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Drones will deliver medical supplies through this pioneering 5G service

medical drone delivery

Image: Getty Images/Gilnature

M1 has unveiled four 5G offerings tailored for companies in the maritime industry, including a telemedicine service that can send out medical supplies — via drone — from shore to workers on a ship. 

Available as bundles that encompass devices such as routers and wearables, the service offerings will run on the Singapore mobile operator’s 5G standalone network. The launch is part of M1’s efforts to provide coverage for the southern coast of Singapore and a wider strategic focus to identify new revenue streams. 

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The mobile carrier began its 5G journey in 2019 and knew it could not depend solely on connectivity as a source of revenue, said M1 CEO Manjot Singh Mann during the launch. The company’s new tailored offerings underscore the need to deliver complete service packages that offer value-add to customers beyond 5G connectivity. 

Many of these packages will be created with key partners, which will help to ensure M1 customers can benefit from tight integration with pre-tested components. The mobile operator said these partnerships also reduce the need for customers to identify and procure different components separately. 

Under its SMARTsafe offering, for example, M1 has teamed up with Fullerton Health to provide telemedicine services to workers onboard vessels at sea. Fullerton’s telemedicine app will run on M1’s 5G network and facilitate live consultations with healthcare professionals on shore. When needed, drones can be activated to send medicine from shore to the patient onboard the ship. 

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The service will be available from July this year once key details are ironed out, including pricing and service level agreements (SLAs). Under Fullerton’s current telemedicine SLA, medicine must be delivered to patients within three hours from the time of consultation. An assessment will determine whether these SLAs this can be met with drone deliveries

There will also need to be a review of current telemedicine standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure they are adequate for the maritime environment. 

Fullerton has a team of medical professionals who are trained in ways to support its telemedicine service, including how to resume connectivity in the event of a drop call, said Walter Lim, Fullerton Health’s Singapore managing director. The healthcare company currently handles 1,000 telemedicine calls a day and supports corporate clients, such as PSA.

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Lim said to ZDNET on the sidelines of the launch that Fullerton will front discussions with potential customers for the M1 SMARTsafe telemedicine service. 

Fine details for the service are still being worked out but he said it will probably include a “starter kit”, which includes necessary hardware equipment, such as a 5G router provided by M1. 

Lim said there will also likely be a minimum monthly retainer fee that’s offered alongside a “largely pay-as-you-use” pricing model, so costs can be kept low for customers, with additional fees required if drone deliveries are activated.

As well as the telemedicine module, the SMARTsafe offering encompasses worker safety services that aim to detect risk and predict accidents via machine learning. Priced from SG$400 a month for a package that supports 10 workers, the service includes Samsung Galaxy smart watches. The service facilitates the monitoring of vital signs to detect incidents, such as falls, as well as emergency connectivity and safety alerts. 

The launch also includes SMARTsecure, which M1 said provides affordable and reliable connectivity between sea and land for security surveillance. In traditional systems, footage from CCTV installed on vessels is stored on storage cards and only accessibly on site. 5G provision means surveillance videos can be streamed to shore for monitoring as well as analytics. 

Also: As industry lauds 5G potential, businesses will need to justify investment

SMARTsecure service bundles for real-time maritime surveillance are available from SG$5,000 and include a 5G router, network video recorder, and two high-definition video cameras.  

Another service, SMARTops, facilitates remote inspection and is bundled with devices, such as smart glasses

Finally, SMARTasset service — which will be available in the third quarter of this year — taps autonomous robotics to support inspection and maintenance of critical maritime assets.

In 2019, Singapore outlined several initiatives to drive 5G innovation and adoption, including a SG$40 million pot to build up the supporting ecosystem, and focused efforts on six key verticals that included maritime and urban mobility. 

In 2021, grants were offered to help startups pilot projects and testbed technologies for maritime applications. The Singapore government has ambitions of becoming the “Silicon Valley of the maritime world”.


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