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Real-time location over standard Wi-Fi networks

Ekahau is the industry leader in Wi-Fi-based RTLS solutions and network optimisation tools. The company delivers the most accurate and easiest-to-implement RTLS solutions for locating people and assets over existing Wi-Fi networks – and its customers include wireless software developers, leading international system integrators, and OEM partners.

Misplaced assets or poor information on where critical equipment is located can be a real problem for many companies and health care organisations, and result in inefficient processes and equipment that is under-utilised and poorly maintained.

An asset management system, such as a real-time location system (RTLS) from Ekahau, can track assets and people over any existing Wi-Fi network, offering organisations with hundreds or thousands of mobile assets a real step up in operating efficiency.

Pinpointing the location of critical equipment, staff members, and patients at any given time translates into better patient care, cost savings, and new opportunities for generating revenue.

Ekahau RTLS also offers two-way communications capabilities, enabling tagged workers to signal that they need help and providing managers with greater visibility into the location of their employees in times of crisis. The system also enables secure zones to be created, preventing unauthorised access and ensuring that assets there are not removed.

Ekahau RTLS technology enables hospitals to monitor the availability of their key resources, locate where they are, and determine their status and need for maintenance.

The most accurate solution

Ekahau RTLS is the most accurate location-tracking solution available today, and integrates seamlessly with standard Wi-Fi networks to support location-tracking applications across large, geographically diverse environments. As it is a ‘pure play’ software solution, no readers, new cabling, or obsolete exciters are required.

Ekahau’s Wi-Fi tags can be attached to any mobile object or asset, and can be carried by people as well. Ekahau Positioning Engine (EPE) server software calculates locations from the Wi-Fi signals received, while Ekahau Location Survey (ELS) offers an easy-to-use point and click utility for network verification and creating positioning models during system set-up.

Using Ekahau RTLS, health care facilities, government agencies, manufacturers, and mining, oil, and gas companies can deploy cost-cutting, productivity-enhancing solutions quickly and cost-effectively to track and manage their assets and their people.

Improving the quality of care in Belgium

Herentals Hospital was the first hospital in Belgium to adopt RTLS technology when it selected Ekahau’s technology to track its patients.

Ekahau technology can track assets and people over any existing Wi-Fi network with a minimum of additional investment.

A leading Belgian networking and security integrator, Quantum ICT, installed a package including Ekahau Positioning Engine server software, along with Ekahau Tracker and Ekahau Finder, and issued Ekahau T301 tags for use with patients, to track them from registration through the operating theatre and back to the ward.

It proved easy to integrate the new system into the hospital’s existing Aruba Wi-Fi network and SAP system to provide full access to patient data and time stamping capabilities. Integrating RTLS with an SAP system and enabling time stamping can be a very important issue, as time stamping allows a hospital to generate statistical data about patient throughput and the time taken for various operations – increasing overall accountability and transparency.

Following the successful completion of the first stage of the project, the plan is to ramp up the system to include a further 800 to 1000 tags over the next two years to enable valuable medical equipment to be tracked as well.

Tracking mission-critical equipment in Belfast

The ease with which Ekahau RTLS can be integrated into an existing Wi-Fi network, its accuracy, and extensive range of features also convinced the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland to select the technology. The Royal Victoria Hospital – part of the Royal Hospitals site, Northern Ireland’s largest and best-known hospital complex – will use it for tracking vital equipment in its cardiology and radiology departments.

Ekahau’s RTLS will be linked to the hospital’s existing Trapeze Networks wireless infrastructure, previously used for mobile data connectivity and voice applications – to track assets such as defibrillators, infusion pumps, syringe pumps, balloon pumps, ultrasound scanners, and patient monitors, all of which are both expensive and mission-critical.

The latest version of the Ekahau Positioning Engine will be installed, along with Ekahau Tracker and Ekahau Finder, while Ekahau T201 and T301 tags will be attached to target equipment.

This will enable the hospital to pinpoint equipment to a specific room or area in real time, specify its last known locations, log specific movements such as exit and entry, and send commands to T201 and T301 tag-LED buzzers.

The aim is to present the location of tagged equipment via a graphic user interface, with the potential for use in conjunction with managing clinical staff requirements, laboratory call-logging, service reports, and inventory databases. The ability to import text related to the location of material into the database will be an added value.

> Mirja Katainen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)