May 15, 2013

Ensuring Rescue Vehicle Connectivity: Jokilaakso Fire & Rescue Department Case Study

Jokilaakso rescue department (Jokilaaksojen Pelastuslaitos) is the unit that provides for all rescue operation and ambulance services in western (northern?) Finnish towns Alavieska, Haapajärvi, Ylivieska, Raahe, Nivala, Pyhäjärvi and Kärsämäki. The target of the operation is to fulfill the demands of local operations as cost efficiently and effectively as possible. Due to efficiency targets, Jokilaakso has been the forerunner of implementing modern data services that demand high availability. The natural impediment has been to include most advanced and modern data connectivity platform for their vehicles.
Data services in vehicles
The main use today is in the lead vehicle. The vehicle uses Tetra network in Finland for voice communication and commercial networks via multichannel routing for data. The current services in the rescue lead vehicles use Cisco VPN encryption and are the connection to command center programs (PEKE) and normal office programs like e-mail. The command center functionality is the main demander for uninterrupted broadband data since all operational information is transmitted with it.
The system provides electronic two-way communication between dispatch and crews to ensure that critical information is communicated accurately and in real-time. Navigator tracks crew status by activity time and location while providing routing guidance. Time stamps are automatically logged and sent so there is an accurate recording of events as they happen. Instant visual notifications alert the crew when new information is sent, keeping them constantly informed and eliminating the possibility of vital information being missed on a phone call. Due to always online connectivity the data is always accurate and actual. This functionality is currently using the Tetra network with SDS-messaging. As the new PeKe services expand to demands of broadband, the system can take core of it automatically.
The most data capacity demanding application used today is the sharing of WiFi access point to other units. The other units that don’t have the routers can use the network provided by the lead vehicle to connect more securely to services provided. The data demands currently are such that WAN capacity provided by the lead vehicle is enough. It has been tested that the WiFi access point can cover even 300m radius with installed system. 
The system description
The rescue vehicle has a vehicle computer and Tetra phones. The computer is attached to the multichannel router with a LAN cable or via WLAN access point when taken out of the vehicle. The router has thus two FE ports and a WiFi in the LAN side. The WAN side includes three uplinks that are a national 3G operator, a national CDMA 450 operator and there is also a WiFi WAN link that is used when the vehicle is in or close to the fire station.
The benefits of the solution
The implemented system improves the functionality of the lead vehicles tremendously. The solution of using only Tetra has the data capacity limitation of about 5 kbit/s and does not provide for sufficient migration to future services. Also the alternative of using only one 3G modem for the data was not adequate for the resilience and availability needed. Now the future investments of various enhanced services are not limited by the data access.
The lead vehicle is also an office on the wheels. With older systems very basic tasks like just sending e-mails with larger attachments was too slow. Now even citrix based systems that require very high availability data can be used.
Lead vehicle usage as a WiFi hotspot gives data connectivity to other vehicles, too. The multichannel and multi-operator system provides for coverage that is unmet with single 3G network. Especially in the specific region of northwestern Finland, the coverage of any single operator is hardly 100%. Two operators - system has been seen adequate. If needed, the system can be expanded to cover 4 different operators for WAN connectivity
The system is easy to operate. The remote management functionality provides for an overview of the connectivity at all times. It is also easier for the operation that the internet connectivity is practically handled by a single unit. The user just connects to the router and then one can operate like in the station. It is truly an “office on the wheels” –approach.
Future possibilities and expansions
The current solution is just the starting point of the use that reliable broadband enables. The future possibilities of the used system are numerous and recent discussions have been to include streaming online video from the rescue sight and including also ambulances with connectivity with various health specific systems like Merlot Medi or similar. The devices that can be connected to the system are limitless. The connection inside the vehicle can then use the Ethernet or wireless access possibilities. However, the services, software used will remain to be the key driver. It is not the equipment, but what it is used for that saves lives out in the field.
The development of the services used is fast. The integration of various systems in Rescue and in Emergency services can be handled with the same or similar platforms. From pre-planning to dispatch to real-time communication to incident command to patient care to after incident reporting and billing, the integrated router solution maximize operational efficiency and enhance firefighter safety.
Jokilaakso rescue department has had a successful implementation of broadband access to lead vehicles. This has enabled them to use the current applications more efficiently and reliably. The implementation of the end to end managed data connectivity enables Jokilaakso to stay at the peak of public safety data usage for years to come. Jokilaakso is in the process of expanding the system to more units.

