Ambulances set to benefit from new in-cab mapping technology

A nationwide roll-out will follow a pilot in Yorkshire

5 minute read
A new life-saving in-cab navigation application, underpinned by Ordnance Survey mapping, is being rolled out across all Ambulance Trusts in Great Britain with the aim of improving patient care and at-scene response times.

The Ambulance Radio Programme (ARP) was established by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to deliver critical technological system improvements, providing enhanced communications between Ambulance Trusts, the NHS and other emergency responders. 

The navigation system in use

To do this ARP has funded a new and improved mobile data system called the National Mobilisation Application (NMA), which has been developed in collaboration with mobile data experts Terrafix and delivers the most up-to-date and detailed mapping of Britain’s rural and urban areas including highly accurate road and addressing information. DHSC contracted Terrafix via their Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) licence to build the application on behalf of ambulance services. 

Crucially, the PSGA licence enabled Terrafix to integrate OS addressing, roads and mapping products such as OS Zoomstack, OS MasterMap Highways Network and AddressBase Plus into the NMA, therefore, bringing navigation in line with the same OS datasets in every NHS computer aided dispatch (CAD) system used in emergency control rooms across the country.

Not only does this mean that all NHS services will be accessing and using the same and most authoritative addressing and mapping data in Great Britain, but ambulances no longer need to be taken off the road to download the latest mapping and navigation data. The new service no longer requires manual data uploads as mapping updates can now be streamed to the in-cab technology using designated Wi-Fi hubs at key operational sites.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) NHS Trust has recently gone live with the service and is now commencing a roll-out across the fleet of over 650 ambulances and rapid response vehicles.

Simon Marsh, chief information officer at YAS NHS Trust and project sponsor said: “YAS is proud to be the first to implement the new solution into our ambulance and rapid response vehicle fleet. Having access to accurate and up-to-date mapping is essential to all the emergency services, and with ambulances it can make all the difference to our patient care and response times through improved navigation."

"Ordnance Survey mapping is a key feature of the new solution. We now have up-to-date, accurate mapping data being streamed to the vehicles, ensuring that we are always navigating and working with the best and most trusted information. It also means that vehicles no longer have to be taken off the road to download the latest maps and data."

Simon Marsh, Chief Information Officer at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

OS has a long history of supporting the emergency services with authoritative location data. The PSGA provides access to OS data for all the emergency services and has become essential in daily operations across the police, fire, ambulance and coastguard services.

"Today, accurate and trusted OS data is being used every day to support a range of critical services from enabling quicker responses to incidents to planning and delivering safe and secure major events. Every week we make tens of thousands of changes to the National Geographic Database capturing new buildings, roads, routing restrictions and addresses. This is essential data for all emergency responders, and it is great that the new National Mobilisation Application is delivering this data direct to the vehicles ensuring they are working with the same mapping as the 999 control rooms."

John Kimmance, Managing Director of National Mapping Services at OS

ARP director Duncan Bray said: “This is a huge programme and one which has been underpinned by excellent collaboration, from technology services to data providers. We are delighted to be rolling out the service across the country and delivering a positive impact across the ambulance services using it. Ultimately, we want to have a national solution that supports all ambulance services to respond to emergencies in a quick, safe and efficient way. Accurate mapping is crucial and providing access to the latest data will deliver huge benefits to everyone.”

Chris Green, Managing Director of Terrafix, added: “Terrafix are extremely proud to have been awarded both the National Mobilisation Software and National Vehicle Hardware contracts by the DHSC. Together, both contracts provide a completely new, cutting-edge solution for all Ambulance Trusts. After researching all possible mapping products, it was clear that the OS Mapping was by far the best choice to use. The mapping underpins the National Mobilisation Application's functionality. With accurate data and regular updates, the feature-rich mapping facility will provide ambulance crews with the best possible methods of routing and navigation.

“As Terrafix are also heavily involved in providing the Field Services contract to support the Ambulance Trusts throughout the product lifecycle, it is vital that to deliver the optimum performance, the software and primarily the mapping remain completely accurate and up-to-date giving the frontline workforce the best user experience possible.”

Find out more about the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement

PSGA membership gives the public sector access to OS expertise and location data for free. 

By Press Office

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