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Collaborative Community Linux Extranet for Improved Health
By Janine M Lodato

Abstract: A proposal to architect and offer Linux based low cost and reliable collaborative systems to be used by the virtual support communities for all applications in support of the community especially in the arenas of distance learning and telemedicine.
What is needed by the population of these communities including is a unified, simple, reliable, affordable telecom platform system, preferably voice-activated, that lets the user check for caller ID, receive short messages, check for incoming and outgoing E-mail, access address books for both telephone numbers, URLs and e-mail addresses, and place and end telephone calls. All this without using the maddening complexity of Windows.

These segments of the population are in deep need for telemedicine and distance learning applications which could be delivered on Linux based low cost, rugged and simple platforms.

These segments of the population are in deep need for telemedicine and Linux based platforms in which all systems: client desktops, client laptops, client tablets, embedded sensors, communication nodes, blade servers, all run on Linux. One good example is the Yellow Dog Linux software from

The end users of the collaborative community extranet systems appreciate the higher grade reliability of the hardware on which Yellow Dog Linux runs since it is more rugged and reliable than the PC hardware: Yellow Dog Linux runs on the same chips Apple OS X runs on: Power G4, iMAC and variations of it. In fact any problems with the hardware or with the OS running on it would defeat the collaborative community since the users including the professionals and the people in need of health services are not that computer-wise so have no tolerance for any glitches.

Of course we do not need to be purists and we should also use AMD or Intel chip based PCs and even servers as long as they run under Linux such as Lindows. The competition between AMD and Intel is providing better and more cost effective processor chips including hyper-threading which allows multitasking: running multiple applications at the same time.

Many other Linux hardware and software sources are also worthwhile to mention:

One of the most important features for the collaborative community system will be the server based voice recognition capability. Everything that is now done by typing and text, will be more quickly and easily performed with voice recognition. That is, a voice will identify a caller, read short messages aloud, provide e-mail services in both text-to-voice reading of the incoming e-mail and voice-to-text for outgoing E-mail, voice access of address books, and voice-activated placing and closing out phone calls, search the web, collaborate with the mentor, etc.

Once the users are able to answer, make and end a call or a web session using just their voices, working with the Linux collaborative system will be a breeze and seniors will not feel isolated and lonely. What a boon to society voice-activated unified services will be including telephony and web services.

Whether or not users are at all computer-savvy, e-mail will also be extensively applied in the Linux based collaborative community support system machine. It is, after all, a form of communication as is the telephone. Of great value to the user would be e-mail and its corresponding address book. As e-mail comes in, messages could be read by way of a text-to-voice method. Also of great value would be a telephone system with its corresponding address book and numbers. Short messaging could be read through text-to-voice technology and short messages can be left using voice-to-text methodology.

With the attractive price of a Linux-based unified communication device encompassing all the applications mentioned above, users can be connected and productive without the need for an expensive Windows system. Anything that allows independence for the user is bound to be helpful to every aspect of society.

Of course the professionals in support of the community will also benefit from the simplicity of the user interface of the Linux-based client machine: desktop or laptop or later even a tablet. Simpler interface makes it quicker to use the system as well as voice recognition will make it more convenient resulting in higher precision records and faster execution of sessions.

Even the able-bodied eyes-busy, hands-busy professionals can use it to improve their productivity. This low cost virtual community platforms and associated Web connectivity could be very useful in many government and commercial employment arenas as well reaching out to the individuals who are in need of upgrading in skills.

Of course there is still work to be done. Applications for the community system must be developed or perfected to allow collaboration between the health service professionals or social worker professionals and the many people in need. Web connected AT oriented software components running on Linux client machines connected to Linux servers have to be created such as...

In fact voice recognition offers great promise for the future. However, it isn't perfect and needs to be improved. One improvement could use lip reading to bolster its accuracy. Still another is multi-tonal voice input. Another is directional microphones. Every generation of voice recognition software will improve as the hardware for Linux gets bigger and stronger.

Using such telephone simple systems the professionals can monitor, mentor and moderate and even medicate the members of the collaborative community.

For a good example:

Dealing with students who have learning disabilities, it is important to get their attention, to bolster their behavior and finally to improve their cognitive productivity. With assistive technology people can prevent further destruction of their faculties, improve their quality of life and can even be rehabilitated somewhat. Just the idea of being productive adds to a person's self-esteem enormously.

Another very important example is the telemedicine capability which can be used in preventative fashion to detect some of the early and silent conditions of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular conditions.


Copyright © 2003, Janine M Lodato. Copying license
Published in Issue 89 of Linux Gazette, April 2003