IT’S ROLE IN PREVENTING AND LIMITING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19

IT’S ROLE IN PREVENTING AND LIMITING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19

The epidemic of the new Wuhan coronavirus is now a worldwide catastrophe affecting thousands of people around the world, resulting in thousands of deaths and rendering millions more vulnerable.  Many businesses have plummeted, supply chains have crumbled, economies have totally gone off the rails, factories were shut down, and huge cities around the world have been put on lockdown.

However, China, home of the new virus, has not been the most affected. The virus struck hardest in countries like Italy and the United States.  Countries are trying to minimize the spread of the virus considerably by using the most recent technology and the resources available to them.

This article will shine the light on information technology and how it helps the world in terms of handling covid-19.

The world of IT vs COVID-19:

Listed below are a few important and effective tools that can be used by different countries to combat against this fatal virus:

  • Robotics:

For example, robots in hospitals where patients are being treated due to covid-19, can be used to prepare meals. They can also assist in spraying disinfectants or in cleaning rooms when needed, plus providing hand sanitizers when necessary.

Those robots can be in the frontlines when dealing with the spread of the virus, not to forget that they have the ability to perform diagnostics and thermal imagining, as well as safely transporting medical samples and collecting reports. They can be of great help in a lot of countries where people are quarantined due to the novel coronavirus.

  • Drones:

In areas that have been severely contaminated drones are able to come to the rescue, and that by carrying both medical equipment and patient samples. Saving time, reducing delivery time and preventing the risk of contaminating samples.

In addition, drones may also be used to watch areas under quarantine by monitoring unwanted movement of people.

  • Big Data and Facial Recognition:

Having cameras mounted in most locations on the roads means that governments are able to set up and use facial recognition software and important data techniques in order to watch residents in the area. Facial recognition and infrared temperature detection techniques are available for use in big cities.  In vulnerable areas, CCTV cameras can also be installed to ensure that quarantined people do not leave the area for no reason.

  • Using IoT’’INTERNET OF THINGS’’ and AI ‘’ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE’’:

Together, IoT and AI will likely lead to improvements in operational cost as well as more effective and early case detection.This means that IoT sensors are able to gather patient data every time and assist in drawing conclusions about the virus and its life cycle, not forgetting how IoT sensors could also provide a way to monitor the health and conditions of doctors and other staff.

Artificial intelligence enables us to actually identify and monitor the vital elements of the virus that increase or decrease its effects on patients. Based on this data, we will be able to make decisions about how to stop the spread as well as learn more about how the virus is affecting patients. When we have the big data from the IoT sensors, AI will be useful as a basis for developing cheaper kits to detect symptoms. 

Minimizing the spread of COVID-19 via gamification and technology.

At a time when many governments are considering various options to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 once some orders for on-site shelters and essential products only have been lifted, gamification seems to be the answer.

(To simplify ‘’gamification’’ is basically applying game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.)

The principles of gamification are known to motivate and inspire actions such as weight loss or exercise enhancement, however, it can be used to foster a wide range of other behaviors through an emphasis on supporting people to reach their personal objectives.

For instance, the Chinese health code application shows a color-coded « badge » indicating an individual’s health status: green for the ability to travel freely and yellow or red to denote that the person is required to notify the authorities. Despite fears related to the transparency and data collection of the application, other countries can have similar options with transparent standards for colored badges that work effectively.

Therefore, we can identify two types of approaches that exist when using technology to tackle COVID-19. Proactive technology involves promoting preventive behaviors such as handwashing and social distancing. Reactive technology, to which many countries have focused, concentrates primarily in post-risk incident actions, from contact tracing to quarantine measures.

Earlier this year, Singapore introduced the TraceTogether application, an application that uses Bluetooth to trace interactions between users of the application.This application stores data on individual phones, but in case of a positive COVID-19 test result, authorities will request the data to alert anyone who may have been exposed.

In addition, the total number of close contacts is reported as a by-product of the contact search. Limiting and containing the spread of the virus at a macro level requires restricting the maximum number of social interactions to a level that is within the reach of the health care system. Suppose everyone has a limited budget of close contacts to manage as they wish. Different people would choose different activities as top priorities.

It is expected that as countries move away from total lockdown, contact tracing is going to maintain its role as a core element in reducing transmissions. Beyond this ability, corporate architects and technology innovation leaders should look into applications that focus on gamification to encourage more specific actions such as hand washing or reducing social interactions.

Gamification techniques have the potential to encourage more preventative behaviors and reduce transmission. Such behaviors are likely to include:

  • Social distancing
  • Good hygiene
  • Screening

In terms of social distancing, an application might give a « score » of how well a user has kept contact with others to a minimum and award points for things like going to the grocery store at off-peak times or strolling in the park instead of sitting in a crowded restaurant for dinner.

For hygiene, the application could provide reminders to wash hands every two hours, or offer rewards for disinfecting doorknobs or using hand sanitizer after using public transportation.

As for screening, low-risk individuals are rewarded with entry to specific buildings such as a gym or restaurant, and higher-risk individuals are offered access to onlybasic necessity places such as grocery stores or pharmacies.

Mehtab Alam: Information Technology in Covid-19 Prevention
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification
https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/category/it/

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