Saturday, April 28, 2012

Granny-Nav - some thoughts

A UK university is researching how to use technology to make driving safer and a better experience for older people.

This has to be a good thing. You can read all about it on the BBC web site. 

I have a few thoughts about the idea and the way it has been promoted and reported in the press.

The research is being funded by the Research Councils UK's Digital Economy programme for Social inclusion through the Digital Economy (SiDE) project. I am not sure how much this project costs but the total funds for research are £12 million.

My first thought is that this will never see the light of day and will no doubt help a few academics careers but like most of the UK's academic funding will never transition to the commercial world. I would love to be proved wrong but I doubt it.

Why was the project promoted without any facts about the problem the research is trying to solve.
I found some research done by Carnegie Mellon University that concluded that from ages 75-84, the fatality rates of drivers in the US match those of teenage drivers (i.e., about three deaths per 100 million miles). For drivers over the age of 85, the fatality rate increased to nearly four times that of teenage drivers. So OK, there is a problem but it should be put into context.

A cursory study of the subject of older people and driving would tell you that the number one thing that would make a huge difference to their life (and to others) is making it easier to drive at night. I think the university is researching this issue but that is where it should focus - maybe it would be a harder for the PR department to promote  but who cares.

Why is the press obsessed with using the word 'granny' to preface new things. We had the granny-tax and now the granny-nav. Somehow it strikes me as condescending.

All in all - good news that research is being done about ways to counter physiological ageing. Is this the right way of spending money - not so sure. Dick Stroud

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