Elderly People and the City
An Investigation with GPS Methodology
Dr. Noam Shoval
Department of Geography
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The research is supported by the Deutsch-Israelische Projektkooperation (DIP)
Dementia and Mobility
About 23 million people worldwide have some
form of dementia
Rate rises with age – 1.5% among people aged
65-69; 25% among people aged 85+
“The white epidemic”
Rate is expected to double every 20 years
Many people with dementia have problems with
mobility, especially outside the home.
Mobility problems, especially wandering, is one of
the main reasons for institutionalization of elders.
Sources: Ferri et al. (2005); Glickman (1997)
Hebrew University Univ. of Heidelberg
Noam Shoval – Coordinator Hans-Werner Wahl
(Geography) (Psychology: Gerontology)
Gail Auslander Frank Oswald
(Social Work: Gerontology) (Environmental Psychology)
Ruth Landau Tim Freytag
(Social Work: Ethics)
Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region
Tel-Aviv Metropolitan Region
Study Goals (Selected)
Do mobility patterns of older adults vary according to their
cognitive state? If so, what specific patterns in time and
Assess the relationship between mobility and quality of life
among elders and their families.
Assess the potential of advanced tracking technologies to
reduce stress and burden of families of elders with
Examine the ethical implications of advanced tracking
Assess the potential of the technology in the diagnosis of
Traditional Methods for Data Collection
on Human Spatial Activity
Tracking / Following / Stalking
Observation: high buildings, CCTV cameras, etc.
Evidence provided by the research subject themselves
(Questionnaires, Time-Space Diaries). Based on the
subject’s collaboration… Especially in the case of cognitive
The potential to implement advanced tracking technologies
Implementing Tracking Technologies for
My own experience:
Spatial activity of visitors to (1) Theme Parks (Mini-Israel,
PortAventura - Catalunya) (2) Historic Cities (Akko,
Heidelberg) and (3) Multi-Functional Cities (Hong-Kong)
Objective functional measures of orthopedic procedures (with
Hadassah university hospital in Jerusalem)
Recruitment of participants from three groups in each
country (Israel and Germany):
Healthy elders, Elders with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI),
Elders with Mild Dementia (MD)
Procedure repeated for three years.
Tracking technology – location kits
Location Kit : Star unit, home unit and RF
When the research unit is an Individual
•How do people move through space?
•What types of transportation do they use?
•Where do elderly people spend their time?
•How much of their time is spent at home?
When the research unit is the City:
Activity of P8,
Tracking people involves a lot of data
Tracking a person every 10 seconds means
collecting, storing and analyzing 360 points an
hour and 8640 points a day, 259200 a month...
That is a lot of data!
1. Using advanced tracking technologies opens up new
possibilities for empirical research (in terms of the
accuracy, and the data resolution).
2. The fact that the data is collected by digital interfaces allow
accelerated analysis (almost in real time) and in lower
3. Our research design enables us to link between the
geographical, medical and psycho-social data.
4. Possibilities to implement the methodologies to advance
research in other cases of pedestrian behavior.