Microsoft Azure tapped to help map UK's entire network of heart defibrillators Image: Microsoft

In cases of cardiac arrest, quick access to a defibrillator can be the difference between life and death. But, even if a defibrillator is nearby, there's one big barrier standing in the way of the lifesaving device: a lack of awareness as to where they're located.

If you live in the UK, that's about to (hopefully) change, thanks to a new partnership between Microsoft, the NHS, and the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The three organizations are teaming up as part of an initiative to map out all defibrillators in the UK, Microsoft announced today. Using the Azure cloud as a backbone, the mapping project will make sure that 999 call handlers and ambulance services will be able to quickly inform people where the nearest defibrillator is located.

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Speaking on the partnership, Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the BHF, said:

While we've made great progress in improving the uptake of CPR training in schools, public defibrillators are rarely used when someone suffers a cardiac arrest, despite their widespread availability. This unique partnership could transform this overnight, meaning thousands more people get life-saving defibrillation before the emergency services arrive.

Clare Barclay, Chief Operating Officer at Microsoft added:

This innovative partnership will bring the power of Microsoft technology together with the incredible vision and life-saving work of BHF and the NHS. This project, powered by the cloud, will better equip 999 call handlers with information that can make the difference between life and death and shows the potential that innovative partnerships like this could make to the health of the nation.

As part of the initiative, tens of thousands of defibrillators in workplaces, public spaces, and more will be registered throughout the UK. The cloud system will also ensure that defibrillators are in working order with periodic reminders for owners to check them.

The network will initially be piloted by West Midlands Ambulance Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service. Following the pilot, the program will be expanded to the rest of the UK.

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