LocateMotion, Ryerson University and Durham Police conduct Dementia Field Trial

Toronto, Canada 28 March 2020 – As our population ages, there is a corresponding increase in the number of age-related disorders, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

LocateMotion, Ryerson University and Durham Police conducted field trial for location-tracking and UAV rescue of persons with Dementia who are at risk of going missing

Keywords: SenSights, Health Intelligence, Remote Monitoring, Senior Care


As our population ages, there is a corresponding increase in the number of age-related disorders. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada1, today over half a million Canadians are living with dementia, with about 25,000 new cases diagnosed every year. At this rate, by 2031 the numbers are expected to almost double. According to Alzheimer’s org, six out of ten seniors living with some form of Alzheimer’s will wander and become lost. If these people are not found within 24 hours, up to half of them risk serious injury or death. Local Police and Search and Rescue (SAR) Operations agencies play a vital role in ensuring the safety of such dementia patients, who are likely to wander.

As the timeframe to locate lost individuals is very short, especially with the onset of winter, it is critical to devise methods of locating these individuals as soon as possible. LocateMotion, a Canadian Healthtech startup, has partnered with researchers from Ryerson University’s Network-Centric Applied Research Team Lab (NCART) on a research project that aims to leverage technology to monitor and track persons at risk of going missing, facilitate SAR operations carried out by police, and ultimately develop a model/algorithm that can predict the path of a wandering senior.

Field Trial

The field trial was carried out in early October 2019, with support from Durham Police, at a secure location in Durham Region. The trial involved simulating multiple wandering incidents in areas such as open farmland as well as in proximity of potentially dangerous locations such as forests and ponds. The field tests involved using simulated SAR statistical models, monitoring and tracking the location of Volunteers by leveraging wearables and GPS/Cellular tracking technologies, and testing the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Drones to expedite the SAR efforts.

LocateMotion, Ryerson University and Durham Police teams at the trial site

Volunteers, who had been briefed on lost person behavior, were involved to support the development of a model that supports the SAR teams in finding lost people with dementia. Data from the International Search and Rescue Incident Database (ISRID), containing thousands of international and national police records on lost persons, was analyzed by Ryerson University’s researchers to develop an understanding of wandering behavior and predict an optimal path for wandering patients.

Results and Next Steps

The results of the field trial are being analyzed and will be published. The eventual goal of the project is to create an algorithm/theoretical model to predict and detect wandering patients with dementia.

Tracking the path of simulated Wandering incidents in a rural setting using a GPS device

As wandering patterns vary, the data collected through this test will help in predicting an optimal path for wandering patients, consequently facilitating rescue operations. Additional work would include the creation of simulations to test the algorithm for finding people with dementia via UAV search and then developing software that could be used to automate the search process. Further, these simulations could be used to train first responders and SAR teams through game-based learning.

About LocateMotion

At LocateMotion, we enable caregivers, senior homecare providers and medical institutions to provide timely care and safety to our aging population. Backed by the Canadian government and research grants, LocateMotion is driving innovation in senior care.