European Space Agency

Objectives

The SM@RT project ("Satellite Medical Applications for Regional Terminals") is aimed at developing and deploying a vertical Video Portal system targeted at Scientific Societies, Health Care and Pharmaceutical organizations.

The application was designed to support satellite-based distribution of high-quality multimedia contents like:

  • Medical protocol databases (pathology diagnostics, therapy side effect, disease prevention, etc.),

  • Corporate scientific and pharmaceutical agent information materials (product and health information, news & events, etc.),

  • Video communications (Tele-medicine, edutainment and Corporate channels).
Medicine and pharmaceutical represent a very important sector of the economy in terms of dimensions and information density. This sector is research-oriented and marked by a high degree of innovation. Ensuring a continuous flow of updated information on new treatments, new drugs, etc., towards the medical and pharmaceutical community is extremely important. Furthermore these communities require constant professional training. Finally, the industry requires a constant feedback in order to direct its research and marketing efforts.

Challenges

The SM@RT project began as an answer to the Pharmaceutical industry and organization needs:



  • Representing education and marketing support,

  • Improve the cost / benefit ratio.

Moreover, for medical associations and scientific organization it will:



  • Increase the efficiency of knowledge exchange among physicians and students

At the end of project, the Videoportal will be a new information mean between the health world and the people.

Benefits

The project proposes to offer innovative soluctions for information and divulgation issues, required from Pharmaceutical industry. SM@RT provides an effective response to the provision of documentation forms, brochures and publications (the value in the  Italian market has gone from 38 M to 103 M and EU market is around 500 M). The main benefit will be in a relevant cost reduction over marketing and information expenditures.

Features

The SM@RT primary network is a satellite-based broadband infrastructure (DVB network) that connects a Service Centre (SC) to end-user nodes called Video Portal Terminals (VPT).



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The Service Centre hosts the archive of the multimedia contents and the equipment that controls the whole network and manages the services. The activities performed at the Service Centre are the following:


  • Content acquisition and storage,

  • Content delivery control,

  • Subscriber management,

  • System and network management,
The end-user nodes (VPTs) connected to the DVB satellite network are equipped with a receiver that acts like an interactive "Set-Top-Box". The VPT receives content from the Service Centre Gateway.

The VPT do not necessarily need a high-speed connection to the other nodes of the network, as a simple PSTN terrestrial connection to the Internet can be used as a return path when required.

The SM@RT project utilizes the Eutelsat Hot Bird (13ºE) geo-stationary telecommunications satellite.

The Elitel Service Centre is located in Rome, and is connected via a dedicated 2Mbps data link to Telespazio's Uplink Station at Fucino (central Italy).

Plan

The activities carried out in the SM@RT project are summarized in the activity diagram below.



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Current status

The final phase of the Pilot project consisted of the deployment of a Service Centre (SC) and a network of Video Portal Terminals (VPT), able to receive the Video Portal standard services, installed at the premises of 8 scientific societies/health organizations participating in the trial phase.

To help the users start using the system, a number of training sessions were held at the premises of the societies/health organizations and were attended by different type of users (physicians, paramedics, IT engineers, etc.).

Different channels have been activated with contents ranging from institutional training to various conferences and surgery, etc. A written questionnaire was prepared and submitted to users to collect feedback.

In summary, people see the system based on the satellite infrastructure as an efficient way of distributing educational content (especially when in large quantities) primarily for remote training and the quick distribution of technical and scientific news. People seem also to appreciate the high quality of the video (which, for example, is an important characteristic in surgery) and the easiness of access (for example, directly from a physician's place - office, hospital - and with an autonomous management of the available resources).

The integrated system (Video Portal + Video Portal Terminal) developed in the project still seems to be an attractive solution for the above mentioned type of users, as it should provide them with a wide range of vertical services like specialized multimedia content archiving and retrieval, medical and scientific consultations and live broadcasting of events (e.g. surgery) in a integrated and effective way. In particular, these services could be used to provide institutional training and quick distribution of technical/scientific news.

Despite the complexity to sell value-added multimedia services in vertical markets, such as the medical and health sector, and the growing competition from wired broadband technologies, Elitel and its partners believe there is a reasonable chance of success and intend to pursue the commercialization of the SM@RT service platform.

Status date

Thursday, June 19, 2008 - 17:51