Internet of Things, Big data analytics and Artificial Intelligence technologies will play key role in saving millions of life by controlling future corona like pandemic diseases.
As of 1st April 2020, globally 876651 numbers of people are been affected due to corona with 43531 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency due to the rise in the number of infected people from the corona virus. The virus has spread across every province of China and has been detected in over 206 countries.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has also taken cognizance of the matter, and has been issuing regular updates to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading further.
“We have a focused campaign to ensure that people coming from China or even coming in contact with anyone from China, especially Wuhan, should be home quarantined for at least 14 days,” said the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Problem with current pandemic
Bill Gates in his TEDx talk also mentioned, “Today the greatest risk of global catastrophe is not a nuclear bomb, it’s a virus. Not missiles, but microbes.” And here’s the catch, we have been investing billions in fighting wars but not in fighting an epidemic. It all boils down to this “We’re not ready”.
Current corona virus has also exposed the many countries health care system. Finding outbreak origin, patient zero, infected peoples, symptoms and keeping health monitoring track of infected person are biggest challenges in dealing with covid19.
Can technology provide away to stop the spread of infectious diseases that have the potential to create panic and kill millions of people? Let’s find it out
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.
IoT consists of several functional components: data collection, transfer, analytics, and storage. Data is collected by sensors installed on mobile, end-user hardware like phones, robots, or health monitors. Then, the mobile data is sent to the central cloud server for analytics and decision-making, such as if a machine requires proactive maintenance to prevent unexpected breakdown or if a patient needs to come in for a check-up.
IoT current application during COVID-19
Currently, IoT is already used to manage some aspects of the COVID-19. For example, drones are already used for public surveillance to ensure quarantine and the wearing of masks. AI has also been used to predict future outbreak areas.
How IoT will play role in healthcare?
Dilip Sarangan, Research Director, Digital Transformation Practice, Frost & Sullivan in his recent blog writes
“The first step in infectious disease control is detection. While a global network of sensors is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future, China does have the ability to implement such a network in the country. China has a history of implementing wide-area IoT solutions (i.e. video surveillance) on a scale that has never been seen before. So why not a network of virus-detection sensors? Couple that with facial recognition and location, existing surveillance cameras to identify, trace, and monitor people that may have contracted the coronavirus,” says Dilip Sarangan.
“An added layer would be to also track every individual that an infected patient contacted. While this may sound like a police state to many, ultimately, leveraging IoT and AI may be the most logical way to prevent highly infectious diseases from spreading rapidly in a world that is getting smaller every day with air travel,” he adds.
IoT in dissect an outbreak, ensure compliance to quarantine and manage patient care
With the numerous and diverse datasets collected by mobile devices, a recent study by researchers at MIT used aggregated mobile phone data to trace, in granular details of short distances and periods, the spread of dengue virus in Singapore during 2013 and 2014.
IoT can also be used to ensure patient compliance once the potentially infected persons enter into quarantine. Public health personnel can monitor which patients remain quarantined, and which patients have breached the quarantine. The scalability of IoT also comes in handy for monitoring all the patients who are high-risk enough to warrant quarantine but not serious enough to warrant in-hospital care.
Some of methods used to control disease
- Color-coded health rating system: Tech giants Alibaba and Tencent developed smartphone app which assigns three colors to people — green, yellow or red — on the basis of their travel and medical histories. Whether a person should be quarantined or allowed in public spaces is decided based on the color code.
- Robotics: From preparing meals at hospitals, doubling up as waiters in restaurants, spraying disinfectants and cleaning, to vending rice and dispensing hand sanitizers, robots are on the frontlines everywhere to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
- Autonomous Vehicles: Autonomous vehicles are proving to be of great utility in delivering essential goods like medicines and foodstuffs.
- Drones: In some of the severely affected areas, drones have come to the rescue by transporting both medical equipment and patient samples. This is saving time, enhancing the speed of delivery and preventing the risk of samples being contaminated.
- Big Data and Facial recognition: Chinese AI companies like SenseTime and Hanwang Technology have claimed to come up with a special facial recognition technology that can accurately recognize people even if they are masked. CCTV cameras have also been installed at most locations to ensure that those who are quarantined don’t step out.
- Artificial Intelligence: AI is playing a leading role in healthcare these days. With the help of data analytics and predictive models, medical professionals are able to understand more about a lot of diseases. Baidu has built AI-powered infrared system that can detect a change in a person’s body temperature.
- The Fever badge: Badge is connected to a patch on your skin and reveals the slightest symptoms of increased temperature or heart rate. The person wearing the badge can also use it to monitor his/her own health via a self-learning application.
- Connected soap dispenser: Connected soap dispenser and tap with a proximity tag could see to it that really everybody who visits the toilet, washes their hands. When people fail to do so, a noisy alarm could go off, lights could start flashing… or a more subtle notification could be triggered.
- Connected Taps: Recently came with an idea of ‘Project Bundh’ a pedal based water dispensing mechanism. In a day we use to touch water tap so many times. Advantage is no need to touch hand, operated using pedal, use only when required hence save running tap water.
- Connected beds: By connecting the hospital beds with a platform, healthcare workers will know exactly which beds are occupied and which are still free, where they are located and even which mattress is used. Through a complimentary maintenance log the quality and hygiene of the mattress can always be guaranteed.
Currently there is no proper vaccine to control corona virus, spreading of this disease in developed or developing countries has made a huge impact in economy, many countries are already under recession. Although there are advanced health care system, but they are disconnected, there is a need to develop connected devices.
Short term solution is to develop fast efficient screening system at airports, highways to detect early infectious disease to help with targeted quarantines and quick treatment to mitigate the spread the coronavirus.
Long term, the United Nations, WHO, as well as other global agencies can start the process of gaining buy-in from governments across the world to develop an early detection system to uncover these infectious diseases before they become global emergencies.
Till then #staysafe #stayhome as our mother nature is healing we will come out of this phase and will work for betterment of both humanity and nature.