Oct 23, 2013

Police Office on the Wheels

The efficiency demands for public services are continuously increasing. Public safety operators and specifically police are heavily impacted with this. One of the most interesting improvements is to move all possible office activities in the vehicles. The benefits of this are clear.

  • No work duplication
  • Improved officer safety
  • More time on the field
  • Better customer service
  • Better work satisfaction

Target is to improve the time spent on the field and show more presence to the community.  Driving is minimized due to less needed visits to the precincts and savings come through petrol and other vehicle costs, too.

The simple solution often thought of is just to have a computer in the vehicle with a broadband connection. The computers can be either fixed in the car, portables or even tablets. The connectivity is mostly a commercial broadband network or in some cases a dedicated public safety broadband network. In most of the implementations the enthusiasm after the pilots has been killed due to problems in used applications and connectivity. The problem lies in the set-up. We need to understand that if we demand office work in the vehicle, the implemented concept has to provide office quality operability.


Demands of data connectivity in the office and the mobile network functionality

The user satisfaction of mobile connectivity is a combination of many things that are illustrated below.



If we take granted that the used police office applications are at the level that gives enough user satisfaction, only what effects are the changes needed for taking the same work in the car. This all culminates to availability, resilience and capacity of the wireless connectivity.

The challenge the mobile networks create for vehicle connectivity is the amount and length of breaks in data streams. This is almost always misunderstood, since the overall network availability is based on customer experience on availability of voice service. However, mobile broadband data access to a moving vehicle is a totally different ball game. Here a well representing summary of more than 400 days of testing in Europe.


In this table are included 12 vehicles with multichannel routers. Each router monitors and examines the availability of 3 different commercial broadband network providers availability. Each color corresponds with a different provider. The availability vary a great deal between operators, but most importantly the availability of different operators in different locations varies a great deal. Additionally, the daily changes in operator availability even in the same location vary. After international tests and pilots as well as full scale implementation, it looks like the operators' availability figures are very similar all over the world.

One important additional outcome of the tests has been that the connectivity is lost from tens to hundred times over a single 12 hour shift. When the average break length over single network is from about 10 seconds to 10’s of minutes, it is clear that over a single network the required standard of office connectivity is not met. When trying to do the office tasks in the car, the users get frustrated and eventually will abandon the tasks. The inadequate user satisfaction of the system creates frustration and will eventually not be used.


Securing the user friendliness

There are four solutions considered to overcome the challenge of availability. The first one is to implement application that can tolerate the breaks. The second is to use roaming SIM-cards that switch between networks. The third one is to use dual SIM modems and the fourth is to use multichannel routers with multiple active network connections.

The first alternative, using applications that tolerate connectivity breaks, does not solve the problem when in contact with the needed databases. Despite that the sessions are not interrupted; there is no data transfer to enable the needed actions. One roaming SIM-card is also problematic. Roaming between networks needs quite a lot of time, from 15 seconds to even minutes. Two SIMs in the same modem creates similar problems than the roaming SIM. Only after the first network alternative is lost, starts the equipment to search for alternative connections. This takes same amount of time as one SIM roaming and with this the user frustration is guaranteed.

The only viable solution is to select two to even four networks for a multichannel routing solution. In this approach all the networks are monitored and their availability and performance is known to the system at all times. When the connectivity is degraded or lost, the system automatically switches to use the best network available. When network switch over times are just 1-3 seconds and the sessions persist, the outcome is availability comparable to office. The bundled availability over the 12 routers in our case was proven to be excellent.


In these tests the result of 99,70% to 99.99% have proven to provide for user friendly availability. This leads to users recognizing the help of the system for their day to day work.


The future of broadband in vehicles

The multiband approach has proven to be useful and effective in moving police work in the cars. The savings through efficiency can be calculated to have payback periods of less than 8 weeks when only working time savings are calculated. This approach also enables all the other needed public safety vehicle functionality including online Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), online streaming video and advanced operation control applications. We see that the similar approach will also be used in ambulances with less daily office applications, but improved emergency connectivity and support to the vehicles instead. Not far in the future are various utility organizations that will demand more office tasks executed in the vehicles. A common theme is to bring the office on the road.

What is very important to remember is that there are now "low end" and "high end" office on the wheels concepts. The office work quality demands determine the standard and it is the high availability that's always needed. Otherwise it will never fly!


Juhani Lehtonen
Goodmill Systems Ltd.


Sep 9, 2013

Blue Ocean in Public Safety Mobile Broadband

In the past there have been huge investments into public safety networks in the world. These investments into digital voice solutions with country wide coverage are factually still going on in many countries with Germany being the latest and widest implementation. The big infrastructure providers have been earning good revenues with the national roll-outs and many of the traditional ones are planning on selling the dedicated broadband networks the same way in the future. There is, however, a Blue Ocean concept that might change the whole business model for the public safety broadband. This can be good news for the tax payers, but poses a significant risk for the previous rulers of the market place. Before I’ll get here, let’s summarize what Blue Ocean in this case stands for.

Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS)

This term was invented by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in their book “Blue Ocean Strategy:
How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant”. The idea is that you don’t only develop and enhance your offering to win markets, but you can redefine it by introducing aspects of elimination and reduction. With this one can create a new value curve that has potential to conquer the market. In this context the current incumbent approach to public safety broadband networks is to raise the capacity and to create new networks and technologies (LTE) for the market.



A Blue Ocean can be created by elimination and reduction. This is a valid concept that needs to be considered.

The dilemma of over serving the public safety communication market

Whenever talking about public safety, the argumentation for selling solutions has been around the importance of the service itself. I’ve heard arguments like “TETRA is the only technology you can trust your life on” or “the dedicated and government controlled networks are the only solutions that fulfill the availability and resilience needs of the public safety”. We all know these statements are not true. I have heard about multiple cases when TETRA networks have been down or unusable and the officers have turned to use the commercial networks to communicate. These solutions are also never 100% sure against storms or other natural catastrophes. The dedicated PMR networks get overcrowded when needed. When there’s nothing important going on, the networks are almost empty, using even as low as 2-5% of their capacity normally. This means that we have huge investments standing unused and failing often when mostly needed. Do we really need these dedicated networks also in the future? If not, we could probably save a lot of money for sure. Let’s see what commercial solutions could offer for the sector?

The Blue Ocean in public safety communication

The new strategic alternative comes from elimination the need for new networks. We see solutions in the fixed internet where one builds their own dedicated more secure networks inside the commercially available one. Normal VPN tunneling or MPLS technologies are commonly used in PS sector today. The solution is to combine commercial networks, as many as one wish, and use secure tunnels inside them. One thus actually uses the infrastructure of all needed mobile operators, the resilience, availability and operational security they together can serve. And has simultaneously secure tunneling inside all of them. This means that the costs of the solution are minor compared to building a new network anywhere with any significant coverage.

One roaming SIM is not enough

There are two different scenarios how to use the multiple network approach. One has been to acquire agreements with operators to enable roaming between networks with only one SIM-card. This sounds like a viable solution at first, but will not sufficient for Public Safety needs. The problem with roaming SIM is the inability to see the status of any other networks than the one the card uses. When one loses the primary network, one can only then start to even search if the other networks are available. This can take minutes or even tens of minutes. It creates intolerable uncertainty and hampers the user friendliness required for the officers to adopt the applications. Also session persistence can be easily lost.

The benefits of multichannel routing solution

Using routers that monitor all of the used networks all the time and use them either separately or together can give what is required. Currently the switch over times can be reduced to just seconds, enabling advanced online streaming data applications. The networks’ capacities are not a problem in most areas today, and will be even less as LTE is expanding at its current rapid rate. Also the fears of commercial users jamming the networks seem to be overrated.

Summary

Let’s take FirstNet in the US as an example, since they are the only ones who have openly announced spending something like 7-9 Billion US for a country wide dedicated public safety network. If they used selected existing commercial operators with a router solution, the cost for equipping all the public safety vehicles (450 000) in the country, would be in the range of 1-2 Billion. Simultaneously the operating costs can be kept much lower due to operators’ efficient commercial organizations. With this investment every single public safety vehicle would have safe, resilient and highly available broadband in their use.

The routers using multiple networks create the Blue Ocean. The incumbents that have so far sold the digital PMR networks are naturally interested in continuing their old business model. With novel alternatives minimizing network investments the business can be switched to other players. This has happened already in Scandinavia and will certainly have its effects in other parts of the world. I hope for us taxpayers’ sake that the modern approaches get the foothold they deserve.



juhani.lehtonen(at)goodmillsystems.com


Aug 22, 2013

Ambulance Data Connectivity Test in Kainuu, Finland

Kainuu Health District organized a system testing for Ambulance Data Connectivity in Kainuu region (Central-Eastern Finland) during the summer 2013. This is a free to use summary of the actual tests, results and summary with suggestions. The significance of a special vehicle router system is underlined.

Test Kit

Router
  • Installed in the vehicle. Goodmill w24e-RR router with external magnet antennas.
  • The router used total of three networks (WAN links). Two 3G networks - Sonera and Elisa, as well as one 450CDMA network
  • The connection via the router to the computer is enabled through a WIFI Access Point connection.
Computer
  • Computers used in this test were 2 laptops. 
  • The first tests were carried out on the Windows XP operating system and the router plus an internal 3G modem (Mokkula)
  • Second tests used Effica Health Care application by Tieto on the Laptops.
    • This testing was carried out on the Windows 7 operating system with 3G USB modem and the router. Both 3G modems used DNA's network.
Tested applications

Effica
  • Effica testing was carried out using a test environment which had the same IT requirements as the proper usage environment Effica would have.
  • The programme requires a non-stop wireless network connection and does not allow any interruptions in the Wifi connection while the registration is being carried out.
Citrix
  • Citrix remote desktop enables using Effica with a suboptimal internet connection.
  • Effica runs on the server and there is a desktop view on the computer of the programme. With CITRIX, Effica does not sign the user out if the internet connection is interrupted for a short period of time.


Birdstep Technology Oy, Safemove
  • Safemove software is needed for creating a password secure connection and changing connection without interruption. 
  • When the connection is directed from the 3G modem to the router it causes the IP address to change - which would result in losing the Effica network connection. 
  • A mobile IP address is created by the Safemove software, allowing the IP address to stay the same, ensuring the internet connection does not get interrupted.

