Providing the UK's ambulance sector with resilient connectivity
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About the project
The Hybrid Connex Digital Ambulance of the Future project is a joint NHS and commercial technology partnership that will provide the UKs ambulance sector with a resilient connectivity solution combining Wi-Fi, 4G, 5G and satellite connections. As a result, paramedics aboard the vehicle will never be offline, and specialists based elsewhere will be able to support vehicles remotely, regardless of their location. The technology will be available for use on Dual-Crewed Ambulances and smaller rapid response vehicles, where two-way communications are essential, as is constant and reliable connectivity to medical equipment, ambulance hubs and other emergency response vehicles in the community.
This project is due to be complete in late 2023 is vital in driving the implementation and integration of satellite technology in the 5G healthcare eco-system both now in the future. It is hoped that it will create a blueprint for fully connected digital ambulance services that will ultimately be able to provide community-based care and diagnostic support to many patients without unnecessary conveyance to an emergency departments.
Objectives and Partners
The project is funded by the European Space Agency with a partnership between the NHS Arden and Greater East Midlands, Excelerate Technology, Catapult Satellite Applications, and a range of commercial technology companies including Livewire Digital and Vodafone.
This project combines the improved bonding capabilities and network optimisation of Livewire Digital’s software with Excelerate Technology’s Hybrid Communications Module (HCM) hardware platform and Hybrid Communications as a Service (HCaaS). Utilising this technology will help demonstrate the long-term benefits and potential of 5G connectivity across ambulance fleets, improving e-health mobility, driving quality outcomes for patients and ensuring that lessons learnt from the project are acknowledged.
Satellite Applications Catapult’s role within the project
The Satellite Applications Catapult is providing vital facilities and expertise to the project, building upon the ongoing work of the Healthy Living Lab and use the full range of capabilities available at our Future Networks Development Centre (FNDC) which specialises in delivering connectivity solutions to support new applications development in the UK and beyond. Our facilities located at Westcott Venture Park offer the Private 5G Standalone Network solution and a variety of Satellite connectivity options/User Terminals that will play a significant role in the project, addressing the need for highly secure ubiquitous connectivity through the provision of bespoke test bed facilities. They are being used for the de-risking, successful integration and verification stages of this Product/Service.
The required physical infrastructure at Westcott is now in place, we have worked in partnership with Galliford Try to design and deliver the 5G mast at FNDC at Westcott that are compatible with Vodafone’s requirements to upgrade network coverage to facilitate this and similar research and development. Vodafone will offer a Public 4G and 5G non-standalone network, hosting their Radio Equipment & Devices in the Tower/Mast and then link back to their Core Network infrastructure.
In addition to our facilities and technical support, the Catapult’s User Centre Design team has led several user engagements events with general stakeholders and specific ambulance trusts interest in participating in future trials of the technology. These events have already generated valuable real-world feedback on the challenges that currently exist within the NHS connectivity ecosystem in relation to two example care pathways – Stroke, and Hospital at Home – and in turn continue to help us validate our findings while feeding information back to our technical teams and project partners.