April 27, 2011—It’s a day burned into the minds of Alabama residents who helplessly watched their televisions as Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama were leveled by an EF4 tornado. Sixty-four people died that day, and the devastation lasted months as the city tried to rebuild. Hospitals were full with doctors and medical school students working multiple shifts to take care of everyone. Children were separated from their parents. Parents with kids at the university were unable to reach them for hours. Steve Hill, cofounder and CEO of Aegis Technologies, was watching, too.
It was a nightmare.
Then, because we are Americans and we are Southerners, groups started pouring into the city. Paramedics, firemen, doctors and nurses traveled down to help. People came from everywhere to rebuild the city and help the ones who lost everything. As they came in, the responsibility rested on the local emergency personnel to dispatch everyone to the right place. The problem came when there was no central system to know where all the helpers were. Too many firetrucks were sent to some areas while another part of town was inundated with food and water supplies.
It was a problem common in almost in every emergency. The different groups—fire departments, police departments, ambulances—all use different computer systems to communicate, and none of them communicates with each other.
That’s where AEgis Technologies comes in. Their new product, MONARCH, will allow the different agencies to work together in the event of a disaster.
Steve Hill said MONARCH would be able to streamline software systems for first responders, healthcare workers, manufacturing and other industries who work with outside agencies and vendors.
“Even though the guts of it is really complicated for any of us to understand, it’s really not that complicated,” Steve said. “It’s really just about two things talking to each other.”
Other companies have created similar products, but those systems are customized for only one customer. MONARCH, on the other hand, can be extended to many different industries and locations faster and for a more affordable price because AEgis employees don’t have to write a ton of code for each client.
David Estacio, vice president for Informational Solutions at AEgis, said the two big draws for MONARCH are that it is timely and extensible.
AEgis specializes in the data side of MONARCH, which is fine for industries that don’t need a physical location on people, but they needed additional help incorporating something that would allow city managers to look at the screen and see the locations of different emergency-responder teams.
For that, they brought in Kongsberg Geospatial, a company that specializes in real-time mapping.
“They provide the visualization; we provide the data that drives the visualization,” David said.
For example, if MONARCH had been available during the 2011 tornadoes, Tuscaloosa city managers would have been able to look at a screen and locate all aiding agencies’ exact locations.
Too many ambulances in one spot? Send them somewhere else. Not enough fire trucks over there? Dispatch some immediately.
One of the top industries AEgis is courting for MONARCH is healthcare. Think of it this way: You call an ambulance because you broke your leg. That ambulance takes you to the emergency room. The admitting doctor sends you to get x-rays. You’re put in a hospital room for several days while they monitor your progress. You’re discharged from the hospital but instructed to go to physical therapy until you’re healed.
Now, the admitting doctor needs the information gathered in the ambulance. Then he needs to communicate with the x-ray technician. Your records need to get to the in-patient team who will take care of you during your stay. Those doctors and nurses need to communicate to the physical therapist so he will know how to help you.
Right now, all of those healthcare providers use different software for their records. With MONARCH, the physical therapist will be able to see your other medical records quickly.
“It gets really complex really fast to have the ability to keep up with one patient who has multiple needs from a bunch of different locations—doctors, centers, organizations—and be compliant with HIPAA and protect (their privacy),” Steve said.
Steve describes the applications for MONARCH as “limitless in theory” because it can work with any industry that deals in big data.
“MONARCH has applications to lots of industries because…it’s really about data sets talking to data sets,” Steve said. “As long as we can understand what data is available on one side and what data is available on the other side, we can make these things talk to each other very efficiently and much, much cheaper than other circumstances.”
What a difference MONARCH could have made for those first responders on April 27, 2011.
To learn more about MONARCH, check out this video.