Rise in telecare system call failures “unacceptable”, expert warns
Outdated home alarm telecare systems are experiencing higher rates of call failures which is putting the safety of vulnerable people at risk, an expert has warned.
More than one million alarm calls made by people in their homes failed to connect to alarm receiving centres (ARCs) in the UK last year, according to analysis by telecare specialist Communicare247. In Scotland, it is estimated almost 100,000 alarm calls failed to connect to ARCs.
This affected people calling for help when they needed assistance from carers or even calls for emergency fire and ambulance services, said the company. One Scottish local authority’s call failure spiked to 12.3% in one month due to network incompatibility problems, according to a white paper published by the telecare industry body TSA.
Ofcom, the UK telecommunications industry regulator, has also highlighted its concerns about risks to social care systems while the UK’s public switched telephone network (PSTN) is being switched to a digital system. It has warned the migration to digital will see interoperability issues arise, affecting 1.7million people in the UK who are reliant on analogue telecare services.
Tom Morton, chief executive of Communicare247, said: “Every citizen should feel assured that a service that enables them remain safe at home will reach the help that is needed. Digital networks are expanding quickly and some areas are reporting significant call failure spikes which are completely avoidable.”
He said that similar problems reported in Sweden and Australia revealed the cause of these call failures is linked to the incompatibility of analogue alarm signal protocols which are not properly interpreted by alarm centre systems when transferred over new digital phone networks.”
BT has confirmed that it commenced the migration of its network to digital this autumn, a process that will be complete by 2025. Other networks such as Talk-Talk and Sky are already digital, and Virgin Media has confirmed its transition will be complete in 2020.
“These spikes are increasing in frequency and are unacceptable. Old analogue telecare systems need to be replaced and quickly,” added Morton.
“Commissioners and policy makers need to act now to provide adequate resources to remove this risk and apply pressure to telecare equipment manufacturers and system providers to deliver effective technology.”
Please mind the gap… or healthcare may fall
Imagine sharing a lengthy train journey with others. From beginning to end, imagine how often you might hear ‘mind the gap’ messages about embarking and disembarking safely. Picture how navigating…
Women Lead: My journey from Dragons’ Den to Silicon Valley
Following her appearance on Dragons’ Den, Sheila Hogan, serial entrepreneur, founder and chief executive of digital legacy vault, Biscuit Tin, shares her experience of her time in the Den and…
Look anywhere – the future is ‘aged tech’. But Scotland needs to be more adventurous
Scottish Care, as the representative body of independent social care providers of care home, care at home and housing support services, has been working over several years with colleagues in…
Women Lead: Engineer turned entrepreneur
We are always fascinated by other people’s stories. It’s how we connect, grow and learn from each other. Until very recently I always felt like I didn’t have a story to tell. Who…
‘Women – together we will change the dynamic in tech’
I was inspired to start a career in technology when personal computers were in their infancy and the internet decades away. My childhood dream of becoming a scientist was shaped by…
It’s time to change the future of tech apprenticeships – and we need your help
In his latest exclusive column for Futurescot, Ross Tuffee, chair of the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) Digital Economy Skills Group, calls on tech employers to get involved in shaping the…
What AI difference a year makes
Amazingly, it’s been one year since the publication of Scotland’s AI Strategy. And what a year it has been. Demanding but rewarding, with good progress made and great foundations laid…
International Women’s Day: It’s time to harness power of women in technology
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I hope to be part of a future where barriers that prevent women from competing on a level playing field in the work environment…