Weybridge UK, 7th June 2022: The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) NHS Trust is the ambulance service for North West England. It is one of ten ambulance trusts providing England with Emergency medical services and is part of the National Health Service funded by the government. Operating across 109 ambulance stations, the organisation has recently begun implementing a significant overhaul of their IT set up. By working with Universal AV and Sony Professional Displays and Solutions, NWAS wanted to modernise and improve the efficiency of core functionalities at each site with workplace management solution TEOS Manage and BRAVIA 4K Professional Displays.
With noticeboards previously relying solely on paper to communicate everything from damage to a vehicle to a road closure in the local area, the ambulance stations were not equipped to maximise full efficiency for staff and visitors. The NWAS needed to find a solution that allowed its employees to work smarter, not harder. This need became especially apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, as ambulance services were stretched to their limit making it even more crucial to save precious time in day-to-day operations.
“The field we operate in leaves no margin for errors, as a critical service to the public we have to be able to respond accurately and in a timely manner,” comments John Martland, Head of IT Support Services for NWAS. “Whilst it was not inhibiting us from doing our job properly, the set up as it was at each of our stations, was also not supporting our NHS staff in the best and most efficient way possible. I turned to Sony because I had seen how well their BRAVIA and TEOS eco-system had worked in other organisations and went forward with this digitalisation project with Universal AV knowing that the products and solutions on offer would revolutionise the experience for the employees at NWAS. This project is about ensuring our systems work smarter to support the employees who in turn support the public in their time of need.”
In November 2020, NWAS decided to work with Sony to digitise their systems and deploy interactive interfaces on-site that would truly modernise what was previously an out-of-date system, relying heavily on paper. With each ambulance station using up to six noticeboards to share critical and time-sensitive information, it was clear to Martland, that they needed to scrap the paper and begin to automate their processes with smart technology so that they could not only better support their employees but also ensure the most efficient critical care for the general public.
The deployment started at the station in Kendal, which was running off an old fibre line and was contributing to the issue of latency. The NWAS is now laying a bespoke fibre line into the building, to utilise the latest technology, the organisation also needed to modernise the core infrastructure on which it all sits.
Martland adds: “It wasn’t all easy and smooth sailing, as you can imagine with a project of this size and in an industry that is typically relying on legacy infrastructure and has a lot of protocols and processes to implement change. At first, the cloud was falling over and was unable to support without lagging as there wasn’t enough RAM, but working with AV interactive and Sony we were able to quickly find a solution. Once we put a new off-premises cloud server in we achieved instant responsiveness at the push of a button. Now, we are rolling out the deployment across all of our stations and corporate sites. One of the most rewarding aspects is that our neighbouring ambulance services and healthcare partners are looking into what we are doing with Sony and how they might adopt a similar approach.”
Full list of solutions deployed:
70 x Interactive Overlays for BRAVIA screens
TEOS Cloud for 3 years
TEOS Advanced Licensing – over 200
Benefits & outcomes
So far, the team have rolled out the new set-up at 25 sites, and the deployment at each site consists of a network of Sony BRAVIA 4K Professional Displays, interactive tablets and varying IoT devices that are all connected into the brain of Sony TEOS Manage solution. This single-pane management system means that each site can, for example, enable employees to simply walk up to an interactive screen and give a report on the task that they have just completed, and provide information such as what stock was used and needs to be replaced before that vehicle is called out again, whether the vehicle sustained any damage during the call-out and whether the damage requires urgent maintenance before re-deploying that ambulance.
Once this information is inputted into the system, unlike their previous set-up which was heavily paper-reliant, the system can now automate this report and provide the employee with smart information to ensure maximum efficiency for the following processes and protocols. With stock rooms that have IoT connected lights to indicate clearly where the required missing equipment is for them to restock efficiently, as well as LORAWAN ambulance bays with IoT sensors that identify when and the bay is occupied, how long the vehicle has been at the station and can also indicate to others if that vehicle is out of service due to damage incurred on the previous job.
“In such a modern and connected world, we wanted to be pioneers in a typically traditional and legacy sector,” comments Martland. “NWAS will now be able to operate in a truly modern, seamless, and automated way, in line with other sectors, and the revolution of this deployment has not only been impactful within the walls of our ambulance stations, but extends across the network of hospitals, police stations, fire stations and mountain rescue teams.”
Now, with Sony TEOS Manage solution, if there is a major incident, the team at the NWAS can access a complete view of all hospitals in the local area, their capacity and the time based on current traffic conditions it would take to divert the ambulance there. The system ensures the team can send resources to the most appropriate hospital, and can work with the police, fire, and mountain rescue teams to distribute this information too.
The system is also better equipped for servicing employees with things like holidays and self-certification sick days, enabling remote capabilities that allow staff to simply input an email address or scan their ID card to receive an automated form which, once filled out, is then communicated back to those that require this information. The new IT system also ensures that each station can work as a smart building, with optimised temperature controls, lighting and eco management, even the shower regulation is set with smart tech to ensure maximum efficiency and sustainability. By migrating the NWAS to the new cloud service, it can also improve its eco-footprint by going paperless.
The future of critical services is changing as technology develops, and solutions such as this TEOS and BRAVIA ecosystem are key in improving not only the efficiency of the service for citizens, but also in enabling the hard-working critical staff to perform tasks with ease and minimal stress. Making the lives easier of our critical services staff has never been more important than in these last two years during the pandemic, with the urgency for consistent and efficient ambulance services becoming very apparent in such trying times. Looking to the future, NWAS are now confident that they are best equipped for every-day running of their stations, as well as being prepared for any further crises. By updating the infrastructure, this modernisation project opens possibilities for the future technological needs of the ambulance services too; a true futureproofing that ensures best safety, processes and practice for staff and customers alike.
To watch a video about the North West Ambulance Service & Sony partnership, please click here.