How indoor location technology can help the healthcare sector

23 Jul 2021

Image: Niki Trigoni

Niki Trigoni discusses how Navenio has helped hospitals during the pandemic and shares her thoughts on digital transformation.

Niki Trigoni is a professor of computer science at the University of Oxford where she leads the Cyber Physical Systems group. She has 15 years of experience in intelligent sensor systems and has won several awards for her group’s work on indoor and underground positioning.

She is also a founder of the Centre for Doctoral Training in autonomous and intelligent machines and systems, which aims to deliver highly trained individuals versed in the underpinning sciences of robotics, computer vision, wireless embedded systems, machine learning, control and verification.

Currently Trigoni is the chief technology officer of Navenio, an AI-led indoor location-based platform that aims to improve workforce efficiency in hospitals.

‘[AI’s] use in a healthcare setting is already changing the way the industry operates’

Describe your role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

Navenio is an infrastructure-free, highly scalable indoor location solution. I co-founded the company alongside our CEO, Tim Weil, and I am the CTO. Personally, I am incredibly passionate about applied sciences and how technology can be utilised and implemented for the greater good, in both an academic and business sphere.

The Navenio solution is the product of years of research and development from my time at the University of Oxford. It has multiple use cases benefitting multiple users and applications. It works where GPS does not and provides immense accuracy to its users, and by being infrastructure-free it removes all barriers to easily enable scalability.

By using existing smartphone devices, Navenio’s technology localises people within a broad range of contexts. For example, in the healthcare sector the solution has enabled a wide range of workflows to become more streamlined, from portering to cleaning, catering and the location of assets. It prioritises workload in real-time on the basis of ‘right person, right time, right place’.

The integrable Navenio location-only app can be used to provide details of staff presence, proximity and audit services, which can be used to inform decision-making, and facilitate location being integrated into existing apps and platforms, for example nurse communications or patient flow apps.

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

Navenio was one of 38 organisations to secure [UK] government funding in the latest round of the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award. The purpose of this award was to accelerate the testing and evaluation of artificial intelligence technologies, to help the NHS meet its long-term plan. It supports technologies looking to address various clinical and patient needs.

This initiative will assist us in delivering our offering to many more NHS hospitals. We will partner with three existing customers to establish the baseline comparison for the project and then onboard a further 10 more hospitals into two new phases. Phase one is focused on logistics teams like porters and cleaners, whereas phase two expands this to clinical support teams including allied health professionals.

How big is your team?

The Navenio team is made up of 65 people, with 30 of these being part of the development side of operations. The Navenio solution is constantly being developed and having a dedicated team means that we can work in a productive and efficient way.

Currently we aren’t outsourcing because of the nature of our specialist work in deep tech, but we have done in the past.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

The last year has highlighted the importance and the role technology plays in our day-to-day and working lives. The pace at which businesses managed to transform and move their digital initiatives up the agenda has been impressive to say the least.

The Navenio solution was created to transform the way we understand the buildings we live, work and operate in. We have been fortunate to be able to continue this transformation throughout Covid, helping hospitals and healthcare organisations tackle the pressures associated with the pandemic.

Through the use of only a smartphone’s sensor, the technologies we produce are able to provide highly scalable indoor location services, as well as award-winning motion-tracking, robust sensor algorithms, advanced scheduling algorithms, crowd-sourced auto-mapping and self-learnt ambient mapping.

The technology works without a building map and can be used to create maps remotely, and also does not rely on traditional location systems like GPS, beacons or radio-frequency identification.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

In the same way that GPS transformed the great outdoors, indoor location technology is doing something very similar for the indoor world, and for those that work in hospitals this is changing the way they work for the better.

Our infrastructure-free technology which has the potential to be utilised outside of a hospital setting, and in manufacturing or even in the emergency services, is streamlining workflows and allowing healthcare teams to work on a ‘right person, right time, right place’ system.

Although AI is a trend that has been around for some time, its use in a healthcare setting is already changing the way the industry operates as it is able to solve specific problems in areas where we have sufficient data to do so.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

Security should be of the utmost importance for any organisation, especially when it comes to the protection of customer and employee data. At Navenio, we are committed to the highest levels of user security and data privacy.

The company is Cyber Essentials certified, GDPR compliant, and NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit compliant. The information our app gathers is held locally, on the user’s smartphone, rather than on a centralised server. Furthermore, our users have full visibility over how their data is being used and are able to opt out at any time. And tracking takes place within a designated area and users are not tracked in any way outside of their place of work.

Businesses should operate on the basic principle that all information gathered must deliver direct benefits to them. If they do not, then the data should not be stored or even collected. I also think that businesses should think carefully about the organisations they partner with. We should all share the same drive to ensure that data is secure and need to make a commitment to the customers we serve, while also safeguarding our own standards.

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