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Australian state Victoria is to equip its metropolitan ambulances with Wi-Fi in a bid to speed the transfer of patient data. It also plans to roll out Bluetooth to reduce cable clutter in the vehicles themselves.

That's the plan, at any rate, as outlined by Victoria's Metropolitan Ambulance Service (MAS) in a document issued to potential technology suppliers, AustralianIT reports.

MAS wants to fit 802.11a access points at 100 ambulance depots and hospitals across the state. Not only is 802.11a less prone to interference than 802.11b or g, it's arguably faster in practice and more secure. With fewer 802.11a users out there, and with a shorter range than other varieties of Wi-Fi, 802.11a should pose less of a data snooping risk, MAS reckons.

Just to be sure, however, the organisation is also insisting on 802.11i security, aka Wi-Fi Protected Access 2. Tight security is essential since the system will be used to transmit patient information to MAS' recent patient database. It will also provide administrative and other data to ambulance crews, MAS said.

The Bluetooth links will be used at first to connect ambulance crews' portable PCs to on-vehicle printers, but later to allow the same information to be printed on the hospital wards themselves.

MAS said it hopes to award contracts late February or early March, with equipment trials following soon after. Once the trials are complete, MAS said, it expects to begin rolling out the full system over a 16-week period. ®

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