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Developer to build 'smart' community


Blog by | January 3rd, 2007


OTTAWA CITIZEN

Developer to build 'smart' community: Richmond housing to offer seniors high-tech benefits

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Richmond housing development that bills itself as Canada's first "smart" community for seniors is trying to keep residents ahead of the technological curve by offering a slew of sophisticated amenities.

Among them are webcams, online blood pressure tests and a wall panel that doubles as a medication reminders.

Butearly indicaations are that telephone calls over the Internet may end up being the biggest draw at Courtyard Developments' Hyde Park community.

Voice over Internet protocolm or VoIP, has ballooned in popularity since first appearing in 2004. Customers plug their telephone lines into the Internet instead of into wires. Companies such as Skype and Vonage have offered greatly reduced rates on long-distance calling compared with traditional providers.

Courtyard Developments has made the feature a major selling point to retirees interested in living at Hyde Park's soon-to-be built new units off Perth Street, said Steve Hyde, the company's president.

Sixty per cent of the community's current reisdents have computers and high-speed internet.

And that number is set to increase as the trend of web-savvy baby boomers seeking retirement living that offers easy acces to modern technology continues.

"Everything here is being built with connectivity in mind," Mr. Hyde said. "This is truly a smart community, not just a home."

New Hyde Park residents will have unlimited calling to North America and seven European countries for a flat fee.

Current residents, including Mr. Hyde's parents, who live in the community's first phase of homes, built a couple of years ago, have been testing the technology since July.

"My mother has a lot of family in the United Kingdom and she gets to spend hours talking to them, where before she was watching her penniers," Mr. Hyde said.

Snowbirds can also take their local phone numbers to Flordia or Arizona during the winter, said Bruce Robertson, director of product and market development for Vonage Canada, the VOIP operator that services the Hyde Park development.

"We're Internet-agnostic," he said. "We don't care where you are. Our customer base is moving toward the baby boomer crowd, and they're getting more comfortable with the serivce."