20. June 2019 | Press releases:

Big Data for a virtual emergency register 1.2 million euros for research to make rescue services more efficient in the future

The Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture and the Volkswagen Foundation are funding a research project of the Technische Universität Braunschweig to improve emergency care through the use of Big Data with 1.2 million euros for three years. The Peter L. Reichertz Institute for Medical Informatics (PLRI) is working together with the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB) to link previously isolated emergency data in smart homes, rescue services and hospitals. Access to the linked data is made possible by an “International Standard Accident Number”, which is cryptographically secured.

Not only in Germany, but also in an international comparison, accident data remain isolated and unexplored in independent IT systems. The data includes, for example, information that is recorded before accidents and emergencies as well as before the arrival of the rescue service at the victim’s or the victim’s hospital. Access to this interlinked data can optimize emergency operations, for example for elderly people at risk or victims of car accidents. Against this background, the “Niedersächsische Vorab”-Programm supports a research project of the TU Braunschweig in the field of accident and emergency informatics.

PLRI as a joint institution of TU Braunschweig and Hannover Medical School has joined forces with the PTB to form a centre for accident and emergency informatics. Under the direction of Dr. Siegfried Hackel, the PTB will contribute its knowledge from the fields of trustworthy communication of measurement data to the project.

The aim of the project is the establishment of an “International Standard Accident Number” (ISAN). This number is generated in the event of an emergency and enables access to location and time data of the emergency as well as further case-relevant information from different data sources. The ISAN is stored in the virtual emergency register Braunschweig. It will provide the data to make the rescue service faster, better and more efficient. “Our aim is to bring together meaningful large amounts of data virtually and not to operate new, redundant databases,” says project manager Professor Thomas M. Deserno of PLRI in Braunschweig.

Data sources

With an ISAN, data from different IT systems can be combined in the emergency and rescue chain. In addition to preclinical and clinical phase systems, this also includes alarm generating systems, which collect accident and emergency relevant information prior to care. With the growing “Internet of Things” and sensor-supported information systems in the human environment – be it Smart Homes, Smart Vehicles or Smart Wearables – technical and medical data of such systems are potentially available in large quantities. Such Event Data Recorders (EDR) generate an alarm when an unwanted event is detected and provide valuable information for the rescue service. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) IT systems record, for example, rescue data, initial findings and vital parameters. In hospitals, medical data of treated patients is collected. This data forms an Electronic Health Record (EHR).

The overriding goal is to make these large amounts of (medical) data available in the accident and emergency context. To this end, a technological basis for linking data from EDR, EMS and EHR – the International Standard Accident Number (ISAN) – is to be created.

Example applications and use cases

With the help of the ISAN, information can be exchanged that far exceeds the minimum data set defined in the European eCall system. For example, a Smart Home can provide information that allows the emergency services to provide more targeted care. “Our vision is secure communication between all those involved in the rescue chain. For example, the Smart Home, which detects a fall, will not only call the rescue service on its own, but also send it a floor plan with the person who has fallen and the quickest route to the room, and then open the front door when the ‘Destination reached’ button is pressed in the rescue service,” says Professor Deserno. Misuse of the data and such functions is ruled out via the ISAN – through cryptography and the use of tokens.

A holistic and time-based approach enables stakeholders – from healthcare providers to vehicle manufacturers to smart home companies – to improve their services and products.

Two use cases, an automatic emergency call system in the domestic environment and the virtual Braunschweig emergency register, will be used to validate the ISAN concept and demonstrate the added value.