telemedicine services

Drone carrying the medicine package and making its way towards the vessel. (Source – M1)

M1’s 5G-powered telemedicine services and surveillance systems to enhance Singapore maritime industry

Article written by Nathan Hew 

Working at sea can expose workers to some of the harshest conditions around the globe. The lack of medical staff on board, the low level of medical knowledge, and limited medical supplies can place crews in a disadvantageous position compared to those living ashore.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regards telemedicine at sea to be an essential part of rescue procedures. Each year, medical emergencies have forced one in five ships to divert from their course at an average cost of US$180,000 per diversion. At least 20% of these cases aren’t critical and can be easily avoided with the use of modern onboard telemedical assistance, according to a 2013 study.

Singapore mobile network operator M1 Limited (M1), has partnered with Fullerton Health, a leading vertically-integrated healthcare platform in Asia, to introduce 5G-enabled telemedicine services for the maritime sector, powered by M1’s newly launched 5G SMARTsafe solutions.

This is the next phase of M1’s 5G journey to expand its plan to provide ubiquitous 5G standalone (SA) offshore coverage for the Southern Coast of Singapore. It is part of the company’s maritime 5G testbed efforts announced last August.

Enhancing telemedicine services and surveillance systems in the maritime sector 

M1’s 5G standalone powered solution — the first in Southeast Asia — includes M1 SMARTsafe, M1 SMARTsecure, M1 SMARTasset, and M1 SMARTops. These scalable 5G industry solutions enable M1 to grow new revenue streams as it will not only be providing 5G connectivity but also end-to-end servicing.

With SMARTsafe, Fullerton and MI provides 5G-powered telemedicine services to seafarers working onboard vessels. They include live teleconsultations with shore-based healthcare professionals and 5G-enabled drones to deliver medicine to ship crews from the shore.

This service will launch in July 2023 and will be made available for all seafarers or employees from shipping companies in Singapore (both on land and in the anchorage) so long as they are connected to M1’s 5G network.

5G-powered maritime surveillance for onboard security is also part of SMARTsecure solution offerings. With 5G connectivity offshore, vessels out at sea can set up real-time video surveillance systems and receive seamless footage as they would have on land.

Other solutions include:

  • M1 SMARTsafe – Worker safety solutions aim to detect risk and forecast accidents based on past data using machine learning
  • M1 SMARTasset – Asset uptime solutions use autonomous robotics for the inspection of critical assets
  • M1 SMARTops – Workforce productivity solutions come with 5G-powered tools, such as smart glasses, to help businesses enhance productivity and efficiency

A sample display of M1’s SMARTsecure kit. (Source – M1)

Setting the path for future trendsetters

M1’s plug-and-plug approach enables easier integration and deployment of 5G-powered solutions for companies in the maritime industry — a trend that MI hopes more industries will follow in the future.

These solutions will drive greater adoption through the seamless integration with pre-tested components of M1’s 5G network. It eliminates the hassle of identifying and procuring different parts, ensures quick deployment and minimizes huge roll-out costs.

“M1 continues to double down on our efforts to co-create and introduce viable 5G-enabled commercial solutions to further revolutionize Singapore’s maritime operations and make Maritime 5G a reality,” commented Manjot Singh Mann, Chief Executive Officer of MI.

“This launch is a testament to our promise to deliver readily available innovative 5G solutions that can be adopted and rolled out easily by businesses to improve business efficiency.”

Ho Kuen Loon, Group Chief Executive Officer of Fullerton Health, shares a similar sentiment. “Undoubtedly, the partnership with M1 greatly improves the usability and accessibility of Fullerton Health’s services,” said Ho.

“We want to harness the 5G network to provide virtual healthcare solutions, including telehealth and remote patient monitoring and care team collaboration as the health and safety of port workers and sailors are critical to global trade and supply chains, and we are grateful to be able to contribute toward this.”

The global telemedicine market size was US$41.63 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow from US$396.76 billion in 2027, according to Fortune Business Insights (FBR). Likewise, FBR predicts that the global market surveillance and intervention market size will reach US$33.76 billion by 2027.