Safemove software has vehicle router installed in as a priority connection to enable connectivity inside and close to the vehicle. When the WiFi connection to the vehicle is cut, the computer automatically starts using the 3G modem.



Test set up in Kainuu

Testing Methods Stage 1

In the first stage only the connection speed and the reliability was tested for Effica. At this stage only a router and a computer with a Windows XP operating system was used.

Road Test

The road test was mainly done using a moving vehicle. When the connection was poor the vehicle was brought to a halt.

The reliability of the connection was tested simply by running continuous ping-tests. Ping is a TCP/IP protocol tool which tests the reachability of a certain specified device. Ping sends an ICMP echo request package to the device, which the remote computer responds to with its own echo reply package. Ping tests were sent to the Google server address 8.8.8.8 using the Windows command line.

The upload/download connection tests were carried out using http://speedtest.net.

Apartment Test 

The testing methods were the same as in the road test. In each test situation the vehicle was parked about 10-20 metres outside the entrance.

The test locations were:
  • A second floor of Kainuu First Aid’s building
  • The Central Hospital Patient Tower; a concrete block of flats in Kajaani City Centre 
  • A wood-insulated detached house in Kajaani's Pärsänsuo
  • A tiled detached house in Vuolijoki.


Testing Methods Stage 2

During the second stage the suitability of Effica for First Responders was tested.


Stage 1 Test Results

Road test with router

The reliability of the internet connection was very good. The connection was not offline for more than ten seconds at a time even in the most remote areas. When the connection was poor the car was stopped which brought the connection speed up again. The minimum connection speed was 1Mbit which is high enough for Effica to function well.

The connection speed was also periodically tested using a single 3G modem without the router. This showed that connection speed was very low outside suburban areas. Effica would not work in these areas.

First Aid Building connectivity

The WiFi connectivity was tested from laptop to the vehicle. The connection to the vehicle router was not interrupted during the whole test period. The vehicle was parked ~10 metres from the main entrance.

Connection speed from the laptop near the building inside the car:
  • Download  7,68 Mbit/s 
  • Upload  2,01 Mbit/s
  • Ping 74 ms
Connection speed inside the apartment:
  • Download  2.84 Mbit/s
  • Upload  1,53 Mbit/s 
  • Ping 75 ms 
These both connection speeds are sufficient for Effica.

Patient Tower building connectivity

The vehicle was parked right by the patient tower, the distance to the car was ~20 metres. The WiFi connection from laptop to the router was cut almost instantly when entering the building.

Stone-built Block of Flats in Kajaani City Center

The vehicle was parked ~10 meters from the main entrance. The connection was lost when entering the building, ~10 meters from the building’s entrance.

Detached house, wood-paneling inside

Vehicle was parked ~10 meters from the main door. The connection was lost in the bathroom as this was farthest from the car. This was likely due to the concrete bathroom wall. The connection was also tested using a single 3G modem.

Connection speeds using a router:
  • Download variable: 2.5-0.3 Mbit/s
  • Upload variable: 1.5-0.1 Mbit/s
  • Ping variable: 80-100 ms
Connection speeds using a 3G modem:
  • Download Variable: 4.5-0.3 Mbit/s 
The connection speeds were better using a 3G modem in the laptop inside the flat.

Tiled detached house in Vuolijoki 

The vehicle was parked circa 10 meters from the main door. The laptop WiFi connection remained uninterrupted. Not much variation on the connection speed.
  • Download 3.0 Mbit/s 
  • Upload 2.0 MBit/s
  • Ping 88 ms 



Stage 1 Test Summary

The connection cannot be guaranteed in all locations, but when in the near vicinity of the vehicle the CDMA450 connection is very comprehensive nationwide and therefore the connection is fairly reliable.

A router fixed inside the vehicle is needed when using Effica. This enables a reliable and comprehensive network. An additional laptop 3G modem connection is needed when using Effica in tall buildings and far away from the vehicle when in suburban areas.


Stage 2 Test Results

Road Test 

The Effica test environment stayed active and recordable throughout the route. The WiFi connection was active and operational the whole time. Downloading and uploading information went smoothly and without any major interruptions or twitching. The same Effica session was used throughout the road test. At one test point along the Lahnasjärven Road Effica was working even at ~100 metres from the car. For test reasons there was an inbuilt WiFi antenna in the car which probably shortened the range. A normal setup would be an outside antenna.


Stage two road test route

When tested outside the WiFi range, the laptop used Effica using 3G modem although connection was in this case very slow. A speed test for the 3G modem resulted in ping 875 ms and download 0,02 Mbit/s, whereas the router received ping was 85 ms and download 1.08 Mbit/s.


Kainuu road test data

A Detached House with a wood-paneling inside

The car was parked in the same spot as in the speed tests, ~10 metres from the main door. When entering the room that was furthest from the car, the connection automatically switched over to the 3G connection. There was virtually no difference in the recording once this happened. 

Patient tower (Kaks potilastorni)

The connection automatically switched to the 3G modem and recordability remained the same. The testing continued in the stairwell up to the 4th floor and recording of Effica was also working inside the lift going down.


