One year on from the inception of the Liverpool 5G Testbed, contributors and participants in the project met to discuss their findings about adopting and integrating 5G technologies into the health and social care sector.
The event, held on Tuesday 26th March, served as proof that 5G has the power to positively impact constituents while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Health and Social Care (HSC) industry. This has since been reflected by the announcement of an extra £1.48 million worth of investment, and a 12-month extension to the project.
Although there is still work to be done to refine the deployment of these innovative technologies, there is now a solid, real world use case to build on – both in the UK and overseas.
Here are our key takeaways from the event and how they will shape the future of 5G in HSC:
- SMEs are driving innovation
At the heart of the Liverpool testbed are local SMEs, driving innovation for the benefit of their community. Their agility allows the applications delivered to Kensington constituents to be truly tailored to user demands, while their collaborative approach is helping to build an organic 5G ecosystem in the Liverpool. Undoubtedly, this provides a solid foundation for growth.
- 5G technologies will be key to catering for an ageing population
The HSC sector is aware that the UK’s ageing population will require unique provisions. By properly leveraging 5G-enabled applications, carers will be empowered to provide optimised services, users will be able to maintain their independence for as long as possible and the impact on frontline services will be reduced as a result.
In order to do this effectively, however, a key finding of the testbed must be taken into account: elderly users value quality face time with their carers and any move that appears to reduce their service is unlikely to be successful.
- Users must be considered when developing 5G-enabled technologies
For next generation technologies to be successful, they must function practically as well as technically. Service users may have little or no technical experience, hearing and sight impairments or restricted mobility, making user friendliness vital to the deployment of innovative applications in the HSC sector.
From this point of view, DefProc’s “Push to Talk” technology – which combats loneliness in the elderly population by connecting fellow users through the push of a button – was received particularly well. Technology provided by CGA Simulation, which combats loneliness through gaming and quizzing, has also been adapted and improved as a result of the testbed, with language, font sizes, colours and contrast optimised for people with learning disabilities.
- Making this bandwidth free to use for the Health and Social Care sector would be hugely beneficial
Liverpool Health and Social Care 5G Project Lead, Ann Williams, highlighted the future possibilities for network ownership, suggesting that it would be beneficial for the Government to make this particular bandwidth permanently available for the sector. This would ensure that any applications dependent on connectivity would be available to everyone, regardless of their broadband provider or financial dependencies.
- The potential for 5G mmWave technology to transform worldwide Health and Social Care is clear
The Liverpool testbed represents a huge step towards the wider rollout of next generation technologies. By leveraging license free and cost-effective 5G mmWave networks, the HSC sector can combat the digital divide and provide a truly comprehensive service to users in the UK and abroad.