How Smart Cities Can Defend Against Pandemics

Karlyn McKell -
Illustration: © IoT For All

COVID-19 has disrupted the way we go on about our daily lives. With vaccines on the way, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel yet the toll on our public health and economy have been major. In 2021, leaders and citizens alike will reflect on lessons learned throughout the pandemic to see what can be done in the future to slow the spread of disease. 

IoT has proven to be a unique defense against the viral spread, with smart cities helping to track data and keep citizens informed. Keep reading to learn about smart cities’ defense against pandemics, such as contactless payment, disease tracking, and more. 

Disease Tracking Software

Technology makes tracking diseases in real-time possible, thanks to natural language processing and big data analysis. Disease tracking software is specifically designed to track outbreaks and spread — and it did during the early days of the novel coronavirus. 

BlueDot, a private Canadian software company, was first to alert users of an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, back in December 2019. The alert came 10 days before the WHO would share the news with the world. Smart cities of the future will invest heavily in this software to be alerted in real-time of threats and how viruses are spreading. 

Telehealth software helps monitor citizens’ health from a safe distance. One smart city in Maryland has seized on the opportunity, offering telehealth services on their smart city platform. This has allowed them to track residents’ health and share resources easily. 

Internet Connectivity Available to All

Another feature of smart cities can offer free and reliable internet connectivity. This helps residents, regardless of age and wealth, get access to important information in real-time. 

For example, New York City has an initiative called LinkNYC that replaces phone booths with free WiFi hotspots and charging stations. This helps citizens and visitors stay informed and connected throughout the city

Information kiosks can also come in handy to spread real-time information to citizens. Governments can update these instantly with the latest recommendations and display them in heavily trafficked areas or areas experiencing an enhanced threat to keep the public informed. 

Contactless Payment and Autonomous Delivery

During COVID-19, many stores and restaurants have shifted sales to a contact delivery system to protect consumers and workers alike. Contactless delivery has proven to help stop the spread, and technology such as virtual currencies make it possible. 

Contactless delivery will be even more seamless with the rise of delivery drones and autonomous vehicles. So how do smart cities come into play? 

In the future, cities that develop a plan to control autonomous delivery systems in and out of cities during a crisis will prioritize shipments based on need. This will get key supplies, such as medical equipment and medicine, delivered before nonessential goods. 

Smart cities are changing the way we respond to emergencies such as COVID-19. In the future, we’ll be even better equipped to respond with real-time data and smart solutions.

Karlyn McKell - Writer, The Zebra

Guest Writer
Guest Writer
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All.
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All.