Test 2 Summary

Effica works faultlessly using this setup. Switching between connections is unnoticeable to the user and it is likely to be sufficient for Effica over the whole Kainuu region. The connection to Citrix was lost a couple of times but this was due to the user. The same session was still open after logging back into Citrix. So even though the connection was lost in the middle of recording, the data was not lost.


End Result and Summary

It is possible to get the Effica patient database working reliably in ambulances. The router reliability and connection speeds are sufficient in and around Kainuu region. On top of the router, a 3G modem connection is needed because the WiFi connection does not work through thick walls or at distances greater than 100-300 meters from the vehicle.

The Safemove software from Birdstep Technologies Oy is also needed, as this enables the switching of the router and 3G modem connection to ensure that the Citrix connection is not lost.

You can read more about Kainuun sote, the organisation conducting the by clicking the link:


Modified from Finnish report by Juhani Lehtonen

Aug 13, 2013

Mobile Healthcare: Mallu Case Study by Eksote in Finland

The Mallu vehicle is a new type of mobile healthcare service that is used in remote regions where these services don’t exist. The objective is to introduce more advanced services to locations that don’t have a dedicated healthcare center.

The targets for the Mallu system are:
  • To answer the healthcare needs of people living far away from stationary service locations 
  • To secure and develop the basic services of people in remote locations 
  • To enhance wellbeing and health as well as to prevent illness 
  • To support the health and wellbeing of the elderly and to support independent living 
  • To produce new and reliable mobile services 
The customers include all community members, but the largest customer group is elderly people that have problems of travelling to the locations of stationary services. The first pilot tests in 2011 showed that as many as 65% of the customers were aged 65 or older.

The services

The Mallu vehicle provides primary nurse and pharmacy services. Special health related theme days are also organized using the vehicle. 

The vehicle has a fixed route and the target is to visit each dedicated site every fortnight. The time the vehicle is in one location varies from one hour upwards, depending on the need. The nurses provide services like ear rinsing, stitch removal, prescription renewals, vaccinations and other injections. Blood pressure monitoring, blood sugar level sampling and related advice are also included, while some quick sampling like INR is also performed in the van.

The broadband connection in the vehicle enables the usage of Eksote's regional health district patient register, so that all patient specific health issues can be monitored and reported online. Some dental services can be included depending on the equipment installed in the vehicle. 


The route of the vehicle in Southern Carelia, Finland 

The connectivity solution

One of the main requirements for the services is an always online data connection that is guaranteed to function in more remote locations. The Goodmill managed router system meets the challenge. The Mallu vehicle is equipped with a router that includes up to four different commercial mobile broadband connections. In current operations along the predefined routes, Eksote uses two SIM-cards from the two main operators in Finland.



The system overview of the Mallu healthcare vehicle 

The solution brings all the health district’s databases to the vehicle over secured VPN tunneling. The van then operates like any other connection inside the hospital or healthcare center with similar rights and capabilities. This also enables more modern services like live video streaming from the van, enabling doctors consultation on demand.

The costs

The total cost for the vehicle including salaries, vehicle rental and IT infrastructure are €115,000 per year. With a single customer’s cost between €52 - €104 per visit, the all costs of the service can be covered. This is obviously a very interesting value proposition for Eksote.

The summary

As the costs of health care are rising in general, a mobile service unit is a way to deliver services to more remote locations. A modern IT infrastructure is needed to support the service, which requires secure access to databases for medical records, electronic prescription databases and so on. The Goodmill managed router solution is a perfect building block and enabler for this. With always online broadband, imagination is only the limit to expand and upgrade the services in the future.



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.
 
Summary
 
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.
 
 
Summary
 
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
CEO
Receptum
 
 

 
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.

Apr 24, 2013

Mobile Internet and Web Services in Public Transportation

The tremendous growth in the popularity and affordability of today`s light weight, compact and easy to use smart devices like phones, tablets, ultra note books has created an enormous demand for instant and easy connectivity. The accelerated growth of free WIFI in public places, restaurants, department stores and others drive the expectation for “connectivity everywhere” even in today’s and future public transportation. The habit of just “pull out” the smart device (even though most of the people carry it in their hand permanently anyway!), switch it on, touch the Icon and you are connected almost immediately” is the way today’s passenger expect a transportation enterprise to support their lifestyle.

Therefore the fact is: Connectivity has become a lifestyle

The consequence is that this feature is expected not only on public places and buildings or shopping centers, but also on long distance and urban trains, as well as in city range metro`s , buses and trams.

Mobile Internet in public transportation therefore has become an important point to consider, beyond the traditional train- and connection information on fixed overhead screens. Even the long hesitating airline industry is moving in that direction with their ”In flight communication” offering.

Competition is increasingly driving the uptake of new broadband wireless services in trains. In almost every European country where rival operators are battling it out for customers on the same or similar routes, we have seen the launch of on-board Wi-Fi. First, on the carriages operated by the newcomer as it tries to differentiate its service, then, very quickly after, on the incumbent’s trains – as it feels stung into action.

What is the business case?
 