Jokilaakso rescue department (Jokilaaksojen Pelastuslaitos) is the unit that provides for all rescue operation and ambulance services in western Finnish towns Alavieska, Haapajärvi, Ylivieska, Raahe, Nivala, Pyhäjärvi and Kärsämäki. The rescue responsibility only covers 17 communes. The target of the operation is to fulfill the demands of local operations as cost efficiently and effectively as possible.
Juhani Lehtonen
VP Sales and Marketing
Goodmill Systems Ltd.

May 13, 2013

Secured Connectivity for Pharmacies: Case Receptum

There is an ever increasing demand for telecommunication in public health. Today, uninterrupted data connectivity in this sector as essential as electricity and running water. Many countries have implemented or are in a process of implementing centrally based electrical “e-prescription” systems. The challenge with these online services is the need to connect to the central location every time the service is used. If downtime occurs on this connection, transactions cannot be made.
Goodmill Systems Ltd. and Receptum Oy have jointly developed a solution to handle these commonly occurring data connectivity problems. Receptum offers a complete package of Pharmacy IT systems while Goodmill supplements the solution with always online managed broadband access. The solution guarantees in principle 100% availability for the necessary IT services. Best of all, the solution has been proven to be 60-70 percent cheaper than the competing solution in Finland and thus provides a payback period of only 6-7 months. 
Solution description
The solution used is based on remotely managed routers that each have a fixed line and a mobile backup connection. When the fixed connection is not available, the router connects automatically to the systems using the alternative mobile link. This switchover time is very fast; unnoticeable to the users. The operators and mobile network technology can be freely selected based on local availability.
An additional benefit is that the system provides seamless connectivity from both branch pharmacies and home offices. All connections are created automatically by the system and no local configuration is needed. The connectivity can thus be assured to all payment services, e-prescription databases and all other required applications.
Solution benefits
The solution is operator independent: the customer can select whichever operator offers the best prices. It is actually recommended that the customer selects different operators for fixed line and mobile connectivity for resilience reasons. It is very rare that two operators would fall down simultaneously.
Operator independency also provides cost benefits. One does not need to buy high cost secured MPLS or expensive VPN solutions from a single vendor. The required encryption is provided by the router system. The system provides not only cost savings, but improved service quality overall.
Data traffic may also be prioritized so that e-prescriptions and payment data will go through, even while higher bandwidth services are in use. This ensures that connections for crucial and critical applications cannot be blocked.
The home office availability solution has been very well received. Pharmacy owners want to have full access to systems from their homes outside of business hours or during late evening opening hours. It has been one of the most demanded and widely used features of the system we offer.
As the routers are remotely managed, the connectivity and the functionality of the routers and other back end systems can be continuously monitored. This ensures that the backup connection is fully operational even when not in use. All status reports and logs are securely stored and can be presented to the customer on demand. The customer can thus have a reliable report on the true availability of connections whenever they desire.
Customers feedback is positive. Several pharmacies have indicated that customers come directly to buy the products from a place they know can provide the goods due to a well-functioning system.
Expanding customer base
The presented backup solution is the market leader in Pharmacy systems in Finland. Receptum already has a customer base of approx. 400 pharmacies and more than half of them currently use the solution. Receptum strategy is to expand to other special retail sectors where uninterrupted connectivity is needed. The joint solution therefore has interesting growth opportunities.
High availability IT solutions are here to stay. The branch has been looking for a more flexible player that is operator independent and offers more flexibility for the customers. Receptum and Goodmill have found a remarkable solution that is quickly expanding beyond pharmacies to dentists, medical centers and other specialist retail sectors. 
If you want a better service at a lower cost, don’t hesitate to contact us!
Jukka Mäki-Moijala

Receptum Oy (Ltd) is dedicated to the provision and development of user friendly data-management systems delivery with over 20 years of experience in this field of business. Receptum provides IT-solutions and IT-services for commerce, pharmacists, dentists and dental clinics, doctors and medical practices. The extensive range of Receptum solutions also includes comprehensive bank and data transfer packages.