Location Intelligence | Pitney Bowes

Context matters: How the IoT is saving lives with AEDs

by Steven Reid, Senior Software Engineer, Ciklum

The Internet of Things (IOT) is by far one of the hardest trends to define. Commercial aircraft, toothbrushes, children’s toys and printers are just a few examples of how vast and diverse the world of IoT can be. But at the core, every definition of IoT involves one key component: touch points that connect the physical and digital world.

Of course, this means whenever you have a physical presence, you have a physical location, and this location can be represented by a GPS coordinate (we’ll limit ourselves to devices on earth for now!). Sometimes this is a very precise location, such as when the device with GPS technology receives an accurate signal. At other times this might be an approximation, using a scan of Wifi networks in the vicinity to estimate a position or even asking the user to enter an address or zip code during setup.

The need for context

However, a GPS coordinate pair by itself isn’t very useful. For nearly all users, looking at something like "45.5762° N, 122.1158° W" gives very little useful information. Context is needed.

Frequently this can be done by placing coordinates on a visual map. But companies like Pitney Bowes are taking geolocation capabilities a step further, and deploying  a range of services that can help provide this added context. For example, Pitney Bowes APIs are empowering organizations to transform a GPS coordinate into an address, get a list of nearby points of interest (POI) in different categories, lookup demographic data for the neighborhood, and even get tax or emergency services information.

A real life example

It is estimated that nearly 300,000 Americans die each year from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) were created as a way to help bystanders perform life-saving treatments to victims of SCA, which can increase a victim’s survival rate by 90 percent if performed within the first minute of SCA. Because of this, AEDs are ubiquitous and can be found in places like office buildings, airports, schools, nursing homes, places of worship and shopping centers across the country. Using them is simple, and training is provided in nearly every first aid course.

Ciklum, a global software engineering and technology partner, utilized this concept of adding context to locations during the 2016 IoT World Hackathon to build the grand prize- winning entry: a Smart AED.

Ciklum’s solution connected the AED to the cloud, which allowed for a real-time notification to be sent to local first responders once an AED came into use. Responders received usage notifications along with other critical information about the exact location of the emergency, a patient’s vital signs, and location sensor and situational awareness data (such as traffic conditions in the area, and any available public camera footage) to a centralized location.

By utilizing Pitney Bowes GeoEnhance API, Ciklum was able to take the GPS coordinates reported by the APIs and turn them into a real physical address. This is key for first responders to use for navigation. It’s also just the first taste of what kinds of contextual information could be integrated. For instance, with the POI by Location API, addresses could be as granular as the name of a storefront or business location for easy identification. Ciklum planned to later incorporate Pitney Bowes Geo911 API to help automate the routing of emergency notifications to the correct agency responsible for responding within a given area.

Building unique solutions efficiently

IoT is still in its early stages and the need for similar solutions is only going to expand. This example highlights just one way how combining Pitney Bowes tools and Ciklum's IoT experience leads to unique IoT solutions that can be developed quickly and efficiently. As IoT devices continue to go more mainstream, and consumers find value in connected devices, organizations need to reassess their position within the IoT and create a niche area for their contributions. 

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