Local authorities in Scotland are poised to adopt a new nationwide digital alarm system that will help keep some of the most vulnerable residents safe in their homes.

Digital Office for Scottish Local Government and Scotland Excel – the procurement arm for local councils – have moved to ‘preferred bidder’ status for the solution from Chubb Fire & Security.

It follows over two years of preparatory work to replace a patchwork of ageing analogue systems that will cease to function at the end of 2025 as part of a ‘digital switchover’.

The ‘Shared ARC Platform’ framework – funded by the Scottish Government TEC programme – is a collaboration between the public bodies overseeing the procurement and 17 ‘early adopters’, a combination of local authorities and housing associations. Local health and social care partnerships, joint ventures between local authorities and NHS boards, are also set to benefit.

Remote systems increasingly play a role in the management of vulnerable people in their homes. Telecare is an umbrella term to cover simple personal alarms, devices and sensors in the home, through to more complex technologies such as those which monitor daily activity patterns, home care activity, enable ‘safer walking’ in the community for people with cognitive impairments/physical frailties, detect falls and epilepsy seizures, facilitate medication prompting, and provide enhanced environmental safety.

‘This will be more than just an efficient transition tool; it provides a dynamic platform for innovation. By empowering service providers and stakeholders to collaborate and drive transformative solutions, we have the potential to reshape the way we deliver telecare and support,’ the Digital Office for Local Government said.

‘This cutting-edge, multi-tenant, and cloud-based platform will be tailored to empower Telecare Service Providers, granting them the benefits of a shared infrastructure whilst maintaining full autonomy and accessing a wealth of service delivery possibilities. Security and scalability are paramount, ensuring smooth collaboration and information exchanging among Telecare Service Providers across Scotland.’

Martyn Wallace, co-chair for the Shared ARC Programme Steering Group and Digital Telecare senior responsible officer, said: “The Shared Alarm Receiving Centre Platform procurement has been a massive piece of work in conjunction with Scotland Excel, Early Adopters, TEC Programme, Scottish Government, and the Digital Office Digital Telecare team. It proves that by collaborating and then disrupting with new technology and data, we can achieve and deliver even better outcomes. The Shared ARC Platform showcases sector-leading innovation and interoperability. Now we move forwards towards contract award and implementation with our provider Chubb before the analogue telephony switch-off in December 2025.”  

The Shared ARC Platform will further ‘streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and open new avenues for service expansion and innovation, making it a game-changer for telecare service providers. It will eliminate the need for time-consuming technical and cybersecurity due diligence, allowing organisations to focus on delivering exceptional services. 

Telecare service providers can reduce operational burdens and ensure compliance with regulations, safety, and security standards. The digital solution will automate routine tasks, freeing up staff capacity for customer-facing work.

Hugh Carr, director of strategic procurement for Scotland Excel, said: “The proposed framework contract is the result of a detailed procurement process and is a six-year agreement. This affirms our commitment to delivering cutting-edge telecare solutions to public organisations, enhancing the well-being and safety of citizens across the nation, and supporting greater collaboration across the public sector.” 

Preferred bidder status is one of the concluding parts of an extended procurement process, with the award of the contract to Chubb expected to be finalised in the coming days. The contract to be awarded is a six-year agreement, offering the flexibility of two additional one-year extension options.