Priority Projects

Planned Activities/Projects

The focus is straightforward – increase health and wellness of residents by connecting people, places and technology, delivering a common set of platforms/tools while measuring multiple intended outcomes.

To achieve success we’ll focus on key areas, underpinned by common solutions built to apply to multiple scenarios that are easily replicated:

Easy access to services - “Hey Hamilton” Virtual Navigator

A city as large and diverse as Hamilton provides countless public and community services. The volume of information available makes services difficult to access. Anyone seeking services in their community should have quick, easy, and accurate access to information without having to wade through piles of booklets or websites; and people who deliver services need easy access to what they need, when they need it.

Providing residents with a new digital customer experience reengineers how public and community services are delivered for the modern world.

Hamilton’s Virtual Navigator will be a cloud-based platform accessible from multiple channels depending on user preference i.e. web, mobile app and smart home device. Data will be aggregated across multiple sources, in a federated model, and presented in an easy to understand format. The “Hey Hamilton” navigator will be built on proven technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered bot capabilities will answer user questions over multiple channels, natural language processing and machine learning will help it distill information. To support newcomers and immigrants, it will be available in multiple languages.

In parallel to improve service experience, big data analytics will be leveraged to uncover patterns and trends to show new insights to institutions to help them understand service requests and gaps. Information will be made available through open application programming interfaces to encourage the development of third-party applications.

This overarching set of tools/platforms the cornerstone of the program, supporting each area while capturing data that can be used to measure and improve performance. It will enable open data sharing and bring additional insights that are used to transform the system.

Better Health Outcomes

We know that with healthcare the earlier the intervention the better. To reduce pressure on acute care we will support high needs patients today, while understanding at-risk users from a prevention perspective for tomorrow. 

Early identification indicators represent opportunities to proactively intervene before people are in crisis, enabling successful aging in place to improve patient/resident experience.

The digital platforms referenced above, are multi-purpose and capable of allowing Hamilton to support residents from birth to end of life. They will include a cognitive system that learns from and infuses intelligence into the physical world, connecting IoT devices and real-time data to inform better decisions and faster responses. This will be integrated with ambient assisted living, smart home technology, and data infrastructure to create a truly innovative smart city with a focus on the citizen at the centre. 

A new collaborative pilot between the Community Paramedics Remote Patient Monitoring  (RPM) program (a paramedic proactively monitors patients at-home) and the McMaster SmartHome program, will combine RPM with wearable and smart home technology to enable care in the right place before people are in crisis. A focus on prevention and intervention will quickly reduce 911 calls and reduce emergency department visits.

In addition to participation from our hospitals, we will expand the capability of in-home monitoring and support through digital technology by partnering with the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). OTN’s full suite of digital tools, including those to support chronic disease self-management and virtual eVisits will increase the depth of access to medical services within our community. OTN will use Hamilton as a test bed to roll out existing and new products/services that can benefit residents of Hamilton and be scaled across Ontario if successful.

To enable success the pilot would launch with an initial 500 patients to test capability and demonstrate results. After successfully enabling that group we would add another 500 patients in a model that can continue to be scaled.

Health, wellness and aging successfully go together. With the population of older adults doubling, we know that the majority of seniors want to be able to age in place; we will demonstrate that we can provide better support to enable that.

Research shows that social isolation and loneliness are major contributing factors to a decline in health and wellness, we will focus on two key contributors: mobility decline and hearing loss.

Mobility decline leads to falls. Falls are a leading cause of injury in Hamilton, one in five seniors reporting falling each year. Building on the RPM/SmartHome program above, the McMaster Institute for the Research on Aging (MIRA) will leverage their platforms/research capacity to identify and develop tools that assist in understanding and preventing mobility decline in older adults. 

The combined program will use non-invasive, quantitative sensing technologies to connect older adults and high risk patients, who have chosen to participate, in their homes. In addition to patient support, there will be an emphasis on a variety of factors and indicators.  One example is examining differences in how older adults with and without early mobility limitations move within their homes/communities, measuring from various perspectives using sensing technology.

This allows a longitudinal analysis to understand mobility and predict decline by developing indicators. Those indicators can be used as a precursor for fall prevention, early intervention and better enable aging in place.  Once developed these tools can be shared, including in the existing longitudinal studies McMaster delivers, across the country.

Avatar based exercise programming will be developed for older adults to improve mobility and encourage engagement, including in the home. This will build directly on McMaster’s LIVELab (Large Interactive Virtual Environment) dance for Parkinson’s pilot, expanding to a broader audience.  LIVElab’s ground breaking research on using music, science and technology to improve health and social connectivity will be leveraged to create programming for people with hearing impairments in the community.

Increasing residents’ health and wellness and reducing pressure on emergency acute care services will require the community to operate as a team, including patients, caregivers, and front-line staff.  Hamilton Health Sciences (HHSC) will build on the success of its early warning system and develop new education models to actively engage people before crisis. Key focus areas will be on those with high impact based on acute care statistics including mobility decline/falls, and sepsis (significant infection).

