Vodafone uses drone technology for COVID-19 medical supplies

By Georgia Wilson
Vodafone partners with Skyports and Deloitte to transport medical supplies using drone technology for NHS Scotland...

In a recent announcement made by Vodafone UK, the telecommunications company shared its partnership with Skyports and Deloitte. The partnership involves the transportation of medical supplies for NHS Scotland using drone technology.

The new project will support the NHS’s response to COVID-19, in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus using Vodafone’s 4g network and Skyports’ space based technology, with flights to begin later in the year.

“I’m proud of how our world-leading space sector is stepping up to provide innovative solutions to directly support our amazing NHS, as we continue our national effort to tackle coronavirus,” commented Amanda Jane Solloway, Conservative Party politician and Science Minister for the UK Government.

Before the end of 2020, Vodafone states that medical supplies including personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing kits will be flown to hospitals and medical practices via drones to two remote Scottish Islands: Argyll and Bute.

Currently the transportation of medical supplies takes 48 hours to transport the vital medical supplies, “using satellite-guided drones flying along predefined routes, timings will significantly decrease to just 30 minutes,” reports Vodafone who also found that on average, it’s 95% cheaper to use drones than couriers for transportation.

“There will be huge benefits from the use of drones connected to the mobile network that can be flown safely and securely beyond line of sight. This is a brilliant example of how using connected drones can radically change the way things are done, and really change people’s lives,” commented Anne Sheehan, Director, Vodafone Business UK.

“The NHS Long Term Plan is bringing new technologies into the NHS to improve patient care and save lives,” added Tony Young, National Clinical Lead for Innovation, NHS. “As we deal with the greatest challenge in the NHS’s history, innovation in medicine and convenient, faster technology is helping frontline staff to give people world-leading treatment for COVID-19 alongside care for killer conditions including cancer.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Vodafone has been helping the NHS in the UK stay connected throughout the pandemic, including:

  • Providing enhanced connectivity in just five days to NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow. “Keeping the UK connected during this health crisis has never been more important. Our engineers are doing a fantastic job, often in the face of adversity, to bring temporary hospitals online in just a few days when it would normally take a number of weeks,” commented Scott Petty, Vodafone UK’s Chief Technology Officer. 
  • Providing NHS Nightingale hospital, London with free network support, technical assistance and increased 4G capacity.
  • Equipping the George Eliot Hospital (Warwickshire) specialist pods with connectivity and communication services.

“We are adapting our network constantly and have more than doubled 4G capacity to ensure both health workers and patients are able to keep in touch with loved ones during the lockdown,” added Petty.

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Image source: Vodafone 


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