IoT and M2M usher in next-gen emergency services
Smart guidance pillars, connected cars, smart watches, mHealth services serve up life-saving functionalities
Picture this: you’re strolling down a street in Dubai and you spot a fire, or an accident, or a person nearby in need of urgent medical assistance. If all goes according to plan, you will be soon able to report the emergency in question with a simple click of a button on a nearby lamppost.
As Dubai shoots for smart city status – an initiative gaining importance in the run-up to the Expo 2020, which will bring with it a mass influx of 25 million visitors during the trade exhibition’s six-month run over and above the projected annual international visitor traffic of 20 million during the year – the city’s authorities are now working towards taking its communications infrastructure, especially its emergency services, up a few notches.
In line with this, Dubai Civil Defence will introduce into the city the Smart Guidance Pillar, a solar-powered lamppost, featuring, in addition to an emergency button, a camera, an intercom-like device and an electronic signboard. The lamppost will also provide round-the-clock live video footage to the operation room it is linked to.
Machine-to-machine services, more commonly dubbed M2M services, is the technology behind these smart pillars, and because it can help make emergency communications significantly faster and easier, it has gained popularity across the world as a life-saving technology.
For instance, several years ago, the European Commission introduced eCall – a ground-breaking initiative intended to bring rapid and automatic assistance to motorists involved in incidents anywhere in the European Union (EU). In the event of a serious road incident, the In-Vehicle System (IVS) is able to automatically dial 112 and reliably communicate incident details over wireless networks. These details are collectively known as ‘the minimum set of data’, or MSD, and include: time of the incident, cause of activation, GPS coordinates, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Inspired by Europe, this service was soon also made available in Japan, indicating potential for uptake around the world.
“Every year, about 1.3 million people worldwide lose their lives on the roads, with up to 50 million more suffering non-fatal injuries. With the eCall system in place, operators can dispatch appropriate assistance, with response times slashed by 40% in urban areas and by as much as 50% in rural locations. By enabling qualified paramedics to get to the scene within the crucial first hour of the incident, the eCall system has the potential to save about 2,500 lives in the EU alone each year and reduce the severity of injuries by 10 to 15%,” said Sherry Zameer, Senior Vice President for Telecommunication & IoT at Gemalto, a digital security solutions provider whose portfolio includes an end-to-end scalable solution for smart cars.
In addition to the eCall system, Gemalto recently also enabled cellular connectivity for the revolutionary Limmex watch, which looks like any other Swiss watch, but features an emergency button. When this button is pressed, the watch sends an SMS with GPS details to a predefined emergency contact. It also has an in-built microphone and loudspeaker so the wearer can communicate with their emergency contact person.
Highlighting another key facet of the role M2M technology can play in saving lives, Zameer added: “M2M technology used in mHealth services facilitates remote health monitoring and assisted living – patient data can be collected remotely and should any alarming information surface, alerts can be sent out to the practitioner responsible, prompting quick action.”
The majority of medical devices today work as individual units, monitoring and reporting only one specific aspect of a patient's health, which doctors and nurses then piece together to get a complete picture. Fortunately, the healthcare industry is realizing this inefficiency and is moving towards a system in which connected applications aggregate, visualise and manage medical data on web-based platforms. According to Juniper Research, the remote patient monitoring solutions are expected to save healthcare providers up to USD 36 billion by 2018.
Gemalto’s Cinterion technology is providing secure wireless connectivity for a next generation smart health and wellness M2M hub, developed by Vignet Corp, which consolidates information from medical sensors by leveraging a cloud-based server that transforms data into easy-to-understand insights.
“This solution collects data from many sensors and devices such as pedometers, electrocardiogram patch, sleep sensors, weight scales, blood glucose and blood pressure devices and provides a dashboard view of overall health status to authorised caregivers. Medication reminders and behavioural prompts are delivered to the touch screen on the Hub or to the user’s mobile device. The mHealth technology sends alarm notifications to healthcare providers when medication is missed or thresholds are met which can improve remote patient monitoring and medical response time,” noted Zameer.
The Cinterion solution is also powering the TRiLOC GPS Personal Locator Device (PLD) used to locate people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The easy-to-wear wristwatch solution uses an ultra-slim Cinterion module to provide 24/7 global cellular communications and Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking.
Contemporary M2M technology provides a nifty, wide range of functionalities and capabilities. Interoperability between various monitoring devices, communication protocols and data transfer technologies to achieve an ultra-large scale citywide installation is now possible.