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Toronto hospital eyes indoor wayfinding, IoT with 802.11ac Wave 2

Toronto hospital eyes indoor wayfinding, IoT with 802.11ac Wave 2 

Aruba Networks, working with Telus Canada helped Scarborough and Rouge complete a Wave 2 network rollout at its Birchmount and General site in was is being touted by the company as “Canada’s first full 802.11ac Wave 2 hospital network.”

Scarborough and Rouge Hospital was created in 2016 with the merger of Scarborough Hospital in Toronto’s east end and Rouge Valley Health Services in the west. With the combined workforce of more than 5,000 staff, 1,000 physicians, and 1,000 volunteers, the hospital’s information services saw the need to upgrade the facilities’ network infrastructure to meet current and future needs such as the deployment of mobile device capability for physicians and nurses, bedside mobile workstations, wireless access, and indoor location services for visitors and patients.

Why wade into Wave 2

Gigabit Internet is currently one of the hottest broadband technologies because it is more than 150 times faster than the global average of 6.3 Mbps. The latest Wave 2 upgrade of 802.11ac is important because of its potential to kick up data throughout rate to 2.34 Gbps from Wave 1’s maximum of 1.3 Gbps.

Apart from this, Wave 2 advantage is able to support multi-user multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO) – this means Wave 2 can use spectrum more efficiently and allow connected devices to more easily get on and off the network. It’s an ideal capability if an organization intends to support IoT devices.

Scarborough and Rouge Hospital wants to overcome the limitations of its legacy network in order to deploy devices and services that would improve the efficiency of its personnel and enhance the digital experience of patients and visitors.

“With our previous wireless network, we encountered a number of limitations, including its inability to deliver the speed required to efficiently use newer mobile medical equipment, such as ultrasound devices for sending images, IV pumps for infusion data, and clocks for time updates,” said Gary Lam, manager of technical services for the hospital’s Birchmount and General sites.

Working with Telus, the hospital issued an RFP and conducted a competitive and comprehensive procurement process that included site surveys and some internal Proof of Concept (POC) trials evaluating the existing infrastructure with the proposed Aruba solution.  

Telus designed the layout of the access point locations, provided technical implementation, and delivered professional and integration services.

Scarborough and Rouge Hospital implemented an Aruba Mobile-First Platform that consists of Aruba 320 Series 802.11ac Wave 2 access points, Aruba Mobility Controllers, and AirWave Network Management.

Prior to the implementation, the hospital was already using the ClearPass Policy Manager for authentication of devices onto their network.

Planned service rollouts

With its new deployment, they are now considering using ClearPass for guest wireless access and BYOD onboarding.

Scarborough and Rouge Hospital also plans to deploy a full range of HPE core, top of rack, and edge switching solutions in its General and Birchmount sites.

The integrated security in the Aruba Mobility Controllers and Access Points helped the hospital save time and the cost of purchasing and deploying additional layers said Lam.

Some of the proposed initiatives the hospital is now looking into include:

  • Wayfinding to allow staff, patients, and visitors to navigate hospital facilities
  • Patient kiosks
  • Asset tracking for wheelchairs, infusion pumps, and other medical equipment

Lam said the Aruba APs with their built-in BLE beacons will be ideal for asset tracking.

Should you jump to Wave 2 now?

Even as some organizations gear up for the Wave 2 implementation, development of a new standard called 802.11 ax is now underway.

The ax standard is designed to improve overall spectral efficiency, especially for dense deployment scenarios. It is predicted to have a top speed of around 10 Gbps and it is due for release in 2019.

Should organizations move to Wave 2 now or wait for ax?

The answer probably depends on where the organization’s network is at now and where the organization wants to go.

If the organization is still using a/b/g/n gear, then probably it needs to upgrade sooner. If an organization has just implemented Wave 1, there’s likely no need to rush to Wave 2.

For other organizations, Wave 2 could be the best ticket for the moment.

“When we undertook this network overhaul, we wanted to be sure that whatever we deployed would not need to be ripped out and replaced in a few years,” said Lam. “Basically, we needed to prepare for anything the industry could throw at us for the next five years. Our Aruba network is helping us ensure that we’re ready to meet that challenge.”

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