By EWN • 24 January 2022 • 10:23
There has been a surge in worldwide anti-racist and anti-police protests against the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Calls for mandating wearing masks in a public setting, ongoing discussions about police brutality, and trying to understand the future of public health and public safety – all the while countries find themselves heading towards an economic depression makes the current landscape… chaotic, to say the least.
Cities and communities are working on developing new and effective methods of responding to the pandemic using collective intelligence and, more importantly, technology to stay afloat.
In this article, we’ll discuss tech-related predictions for smarter cities post coronavirus, and the crucial role that technology will play to make this happen.
The COVID-19 crisis has created opportunities where using high-tech programs and protocols might finally be humanized in cities. Additionally, community-based fundraising and public housing crowdfunding can also be used to develop tools and products for tackling the problems created by the pandemic.
Let’s discuss a few ways in which various collective intelligence approaches can help governments and companies in their fight against COVID-19.
The pandemic has brought forward several changes with everyone being quarantined, but the more prominent ones are the creation of remote work opportunities and restriction of social events.
Now, people will always have needs. They need to buy food and clothing, travel, and have entertainment sources that help to sustain the economy – but post the pandemic, certain precautions are necessary.
Hence, consolidating people-powered resources and initiatives on an online platform can be helpful to make it easier for citizens to seek as well as offer assistance of various kinds. In such cases, technology can help automate otherwise manual processes like tracking receipts, sending invoices, or making payments to make everything more convenient and functional.
As mentioned before, crowdfunding can help achieve short-term targeted funding for providing the needed leverage to worthy causes.
Fundraisers are being set up using tools and products that directly address the crisis. This can include pre-purchasing services and products from local artists and shops, buying personal protective equipment (PPE), and so on, to create a source of income while also keeping the public safe.
Local authorities are also launching crowdfunding initiatives to provide funding to local communities and organizations dealing with the challenges brought forward by COVID-19. In New York, for example, initiatives for providing relief to laid-off staff have been taken to help small independent restaurants.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has consistently issued warnings to countries to optimize the availability of lung ventilation equipment. In addition to global manufacturers, even urban-based marketplace systems are being set-up to build protective gear and fabricate medical equipment for fighting against Coronavirus.
For example, a Dublin-based open source project called Open Source Ventilator aims to tackle the severe shortage of ventilators locally, nationally, as well as internationally. More than 600 engineers, designers, and medical professionals have got together to generate and validate ideas to produce ventilators to meet the wide-scale demand by joining the project.
This team was able to develop six mechanically-operated ventilator prototypes that were ready to be manufactured and tested with validation by Ireland’s Health Service Executive.
All this started when a Facebook group known as Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies was set up ‘to evaluate, design, validate, and source the fabrication of open-source emergency medical supplies around the world, given a variety of local supply conditions.’ You see, the Open Source Ventilator group was created in response to this call.
Similarly, another team at the Institute of Studies for the Integration of Systems (Isinnova) is working on a project to build DIY respirators by combining snorkeling gear with 3D printed components to help the community in this time of crisis.
These culminated efforts of the urban maker-space ecosystems can accelerate the development of necessary medical equipment to meet the growing requirement amidst the pandemic, which can undoubtedly be useful for the world at large.
Despite being in the early stages of AI and machine learning development, countries can use technology for handling these vast amounts of pandemic-related data with the prevalence of ample opportunities.
Private sector companies are using whole cities as a platform for developing real-time dashboards and mobile applications to make the general public more aware of the pandemic, especially with regards to information about the spread and management of the disease. This is, of course, made possible based on open data provided by public agencies. People should be very receptive to the idea of using a mobile app on their phone to track updates on the pandemic. In fact, according to recent statistics 62% prefer to manage their finances with a mobile app already.
India and Korea have developed mobile apps that allow users to visualize data by giving them access to information like the number of confirmed coronavirus patients, private information of these patients like age and gender, how close the users are to these Coronavirus patients, and so on. Even Singapore is working on a dashboard to make it more insightful for disseminating disease-related information.
Now, using smart technology applications like mobile tracking applications does sound like an exciting prospect. But, at the same time, governments and users should take the necessary measures to protect themselves from data exploitation and privacy breaches, which is why there is still apprehension where automated tracing is concerned.
Fortunately, things are very different than they were 25 years ago, so there is tremendous potential for data visualization becoming an excellent tool for helping users manage their everyday lives, post-COVID-19.
Under the current circumstances, everybody needs to do their best to promote growth and focus on necessities rather than luxuries to get out of the COVID trap as soon as possible. It’s also vital to discuss the deployment of data collection to ensure that in our bid to overturn a health crisis, we don’t end up replacing it with a privacy and civil liberties crisis.
The pandemic has taught everyone an important lesson about the role that smart technology and collective intelligence can play by developing tools for curbing the spread of infectious diseases. Hopefully, the use of technology and data analytics will be more developed in the upcoming years than where it is today in the upcoming years.
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