Vodafone uses drone technology for COVID-19 medical supplies
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.
Image source: Vodafone
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”