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A dash to save lives


Getting the right help to 8.5 million Londoners when and where they need it is the everyday job of the London Ambulance Service (LAS).

Researchers at King’s Department of Informatics and the Policy Institute are working with the LAS to explore how new and emergent forms of data could help support the way ambulance dispatch decisions are made – and so help save lives.

The one-year interdisciplinary Data Awareness for Sending Help (DASH) project is looking at a range of big data sources that could be made available through technology, such as live traffic feeds, mobile location data and weather tracking. While these all offer great opportunities to support LAS staff in their decision-making, there are also considerable technical – and policy – barriers to being able to make effective use of the data. The DASH project aims to help identify and overcome those barriers.

Led by Dr Elizabeth Sklar, Reader in Computer Science, Head of the Centre for Robotics Research and Director of the Data Science MSc programme in the Department of Informatics, the project will also produce a software prototype to demonstrate the potential impact of new data sources.

200x300px_ambulanceDr Sklar said, ‘DASH allows us to explore the potentially far-reaching impact of applying state-of-the-art technologies for dynamic multi-robot routing and data-backed decision making to a real-world problem. In our lab, we have been evaluating strategies for assigning tasks to teams of robots, which is a microcosm of the problem faced every day by London Ambulance dispatchers. By integrating data mining and human-in-the-loop decision making, our approach to DASH will take advantage of cutting edge research and demonstrate a prototype solution. Building this prototype will highlight policy-related issues that currently prevent such systems from being viable.’

At the same time researchers at the Policy Institute are using interviews, horizon-scanning tools and open policymaking techniques to understand the complex landscape in which the LAS works as it delivers life-saving services. Specialists in translating thoughtful research into actionable policy, the researchers are drawing on a range of research fields, from public health to operational management and the psychology of attitudes towards data, to explore how we can use technology to make services more responsive, both for London’s emergency services, so vital to London’s wellbeing – and beyond.



Read more about the Department of Informatics here.


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