The London Ambulance Service (LAS) is the busiest emergency ambulance service in the UK. Because it covers an area of 620 square miles and operates 24/7 in one of the most challenging environments in the world, the LAS has to offer a service that is always available and operating efficiently.
This is even more important when it has many thousands of additional visitors from across the globe, and so LAS has been working closely with the London 2012 Organising Committee and Transport for London to ensure it is ready for whatever 2012 may bring. In preparation, LAS has chosen BT iNet as its partner, to ensure that its communications services infrastructure equips staff to deal with every eventuality.
Part of the BT Group, BT iNet offers a range of communications services and solutions for organisations of all sizes. It has been able to use the full array of its portfolio to offer LAS benefits from cost efficiency to productivity and from greater collaboration to simpler management.
Transformation for the future
Chidi Oparah, UC Project Manager for LAS explains: “We initially decided to transform our voice and data networks to meet increasing demands on our service. However, it became clear during our discussions with BT iNet that we could achieve maximum operational benefit, now and in the future, if we were to deploy a Unified Communications platform at the same time as moving to IP telephony across our 80 sites.”
To reduce complexity, individual IP phone numbers have been issued so that employees can log in at any phone on the network, regardless of location - which make office moves and changes easier to organise. A Contact Centre has also been set up for the LAS Technical Support Services team, which needs to deliver a 24/7 service, to help its 60 agents improve efficiency. From a management perspective, the IT team at the London Ambulance Service is finding the system easier to run and audit. Fewer lines into each building save money,
while IP telephony means that operational directors can be in constant contact with their teams, wherever they are based.
“For an organisation like ours, reliable communication is vital,” says Chidi Oparah. “Having a system down could severely impair our ability to do our job effectively. BT iNet has therefore installed a WAN acceleration solution and fibre ring network with alternate routing to give us resilient fall-back systems.”
The success of the initial project led to further work to utilise the platform, with the organisation’s 27 Area Officers benefiting from additional communications services to deliver video conferencing facilities to reduce travel for weekly meetings, saving money and reducing carbon emissions. Meanwhile, staff in the LAS Command and Control Centre will be able to leverage the communications solution to utilise a new Digital Media Signage solution, using live video footage to see London’s hotspots, assess what resources are needed and deploy ambulances based on availability.
“Information like this is invaluable when dealing with large scale events such as the Royal Wedding celebrations and New Year’s Eve. It could literally mean the difference between life and death for someone,” comments Chidi.
Complex solution, challenging environment
Further plans are being finalised to upgrade the BT iNet solution to enable Instant Messaging and Presence capabilities across the Service, along with moving the 999 back-up service to the IP Telephony platform.
Concludes Chidi: “BT iNet has been a very knowledgeable and flexible partner. The team went above and beyond our expectations to deliver a complex solution in a challenging environment. The level of experience and expertise was first class, flawlessly deploying the solution with no impact on day-to-day operation, and we know we can trust the team to continue to work with us to provide the most effective service possible.”
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