  • Study of ridership patterns showed that adding Wi-Fi to trains had, by itself, raised ridership figures by 3% across the board
  • Translated to larger fleets could raise tens of millions of €/£/$ in extra ticket revenues
  • There is no unique business model to adopt when considering Wi-Fi services on-board
  • There are actually 3 different models for charging for the services and looks like free or mixed charging are becoming most popular alternatives
Various public train operators have already made that move and are highly impressed by the success and the advantages given plus the extra income to prime up their revenues. In today’s times any extra income is highly welcome to contribute to the revenues.


The benefits

So, what are the potential benefits for an operator to justify such an investment?

This IP connectivity for internet access offers the unique possibility for the operators to be in real time contact with their passengers not only via the fixed overhead video screens, but more important and efficient directly interactive on the customer personal devices.

The sale of advertisement space and entertainment features is a perfect platform for additional considerable revenues by these unsurpassed “location, real time and focus” features. That is THE advantage of the “mobile case”.

Through the train log-in process a direct startup “operator” screen can be presented for important information related to the travel and the availability of specific services.

P.I.M.: Passenger Information Management and P.E.M.: Passenger Experience Management therefore become the buzz words in successful mastering the efficiency and success of on board WiFi in modern public transportation systems.

Specific Real Time information about operator/train related issues:
  • Current location
  • Timing
  • Destinations
  • Connections
  • Recommended switch over
  • In the case of delays or disturbances will increase the passenger experience extremely positive
  • “Frequent traveler” club loyalty programs and sweepstakes

Besides that information part, there is an additional opportunity for the operator on internet revenues for providing access to their portal for commercial and advertisements or the implementation of :
  • Real time information about general issues
  • Location based geographical information
  • Touristic sites and viewpoints
  • Advertisement for points of Sale, special offers ( department stores, jewelleries, restaurants)
  • Events, tickets 

The requirements

The basic and most important requirement for this is an absolute reliable and stable communication from train to ground during the whole travel. Even when changing trains of the same operator an automatic handover without a new log in should be made possible. To achieve both goals, comfortable and rich internet environment and reliable connections on the train are the mandatory prerequisites. Nothing is more image harming then offering something to a large audience that does not work properly.

One solution to fullfil these requirements is created by Goodmill and Limitis. The companies have joined forces on a project basis to combine best practice from both, communication and IT/Internet guarantee a seamless implementation. Goodmill systems limited is a trail blazer in mobile broadband connectivity that insures constant data flow in demanding conditions where 24/7 connectivity is critical. Limitis broadband has broad experience as an independent internet service provider. Web hosting, co-location, maintenance services for domains as well as mail and mail security is their offering for customers. Information management guarantees an optimal mix and match of competences for bringing customer needs and operator requirements together.

Sigurd Schilling



 
 

Apr 5, 2013

Using Mobile Devices and Routers in Police Applications

A most recent killer application for critical mobile connectivity in policing is to have a system with VPN client based systems used in the laptops or other smart devices and a router solution in the vehicle. In this blog I have summarized some demands and key benefits of this approach.

Critical Connectivity from Mobile Devices
 
In this approach the VPN client in the mobile device is able to use one or two links towards the network and is an excellent solution whenever the vehicle is not nearby. The requirements for the VPN solution include solid security, seamless connectivity, session persistence as well as seamless roaming between networks. Many mobile solutions fail to deliver the anticipated benefits due to ease of use and connectivity issues. A specially designed mobile VPN is designed to provide a secure, LAN-like user experience.

As this might be enough for many solutions officers are using today, it is not enough alone for mission critical applications. A seamless functionality with a vehicle router whenever near, gives an excellent combination of critical connectivity from the devices and mission critical connectivity for all online vehicle systems.




Ensuring Mission Critical Connectivity

For many law enforcement applications it is mission critical to have a constant flow of information on the field. Mobile multi-channel routers provide a reliable, fast, and secure broadband connection between the vehicles and the command center for mission critical needs. Goodmill w24e is the first router in the world to provide seamless and reliable switching between several different broadband data networks using technologies like LTE, 3G HSPA, CDMA2000/450, WiFi, WiMAX and TETRA. In case of a connection failure the solution immediately reroutes the traffic through another network. This ensures reliable connectivity even when the vehicles are constantly on the move.



The actual quality of the available broadband networks might be a surprise to many officers. The dynamic nature of the networks, including future dedicated networks, demands a solution that combines networks. This is presented from actual tests run data collected from a moving vehicle.

Many policing applications used today are mission critical and require high availability. These include applications such as
  • Access to sensitive databases
    • Criminal records, vehicle databases, medical databases etc.
  •  Command and control applications
    • Position sharing / unit status sharing applications
  •  Online streaming video
  •  License Plate Recognition
  •  VoIP applications
Summary
 
Information sharing between jurisdictions is a valuable tool for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of Police operations. These important applications are only possible to realize with broadband connectivity ensured by hybrid network approach provided by advanced VPN client software, multichannel routers and supporting backend solutions.

