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Smart Age-friendly Living and Working Environment

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SmartWork (Smart Age-friendly Living and Working Environment)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-06-30

Ageing is a gradual process and there is no definition of when someone becomes an “older worker”, but many physical changes associated with ageing including decline in vision, hearing and psychomotor coordination are estimated to start as early as the age of 50. Furthermore, health chronic conditions prevalence in case of people aged 50+ is very high, with every second person having hypertension and/or some other chronic disease (e.g. high cholesterol, heart disease, mental illness, diabetes, arthritis, back problems, asthma, COPD, etc.), and multimorbidity being very common among people aged 65+ (prevalence rates estimated as high as 65%). It is worth noting that ill health incapacity is a major cause of labour market exit before the age of 60. On the other side, except of work-specific skills and knowledge, other valuable functions and transferable skills improve with age, including strategic thinking, sharp-wittedness, consideration, wisdom, ability to deliberate, ability to rationalise, language skills, and holistic perception, thus overall the longer work experience having the potential to compensate for the decline of some basic cognitive processes (e.g. memory functions) and psychomotor skills6 if adequately exploited at the workplace.

SmartWork builds a worker-centric AI system for work ability sustainability, integrating unobtrusive sensing and modelling of the worker state with a suite of novel services for context and worker-aware adaptive work support. The project combines the unobtrusive monitoring of health, cognitive and emotional status of the worker, through the deployment of a corresponding sensing infrastructure (IPN mouse, wearables, work-environment sensors), with the a set of AI-enhanced applications, enabling the effective management of everyday tasks, the efficient management of resources and the improved collaboration and interaction between employees and employers. Placing the older employees at its center, the project aims to support their healthy ageing, while maintaining them active and productive at their working environment. This is performed by adopting a holistic approach that considers the attitudes and abilities of the ageing worker and enables decision support for personalized interventions for maintenance/improvement of the work ability, towards the creation of an adaptive working environment supports the older office worker with optimized services for on-the-fly work flexibility coordination, seamless transfer of the work environment between different devices and different environments (home, office, on the move), and on-demand personalized training.

SmartWork work is split in 10 work packages covering all aspects for the realization of project scope, from user requirements, pilot execution and proactive ethics management, to the development of SmartWork training and Work Ability modules, implementation of AI-driven interventions and deployment of sensing infrastructure. The efficient project management, wide exploitation and dissemination activities are treated horizontally and involves the active participation all partners. The project has a duration of 36-months and is divided in to two main periods (P1: M1-M18 and P2: M19-M36).
The activities of SmartWork first period covered the entire spectrum involving project management, dissemination, user, technical and business tasks. The work of the first period (P1) of the project covered the following obgectives:
• Defining of an efficient collaboration framework in order to support the smooth project execution and management, information exchange and progress monitoring, in a structured way.
• Release of the project's website and developmenet of SmartWork visual identity.
• Definition of the project’s user requirements in close (structured) collaboration and active contribution of the SmartWork users.
• Definition of the SmartWork system architecture and extraction of the corresponding system requirements reflecting the needs of the users and interpreting the defined user requirements.
• Deployment of the low-level, unobtrusive sensing infrastructure, including already available off-the-shelf and partners’ provided sensors, enhanced with low-level processing and security features.
• Implementation of AI-driven data models leading to effective decision support and informed-based interventions.
• Design and implementation of the SmartWork interfaces that allow high level of accessibility, adaptability and interaction with the core platform services.
• Implemention of the initial versions of work flexibility and training modules.
• Initiation of the system integration activities towards the production of SmartWork prototypes.
• Application for ethical approvals and performance of preparatory activities related with GDPR/ethical compliance.
• Active dissemination of the project results, by publishing blog articles and scientific papers, as well as by utilizing social media and participating in conferences.
"During the first period the project contributed to the foreseen impact by:
• Delivering the first versions of the components that will synthesize the SmartWork services for facilitating older workers to stay active in for longer, to support them in their everyday tasks and to ensure their good health by proactively preventing the occurrence of a severe disease or by supporting their return after suffering one. These components generate data-driven recommendations enhancing flexibility, personalization and adaptation of their working environments.
• Adopting a worker (user)-centred approach, including the users from the very beginning in the design process in order to deliver services that are usable and reflect their job-related and personal needs. This approach contributed in the understanding of user acceptance process leading to a successful design, as well as provided the theoretical basis for a practical ""older workers acceptance metrics"" methodology that will enable the involved stakeholders to evaluate the proposed system.
• Implementing the first version of the AI and Interventions module and delivering the first version of the SmartWork sensing infrastructure that facilitate the continuous unobtrusive monitoring of the health, cognitive and behavioural status of the older employee, enabling predictions on the short- and long- term changes of the individual.
• Producing high-quality dissemination material and establishing different communication channels utilized for disseminating the project results, maximizing the project’s impact.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and the new working conditions due to the social distancing policies and lockdowns, generated new opportunities on how the services provided by SmartWork can support the employees under these new circumstances. Towards this direction the project performed the following:
• Prepared dissemination material in the form of blog opinion articles as well as performed interviews with older and younger employees for sharing their experiences during the lockdown period and providing their views on how SmartWork could support the workers in these new settings .
• Initiated the creation of a non-scientific paper where representatives/experts from the projects funded under the same topic, providing their view on how technology can support workers during the COVID-19 era."