The Voice of Experience

30th May 2017

Posted In: FYI

Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre, IBM Ireland and ISAX (Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange) have announced a two year research programme which could result in a new social media platform which would allow older people to offer and receive volunteer services, make new friends and interact. The Science Foundation Ireland supported initial research programme is valued at an estimated €116,400.

UL headquartered Lero, which is managing the programme, is seeking volunteers aged 50+ to participate in the research. Working with IBM and ISAX, Lero, an SFI supported research centre of excellence, will conduct research to collect data, convert the needs of the older person into a usable platform and monitor whether it meets their needs and performs a useful function.

“This is more than a LinkedIn, Facebook or online water cooler for those aged 50+, although it may share some or all of those attributes,” commented Professor Ita Richardson, Lero co-principal investigator at the University of Limerick.

“Social isolation remains an issue for many older people who still have a lot to offer society but do not necessarily have the means, confidence or encouragement to engage with the wider community through social networking or otherwise,” added Dr Sarah Beecham of Lero who is heading up the programme.

“People in their 50s and beyond do not consider themselves old, have a vast array of skills and professional competencies to offer. They have a desire and energy to share their experience with others in their communities. Yet many have trouble finding appropriate ways of meaningfully applying these skills beyond the workplace when they retire or reach a particular age,” said Gary Thompson, IIX Technical Manager, IBM Ireland.

Anne Connolly, CEO, ISAX added, “Increasing life expectancy and the rapid ageing of populations, while good news at the individual level, presents society with far reaching challenges, from health, care and pensions to the design of cities and educational systems.

“But these challenges also represent exciting opportunities for innovation. Through this research, we aim to maximise the opportunities by bringing together business, research and government agencies while ensuring that older adults themselves have a direct contribution to the design and usability of the solutions that emerge.”

All aged 50+ who would like to participate can contact Prof. Ita Richardson, Principal Investigator, Connected Smart Ageing (CSA) at the University of Limerick or email:

Pictured: (L-R): Gary Thompson, IBM, Aine Phelan, ISAX and Professor Ita Richardson, Lero.