Through this combined suite of projects we will demonstrate we can reduce pressure on the ED, reduce 911 calls and provide a better experience for residents, while supporting people to age successfully in place. We will deliver models that are replicable in communities across the country. 

Increasing resiliency of youth and at-risk populations

A key factor identified in increasing resiliency was easier navigation of the programs available. The “Hey Hamilton” platforms/tools will address this and assist in making supporting connections. Success will be measured through participation and engagement in programs, use of service and satisfaction.

From a service provider perspective, an example is providing guidance counsellors easy digital access to current information about emerging and non-traditional career paths. Content will be provided through support from post-secondary institutions with a physical presence in the community. This can support all students. McMaster University and Mohawk College are committed.

Use cases will be identified and mapped through co-design as we aim to create and build on collaborative programs that exist today.

Recognizing Digital Inequity or the “homework gap” (no access to technology or the internet) are increasing issues, an incentive program will be created to encourage long-term participation i.e. data plans and devices, transit passes.  An initial goal is increasing successful graduation rates amongst the applied stream of students by 10% schools in the Catholic School Board and increasing post-secondary school enrollment in that group by 15%.  Longitudinal success will be monitoring through big data analytics. The public board will also participate in the program.

To support school transitions McMaster’s Child Youth University (MCYU) is on-board. A unique community outreach initiative focused on demystifying post-secondary school for kids 8-14 years old, delivering on-campus lectures so kids and their families can explore the University to reduce barriers.

This is coupled with MCYU in the City: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) workshops delivered in the community to provide hands-on learning. McMaster students participate in content delivery.

Currently they are developing their first e-book – understanding water, this interactive e-book adjusts to the age of the kids, who can interact with bots and facilitators as they learn.  The book will adapt as the user decides various outcomes and kids co-create content like a wiki.

The program encourages critical thinking and youth engagement. It parallels the Ontario school curriculum to link subjects like math, science and social science to show how they address practical challenges in the community.

MCYU could scale that immediately, partnering with the library to empower more kids and develop five more e-books, openly shared, replicable across the country.

Additionally, new multi-purpose digital hubs will play an important role in program delivery and social connectivity. Taking service to you, we will replicate the Hamilton Public Library (HPL) Central model where service providers are co-located.

Deployment will focus first on at-risk areas, such as large city housing complexes that often require multiple services in tandem, like Vanier Towers. This will provide the community easy access to services and service providers with a central point of contact in a community hub.

Three models will be delivered, with flexible staffing depending on community needs, while offering common tools (public Wi-Fi):

  1. Five outdoor hubs set as new facilities in parks/neighbourhoods on a more permanent basis, tailored for workshops, device lending, and access to computers. 
  2. Five modular indoor hubs for rec centres, community centres, enabling digital resources, access to community library resources, free printing/charging.
  3. Three fully mobile interactive-digital bookmobiles that move around the community as pop-up libraries delivering specialized community programming with access to digital tools/resources. This would include parks, community events, seniors home and long-term care.

These 13 hubs are estimates, scalable with demonstrated success and private sector investment opportunities. They offer connectivity and a variety of digital services, and provide additional safe meeting/educational places for people to use/interact.

Community connectivity is more than digital it’s social and inter-generational. We plan to encourage older adults to volunteer, leveraging the potential of our older community to connect with youth.

For those who may not have finished high school and want support in developing a path forward, Mohawk College is a front-line leader in post-secondary access and poverty reduction.

The program will also focus re-engaging those who may have left high school unfinished and require non-traditional opportunities for completion. Building on their innovative community based programming and deep community engagement to increase resiliency, Mohawk’s City School will be expanded to reach more of the at-risk community. Delivered directly in neighbourhoods, they provide free credit and non-credit courses and workshops for populations that experience below average postsecondary attainment due to social or financial barriers. The communities it serves participate in program selection, the new model will be digital focused and enabled.

 In Canada’s most connected community, no one gets left behind.

Connecting Urban Indigenous People and Services

Under the leadership of HEDAC this program will accelerate the achievement of outcomes desired by the Indigenous community and the outcomes of Hamilton’s Urban Indigenous Strategy.

The Navigator will be tailored to connect people to the Indigenous services available in Hamilton. There is also the potential for the Navigator to support Indigenous language revitalization.

The Indigenous community in Hamilton can use smart technology to support youth in developing connections to their culture, languages, and teachings, to help enable success in education, health and well-being, increasing their resiliency through the development of Indigenous-led content. As part of this process, collectively we will seek to build understanding of Indigenous histories, knowledge and experiences for non-Indigenous residents to strengthen the community as a whole by creating content to increase cultural awareness.

This will require replication of platforms/tools and services for a new audience and Indigenous led governance, and by extension demonstrate the capability to share in other settings across the country.