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Repurposing infrastructure -- Verizon Chaperone and other market extensions
I spent some quality time this weekend writing and then losing a blog entry to a software crash. Computers. Gotta love 'em. But I got to thinking about simplification, packaging, and reuse. If you think about it, how resourceful and enterprising business people are! Just think -- from one year to the next, contractors and interior designers move from new home building and decorating to renovation and retrofit. Car rental companies like Hertz get into the hourly car use business to compete with Zipcar. And -- my favorite -- assisted living, CCRCs, and retirement homes get into the community outreach and service business.
My favorite this week: Glenmeadow Retirement Community in Longmeadow, MA -- which offers a 'Lifestyle Pass'for those who still live in their own homes -- $375/year provides access to the facilities and activities, and in addition they can buy meals a la carte if locals are looking for the company of others and a ready-to-eat dinner.
In fact, if none of these folks repurposed their existing infrastructure and skills into other market frontiers, standing still would mean losing (perhaps substantial) ground. And like Glenmeadow, offering services to the surrounding community also creates a prospect list of future residents. You can probably think of numerous examples that are similarly extending existing infrastructure into new markets.
Which brings me to Verizon Chaperone. With this service, you can set up 'Child Zones' so that you can be notified when your child enters or leaves an area, track up to four phones from your own phone or PC, and do this for up to 4 phones, all for $9.99/month additional service charge to your current Verizon account. Sprint offers the same service for $5/month. So when one of my neighbors lost track of her mother recently -- who became lost in a maze of streets that all look the same, I looked around and found these inexpensive services.
Now I am going to sound whiny. In the interest of re-use and simplification, would it not be too much to ask for vendors like Verizon, Sprint, and maybe AT&T (couldn't find it on their site and lost interest looking) to add the concept of locating seniors as well as children in their plan marketing? Maybe call it 'Family Location services'? Repurpose the same 'track the phone' infrastructure to build a customer base of yet another type of family member who may be uncomfortable using the phone to ask for help but, all the same, would love to be found and helped. This is the type of light weight aging in place technology that capitalizes on an already purchased platform -- the cell phone.