ASpire Program Provides Community-Wide Connectivity, Services and Safety
In a historic move on October 20, 2015, Atlantic Shores Retirement Community in Virginia Beach, Virginia rolled out the first phase of its ASpire technology initiative, connecting their residents with each other and the world. This groundbreaking program will allow Atlantic Shores residents, employees and guests to connect to wireless internet, indoors or out, anywhere within the 100-acre community.
ASpire will also offer residents additional medical, security, location based services and entertainment. Future enhancement may include integration of phone, TV and internet services. When fully integrated, 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.
The project marked the completion of a vision on how to use technology to enrich the lives of Atlantic Shores’ residents in a forward thinking manner. Through the use of information technology, residents will have the convenience and freedom to connect wirelessly anywhere on the campus, with virtually no IT knowledge required. Whether in their homes, in the Clubhouse, or sitting beside Redwing Lake, residents can check Facebook, play online games, or stay in touch with family across the country.
Atlantic Shores General Manager, Eden Jones, originally envisioned the concept of an end-to-end wireless solution, encompassing the entire community. According to Ms. Jones, “We wanted to create a high tech/high touch environment of social connectedness, exploration, preventative technologies and safety. Building a forward thinking infrastructure allows Atlantic Shores to be on the leading edge, not only of emerging technologies in telehealth and life safety, but also in fostering social and intellectual opportunities achieved by bringing information and people together in a manner unrestrained by physical boundaries. Ubiquitous access takes the fear and frustration out of the process, and instead offers the opportunity for curiosity to take over and expand the world.”
A huge project in terms of scope and effort, Ms. Jones, along with Atlantic Shores’ Managing Director of Finance, Jenny Maugeri and chief IT consultant, Chuck Jacques spent more than four years bringing the project to fruition. The system was designed by Virginia Beach-based Electronic Systems, Inc. (ESI), the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest provider of customized, scalable, end-to-end technology solutions, along with engineers from Blackwater Electric.
ESI’s primary consultant, Wayne Zettler, broke the massive project into three distinct phases. The ASpire project is unique in that it’s being delivered to residential clients, but designed with the foresight and planning typically reserved for a business environment.
Typical residential facilities allow their residents to contract with a local ISP, which enables internet access and nothing more. Atlantic Shores was looking to create an enterprise-grade IT network, which would tie the entire community together, and bring many residential services such as phone and internet services into the ASpire fold. This level of connectivity allows Atlantic Shores to add services, such as location-based applications, which allow medical staff to track the location of an injured resident. According to Ms. Jones. “Since the entire property is part of this network, families of our residents can rest assured that their loved ones can be located and monitored, as needed, based on their particular situation.”
Since Atlantic Shores will be functioning as the residents’ virtual gateway to the outside world, security and control were a top priority, as was designing a redundant solution that is hardened against failures, to ensure 100% uptime. In addition to redundant enterprise grade firewalls, ASpire was built with the best-in-class Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) to ensure security across all facets of the network, and will be monitored and managed by ESI to ensure industry standards and IT best practices at every level.
According to Mr. Zettler, “Information technology has become an integral part of day-to-day life, even within the senior marketplace. The ASpire project will place Atlantic Shores on the forefront of that trend within the retirement community industry. As medical technologies continue to advance, Atlantic Shores will be in a position to deliver next generation services to their residents.”
As part of the program, Atlantic Shores has launched a corresponding app. Featuring one touch emergency dial, the app works anywhere with wireless — an added security benefit. A companion component is also accessible via the app, computer, tablet or smart phone. Designed as an interactive communications tool to connect and inform, this social network for Atlantic Shores members is open to all Atlantic Shores staff, residents, family and friends, featuring news and events, an online marketplace, games, and member forum.
The project’s first phase, including all common areas of Atlantic Shores’ clubhouse, administrative offices, and the community’s Seaside Skilled Nursing Center, and Harbourway Assisted Living Facility, was completed in October of 2015.
Residents got their first chance to experience this historic initiative at a special launch party at Atlantic Shores on October 20, where they brought their smart phones and tablets to plug in, hang out, and celebrate ASpire. Following a viewing of the new Atlantic Shoes app, representatives from ESI, Atlantic Shores and Cisco provided one-on-one training and technology assistance. Ongoing support programs will boost resident excitement about the initiative, and assist them in exploring the world ASpire delivers to their doorstep.