Wed05042016

News

MV council adopts rent dispute ordinance, despite reservations

Despite criticism that it lacked teeth, the Mountain View City Council approved last week a second reading and adoption of a controversial program aimed at resolving rental-housing disputes between tenants and landlords.

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alwa...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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PAMF pilot program aims to track well-being of seniors via utility usage


Screenshot Courtesy of Palo Alto Medical Foundation
linkAges’ TimeBank system allows users to seek and offer services for hours that are banked and later used for other needs.

A new Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) program seeks to increase the independence of seniors and, by extension, alleviate the concerns of their relatives or caretakers.

The multifaceted linkAges program, sponsored by PAMF’s David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation, analyzes seniors’ utility usage patterns as a way to warn caregivers – such as adult children – that a larger issue may exist.

According to the center’s executive director, Martin Entwistle, the signal detection system is part of the program’s larger overall goal to create a connected community that allows a growing senior population to “age successfully” and independently in their own homes.

Statistics compiled by the center reveal that 10,000 baby boomers have turned 65 every day since Jan. 1, 2011. The total number of people older than 65 in the U.S. will double by 2030, research reports.

Other aspects of the linkAges program include a senior-focused resource list – complete with user reviews – and a service exchange network that allows participants to “bank” hours providing a service for a senior, like taking the garbage to the curb for them weekly. That person’s banked hours can later be spent on a service provided by another user in the system. Entwistle noted that the aim is to create a community of trusted individuals – akin to the friendly neighbor who checks in on the elderly person next door.

“Part of the problem we’ve seen is breakdowns in the fabric of society because people become isolated, families are scattered,” Entwistle said. “The things that used to make it possible for this to just happen naturally are no longer in place. So when (elderly) people desire to live in their own home, they become isolated and they become at-risk.”

At the same time, he noted, the program’s utility consumption monitoring system can offer a sense of independence for seniors, without the feeling of having a caretaker constantly peering over their shoulder.

Existing technology tracks usage

The linkAges program uses technology already existing in homes, like PG&E SmartMeters, to track utility consumption and establish patterns of normal usage behavior by participating seniors. For instance, if a senior’s electricity use experienced a significant spike over a span of several days – signaling a potential problem – the system would notify the caretaker of the change.

“Our thinking when we were working on this problem space was this: Is there a way that you can capture information almost without having to deploy anything new into somebody’s home?” Entwistle noted. “What is it that we might be able to track that can help us?”

Entwistle said the system is the product of a developer challenge held 18 months ago. The winner of that challenge, Vevity, is now partnering with the center in a phased rollout of the program. Currently, several of the center’s team members are testing the utility usage system and the program’s additional offerings as well.

“We’re using ourselves kind of as guinea pigs,” he said with a chuckle.

Eventually, he noted, the center hopes to beta test the program in the homes of 15-20 seniors.

“If we track that data that is already being collected, can it tell us enough to know when things might be happening to an individual that we should be concerned about?” Entwistle asked. “It’s patterns of behavior, so it isn’t really looking for one thing happening. If we looked at the electricity usage of this person in their home over a period of time and then looked at it again, has it changed significantly? Is there a standard pattern? We’re all creatures of habit.”

Building trust

Entwistle readily acknowledged that the program’s largest hurdle remains trust. Still, he noted that the overall benefits of the utility usage system – independence for seniors and peace of mind for relatives and caretakers – should outweigh “big brother” concerns.

“We’re not being blind to people’s potential concerns about having data from their homes captured,” Entwistle said. “But is that a reason for not doing it, when the potential of doing it is so great?”

Entwistle added that the decision to participate in the program will rest with seniors themselves, while someone they already know receives collected utility data.

“Because there are processes to join, so to speak, then you’ll probably trust more of the things that go on within it,” he said. “It’s done willingly, and you know people have been processed to some extent. It’s very different than just opening your door to just anyone.”

For more information, visit innovation.pamf.org.

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