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No Place Like Home? Surveillance and What Home Means in Old Age

  • W. Ben Mortenson (a1) (a2) (a3), Andrew Sixsmith (a4) and Robert Beringer (a4)

New surveillance technologies like those included in ambient assisted living – such as body-worn and passive environmental sensors, smart interfaces, and communications networks – are being developed to improve the security and safety of “at risk” older people, but ethical questions have been raised about the extent to which they compromise the rights and privacy of the people being monitored. The qualitative study we conducted was designed to help us understand the ways these novel surveillance technologies would influence individuals’ everyday experiences of home. Participants felt new forms of surveillance would influence their sense of security, autonomy, and self-confidence, and would alter perceptions of home. The findings emphasize the need to improve our understanding of how ambient assisted living will affect the lives of those being monitored.


Les technologies de surveillance nouvelles, telles que celles inclus dans le logement avec assistance ambiante—les capteurs environnementaux portés sur le corps, les interfaces intelligentes, et les réseaux de communication—sont en cours d'élaboration afin d'améliorer la sécurité et la sûreté des personnes âgées qui sont à risque, mais des questions éthiques ont été soulevées quant à dans quelle mesure ils compromettraient les droits et la vie privée des personnes à surveiller. L'étude qualitative que nous avons mené a été conçu pour nous aider à comprendre les façons dont ces technologies de surveillance nouvelles seraient influencer les expériences quotidiennes des individus de leur maison. Les participants ont estimé que de nouvelles formes de surveillance auraient une influence sur leur sentiment de sécurité, de l'autonomie et de la confiance en soi, et modifieraient leurs perceptions chez soi. Les résultats soulignent la nécessité d'améliorer notre compréhension de la façon dont le logement assisté ambiant affectera la vie des personnes à surveiller.

Corresponding author
La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: W. Ben Mortenson, Ph.D., O.T. University of British Columbia The Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy T-325-2211 Wesbrook Mall Vancouver, BC V6T 2B5 (
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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement
  • ISSN: 0714-9808
  • EISSN: 1710-1107
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-on-aging-la-revue-canadienne-du-vieillissement
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