Light Speed Grant Recipient
Peter Walsh, Project Coordinator
August 12, 2008
First of all we have a residential program that consists of four adult men and their staff. The men and their interdisciplinary team worked with our remote monitoring team to develop the conditions under which everyone could agree that the men would be safe and appropriately supervised during the evening hours using remote monitoring. These conditions are all delineated in a document called an “Informed Consent”. The Informed Consent will be a fundamental document in our request for a variance from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to use our remote monitoring program in an adult foster care setting. The details of the Informed Consent document are too lengthy to share here but some of the key technology requirements are: remote video supervision of all public spaces, remote two-way audio communication in all public and private spaces, all first floor doors and windows alarmed; smoke and fire alarms, a security system linking all alarms and devices to the remote monitoring sight, and finally, a call escalation program that guarantees a physical presence in the home in the case of crisis.
We have created a portable remote monitoring station that links to all the monitoring devices in the home. This portable unit can be run from any of our other program sites linked to our network. It is our intention to use an existing overnight staff to provide the remote supervision, thus saving the cost of one overnight staff. The design of the remote monitoring system allows the supervising overnight staff to sleep. When an incident occurs at the home the remote monitoring station requires a response from the night attendant. We have built in a couple of ways of waking the staff but if he/she is unable to respond for some reason the system will alert an on-call staff to go to the house. This is part of our call escalation program that can be set up to call a list of staff that could respond to the home. One of the features of the system is that once the program moves into the call escalation process it can only be resolved by someone physically being at the home. An emergency call to 911 is automatically made if no one arrives at the home before the “fail-safe” time elapses. The system has a number of built in redundancies and backups to ensure its dependability and reliability in case of power outages, phone disruptions, loss of internet and so forth. There are also a number of conditions that need to be met every day in order for the remote system to be used.
It has taken us almost two years of development after a year of design to bring this system to the testing phase so yes, we were excited to gather and watch the remote video, engage in a two-way audio conversation with the folk at the home, monitor doors being opened and closed and to have the automated phone system kick in and make the calls from the call list.
We have set up the remote monitoring station in one of other program sites and are in the process of training the night attendant staff how to use it to supervise the home remotely. While we are testing the system the regular overnight staff will continue staying at the test site but they will not engage with the men unless the remote system requests them to or if the remote system fails. We will be running a number of test scenarios and documenting the results. We are confident that we will need to make some fine tuning adjustments but excited to see the system go through its paces. In a few weeks we intend to invite some interested colleagues to come for a show and tell session. That will be another exiting milestone that I look forward to sharing with you.
The Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.