Retail pop-up trucks, global video networking become new tools in the fight against the pandemic

I love ingenuity.

And seldom has there been a time when ingenuity has been in greater demand. I smile when I see that high-end fashion designers are retooling their production lines to create protective garments for medical professionals. Or that the New England Patriots used their jet to fly medical masks from China to Boston. Or that manufacturing plants that once made cars are now rolling out ventilators.

It’s all about using the assets you already own in a different way. A way that will help us work through the COVID-19 crisis.

So I have to tip my hat to a couple of teams at AT&T, who saw ways to use our assets to benefit healthcare workers and to help keep our students connected to their schools.

Connecting COVID Testing Site in East LA

If you’re even been to a big outdoor festival or concert, you may have spotted one of our AT&T Retail Trucks on site. They can roll up, set up and then sell phones, accessories and wireless service right on the spot. They also can provide internet service to up to 40 Wi-Fi devices through the use of mobile hotspots.

These retail trucks have largely been unused in recent weeks until the AT&T Healthcare team realized that hospitals may need internet service for their pop-up COVID-19 testing services.

After a few phone calls, the team discovered that AltaMed, a healthcare organization serving more than 300,000 residents in Southern California, needed our help.

The retail truck rolled out to the Boyle Heights community of East Los Angeles, where they were able to provide wireless internet to the medical professionals who were on site testing for COVID-19 and giving medical evaluations.

“We had four days to turn an empty lot into a space where our providers could function as if they were in a clinic,” said Raymond Lowe, Chief Information Officer for AltaMed. “Access to patient information and accurate documentation is critical to COVID-19 testing efforts, and without the pop-up vehicle, we would not be able to bring this vital service directly to the community.”

The mobile hotspots are equipped with FirstNet SIMs, which provides added capacity for first responders – and those critical to supporting their emergency response - using FirstNet service. FirstNet is America’s public safety communications platform and is the only nationwide platform that gives first responders always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

Helping San Antonio Students Stay Connected

The sports business has been one of the hardest hit by the global pandemic. Social distancing means big gatherings are out of the question.

But the facilities where many sports teams play have resources that can be used in different ways.

Think about a professional basketball arena. They are typically wired with high speed networking technology.

In fact, AT&T Center – home of the San Antonio Spurs – is outfitted with AT&T Global Video Services infrastructure, usually used for transferring high-quality broadcast video.

Somebody thought – why not use all of that technology to provide internet service to students? And so, Spurs Give, the official nonprofit of Spurs Sports & Entertainment, worked with AT&T and Aruba to offer free high-speed, wireless internet at the AT&T Center parking lot for San Antonio community members.

The service allows students and other members of the community to continue to learn, work and stay connected from the safety of their cars in the parking lot.

AT&T provided the pipes.  Aruba supplied the hotspots. On top of the fiber to Wi-Fi conversion, AT&T Cybersecurity’s Global Security Gateway service is being provided to keep connections highly secure and protected.

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing our economy, our medical resources, our educational system and our resolve to stay home and flatten the curve. But it’s good to see that it’s not limiting our imagination. And that’s how we’ll get through this trying time and come out stronger on the other side.

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Dr. Ilan Shapiro, Pediatrician and Health Education and Wellness Director, AltaMed

Raymond Lowe, CIO, AltaMed