Juhani Lehtonen
Goodmill Systems Ltd
 

Mar 27, 2013

Future of Mobile Policing Technology Available Now

Designed to make the job of policing on the front-line an easier task, the police vehicle merges the latest technologies with traditionally essential equipment into a single vehicle. With multiple data and robust communications, the vehicle is able to support such solutions as GIS and mapping, police processes, ANPR, forensics, video streaming and capture, public involvement and facial recognition. The vehicle, as well as including automatic performance reporting and built in security measures, seamlessly brings together all of these technologies into one car.

Vehicle platform

The CAST car is based on the Vauxhall (Opel) Astra Sports Tourer. This is a car that is widely selected by British police forces for its economic running costs and general robustness. The car is fully equipped with features familiar to the police, including full blue light arrangement, sirens, and features like ‘run-lock’. An important feature is that this cas is SVA (Single Vehicle Architecture) compliant. The solutions are designed to work in and away from the vehicle, creating a true mobile workforce environment.






Hardware platform

Vauxhall has teamed with Goodmill Systems and TETRAtab to implement the robust telecommunication and computing platform within the vehicle. There are two principle computers within the car, both of which are provided by TETRAtab. The telecommunications solution is provided by Goodmill Systems and integrated in the left hand side of the boot space. This allows any of the devices in the car, and when permitted, devices from the general public, to communicate via multiple freely selected broadband networks in a resilient and secure way. A WiFi hotspot bubble is also created by the router around the vehicle and is also connected via Ethernet to the TETRAtab platform.


Additional applications

The vehicle includes video equipment that is provided by VideoLAttitude and allows video streaming from both inside and around the vehicle to any device in the world. The cameras are discreetly integrated so as not to attract attention, and are managed from two control boxes under the floor of the luggage compartment area. The car automatically reports vehicle faults abd druver performance via an Airmax system integrated into the car. This allows condition based maintenance of the vehicle and reduces the vehicle wear.

The winning solution

This set-up was the winning solution of the ACPO ITS Group competition to produce a police patrol vehicle able to support new and innovative ways of working for the police service. The judges were extremely impressed with the whole vehicle fit and the final quality of the integration of so many disparate systems. All systems worked seamlessly thanks to the high availability connectivity provided by Goodmill managed router system.

More info at: http://content.yudu.com/A23b3f/Lmobcastssup13/

Mar 18, 2013

Demand Responsive Transportation: Case Study

Metropol project, which is a joint venture of HSL, Finnish Transport Agency, Aalto University, Ajelo Oy and Goodmill Systems Ltd., is developing a new demand responsive public transport service that offers individually tailored bus journeys with the help of a smart, real-time booking system. The service is being developed in a research project carried out by Aalto University School of Science and Technology. HSL (earlier HKL and YTV) has participated in the project since 2007. The aim is to launch a pilot of the service in the end of 2012. 

The Service

Customers can book a ride and travel from almost any location to another within the service area of the bus. The booking and control system is fully automated and all bookings are made over the internet or via SMS. Service level and price vary according to the customer’s choices. If the customer accepts that the departure time is adjusted to accommodate other passenger's and that the bus does not take the shortest route, the price is close to a regular public transport fare. If the customer wants to get a ride immediately and take the shortest possible route, the price is close to a taxi fare.

The Pilot

In the pilot phase the service is operated by 10 minibuses. In addition, the aim is to cooperate with the taxi industry. The pilot area includes parts of Helsinki that lie south of Ring Road I excluding eastern Helsinki. The Viikki campus and Otaniemi are also included in the pilot.

The preparation phase of the five-year pilot project will run until 2012 and the pilot will be carried out in 2012-2015.HSL will carry out the pilot in cooperation with the Finnish Traffic Agency, Aalto University, Ajelo Oy and Goodmill Systems Ltd.

The Equipment in the Vehicle

The vehicle equipment consists of a tablet computer which runs the application software. This has a critical connection to the backend system and updates the routes online as the rides change with new customers hopping in. The routes are shared on a bigger screen so that customers can see the route and their accepted arrival time just as in normal transport with predefined traffic plans. There is also a possibility for the WiFi hotspot and other customer experience enhancing services through the system.

The Technical Solution

The technical requirements for the solution include the ordering and billing system, the algorithm based route planning that uses GPS information and a very reliable broadband connection that exchanges information between the vehicle and the system. Additionally customer services, like reliable wireless hotspot can be offered for the passengers.

The imperative for the successful operation is the continuous GPS connectivity and the always online broadband to ensure that the logistics algorithms are always calculated based on the correct updated information. It is thus possible to alter the route and optimize it for the best possible customer experience. If the connectivity fails, the whole service is dysfunctional. It is thus additionally important that the connectivity can be monitored and all needed system set ups or upgrades can be done remotely. This means updates to the routers as well as updates to the vehicle computer systems.

The Future of DRT

Metropol project is one of the spearhead projects outlined in the letter of intent between the Government and Helsinki region municipalities aiming to enhance the competitiveness of the metropolitan area. HSL’s aim is to create a high-quality public transport service that will attract a substantial number of motorists to public transport.

If the system is widely introduced in the Helsinki region, the number of daily journeys made using the service could be in the hundreds of thousands within a decade. This would substantially reduce congestion from the use of private cars and need for large-scale road investments.

