Vodafone aids Covid-19 fight with added capacity for NHS Scotland, and introduces IoT thermal camera

UK telco Vodafone has announced two initiatives – one to help front-line medical workers gain required critical connectivity, and the other to provide businesses with a heat detection tool to aid their preparations for a return of workers as lockdown conditions are eased.

At the temporary Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (SEC), which opened in April to treat Covid-19 coronavirus patients, Vodafone has significantly boosted the capacity of its internal network for both patients and staff.

In just five days, Vodafone installed an enhanced in-building network that will allow up to 1,000 patients to carry out video and voice calls with family and friends, while at the same time it provided a secure, dedicated data connection to give access to central NHS systems, so that staff can access the same information as if they were working in a permanent hospital.

Jill Young, chief executive of NHS Louisa Jordan, said it was not only essential for people to be able to stay in contact with their loved ones, but that the health facility should offer the same safe, effective, high-quality care that patients would receive at any other hospital.

“It took just over two weeks to design, construct and mobilise NHS Louisa Jordan,” said Young. “This was only possible thanks to all of our contractors and suppliers working around the clock to make sure we are ready to support the NHS in Scotland. These [Vodafone] systems are now in place across our site.

“On behalf of the entire NHS team, I would like to say a sincere and heartfelt thank-you to Vodafone for their involvement and remarkable contribution to the delivery of our hospital.”

In addition to the support provided to NHS Scotland, Vodafone UK has: provided connectivity for a number of other temporary hospitals treating patients with Covid-19, including the London Nightingale Hospital; equipped “specialist pods” with communications for patients in quarantine; installed broadband connectivity at hospitals in north-east England; and established Wi-Fi connections for the NHS South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit in 24 hours.

“Keeping the UK connected during this health crisis has never been more important,” said Scott Petty, chief technology officer at Vodafone UK. “Our engineers are doing a fantastic job, often in the face of adversity, to bring temporary hospitals online. We also are adapting our network constantly and have more than doubled 4G capacity to ensure both health workers and patients are able to keep in touch during the lockdown.”

Vodafone recently doubled the capacity of the NHS 111 telephone advice service and has extended its free unlimited mobile data offering to NHS workers registered to its network.

Meanwhile, to help UK organisations get back to work safely during the pandemic, Vodafone UK in partnership with Digital Barriers – a UK-based innovator supported by tech incubator Tomorrow Street and the Vodafone Business 5G accelerator – has introduced a heat detection camera that combines thermal imaging and its internet of things (IoT) connectivity to screen the temperature of people as they enter buildings.

Each camera can check the temperature of 100 people per minute. The thermal images created can be streamed in real time to a laptop or mobile device, and analytics tools can then provide an alert that a person may have a raised temperature. These alerts can then be further investigated using standard clinical evaluation methods to determine whether any further action is necessary.

Vodafone says its IoT technology provides reliable and secure connectivity and enables standalone installation with no additional IT requirements.

Petty added: “The heat detection camera brings together Vodafone’s expertise in IoT with innovative technology and a secure managed service to create an enterprise-grade solution that protects employees and front-of-house staff.

“Our IoT network can connect many cameras quickly and without disruption in almost any location, and our ongoing partnership with Digital Barriers provides reassurance that the underlying software and hardware is engineered to the highest standards.”