I’ve been blogging a lot lately about how smart organizations in all industries need to embrace a digital transformation in order to innovate and compete at the blistering pace of the Internet’s next wave—the Internet of Everything (IoE). The pace of digital disruption is affecting the transportation industry in significant ways. The IoE is driving safety, mobility and efficiency efforts across the industry. And, while streamlining operations is critical to the success of any agency, it’s even more important when inefficiency can mean the difference between life and death.

The California Shock Trauma Air Rescue’s (CALSTAR) is an example of an organization that is driving its own disruption by embracing Internet of Things (IoT) innovation. Operational efficiency is vital to CALSTAR and seamless communication between hospitals, medical personnel, flying crews and CALSTAR dispatchers is something the company has also always envisioned. When the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated its operational control guidance for air ambulatory operators, CALSTAR re-examined its own air-to-ground communication systems. They saw this as an opportunity to not only comply with FAA changes, but to ensure that transportation was the only concern its flight crews had to consider when transporting patients.

CALSTAR knew that a fully integrated air-to-ground system infrastructure would need to accommodate different types of radio and handset communications. Previously, communications had involved multiple back-and-forth steps between first responders, the outsourced dispatch center, CALSTAR’s dispatch team, the aircraft, and the hospitals. To build on its existing infrastructure, CALSTAR deployed Cisco Unified Enterprise Attendant Console and Cisco, Instant Connect, the IP Interoperability and Collaboration System (IPICS) with its Cisco Unified Communications Manager platform.

When an emergency call now arrives at CALCOM, CALSTAR’s Communication Center, CALCOM specialists notify the nearest helicopter base of the potential flight while local emergency contact centers are on the line. The flight crew acknowledges the communication and, assuming it’s clear to fly, accepts the flight. Meanwhile, a CALCOM specialist can communicate in real time with the regional contact center, estimating “lift time” and the flight crew’s arrival time at the scene – all without having to hang up and call back. In addition, hospitals can be bridged into the communication flow as needed.

This direct communication cuts minutes out of the rescue transportation process. Flight and medical crew tasks are made easier, which empowers them to make specific requests before arriving at a hospital. This also means they can check hospital resources without losing transport time, and keep a watchful eye on patients and instrument panels.

For CALSTAR, better systemization of their transport operations has ushered in one of the greatest effects of IoT innovation – new opportunities that enhance customer and client experiences. Bolstered by its network of healthcare facilities, CALSTAR launched a transfer center that serves as a centralized communication hub for hospitals that transfer patients to specialty care centers, tertiary care, or home. Hospitals can contact the All-Access Transfer Center to initiate air transport and specify the level of care needed to get a patient from point A to point B.

Connected transportation is reinventing many of the traditional ways we move throughout our world and is opening our eyes to how IoE can support connectivity. In the case of CALSTAR, connected transportation played a huge role in preserving quality of life during moments that many of us can’t even imagine.

The next wave of the Internet is changing everything. Organizations like CALSTAR and those in all industries must evolve and innovate at an incredible pace if they want to survive and thrive to capture the opportunities available to those that are ready to reimagine their organizations.

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Tony Shakib

No Longer with Cisco