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Software would help ambulances navigate Dhaka

Ambulances donated by China to Bangladesh are parked in Dhaka in 2014. Canadian and Bangladeshi engineers are working on software that would optimize where to station ambulances in Dhaka and how to best navigate traffic congestion. (SHARIFUL ISLAM/Xinhua /Landov)

In crowded Dhaka, the largest city in Bangladesh, the average ambulance response time is more than an hour. That could be about to improve, however.

University of Toronto engineers have teamed with Bangladeshi counterparts to design software that would optimize routes, the U of T News reports. Ambulance drivers would receive instant travel time estimates and suggestions on how to avoid traffic.

Justin Boutilier, a PhD candidate in industrial engineering, spent three weeks in Dhaka in September working on the project, the article says. Timothy Chan, associate professor in industrial engineering and a leading expert on health care optimization, is supervising the effort.

For residents of Dhaka, where there is no centralized ambulance service, the technology could be a lifesaver. Once ambulances reach patients, they can take hours to arrive at hospitals. That’s because of thick traffic congestion and the fact that most drivers don’t yield to ambulances. 

If Dhaka implements a citywide ambulance network, the software would pinpoint where emergency vehicles should be stationed and how many are needed. Boutilier and Chan want to expand the system to rickshaws and three-wheeled vehicles that are best suited for the narrow alleyways of slums and are more frequently used than ambulances for transport to hospitals. Boutilier also sees potential for aiding other developing cities, the U of T News says. 

U of T News

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