The Executive Board of HSL decided on 29 March to propose to the General Assembly of HSL that it would grant Ajelo Oy a subordinated loan of EUR 400,000, provided that HSL's member municipalities grant a corresponding loan to  HSL. The municipalities are committed to finance the five-year pilot with around EUR 5 million, of which operating costs are around EUR 4.5 million.

Goodmill Systems Ltd. provides for the project the managed multichannel routing that is the enabler of this groundbreaking service. Goodmill offers the most reliable solution for vehicle broadband everywhere the connectivity plays a critical role.

Mar 7, 2013

Ambulance Broadband Data Connectivity

The modern ambulance services are introducing a variety of life saving applications that require always online broadband. Pirkanmaa Hospital District is one of the forerunners of high-end applications in this field.
 
The Used Services
 
The hospital district needs to chart patients and share data in real-time, and easily manage Ambulance Trauma workflow and analyze patient data. Ultimately, the used applications help hospitals realize significant clinical and operational benefits to improve performance and quality. It is even possible to capture data using a finger touch-screen interface, and make charting quick, accurate, and comprehensive.
 
The modern applications enable hospitals and staff to see the status of all patients, including real-time information from charting in the field. It is possible even to use workflow management system allows agencies to manage EMS through review and approvals, ultimately replacing the paper trail. The hospital district can then use pre-built server reports and powerful data analytics package to observe trends, and effect change.
 
Ambulances are outfitted with docking stations and tablet PCs. Data is entered by tapping the screen, including voice recognition. Paramedic can send patient data in real-time the hospital and this system allows one to capture quickly and accurately far more information than manual on paper charts. The patient data is then instantly available to the emergency department and clinical audit staff.
 
The system naturally requires data connectivity that is reliable, resilient and meets the challenging coverage problematic of a big country like Finland.
 
The Router System
 
Pirkanmaa Hospital District has chosen top of the field routing solution that is capable to switch from network to another seamlessly in a matter of seconds. For guaranteed availability, the routers system is remotely managed, and the solution includes state of the art mobile IP capabilities.
 
The systems consist of routers, including mobile terminals, router software, management software and tunneling software. A picture of a concept set-up is presented below.
 
 
 
The figure shows that the hospital or command center can be connected to any vehicle through secured IPSec based VPN’s through a VPN gateway. This VPN gateway can be any of the currently commercially available standard gateways. In case of high-end video surveillance, a special mobile IP server is needed in the land site. This enables the extremely smooth switch over between networks with very little influence to picture quality or delay in picture.
 
The WAN networks can be selected freely based on the availability of mobile terminals that are integrated in the router. In this case the most used Finnish Operators were selected to provide for the best possible combined coverage. The selection of used alternative WAN links is based on need for connectivity and cost. It is important to note that the solution provides a smooth transition to future dedicated broadband networks: when LTE is one of the selected modems, it will be used there where available. As the LTE network coverage grows, the usability increases flexibly. The services can be implemented immediately and upgraded as more broadband capacity will be available.
 
Specific Solution Benefits
 
It is clear that the solution for these lifesaving applications cannot be provided with standard routing systems. There are requirements that need special attention and the router system is in key position to provide for these. This includes for instance:
  • Extremely quick switch over times through multiple active radio modems
  • Data Session Persistency while using different network, for enabling real time applications such as Video and VoiP, as well as keeping critical data sessions open all the time
  •  Secure data communication through built-in VPN capabilities
  • Auto roll back
  • Double memories
    • Fall back to previous working configuration is new one is corrupted
  • Hardware based modem control
    • In case of modem dysfunction the router has hardware power-up reset functionality
  • Power back-up
    • In case of power loss, like in starting the vehicle, the router keeps power on for app. 20-30 seconds.
The advanced management system is essential in minimizing the implementation and operating costs as well as maximizing the availability at all times during operation. The Goodmill Systems’ management features and benefits include:
  • Device management remotely
    • Remote management via the active route/link, can be any
    • All configurations administrated by the management system
  • Monitoring
    • Wan link status
    • VPN status
    • Configuration revision
    • Router Log management
  • Router firmware download and initialization
    • Controlled remotely by the management system
    • Recovery to earlier version if needed
  • Mobile terminals managed and controlled by the system
  • Secure and scalable installation
    • Secure procedure to add devices under management
    • Automated self-setup and configuration with remote management  and predefined parameters
Summary
 
Using multichannel routing is the killer enabler that meets the current and future needs of data connectivity in field use for Public Safety Sector. The solution enables the development of services and functionality in vehicles that is only limited by the coverage and data capacity limitations of the best availability that any single commercial network provides. Our experience is that the session’s persistency and the high availability needed can be provided only with our approach. The mobility of the vehicle influences the network functionality in such a way that it excludes currently available bundling solutions for this type of usage.
 
The high end implementation of Pirkanmaa Hospital District system is a proof of the concept and the results can be seen with improved service and ultimately saved lives.

Feb 28, 2013

Police Broadband Data Use*

Police organisations around the world have recognised a critical need for fast, secure broadband data applications. Utilising a secure and reliable broadband service increases efficiency and security. It saves money, time and lives. The ultimate solution is to have the same application suite used in the office available to vehicle based officers. When implemented fully, broadband data capabilities enable an ‘office on wheels’ approach that is well appreciated by the officers themselves as well as their customers. This case study illustrates the setup that allows the Police to truly enter the 21st century in mobile
connectivity.

