I am not aware of any research undertaken into the possibility of supplying a panic alarm system through the mobile phone network. I am, however, familiar with the Seniors Alert Scheme (SAS), which is run by Pobal under the auspices of the Department of Rural and Community Development. The objective of the scheme is to encourage community support for vulnerable older people in our communities through the provision of personal monitored alarms to enable older persons to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind.
I understand that funding is available under the scheme towards the purchase of equipment by a registered organisation i.e. personal alarm and pendant with one year's monitoring. The subsequent associated monitoring and service charges must be paid by the participant. The equipment is funded by Pobal and made available through community, voluntary and not-for-profit organisations registered with Pobal under the SAS. This scheme is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development.
The telecommunications market in Ireland has been fully liberalised since 1999. Decisions by commercial operators to invest in particular technologies, including fixed line network technologies are taken purely on commercial grounds, having regard to the cost of service provision and the anticipated revenue returns from any such investment. Neither my Department nor the Commission for Communications Regulation, the independent market regulator, have statutory authority to oblige any particular network provider to invest in the provision of upgraded services however if the Deputy is aware of any research or new work in the technical area of panic alarm systems, I would be extremely interested in receiving this information or to facilitate a meeting.