Bringing generations together to find innovative solutions

This report was prepared by the Age-Friendly Innovation Center


The number and percentage of older adults continues to grow exponentially in the United States and across the globe (US Census Bureau, 2018). Despite common misconceptions, adults 60 and older are integrating technology into their lives at high rates (Pew Research Center, 2017). Recognizing that technological innovations have the opportunity to make mobility and transportation safer and easier, Age-Friendly Columbus and Franklin County responded to Ohio State’s Office of Research 2019 “pitch day” at the newly opened 99PLabs. A panel of engineers, scientists and others evaluated multiple team pitches and offered seed funding to five projects. The proposals varied from creating better, more sustainable, high energy lithium batteries, to building a “smart” roadway that can tell drivers, pedestrians and cyclists what’s happening outside their line of sight, to Age-Friendly’s program to create a framework for testing, reviewing and enhancing mobility innovations for older adults and individuals with disabilities. The Age-Friendly proposed project would create ongoing dialogue between innovation creators and potential end-users by infusing their knowledge, experiences and behaviors into future technologies that meet real-life mobility challenges and needs.

“People don’t fit the
technology; technology
needs to fit the people.”

Objectives of the Project

■ To infuse the knowledge, experiences and behavior of older adults and persons with disabilities into the innovation process
■ To create a replicable model of testing mobility technologies with older adults and individuals with disabilities in the community
■ To digitally document—through photographs and video—the experiences of older adults and persons with disabilities testing mobility technology at 99PLab

The Age-Friendly approach was informed by the People-Led Innovation Toolkit developed by GovLab and the Bertelmann’s Foundation to address city problems of the 21st century. Age-Friendly took the People-Led Innovation framework and applied community-based participatory research methodology (Israel, et al., 2003) to bring together the “experience experts” (older adults and people with disabilities) and “content experts” (engineers, staff) to define problems and solve real-world transportation challenges through collaborative innovation sessions. This work was completed through the creation of the “Age-Friendly Scholars” cohort, an interdisciplinary group of students from across The Ohio State University. The Scholars contributed through their unique disciplinary lens throughout the project. Activities were documented in a variety of ways, including detailed meeting and field notes, photos, and videos.

Read the full report here.


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