The London Ambulance Service is using new software that helps emergency operators visualise demand and coverage in real-time.
The software was developed by Marcus Poulton, a PhD student at Birkbeck, University of London, after he observed that a significant amount of ambulance data was not being used.
Drawing on data generated by sensors that track the movement of ambulances, Poulton set out to create a PhD project using mobility analytics to find trends and patterns.
The resulting software allows shift operators to visualise the movement of ambulances so that they can relocate the emergency vehicles based on real-time coverage and demand.
The data is presented as a ‘heat map’ of London, factoring in real-time traffic data, the location of ambulances and their idle time.
According to a blog by Professor George Roussos, head of the Pervasive Computing Group at Birkbeck, predictions are made on a street-by-street basis. Colouring on the heat map is gradual, with, for example, yellow signifying where first responders are likely to arrive within eight minutes with a small margin of delay. The colours range all the way to red, which signifies where their ability to respond is well beyond the time limit.
Roussos also explained just how much demand for ambulance services in London has increased in recent years.
As in other major cities, the busiest day of the year for the London Ambulance Service is New Year’s Eve. The number of people using the service on New Year’s Eve 2012 is the same as the current daily average in 2016.
“Within four years, what was exceptional has now become every day,” the professor said. “These real-time mapping tools are critical for running a big city like London and while traditional services do not have particularly advanced data analytics, it is becoming more and more required.”
Planned enhancements to the software will make use of historical data to help the London Ambulance Service predict how demand will develop in the future.