Improving Public Health Surveillance methods via Smart Home technologies


Public health surveillance relies on surveys and/or self-reported data collection, both of which require manpower, time commitment, and financial resources from public health agencies and participants. The survey results can quickly become outdated due to fast-paced changes in our society. The health habits of Canadians have rapidly evolved with technology and research indicates we are becoming a sedentary society, thus the levels of physical activity (PA) are very important population level health indicators. We will present a novel method to gather data at a granular level in near real-time, with minimal effort from participants. Simple thermostats are found in nearly every house in Canada, and smart thermostats enable efficient temperature adjustment, saving energy costs by adjusting according to human activity. Thermostats are ubiquitous in Canadian homes and the current expansion of smart thermostats make them an ideal data source over traditional methods. Utilizing technology that can be deployed at a population level will enable vast granular data collection beyond capabilities of traditional surveys. In this project UbiLab1 is exploring the use of the zero-effort technology using sensor data collected by smart thermostats and other associated sensors to develop an innovative health surveillance platform and monitor an individual's health at the household level as well as health indicators at population level. Utilizing the smart wi-fi thermostat, we able to report on PA, sedentary behaviour, and sleep patterns at the household level. The thermostat and remote sensors (RS) contain temperature and motion sensors, which can be used to monitor activity in the home (i.e. lack of travel indicates sedentary behaviour), as well as sleep characteristics. This is beneficial as no action is required from participants, allowing individuals to go about their lives unperturbed. This powerful system will be able to deliver real-time health insights to public health professionals.

Objective: The objective of this study is to explore individual, household and population-level health indicators collected in the home via smart thermostats. The study's approach is to (a) identify if it is possible to isolate specific user behaviours using the motion and thermostat sensor data, and (b) develop Remote Monitoring of healthy behaviours at population level. Furthermore, this study is interested in identifying if observed patterns will suffer variations. As a result, it will be possible to understand human behaviours and consequently understand lifestyle habits of a person or a group of people.

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Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
January, 2019

June 18, 2019

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