Atlantic Shores Residents Embrace Technology in Community-Wide Initiative
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – July 27, 2016 – They’re making new friends, posting photos of their latest adventures, comparing their video gaming scores, and booking reservations for their next social outing. These are not techie teens, but residents at Atlantic Shores, the Neighborhood for 55 and Better in Virginia Beach, Virginia. As information technology becomes an integral part of daily life for all ages, these enthusiasts are using technology to expand their world, and are driving a community-wide program for their fellow residents to embrace it.
ASpire Technology at Atlantic Shores
The movement began with the recent launch of the community’s ASpire initiative, a project designed to use technology to enrich the lives of Atlantic Shores’ residents – connecting them wirelessly with each other and the world. This groundbreaking program gives residents the convenience and freedom to connect wirelessly within the 100 acre campus, with virtually no IT knowledge required – fostering social and intellectual opportunities unrestrained by physical boundaries.
ASpire also offers bundled phone, TV and internet services. When fully integrated, including medical and security location-based services, Atlantic Shores will be among the first resident-governed cooperative model senior living communities in the country offering a campus-wide system encompassing multiple buildings and outdoor spaces.
As part of the ASpire program, Atlantic Shores developed and launched a corresponding mobile app, which provides a fast, easy way to stay in touch, access community information including staff and resident directories, view dining menus and weather, register for on-site activities and off-site excursions, and create reminders. Also featuring one touch emergency dial to the Atlantic Shores gatehouse, the app works anywhere with wireless, in both IOS and Android platforms.
Also accessible via the app, MyAtlanticShoresLiving, is a private virtual community designed as an interactive communications tool to connect and inform. This unique social network is open to all Atlantic Shores residents, staff, family and friends. After joining, members can create their own profiles, “friend” each other, and even link directly to their Facebook accounts. All can connect remotely, on or off campus, and use the site to stay actively involved in events, check menus, view their wii sports competition scores, participate in forums and group discussions, send messages to friends and staff, as well as post their status with pictures and web links.
In order to encourage residents to adopt these technologies, the Hub Club was formed – an energetic a group of Atlantic Shores residents who ASpire to refine the functionality and direction of the community’s technology platforms, and educate others to embrace them.
This innovative committee was formed by Atlantic Shores staff, including Resident Technology Support Manager Jamie Lockard, who shared, “We wanted to organize a group of residents that could lead us forward with our technology, suggesting initiatives that they would like to see happen, and could benefit from. We also wanted to support them in serving as peer-to-peer ambassadors – spreading the word and encouraging those who might be intimidated by new technologies to explore the possibilities.”
The group launched by distributing a survey to all Atlantic Shores residents, to discover how many used electronic devices, what type they had, and if they would be interested in receiving community information electronically.
As a follow-up to the survey, the Hub Club assisted presenting a technology overview for residents, showcasing the variety of different devices available, along with resident testimonials on which devices they like and why. Residents were able to test desktop and laptop computers, smart phones and tablets, to see which met their personal needs, and also learned ways to access streamed entertainment, shopping websites and social media tutorials.
Hub Club meetings are held every three weeks, with everyone in the community invited to explore ideas. The committee’s five chairpersons approve new initiatives, which are then shared via MyAtlanticShoresLiving to all residents, staff, and standing committees. Several members also dedicate time to work one-on-one with residents who are not as comfortable with technology.
The club has already re-designed the layout for ease of use, requested a zoom feature on the app, arranged posting of daily and special event menus, added advance reviews of on-campus movies, and created a special section in the classified area, offering items for sale to benefit the community’s Employee Gift Fund. Additional refinements include adapting many popular paper documents used by residents, to given them more usability – including an electronic comment card where residents can send feedback directly to a specific department, either anonymously, or with request for a direct response. A separate tab has also been created for the community’s Welcome Package, featuring all information included in the resident handbook.
According to Atlantic Shores Managing Director of Finance, Jenny Maugeri, “Our residents have really stepped up to the challenge, even taking on some of the site maintenance. They’re actively supporting joint technology use between residents and staff, including spotlighting different departments so residents can learn how each works, and how technology plays a role.”
Hub Club members are also sensitive to their fellow residents who are frustrated or slower to embrace technology, even posting “tech cheat sheets” in the Atlantic Shores mailroom. Staff tech leaders also help with the learning curve, staging weekly interactive training sessions to provide personal assistance for all residents. According to Ms. Lockard, “Sometimes, some of our more tech-savvy residents even drop by to lend their expertise, including recently when one of our Hub Club members stopped in, and ended up teaching another resident how to use Facetime on her iPad.”
Residents and their Hub Club leaders are already blending the tech tools into their daily lives.
“They’re enjoying new ways of staying in touch with friends and family, and love the fact they don’t have to use their own data to stay connected when they come to the clubhouse, the library, or to dinner,” commented Lockard. “Residents are really having fun interacting on the virtual community, and Hub Club members are embracing the freedom they have to direct the future of technology in our community.” Hub Club member and Vice President of the Atlantic Shores Board of Directors Jan VanHeiningen adds, “I like that we’re easing, teaching, and giving confidence in transitioning from notes and word of mouth, to electronics.”
Moving forward, Hub Club members will introduce the community’s technology initiatives to new residents during their orientation, and assist them in connecting personally and electronically with their new neighbors. Future goals also include setting up an interactive residents-helping-residents program, pairing peers at the same own age to explore technology without fear.