As the number of people getting infected with Coronavirus is on the rise, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency. 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.
As of now, of the total of 741 tests done for Coronavirus, 738 have tested negative, and 3 found positive. 342 are under process. Also, 5123 people are under home surveillance, says the Ministry. While everything is being done to prevent the disease from spreading, this makes one wonder if such a situation can be prevented altogether with technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and big data? Dilip Sarangan, Research Director, Digital Transformation Practice, Frost & Sullivan, sure thinks technology has the potential to aid in curbing the spread of infectious diseases like Coronavirus that can create panic and kill millions of people.
The Potential of IoT in Coronavirus like Disease Control
Dilip Sarangan, in his blog, explains that Internet of Things (IoT), a network of interconnected systems and advances in data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and ubiquitous connectivity can help by providing an early warning system to curb the spread of infectious diseases. And the implementation of such a technology should not be problematic for a country especially like China as they lead the way in IoT adoption followed by Japan.
Sarangan feels that if enterprises, cities, and national governments collectively create a massive global network of sensors to detect viruses, Coronavirus like outbreaks can be prevented in the future.
“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.
However, the implementation of such a system globally would require immense planning. Nevertheless, the initiative is worth the pain considering the damage such outbreaks cause both economically as well through the loss of precious lives. “In the short term, continued diligence in monitoring every ‘compromised’ individual as they go through customs at airports and/or border crossings and leveraging AI-sensors 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,” says Sarangan.