Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Healthcare project leads Saesnuk smart city pilot

Steve Rogerson
September 13, 2016



An intelligent healthcare monitoring system is the initial phase of Saensuk’s bid to become the first smart city in Thailand. This live pilot is based on multiple proofs-of-concept (PoCs) that can be extended to other smart city applications.
 
The project aims at improving the quality of care towards the locale’s ageing population. Piloted in collaboration with technology partners Dell, Intel and the IoT City Innovation Center (ICIC), this smart healthcare project is the first of its kind to be implemented in Thailand.
 
Launched in 2014, the Saensuk Smart City initiative is a three-year pilot by the municipality to provide smart facilities for both residents and tourists. With a population of about 46,000 registered local residents, 15 per cent of which are ageing citizens, the local government recognises the need to provide more efficient care for the elderly, most of whom are living at home alone during the day with minimal supervision or in nursing facilities.
 
The pilot project, which began in January 2016 and targets over 140 households with elderly members, aims to monitor the patients and provide insights to help the government optimise nursing resources and operate healthcare services more efficiently. This is achieved with IoT applications in health monitoring, emergency notification, environment sensing, home monitoring and tracking for safety.
 
“Saensuk Smart City will rely on advanced technologies to make residents’ lives better and improve the tourist experience for visitors to the city,” said Narongchai Khunpluem, mayor of the Saensuk Municipality. “We chose to work with Dell and Intel on our proofs-of-concept at this crucial initial stage as both have established smart city credentials, having created highly reliable, large-scale IoT projects in other cities across Asia Pacific. We’re pleased with the implementation of the project in this first phase and are confident that the subsequent stages of the project will deliver valuable results for our city.”
 
The ICIC was formed by the National Innovation Agency of the Ministry of Science & Technology, in cooperation with Cat Telecommunications and the Thai Embedded Systems Association. The centre aims to develop ecosystem-based IoT projects by promoting and driving the business innovation of entrepreneurs in the field of information and communications technology. It also aims to develop products and services for intelligent city management that conform to international standards.
 
Apinetr Unakul, advisor to the board of the ICIC, said: “Such multi-partner collaborations are not only strategic, but also important and beneficial, as Thailand forges ahead with its Digital Thailand vision. For Saensuk Smart City, technical support from Dell and Intel has allowed the successful implementation of platform blueprints for the smart city, which will ultimately pave the way for more advanced IoT adoption across different aspects of life for residents and tourists. This is an important step forward in achieving Thailand’s goal of becoming a smart nation.”
 
The ICIC also enlisted other organisations for the implementation of this project, including the Thai Embedded Systems Association, Burapha University, BaesLab and Cat Telecom.
 
Municipal nurses in Saensuk traditionally visit elderly residents regularly as part of on-going patient engagements. However, the nurses could not respond swiftly or appropriately during emergencies as they could not tell when an incident had occurred, or what type of medical attention was needed. The pilot project now allows nurses to monitor remotely the health of elderly patients through the cloud, data analytics and Bluetooth connectivity.
 
Based on an Intel IoT platform offering end-to-end secured connections from devices to gateway and data centre, the system will allow safer and easier deployment with better manageability. During the pilot phase, elderly patients are wearing a small Bluetooth-enabled smart device either as a bracelet or a necklace. The smart device monitors the number of steps, movements, walking distance and sleeping patterns, and can alert the healthcare practitioners when unusual activity is detected such as an abrupt fall, or the panic button is activated.
 
“Intel is honoured to be given the opportunity to work with the municipality of Saensuk, ICIC and Dell in helping Saensuk realise the first smart healthcare project in Thailand, marking the beginning of the smart city transformation,” said Sontiya Nujeenseng, country manager of Intel Microelectronics (Thailand). “This collaboration created a new model offering an end-to end solution that can be optimised and customised for different cities’ needs. Saensuk pilot project will set a good example for other cities in Thailand, and we look forward to more successful implementation of IoT technology to strengthen the vision of Digital Thailand.”
 
Intelligent Intel-based gateway systems from Dell aggregate and analyse the large amounts of health data generated daily by the smart devices. The gateway is used in patients’ homes, while the industrial-grade Dell Edge Gateway 5000 series is installed in the nursing homes. This enables relevant, accurate insights to be sent to the Dell-powered private cloud to the municipal nursing headquarters, where city-wide updates are displayed in real time, and subsequently archived on a Dell PowerEdge VRTX converged system.
 
“Access to patients’ medical history and real-time data has allowed local medical practitioners to identify specific emergencies and discern the type of medical response needed for urgent cases,” said Erwin Meyer, general manager for southern Asia-Pacific at Dell. “This has helped the local nursing services resolve the challenge of limited human resource while still being able to meet the demands for the right support more swiftly and efficiently when an emergency occurs.”
 
Upon completion of the pilot phase, the system can also be deployed for other smart city applications, such as streamlining public safety and maintenance activities, ultimately making Saensuk more attractive as a tourist destination. Cost savings from the healthcare IoT pilot will be directed into other smart city programmes, such as a mobile app-based tourist information system that will quickly alert visitors to events, services and other information of interest.
 
“This pilot project is proof that new technologies can be seamlessly integrated into residents’ lives to benefit both the city and community,” said Khunpluem. “The final architecture for this project will be the ideal blueprint for other smart city programmes not only in Saensuk, but for other smart cities in Thailand, and around the world.”
 
Thaneth Angkasirisan, country manager for Dell, added: “These initial steps towards more efficient healthcare in Saensuk Smart City reflect a forward-thinking strategy by the local government of Saensuk Municipality. The project provides robust use cases of the new, game-changing benefits that result from combining technologies such as cloud, big data analytics and the IoT in mainstream implementations. We are delighted to contribute our expertise not only from working on other smart city projects around the world, but also from our extensive work with healthcare institutions.”