How Smart Cities Can Defend Against Pandemics

SARS-CoV-2  illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

After the novel coronavirus has come and gone, many leaders and citizens will reflect on mistakes and learnings. Advancing pandemic response times on both a national and local level will likely be at the forefront of this reflection. 

Technology has played a crucial role in keeping the public safe throughout COVID-19. Smart cities in particular have proved to be well equipped to protect citizens while handling ever-evolving information. 

Read on to discover how smart cities can harness technology to defend against pandemics through contactless payment, disease tracking, geolocation data and more. 

Contactless payment and autonomous delivery:

 Bitcoin is king  - (Unsplash)

Contactless delivery is a term we’re all hearing a lot more of during COVID-19. Removing contact between workers and customers is an essential part of reopening economies while stopping the spread of viral threats. 

Bitcoin and other virtual currencies make it possible to stimulate the economy from the comfort of your home. Cash currency, on the other hand, carries transmission risks. Many businesses that have reopened to be customer-facing, such as supermarkets and restaurants, have requested users to stop paying in cash. 

Another technology making contactless transactions possible is autonomous delivery. We’re just scraping the surface right now of what the future of contactless delivery will look like with delivery drones and driverless cars currently in test pilot mode. 

During pandemics of the future, smart cities will likely take control over various autonomous delivery methods to prioritize the shipments of medicines and goods–no human delivery worker required! 

Disease tracking software: 

Disease tracking software uses natural language processing and big data to track outbreaks throughout the world. This software is already in use, and now that we’ve all seen how essential real-time data on viral outbreaks is, expect to see even bigger investments by governments moving forward. 

In fact, a Canadian software company by the name of BlueDot was the first to inform users about an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China on December 30. It would be 10 more days before the World Health Organization made this news public to the world. 

Geolocation data:

Companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook sell geolocation data to third party advertisers. This data tracks GPS movements to then predict future behavior, such as noting how many times a week you are likely to go to the grocery store or what time you go to sleep. 

Smart cities that invest in purchasing geolocation data about its citizens could better predict human behavior and draft ordinances around it during times of emergency. For example, knowing which public parks are more likely to be crowded and noting locations where social distancing may not be possible.

This data could also be helpful for deciding when to enact curfews and senior hours.

Flying a drone at dusk in the city  - (Unsplash)

Free internet connectivity:

Smart cities use IoT sensors to collect real time data in order to function efficiently. Because of this dedication to connectivity, many smart cities are also outfitted with free WiFi. This allows citizens, regardless of age or socioeconomic status, to access all of the information on the web. 

One great way smart cities are using this internet connectivity is through information kiosks. These signs are able to be updated in real-time with the latest data, findings and recommendations. Kiosks set up throughout a city allow citizens to access the information easily and free of charge.  

Smart cities continue to evolve along with technology, so expect even more benefits to emerge as we reflect on COVID-19. If you’re interested in learning even more about smart cities and how they operate, check out this visual from The Zebra below. 

What is a Smart City?

Author bio

Karlyn is a writer who specializes in the technology and insurance spaces. She believes the best ingredients for success are passion and purpose.

Publication date: 
07/14/2020 - 09:15
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