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A crucial 72 hours for hospital networks

Huoshenshan Hospital in China’s Wuhan came into being in just 10 days. Construction workers and frontline medical staff rallied together to build a medical bulwark against the coronavirus. As well as medical facilities, stable communications are key to coordinating the fight against the pandemic – and the hospital’s 5G network built in just three days.

By Qian Yahui, Hou Fangming, Xuyun

Covering 33,900 square meters with 1,000 beds, Huoshenshan Hospital was designed specifically to treat COVID-19 patients. It features intensive care units, general wards, and auxiliary departments, including infection control, testing, special diagnosis, and radiology. The hospital also employs advanced information systems, including mobile rounds, mobile nursing, remote consultation, and video conferencing, all of which are carried on wired and wireless networks.


Huoshenshan Hospital was completed in just 10 days on February 2, 2020, with the information network fully turned on and operational by the next day. Drawing global attention, the speed of deployment and provision of the hospital's information network was impressive – Huawei completed installation and commissioning of all network equipment and delivered the network within three days.

5G: A race against time

Frontline communication needs to be guaranteed when it comes to protecting lives. In response to the emergency, Huawei's Hubei Rep Office urgently put together a New Year epidemic protection project team of 200 employees who worked over the holiday period to ensure communications security and emergency 5G construction. 

On January 23, after receiving notification from the Wuhan Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters, China Mobile (Hubei), China Unicom (Hubei), and several partners, including Huawei, swiftly organized network planning, survey design, and construction teams. They coordinated various assets, including 5G base stations, SPN transmission equipment, and construction materials, which were rushed to the frontlines of the epidemic.

On January 24, the operators' teams finished the site survey, formulated the construction plan in the morning, and then handled applications and the transportation of materials for the 5G base stations and SPN transmission equipment in the afternoon. 

On the morning of January 25, the project team completed laying the fiber and installing the base station antenna and main equipment. The base station was turned on and commissioned in the afternoon, and service tests and network optimization were completed that evening.

The three major operators in Hubei have all rolled out 5G networks in Huoshenshan Hospital, providing an ultra-high-speed 5G network connection that ensures high-speed data access, data acquisition, remote consultation, and remote monitoring services. In addition to 5G network construction, China Mobile (Hubei) also ramped up the capacity of its existing 4G network more than threefold to meet demand for treating the COVID-19 epidemic. Meanwhile, China Unicom (Hubei) expanded the capacity of three 4G base stations and optimized two 3G base stations, configuring all at the highest network capacity.

As well as supporting 5G network construction, Huawei also set up a special security team comprising employees from its service, R&D, and supply chain departments, to ensure Hubei Health Commission's video conference system worked properly. The system represents a key consultation platform for local, provincial, and national health commissions during the epidemic.


Facing a mountain to climb

Huawei donated nearly 80 percent of the network communication equipment to Huoshenshan Hospital, totaling thousands of pieces of equipment. This included wireless access points (APs) and the access network, convergence network, core network, video surveillance, and remote conference systems.

To cut the normal one-month deployment time for a 34,000-square-meter hospital like Huoshenshan to three days, it was critical to ensure accurate network planning, easy equipment installation, and simple configuration, and bring on board the experience of experts. The implementation process involved a series of challenges:

Complex environment and conditions: The majority of the hospital’s rooms are constructed from shipping containers that WLAN signals have trouble penetrating. And to maintain the effectiveness of isolation, it wasn’t possible to make openings where needed. This required advance planning of the location and size of the wireless APs. At the same time, since the equipment room lacked a specialized air conditioner, core network equipment needed to be able to withstand high temperatures and possess robust heat dissipation capabilities.

Stable, reliable, high-speed network: Key services have very high network requirements on stability, reliability, and bandwidth. For example, the video conference system connects frontline doctors with large hospitals in other cities for remote expert consultations. The collaborative office application is crucial for personnel to manage the hospital and monitor resources on their devices. Applications, such as mobile rounds, mobile care, disinfecting clothing, video surveillance, and tracing medical waste, require strong IoT capabilities.

Every second counts: Remote O&M is a basic requirement of hospitals that specialize in infectious diseases. To keep pace with the pandemic, round-the-clock uninterrupted operations were essential for the hospital’s information network. 

Saving lives with communications technology

Huoshenshan Hospital adopted Huawei's CloudCampus solution to cope with stringent time and environmental requirements. 

Setting up a network with the highest standards: Huawei coordinated more than 100 engineers to deploy a Wi-Fi network covering the entire hospital, which included Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 APs equipped with smart antennas. These were deployed in emergency conference rooms to provide high bandwidth and no-blind-spot coverage to meet the bandwidth requirements of video surveillance and also remote diagnosis and treatment. In the wards, Huawei’s agile distributed APs were used, with one deployed in each room to ensure signal quality and seamless roaming. Wired access and convergence to the core were installed to guarantee a high-speed, stable transport network that could keep the hospital running.

Plug-and-play equipment with simplified deployment: During the deployment phase, Huawei quickly and accurately planned AP locations and quantities in advance based on blueprints on Huawei's cloud-based WLAN Planner. Network management personnel were able to quickly configure all equipment on one platform using the iMaster NCE one-stop management center. After installation was completed, the equipment could get up and running soon after it was powered on.

Improving healthcare efficiency with IoT: Huoshenshan Hospital includes many IoT devices that perform functions like monitoring temperature and humidity in the pharmacy, monitoring patients in isolated wards, connecting staff’s mobile wristbands, and tracing infectious waste. IoT devices greatly improve efficiency by enabling real-time functions such as data analysis and clinical decisions. The Huawei CloudCampus Solution integrates multiple IoT devices via one network, enabling multi-network integration. It also guarantees adequate bandwidth for specific devices and applications through device and application identification.


AI-powered intelligent O&M guarantees service sustainability: In Huoshenshan Hospital, Huawei's intelligent O&M solution automatically identifies 85 percent of potential faults using machine learning and AI algorithms, automatically optimizing or providing suggestions for network parameters and ensuring that services are uninterrupted during WAC and AP upgrade.

With the Huawei CloudCampus solution, medical staff at Huoshenshan Hospital can securely access the network anytime, anywhere, and implement functions like remote diagnosis and treatment, helping them diagnose the disease and create treatment plans faster and more safely.

Along with those working on the frontlines, the Huawei technical support team then turned to Leishenshan on February 4. In another race against time, they completed overall delivery on February 11.

Processes such as mobile rounds, mobile nursing, remote consultation, and video conferencing are repeated hundreds of times every day at the hospital using Huawei's communication network. It was the joint effort of an army of heroes that created the engineering miracle at Huoshenshan. Huawei's technical team was but one part of the effort; the "bridge-builders" supporting the heroes. We look forward to brighter days ahead when this difficult time has passed.