The aging population is a grand challenge to which innovation and technology development must contribute. However, this contribution must be developed in a responsible process with society and not be pushed on society. For this reason we need to build knowledge and experience on how to achieve Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the field of welfare technologies. The Assisted Living project deals with this challenge in Norway and provides comparisons with Germany and United Kingdom.
The Assisted Living project is transdisciplinary and conducts research within ICT, health science, social science and ethics. The overall aim of the project is to apply the RRI concept in the field of welfare technology. By adapting an RRI framework, the project aims to:
- map how stakeholders and experts perceive the state-of-the-art of responsible welfare technologies, focusing on Assisted Living Technologies (ALT), in Norway, Germany and UK;
- develop ALT solutions for users with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia (MCI/D), through an RRI approach;
- judge by an integrated Health Technology Assessment approach whether technologies introduced through an RRI process score better than currently implemented technologies; and
- create a wider dialogue on responsible welfare technologies for the future, reflecting on alternatives and options.
The project explicitly develops RRI as an integrated learning process and governance approach while at the same time performing research on the underlying concepts. It targets the needs of the aging population as a global challenge in welfare provision and develops competence and capacity on responsible innovation within the welfare technology developments, but also within the care professions.
The project consolidates several research and development groups, led by Oslo and Akershus University, into a strong cross-faculty and cross-institutional research group on responsible assisted living technologies, including students and researchers at all levels, as well as international partners. Moreover, the project cooperates extensively with regional actors, e.g. Oslo municipal care providers, and national actors, e.g. the Norwegian Board of Technology, as well as industry, e.g. Sensio AS.
Finally, Assisted Living develops further two main aspects of RRI: RRI as a process of participatory technology development and RRI dimensions as an integrated aspect of technology appraisal. This approach assesses whether current practices for introducing ALT for people living at home with MCI/D are considered responsible and whether innovations developed within an RRI process indeed meet the goals expressed in the dimensions behind the concept. For this reason the analysis has a quasi-experimental design whereby the current care provisions are compared with the technology developments carried out during the project.