Emergency response during the COVID-19 threat has already taught us a lot about social distancing, disease spread, and how to implement societal regulations to flatten the curve. When the pandemic has come and gone, there will be a lot of reflection about how communities–heavily populated urban areas in particular–were able to respond to the crisis.
Smart city technology has emerged as a useful tool and weapon in the fight against the novel coronavirus. City leaders, scientists, and urban planners will look at how smart cities work to streamline pandemic response and communication when drafting future disaster preparedness plans.
Disease tracking, geolocation data, and autonomous delivery are just three smart city technology features that can help stop the spread and allow city officials to make informed decisions faster. In addition to these features, smart cities need to be heavily focused on cybersecurity to maintain a safe infrastructure and keep hackers out. Read on to learn more about how smart cities work to defend against viral threats such as COVID-19.
City leaders that invest in software to track diseases can make smart, informed decisions fast. Disease tracking software uses big data and natural language processing to track disease spreads throughout the globe.
Already we’ve seen the power of disease tracking software during the COVID-19 threat. The first Western outlet to alert users of an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan was a Canadian disease tracking software company by the name of BlueDot. This company, which was created after the Ebola outbreak to specifically track pandemic threats, alerted its users on December 30–10 days before the World Health Organization alerted the public.
Geolocation data is the movement tracking software your smartphone and other smart devices collects to track movements and predict human behavior.
Analyzing geolocation data can teach you a lot about a community’s behavior and by analyzing past movements to predict future ones. For example, knowing what time traffic picks up in the morning and which public parks are the most densely populated can help when drafting curfews and city ordinances.
Social distancing orders have made contactless delivery essential in the fight against COVID-19. After all, you can’t “stop the spread” if delivery workers continue to come in contact with members of the community who are quarantined.
Autonomous technology makes contactless possible. We have just begun scraping the surface of what autonomous delivery can do: in future pandemics, expect delivery drones to drop off essential items such as medicine, and driverless cars to allow delivery workers to stay home and social distance.
Smart cities of the future should implement an autonomous delivery system they can control in order to prioritize essential goods and services.
Smart cities of the future won’t just use technology to make decisions: these cities will also share technology with all of its citizens. Features such as free public WiFi let everyone stay connected, regardless of socioeconomic status. This internet connectivity also makes cybersecurity an important focus on how smart cities work.
Cities outfitted with information kiosks allow city leaders to communicate with residents easier, as information can be updated immediately and then displayed throughout the community.
As our world becomes more connected, so do our communities. Urban planners and cybersecurity workers of the future will utilize smart cities to draft pandemic response plans.