Microsoft and the City of New York are launching a new program that brings computer technology and the power of the Internet to seniors, according to an article in BusinessWeek. The program, known as the Virtual Senior Center, is helping retirees combat social isolation, pursue interests and access community services.
With the help of the Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center in Flushing, Queens, Microsoft outfitted a group of seniors with the equipment they needed. New York, which is facing budget cuts amid the economic downturn, determined that a partnership with the computer giant would be a financial boon to the city while at the same time helping seniors.
Approximately 1.3 million seniors call New York home, and 20,000 of them require services such as the delivery of meals and medicine. The projected 50 percent increase in those 60 and older in the next 25 years will outpace the increase in this demographic in every state, according to census statistics. New York hopes to better serve these individuals through technology.
Microsoft, for its part, stands to benefit from the partnership by expanding its customer base and bringing its products and services to a new audience. “Even in a large city like New York, people can feel alone,” said Bonnie Kearney, director of marketing for trustworthy computing at Microsoft. “This is a model cities can use to help homebound seniors stay connected and keep contributing to their communities.”
A similar program, called eSeniors, has been adopted in Miami. This program provides free computer training at learning hubs set up inside senior centers. There, seniors can learn about technological packages customized to their individual needs.