Nascent Technologies Help Deal With COVID-19 Outbreak

Sujha Sundararajan

August 15, 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused widespread concern and economic hardship for businesses, consumers and tech firms across the globe. Even as the global tally spikes to over 16 million, innovators across the globe, are using technology to help contain the spread of the pandemic and eventually eradicate it.

Technological innovations during these distressed times have paved way to new innovations. Today, with core technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as robotics, AI/ML, 4G/5G, blockchain and big data, it is possible to test various innovative approaches in response to the pandemic.

Big data analytics for example, can help identify infected individuals quickly, connect and track them to know who they have come in contact with. This way, movement tracking and monitoring of people who are quarantined, becomes easy.

“Countries such as Singapore and China want to be leaders in big data and analytics. They are showing how big data platforms can be mobilized quickly and transparently, and be a force for good,” Carolyn Bigg, a partner at law firm DLA Piper who focuses on technology, told Reuters.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another disruptive tech that is helping track the outbreak. In Singapore, open government data has enabled detailed mapping of the outbreak.

Robots are enabled to deliver food and medicines to affected patients as well as to clean hospitals. The country has used CCTVs and facial recognition extensively in contact-tracing. Asian nations such as China, South Korea, Taiwan are in the forefront, dipping their feet into every nascent tech to help curb the pandemic.

In India, scientists have so far come up with around 200 tech solutions to fight against the deadly virus, a compendium by the CSIR – the country’s premier R&D body, stated.

Role of Blockchain

Blockchain technology plays an important role in helping institutions and governments across the globe respond to COVID-19, and the tech is currently deployed into healthcare, digital identity and medicine supply chains.

The World Health Organization is working with blockchain and other tech firms on a DLT program dubbed “MiPasa”, that helps in early detection of the virus and identifying carriers and hotspots.

The platform is built on the Hyperledger Fabric in partnership with IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and enterprise blockchain platform HACERA.

MiPasa is designed to synthesize data sources, address their inconsistencies, help identify errors or misreporting and seamlessly integrate credible new feeds.

“Our hope is that this tool can help technologists, data scientists and public health officials by giving them the data they need at scale to respond and devise solutions that can help subdue the outbreak or support recovery,” the IBM release stated.

Redefining Post COVID-19 World

Though several countries have begun to gradually ease lock-down measures, COVID-19 pandemic still remain as a never-ending road. Grappling with the current situation, needs novel ways to emerge stronger using state of the art technologies.

According to technology leaders, the crisis can be managed by three dimensions viz. respond, recover and thrive. A recent dossier published by big four firm Deloitte stated that tech experts look to address the pandemic by:

  • Pushing technology adoption and innovation to support the “future of” scenarios.
  • Evaluating the value chain and how disruptions can be mitigated in future such occurrences.
  • Considering merges and acquisitions to enhance the capabilities of technology.
  • Implementing digitally-enabled “future of work tools” including those for back office functions and business process.

It is indeed evident that from AI to blockchain, innovations are helping to manage the epidemic and equip to fight future such public health crisis’ in a systematic and timely manner.

Sources: Oxford University Big Data Institute, Deloitte, Reuters, CSIR, IBM, MiPasa

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About the author
Sujha Sundararajan

Contributing Author

Sujha has been writing and reporting on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology developments since 2014. Her work has appeared in CoinDesk, CCN, EconoTimes and Fintech News Malaysia. She is also an accomplished Indian classical singer and loves baking cakes.

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