Canadian TETRA agency funded to deliver satellite-based telehealth services to ships at sea

Saint John's 04 April 2001The Canadian Centre for Marine Communications (CCMC) has agreed to provide a 100.000 Canadian Dollar contribution to the Telehealth and Educational Technology Resources Agency (TETRA) of the Memorial University of Newfoundland toward dramatically improving the emergency medical response to marine vessels travelling in Canadian waters. Known as the Marine Interactive Satellite Technologies (MIST) programme, the grant is being made through the CCMC Marine Information Skyway project, an initiative supported by the Communications Research Centre (CRC) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

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MIST is the third in a series of successful multimedia satellite-based initiatives, led by CSA and Telesat, which are providing vital services to Canadians in remote regions. It is a collaborative effort between Telesat, TETRA, Marine & Mountain Zone, Marine Atlantic, CRC, the European Space Agency, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and CCMC.

Dr. Carl Robbins, chair of TETRA, stated, "Delivery of health services to remote communities has always been an important part of the educational and service mission of the medical school and TETRA at Memorial University. In this project, we intend to study the use of telehealth technologies to improve health services to ships at sea. The potential benefits are significant indeed."

Dwight Howse, manager of Marine Information Skyway, added, "CCMC is pleased to be a partner in the development of the MIST programme. This project enables the telemedicine expertise resident within TETRA to be applied to a range of commercial opportunities in both marine and remote terrestrial environments. This project demonstrates a healthy spirit of co-operation with participating partners from the provincial, national as well as international arenas."

MIST equips marine vessels with high-speed mobile satellite communication terminals which can link patients or on-board medical staff with medical experts on shore. Along with the use for emergency purposes, the terminals can be used by passengers for everything from checking their office e-mail to booking a hotel at their destination port.

Using the same principle, the concept has been extended to both land and airborne ambulances, allowing emergency doctors to monitor the vital signs of patients in transit and prepare for their arrival, utilising mobile satellite communications technology.

Marine Information Skyway is an investment initiative directed towards commercial opportunities in marine satellite communications applications. Support for this initiative comes from CSA through the Canada Space Plan. The fund is administered by CRC and delivered through CCMC.

TETRA is an R&D facility established to facilitate the use of information technology and telecommunications to non-urban, remote, and isolated areas. The extensive resources of the centre are used by a province-wide consortium including health, secondary and post-secondary education, social, government, and private agencies.

CCMC is a national organisation mandated to collaborate with the Canadian marine information and communications technology (ICT) industry in the development of products and services for global marine markets. CCMC facilitates strategic partnerships between the industry, research centres, academia, and government in support of the growth of the Canadian marine ICT sector. Acting as a genuine investment partner in each new business venture, CCMC has demonstrated a significant positive impact on both the technical and commercial success of this industry.


Leslie Versweyveld

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