SCUP 2003
  Page 13      

Pioneering Examples of e-Knowledge



Chapter 1

What is e-Knowledge?

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  • Pervasive Computing Transforms Approaches to Elder Care
  • Professional Society as Indispensable Knowledge Resource
  • Universities Leverage Their Knowledge Resources
  • Industry-wide Knowledge Sharing Enables German Industry to Compete
  • Making e-Government Work


Pervasive Computing Transforms
Approaches to Elder Care

An e-knowledge approach can be combined with pervasive computing to improve our understanding of aging, to improve elder care, and to make some aspects of our own aging less problematic. Pervasive computing makes possible the collection of detailed, moment-by-moment data on user actions and contexts, wirelessly, anywhere and anytime. A global community of organizations is using this approach to gather data on the lives and needs of the elderly with a view to increasing their autonomy and quality of care.

One of the data capturing pioneers is Elite Care’s Oatfield Estates in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has built pervasive computing into its living spaces. Residents carry dual-channel radio frequency locator tags that serve as their apartment key and emit periodic infrared pulses to the sensors in each room. Beds have embedded weight sensors. Each apartment has motion and health vitals sensors plus a networked computer with touch screen interface, enabling communication through e-mail, word processing, audio for speech recognition, and video conferencing using webcams. These systems and sensors feed personalized databases on each resident. Caregivers use these databases to monitor personal health, activity levels, and interactions with medical attention and status of medication.


Managers use this knowledge base to monitor staff performance. Residents use the personal history data, both theirs and others, to foster social interactions with other patients. This environment has changed the way that residents live. They have greater control and autonomy, knowing that if they become disoriented and wander, require emergency help, or fall behind in their medication, assistance will be forthcoming immediately. Caregivers and medical personnel do not need to manually record and enter patient data; they have access to a far richer knowledge base on each patient, easily accessed and arrayed.

While these developments bring immediate benefit to residents, their families, and caregivers, our primary interest is in the implications for e-knowledge. From the perspective of health professionals and policy makers, the data collected in such schemes can be merged with data being collected globally on patient health,
activity, and care. Multiple analyses can be undertaken, ranging from pattern determination (e.g., as in epidemiology) to codification of “what works” in elder care, in repositories of grounded knowledge and tradecraft that can be used by caregivers and medical educators.

More futuristically, new forms of assisted living can be envisaged in which pervasive computing is combined with intelligent agent technology to compensate for declining cognitive facilities. An example is the difficulty that many people have in retaining their skill base and tacit knowledge as they age. Even when we are young, our ability to perform a task fluidly and automatically typically declines if we do not practice the task frequently. We become rusty. This loss of competence in relation to rarely-used knowledge may become more problematic as we age. Pervasive computing offers the prospect of regaining that knowledge on demand.


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  The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Albert Einstein