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5 Ways Smart Cities Can Defend Against Pandemics

Karlyn McKell, AiTHORITY

Smart city technology will play a major role in stopping the spread in densely populated, urban areas.

One of our greatest defenses against pandemics is our ever-evolving technology. While our interconnected world contributes to faster viral spread, it can also help track and control threats in real-time. Undoubtedly, there will be lots of reflection once the COVID-19 threat has passed about emergency response plans and how cities of the future can prepare themselves for similar threats. City leaders and scientists will look at how to best manage social distancing, disease tracking, and other defenses that help flatten the curve. Smart city technology will play a major role in stopping the spread in densely populated, urban areas. Many metropolia across the globe are already outfitted with this smart technology but expect to see even more cities adopt it moving forward. To find out how smart cities can help stop the spread, check out these 5 technological defenses against pandemics:

1. Autonomous Delivery

You’ve probably heard the term contactless delivery a lot over the past few months as social distancing and shelter in place orders have gone into effect.

Autonomous delivery is the best way to achieve contactless delivery, as it eliminates the need for a human deliverer to be involved in the transportation of goods.

We are just scraping the surface of autonomous delivery. In the future, expect to see self-driving trucks, more autonomous ships, and delivery drones–all contactless delivery options that can make our communities safer during a pandemic.

Smart cities that control the autonomous delivery system in their disaster response plan can prioritize the delivery of essential items such as medicine and food during an emergency.

2. Disease Tracking

The Internet of Things (IoT) allows software companies to track outbreaks using Big Data and language processing. BlueDot, a Canadian company founded to do just that after the Ebola outbreak, sent out the first known alert of an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan on December 30–ten days before the World Health Organization (WHO) issued any public statement.

Smart cities can use information kiosks to share information about disease tracking in real-time, allowing citizens to stay aware of any potential viral threats.

3. Geolocation

Geolocation is the tracking software used to pinpoint a smartphone user’s location at any moment. This data currently allows private companies to buy data that predicts human movements.

Smart cities of the future can use this same data to predict what areas of a city are most densely populated throughout the day, which can make drafting city ordinances and crafting curfews and social distancing guidelines more accurate.  

5 Ways Smart Cities Can Defend Against Pandemics

4. Internet Connectivity

Smart cities don’t just use the IoT to make decisions: they also share this technology with citizens. Cities such as New York City have already implemented smart city IoT features such as free public WiFi. This allows citizens to stay connected and informed, which is especially helpful in the event of an emergency.

Information kiosks also allow city leaders to effectively communicate with members of the community, regardless of their socioeconomic status. While a citizen may not afford a smartphone or a laptop, they can read an information kiosk updated with the latest guidelines during a pandemic outbreak.

5. Drone Surveillance

Perhaps one of the most controversial features of smart cities is their surveillance capabilities. In China, drone surveillance has been utilized to make sure citizens obeyed stay at home orders.

This surveillance method allows police to shelter in place along with citizens. They can monitor movements by flying drones rather than on foot. Some drones have even been outfitted with infrared cameras that can detect body temperatures, revealing citizens who may be running a fever.

Our connected world is leading to more connected cities. There is a lot of lessons to be learned from pandemic responses to COVID-19 around the world. Expect city leaders and urban planners to use these lessons in future smart city plans to ensure the safety of their citizens.

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