* The material collected for this case study is sourced from Goodmill contacts in general
and is publicly available information. Goodmill provides equipment for Finnish authorities. All
information regarding the following applications may or may not be used by these authorities.

Police Data Communication Needs

For many years, Police organisations around the world have been implementing land mobile radio systems (LMR) to improve the communication capabilities of their field operations. Some countries have been the forerunners and today boast digital networks with excellent coverage throughout the country. Some are adapting to this later, with roll-outs still ongoing in many territories.These systems, whether TETRA, TETRAPOL or P25 technologies, were designed for specific public safety voice applications and often use technology similar to the first digital mobile networks. Although these systems provided a great improvement over voice-only services, their networks now face great limitations due to very low data capacities. Data traffic carried over digital LMR networks may even jeopardise primary voice services.

The data solution required today must improve the main functionality of voice, while simultaneously offering data communication that meets the capacity and requirements of public safety. The requirements for current and future Police data connectivity are:
  • Coverage
  • Availability
  • Data integrity
  • Session persistence
  • Cost efficiency
  • Interoperability
  •  
Police Specific Services

The required services are the key reason to implement new data connectivity. Services that are needed today within vehicles include:
  • Image and file transfer
  • Location based services
  • Database queries
  • Biometric checks
  • Streaming video
Information sharing between jurisdictions is a valuable tool for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of Police operations. This means collecting and forwarding data between various jurisdiction databases. These important applications are impossible to realise within the technological limitations of current voice and SMS-type data services. It is obvious that broadband capabilities which fit public safety requirements are essential in order to improve efficiency. This creates the next dilemma: What is required from a Police broadband solution technically and how can we afford it?

Using Hybrid Networks

Multiple network usage is the key to efficiently use new data applications designed for Police forces. The basic idea is simply to combine two or more relatively well functioning networks into one connection that meets the requirements of field operations. Multi-channel router technology offers the means to utilise existing parallel commercial and/or private networks. Multi-channel routers need to be populated with several wireless terminals supporting a wide variety of different radio technologies or operators’ networks. Routing of mission critical traffic should always be performed using the best connection available.
 
Services Used
 
The actual services Police authorities use with the data connection are many and varied. The future seems to offer limitless capabilities. The first step is to enable a very basic functionality, e.g. enabling e-mails with larger data files to be sent without interruption. The increased data capacity also significantly improves situational awareness; e.g. seeing in real time where all other units are and what their status is. With broadband capabilities, it is possible to drastically expand the area within which units can be surveyed.
 
Other immediately accessible services include real time blogging, where units can write their observations to specific shared pages on a region by region basis. This service in particular has been extremely well received. The safe connection eventually enables easier, secure sharing of confidential information. It is possible to call up a suspect’s criminal record, any outstanding/previous fines or even vehicle information. With this approach, all the needed tasks can be performed on the spot, while required documents can be created and printed immediately. This includes a wide variety of tasks:
 
  • Reporting an offense
  • On the spot fines
  • Sentence claims
  • Preliminary investigations
  • Crime enquiries
  • Technical investigations
  • Weapon register checks
  • Personal ID checks
  • Passport checks
 
The Set-Up for Police
 
The infrastructure can utilise both dedicated voice traffic applications as well as commercial broadband networks. Dedicated broadband networks may be also used in the future, while multi-channel data connectivity serves as a simple migration path towards that scenario. The router creates connections to the command centre and also connections to other authorities that are needed. Through the command centre gateway, the encrypted connection can fetch all required information the specific officers are entitled to.
 
 
A sample set-up for police vehicle connectivity
 
Shared Experience from Police
 
Police officers  have been extremely satisfied with multiband access systems. Multiband Routers have changed and continue to change field operations and management. This technology has been proven to save time, resources, money and lives. Thanks to this solution, Officers are able to spend longer ‘in the field’ and operate with greater efficiency. They can access the same databases as in Police stations and create reports without returning to the station. Because everyone has the same picture of the situation, users claim that co-operation has been elevated to an entirely new level.
 
Information is more transparent thanks to task handling, shared blogs and the collection of statistics. Co-operation between different authorities has also been improved. The reliability of data transmission and sharing of critical information has and continues to improve significantly. Misunderstandings are reduced because different patrols can now locate each other from a shared map resource. This has lead to gains in the command and control chain, with field management proving more efficient thanks to better allocation of resources.
 
Further to this, everyone who is part of the process benefits from improved legal protection, as information is now automatically updated to databases. Preplanning and crime prevention has become more efficient. Even informing the public, press and other media has improved.
 
The Future
 
New operative models are developed as experience with the systems grows, while users further recognise the capabilities of the system to handle more critical data traffic than previously assumed. Police organisations have stated that enthusiasm for changing traditional working methods enables them to utilise the TETRA and other IT investments more effectively. However, it is important to note that the multichannel data access approach is merely an enabler. Multichannel routing or other technology cannot replace Police officers in the field. In the best case, easy to use radio and IT tools may become the backbone of field operations and management!