By Subramanya C, Global CTO, HGS
COVID-19 is unlike any other crisis which is impacting the entire world. Governments across the world are trying to ensure the safety of their citizens and provide support to people affected. In spite of fast spread, people across the world are putting up a brave fight and using new-age technologies to manoeuvre this new situation. These technologies are not only helping us fight the pandemic but may in the future, change how we deal with such situations.
Here are a few examples in which technology has been used to help us hold the fort against COVID-19.
Business continuity: A major challenge during this pandemic has been not being able to work in the same manner as before. Businesses have quickly adopted work-from-home policies, using online meeting softwares and collaboration platforms to clock in and ensure employees stay home and continue operating business as usual.
Phones: Smartphones are playing a crucial role in minimizing exposure to the people. Delivery apps are offering contactless delivery, whereby delivery executives drop essentials off at a specific point or at your doorstep without any physical contact. Moreover, mobile payment apps are reducing the threat of transmission through paper money.
Video conferencing: Mandatory quarantine has disrupted daily life and reduced social interaction. This is leading millions of people to meet and connect online instead. Families and friends are now catching up and socializing virtually. Educators and fitness clubs are conducting classes online. Even organisations are on-boarding new employees through digital meeting platforms.
Location Tracking: This is possibly the most commonly used technology by governments. Tracking people’s whereabouts through the location information provided by their phones has been vital to identify the movements of an infected person before being quarantined and the number of people who may have been in close proximity with the patient.
CCTVs: When a family of three in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Italy, local authorities realised the family had visited several places and met many people for a week before they were quarantined. Reviewing CCTV footage from the areas they had been to was one of the methods the local administration used to track down people the family could have potentially infected.
Robot nurses and AI Diagnosis: Robots are being used in hospitals in some countries to deliver food, medicine and other supplies to patients; to disinfect hospitals and other public areas; to check patients’ temperatures; and to answer common questions. Coronavirus is even being diagnosed using AI, which can read thousands of CT scans in 20 seconds with an accuracy rate of 96%.
In a global pandemic, technology tools have become key weapons for effectively monitoring and controlling disease outbreaks. Especially when containment is a challenge, technology can not only operate as near-stand-ins for healthcare professionals, but it can also match the scale and speed at which the current pandemic requires treatment.