News Release

The City of Almere Pilots Innovative Video Services for Older Citizens

Cisco Video Technology Helps Build a More Connected Community in One of Europe's Fastest-Growing Cities
Jul 02, 2010

ALMERE, Netherlands, July 2, 2010 - The city of Almere, Cisco and the technology innovation foundation Almere Kennisstad in the Netherlands are today launching a pilot project that aims to assess how video communications can help increase citizen participation, boost the well-being of communities, and improve the social and economic success of the city. In collaboration with Cisco's Ageing Well programme, the city and its growing population will test how compelling new video-based services can increase participation of its older citizens by reducing the constraints of distance and personal mobility.

Key facts/highlights

  • Whilst a relatively young city, the over-60s constitute the fastest-growing age group in Almere, and are increasingly significant for its future success.
  • The pilot project in Almere, called De Verzilvering, is aimed at increasing the participation of older citizens, starting by making it easier for them to share a passion, such as music or keeping fit.  It is part of Cisco's global Ageing Well programme, which is addressing two of the world's most significant and positive trends: the fact that people are living longer, healthier and more-active lives, and the potential for communication technologies to transform how people work, live, play and learn.
  • This project is being led by the Municipality of Almere and is supported by Cisco's global consultancy, the Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), as well as the government foundation Almere Kennisstad ('Almere Knowledge City'). Community organisations De Schoor (welfare), De Kunstlinie (arts) and Almere Breed Community TV (communication) are key stakeholders and play an important role in the execution of the project. Service providers BT and UNET have played an active part in the collaboration too, with BT delivering and supporting the Cisco TelePresenceTM pilot and UNET delivering connectivity across the city.
  • As part of the project, different video-enabled approaches will be experimented with, including live interaction, using the advanced video collaboration technology Cisco TelePresence, and timely use of video recordings through Cisco's easy-to-use high-definition video camcorder, Flip VideoTM.
  • Live video pilots include enabling a fitness instructor to lead two groups of participants in different locations at the same time. Another will allow music lovers in different parts of the city to share their passion via Cisco TelePresence, where cross-city travel is not practical.  A hook-up with kindred spirits in Australia is already in the pipeline, and other natural extensions are being investigated, such as enabling more age-friendly work or volunteering.
  • Recorded video is being used in inventive ways.  Flip Video recordings are enabling choir members to feel included when they are not able to attend practice sessions. Pilot volunteers are using it to capture personal insights and to promote services and their impact across the city and beyond.  Future plans include physicians, patients and families working together using Flip cameras to monitor medical symptoms, share support and advice, and increase the efficiency and efficacy of treatment.
  • The initiative supports the city's core principles and its social, health and economic policies. It builds on the extensive high-speed, symmetric broadband platform already established across the municipality.  The project's aim is to discover desirable and scalable new services that add value for the increasing ranks of older citizens, bring new opportunities for community providers, and promote self-sufficient communities that increase the city's attractiveness to citizens and investors alike.
  • The pilot has been shaped by Almere's citizens, for its citizens. Its progress is documented and shared at every step via video blog updates on the Verzilvering website.

Supporting quotes

  • Annemarie Jorritsma, mayor of the city of Almere, Netherlands

    "For policymakers, it's really important to start thinking about how you start using instruments like video to make policies for the future more affordable and attractive.  If we would not do experiments any more, we would not bring society further."

  • Wytse Miedema, programme manager, municipality of Almere
  • "Like other cities, we have a fast-growing, increasingly able and active ageing population.  Enabling their participation and contribution in Almere's communities is an important priority for us. Video-based services, built on our high-speed broadband platform, are opening up exciting new possibilities."

  • Coks Stoffer, managing director, Cisco Netherlands
  • "The city of Almere is one of the most innovative communities in the world and the Netherlands' fastest-growing city. The leaders of the city have a well-established commitment to making technology play a role in connecting and including people in the communities of today and tomorrow."

  • Kevin Johnson, Ageing Well Programme, Cisco IBSG
  • "The Verzilvering pilot is increasingly relevant. People are living longer, healthier lives; any city that sees the opportunity this brings, socially and economically, and finds ways to take full advantage of it, is to be applauded.  They will inspire others, globally."

Supporting Resources:

Tags / Keywords:

Verzilvering, Ageing Well, New Opportunities, Participation, Well-being, Broadband, Fibre, Fiber, Connected World, Connected Society, Connected Communities,  Engagement, Interaction, Community Services, Economic Growth, Social Growth, Ageing Population, Living Longer Policy, Public-Private Partnership, PPP, Almere, Cisco, IBSG, Almere Kennisstad, TelePresence, Flip, Video, BT, UNET

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About Almere

Almere is the newest city in the Netherlands. It was only 35 years ago that the first inhabitants took up residence in the new town, built on land reclaimed from the sea.

While many towns are hundreds of years old, many of us are older than the city of Almere. Almere is a city that is still undergoing considerable development. Today Almere is a community with 190,000 inhabitants, with many parties involved in the process of expanding Almere from a city designed for 250,000 people to one that will accommodate 350,000 inhabitants.

The municipality of Almere comprises the districts Almere Stad, Almere Haven, Almere Buiten, Almere Hout, Almere Poort (under construction) and Almere Pampus (in design phase). It is the largest municipality in Flevoland and the 7th largest in the Netherlands.