Smart Cities Prepare for Future Pandemics

June 23, 2020

As the world is shaken by the effects of COVID-19, thoughts turn to methods of detection and mitigation of future pandemics. Due to advancements in technology, smart cities will be uniquely situated to combat disease outbreaks.

Connected Healthcare AI for Tracking & Mitigation

The connected healthcare network will allow health officials to identify individuals who have recently traveled to high-risk areas. These individuals can then be contacted and requested to quarantine to reduce the risk of spreading disease. Over time, such a network will allow health officials to identify potential hot spots within a city, enabling them to take immediate action to slow the disease’s spread.

Temperature screenings run by artificial intelligence will be present at the entrances to office buildings, restaurants, travel stations and other highly populated areas. Through the connected healthcare network, when a fever is detected, facial screening will identify the individual and analyze their health and travel history. If the history shows any troublesome signs, health officials will be alerted. The individual will then be evaluated for disease. If no troublesome history is found, the feverish individual will simply be denied entrance to the building and requested to isolate themselves until they are well.

Robots, Drones & VR – Lowering the Risk of Human Contact

For individuals who are identified as carrying disease, robots will enable doctors to diagnose and treat patients – taking vitals, dispensing medications and disinfecting areas – without needing to be in the room. Robots and drones will also be used in the supply chain by transporting goods and making deliveries without the risk of human contact. Robots will prepare food at restaurants and hospitals, and drones will patrol the streets, spraying disinfectant and reminding citizens of social distancing guidelines or requesting they return home.

For businesses and individuals, virtual reality will allow the visiting of physical locations without the need to leave home. Managers will perform site walkthroughs, students will attend classes and real estate agents will conduct site visits all from the comfort of home. Museums, parks and travel destinations will hold tours for virtual attendants, and family and friends will use VR to interact with one another through virtual avatars.

Chatbots for Disseminating information

Chatbots will disseminate information to health professionals and the general public. Health providers will use chatbots to access important medical information and pandemic updates. The public will communicate with chatbots to evaluate their symptoms and get information on at-home treatment or local testing facilities. Chatbots will also combat misinformation and provide the public with actionable facts.

Chatbots & VR for Stress Relief

Chatbots and VR will provide stress relief for the public and healthcare workers. Chatbots will engage in conversation and offer breathing or meditation exercises as users express their anxiety. They will also offer resources for further managing depression. VR can provide a virtual escape to a pleasant location, such as a beach or tropical forest, for relaxation.

As technology continues to advance and serves as an important medical tool, a smart city will be an ideal place to live when the next pandemic hits.