How to fight the coronavirus pandemic with AI and the IoT

With the right use and research, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things could create a safer world for us all.

THE CORONAVIRUS pandemic has pushed a large number of businesses toward bankruptcy and has caused an even larger number to lose their projects and clients. However, amidst the crisis, there remains a certain sector that is still flourishing. Yes, we are talking about the digital sector.

There are new and improved technologies being introduced every day to help improve operational activities for those who are working from home. However, it doesn’t end there. Digital technologies are now being used to curb the virus and make the planet a safer place. Among digital technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) have proved to be particularly useful in helping to control the virus. How can these two technologies help in the fight against coronavirus?

The role of AI in fighting the coronavirus

AI is a powerful tool that has proven instrumental in helping to develop technologies and gadgets to contain the virus in multiple countries. Artificial intelligence, or machine intelligence, is helping in multiple avenues, ranging from the administration of COVID-19 tests to the development of vaccines. Let’s take a closer look at how it is helping to fight the virus from hell:

Aiding in research regarding vaccines

Artificial intelligence has been successfully helping scientists in conducting research and finding possible vaccines. There has been immense development in this sector, with research projects still underway. The scientists at AI firm DeepMind have been using artificial intelligence to study the protein structures that make up the COVID-19 virus. Studying details about the virus brings scientists a step closer to generating a vaccine for it or controlling it through some other advancement.

Data-driven decision making

During the crisis, AI technology has helped researchers make smart decisions by evaluating thousands of exabytes of data and presenting synthesized information.

The idea of a mass lockdown was based on the concept of flattening the curve. The reason behind this decision was to restrict social interactions to the maximum and reduce mobility so that the virus would not be transferred from one person to another. The decision to introduce the lockdown was based on predictions regarding the spread of the virus and data analysis, which would have only been possible with the help of sophisticated technology such as AI.

Predicting results

Data scientist Nuria Oliver has created a model which will essentially measure the effectiveness of the lockdown and determine how mobility can help control the virus.

The model is also a great way to make future decisions and forecast the spread of COVID-19 around the globe. Several similar models have been designed to calculate the intensity of the virus in different countries and ascertain how a lockdown can minimise the number of cases that help to flatten the curve. The predictions are made based on certain factors, such as biological traits of those living in specific countries, temperature conditions, a region’s population density and so forth.

Managing hospitals and health care facilities

AI is also used extensively to understand people’s social behaviour during the pandemic. Surveys are a gateway to understanding the mental and physical condition of the masses, and they also provide insight into economic conditions. Through AI in health care, it is easier than ever to develop customised health care plans and follow up with patients at regular intervals.

By using AI technology, a country’s public administrative department, in tandem with the health care sector, can make decisions based on evidence that would help to minimise or maybe even eradicate the virus successfully. The pandemic has kickstarted the process of making hospitals and health care centres automated by using efficient software. AI gives health care practitioners access to real-time data, which will further enhance their ability to understand a patient’s health and make decisions accordingly.

Helping local communities find plasma

Software developers in many nations are stepping up to help local communities by developing AI-enabled platforms to match plasma donors with patients. Recently, medical practitioners have begun to treat COVID-19 patients with the plasma of recovered patients. Such treatment requires the plasma of a donor with the same blood type. Therefore, software developers have created platforms that match donors to patients based on a predetermined criterion with the help of AI. Software development company Dynamologic Solutions maintains that without AI, this task would not have been nearly as efficient.

The IoT’s role in curbing the coronavirus

The Internet of Things has made breakthroughs in several sectors of the market. After artificial intelligence, the IoT is probably the most sought-after technology that has helped to minimise coronavirus cases and create a safer environment. The IoT provides solutions that have automated multiple industrial processes. It has made the concept of wearable electronics a reality and has triggered the automated manufacturing of appliances in the industry. Moreover, it has improved the ability to transfer, analyse and store data. IoT-based devices collect data and transfer it to a cloud server; the information is then further analysed, and trends are used to drive decisions.

Detecting patient zero

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the coronavirus outbreak is to detect patient zero. We cannot eradicate the entire phenomenon without taking care of the root cause. In the case of the novel coronavirus, the root cause would be the first patient who had tested positive and therefore ended up infecting those around them. IoT- based devices such as mobile phones can detect the outbreak’s origin. With the use of mobile devices being so common, it is safe to rely on this technology to make promising conclusions.

Limiting interactions

The IoT has made it possible to detect all possible interactions that a person known to be infected or exposed has had within the past 14 days or so. This can help to limit the infection and introduce precautionary measures, which can further control the spread of the virus. Sophisticated technology has enabled researchers to trace affected people and prepare for their incubation or quarantine.

Ensuring government SOPs are followed

The IoT has been helpful in monitoring people and ensuring that they have been regularly following standard operating prodecures (SOPs). For example, drone technology is being used to check that the public is following SOPs set by the respective governments. SOPs may vary in different countries and may include maintaining a six-foot distance and wearing masks to ensure that the virus will not be transmitted. Moreover, the IoT helps to predict trends that can help scientists forecast which areas will be more prone to the infection in the future.

Managing less critical patients

IoT functionality has enabled the health care sector to continuously and remotely monitor patients affected by the coronavirus.

The devices are not sophisticated enough to be able to monitor more critical patients who need to be constantly monitored in an intensive care unit by trained medical personnel. However, this does take the burden off hospitals, since they can now focus on the more critical patients who require more attention.

Patients can easily upload their data, such as temperature and blood pressure, on mobile devices and into cloud storage. This information can then be shared with relevant health care workers, allowing them access to monitor the patients from any location. Administrating a patient from a distance minimises the chances of that individual affecting others, which would be extremely high if they visited the doctor at a hospital.

Wrapping it up

It is safe to say that AI and the IoT have helped to control the virus’s spread and will continue to help in the future. The right use and research can enable scientists and health care practitioners to develop ways that will ultimately create a safer world for us all.