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Innovative Software Engineering Systems Enhance Data Sharing in Education and Health Care Fields

Lakehead University and community collaborators demo new prototypes

(May 19, 2010 – Thunder Bay, ON) Today, members of Lakehead University’s Faculty of Engineering, alongside community collaborators, gathered to showcase prototypes of three innovative new software systems that may one day be used to share data more effectively and efficiently in the education and health care realms. The three projects are respectively entitled “Northern Lights,” “Mobile Platform for Health Care Monitoring,” and “Context-Aware Smart Learning Spaces.”

The “Northern Lights” project is a multidisciplinary collaboration between Lakehead University’s Department of Software Engineering, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM). The main objective in the project is to improve inter-professional care and medical education through the development of new text-based collaborative tools, which manage and share electronic medical records between caregivers. Northern Lights is based on a new domain-specific language (DSL) which standardizes textual representation of medical records. NOSM and the TBRHSC are ideal community partners to help deploy and refine the platform due to their smaller team sizes, openness to new documentation systems, and drive to become leaders in medical academics, inter-professional care, and education. The natural synergy between software engineering and medical practice is crucial in this effort, and will shape the technological infrastructure that will be created.

Masters students Luke Docksteader and Kristopher Scott demo their innovative new system prototypes

The “Mobile Platform for Health Care Monitoring” project/initiative encompasses research, design, and implementation of a mobile health monitoring system that is geared toward non-critical hospital patients who still require some degree of monitoring.  It introduces a ubiquitous system that allows health care personnel to remotely monitor patients outside of the hospital, and ultimately provides tremendous financial savings to the health care industry and allows non-critical patients, who have partial autonomy and mobility, to be discharged from hospitals. Lakehead’s Software Engineering Department has successfully created a prototype for mobile health care monitoring that seamlessly integrates vital data from various health sensors.  It identifies the health status of a patient and takes appropriate measures for timely support by medical staff.

“Context-Aware Smart Learning Spaces” is a cost-effective infrastructure for smart learning spaces that provides a learner-centred, service-based architecture which transforms existing learning spaces, such as classrooms, computer labs, meeting rooms, and hallways, into intelligent and ambient learning environments. This is achieved by blending optimally configured, inexpensive technologies that in turn perceive learners’ locations and schedules, identify current learning activity, recommend learning resources, and enable effective peer-collaboration and resource sharing. Built to enable enhanced instruction in various learning setups, it utilizes infrared technology to support formal, informal, and collaborative learning through a variety of handheld devices.

“These are cutting-edge systems and helpful features that will save educators and medical personnel time and money, and they’ll provide greater service to users and clients,” says Dr. Rachid Benlamri, Chair of Lakehead’s Software Engineering Department and Supervisor of all three projects.  Dr. Henri Saliba, Dean of Lakehead University’s Faculty of Engineering, adds that, “these are the kinds of technologies and community partnerships that keep Lakehead University competitive with other engineering schools.  Technology is forever advancing, and research in this field must keep users up to speed with their equipment, their clients, and the tasks they face as part of their daily lives.”

Community partnerships are an integral facet of Lakehead University’s research excellence.  Dr. Rui Wang, Vice-President (Research), Lakehead University, emphasises the pivotal role that partnerships played in developing the Northern Lights prototype.  “Without the funding and guidance NOSM and TBRHSC provided throughout every stage of this application’s development, this project would not be at the stage or of the quality it is today.  We are forever grateful for the valuable community input and collaboration our researchers can leverage in the advancement of their work.”


MEDIA: Various researchers and collaborators are available for media interview.  To arrange interviews, please contact Heather Scott, Lakehead University Communications Officer (Thunder Bay), at 807-343-8177 or

About Lakehead
Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for innovative programs and cutting-edge research. With a main campus located in Thunder Bay, Ontario and a campus in Orillia, Ontario, Lakehead has over 7,700 students and 2,250 faculty and staff, and is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. In 2006, Research Infosource Inc. named Lakehead University Canada's Research University of the Year in the undergraduate category. For more information on Lakehead University, visit

Last updated May 20, 2010

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