AI can help governments limit the spread of infection
First, AI can help governments limit the spread of infection as people start to move around more. Traffic authorities can use AI along with speed radars to identify which vehicles have movement permits or belong to people working within vital sectors. Dubai police have tested this technique during the strict lockdown period, issuing fines for people breaching curfews without a valid reason. On the public transport system, AI and machine learning could help to identify communicable diseases, screen the temperature of passengers, and provide transit operators across different modes of transport with real-time information. This would allow operators to identify risks, implement additional cleaning protocols, and reduce or stop the relevant service.
AI can also measure and monitor the occupancy of people in stores and restaurants, and alert public health authorities to excessive crowds in public areas. They can achieve this by feeding images from existing government and commercial CCTV cameras into a centralized AI platform. Similarly, AI can help individuals discover their potential exposure to the virus. Bahrain has tested such a system through an application called “BeAware” that uses location data to inform individuals if they approach someone currently infected with COVID-19.
AI can build on the lessons learned from COVID-19 to alert government
Second, AI can build on the lessons learned from COVID-19 to alert government to the next pandemic. Indeed, BlueDot, an AI company which uses machine learning to monitor outbreaks of infectious diseases around the world, told institutions about an unusual spike in pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China before the World Health Organization confirmed the outbreak. Similarly, AI can further help analyze data collected throughout the various phases of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. It can offer insights on the effectiveness of control measures, predict healthcare capacity, and help decision making.
AI can offer commercial benefits for organizations
Third, AI can offer commercial benefits for organizations as they attempt to achieve sustained operational efficiency under the current pressing circumstances. It can assist in answering queries, enhancing reporting speed and accuracy, and identifying and resolving operational bottlenecks. For example, call centers can use chatbots to compensate for the lack of staff during extended lockdowns. Meanwhile, supermarket chains such as Saudi Arabia’s Danube Online have been using AI-enabled “aisle-mapping” technology. By using a mobile application, packers can locate items from an online customer’s order in a store.