“Ambulance services are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with rising demand for urgent and emergency services. … [They] are a vital part of the health service but much of their ability to work better depends on other parts of the health system. Until clinical commissioning groups see ambulance services as an integral part of that system it is difficult to see how they will become sustainable and secure consistent value for money across the country.”
“Following the largest clinical ambulance trials in the world, NHS England is to implement new ambulance standards across the country.”
“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.”
London in Motion
Ambulances serve people, and people are mobile: to understand demand, we need to understand where people are and when.
This visualization merges all 16 million daily transactions made on London’s Oyster card with vehicle-location data from the city’s 8,500 buses to infer the travel histories of that day’s 3.1 million Oyster users. After inferring the times and locations of each bus boarding and alighting, bus and rail transactions are combined to reconstruct each cardholder’s daily travel history.
Ambulances as traffic
Ambulances also need to move along roads to reach people in need. Transport for London is at the forefront of global efforts to exploit intelligent traffic system approaches to transport management. How can the data it generates help ambulances reach people? Are advances in traffic management helping ambulances save lives?
Research has shown that weather matters for ambulances, not least because weather affects peoples’ health (e.g. ‘winter pressures’ on the NHS generally). As the potential for weather big data becomes clearer, can ambulances usefully change the way they use forecasts?
Air quality matters
King’s work on monitoring London’s air quality and its health impacts have played a vital role in promoting awareness and action on air pollution. How could these insights help ambulances coping with increasing numbers of calls from people with breathing difficulties and other relevant conditions?
A measurable improvement?
For better or worse, the system looks mainly to response times to work out how well ambulances are performing. This experimental tool from Marcus Poulton shows one way to break down the response time problem and visualise how different initiatives may have an impact.
Mayor says leading a healthy life should not be a luxury
Health devolution is in the works for London. The Mayor is preparing by using his current powers to draw attention to profound health inequalities in the city, pointing out that they are “systematic and avoidable”. What role might ambulance data play in this effort?
Inspiration from devolved policing?
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) Evidence and Insight Unit “is internationally known and respected for its work”, enabling scrutiny, engaging with Londoners about their experiences, evaluating pilots, carrying out in depth research to support policing improvements and building a better evidence base. Would ambulance data be a useful starting point in something similar, but for improving health instead of reducing crime?