Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr. Amrin Amin has called for Singaporeans to stand together, especially in support of our frontline health workers who are serving our nation in this critical time. Beyond receiving our physical and emotional support, what else can be done to keep them safe in high-risk environments?
We already see how technology plays a crucial role in keeping our cities safe. Video, combined with technologies such as AI, IoT, and data analytics, ensure that officials get real-time updates that help them make crucial, time-sensitive decisions.
Technology has quickly adapted to help keep our heroes safe from the recent COVID-19. Solutions such as AI and Facial Recognition (FR), integrated with video technologies, are increasingly being used to help safeguard frontline staff and the general population.
Video technology has shown itself to be a force for the greater good, especially when it comes to epidemic management.
Safeguarding our borders and preventing escalation
With the increased strain on manpower among immigration and security personnel due to COVID-19, it has become challenging to effectively identify infected individuals in crowded, high-risk zones such as airports, train stations and checkpoints.
Amidst this resource crunch, video can be tapped as the first line of defence at our borders. Iris and FR scanners at immigration checkpoints, such as those found at Changi Airport Terminal 4, will minimise the physical contact of passport-and-thumbprint systems or the traditional face-to-face clearance from an immigration official.
Video systems are also being outfitted with thermal or infrared capabilities and deployed in these high-risk zones to allow immigration or health officials to quickly identify and isolate infected individuals to prevent further spread of disease. Hospitals such as Singapore General Hospital and Alexandra Hospital have already deployed thermal scanning video solutions as a precautionary measure.
Adding AI to these video technologies provides frontline staff with active assets that can process and assess multiple individuals simultaneously. For example, AI-powered cameras can detect individuals with fevers and alert duty personnel to respond immediately, removing the need to conduct physical checks for each passing individual.
We are already seeing similar technologies being trialled in Asia. Singapore’s St Andrew’s Community Hospital is currently pilot testing AI-enabled video solutions, while China has already implemented such activations in their subway systems to contain further spread of the virus.
Enhanced protection and efficiencies for frontline responders
Medical facilities can also employ video technologies to aid in social distancing; minimising contact with infected patients to keep frontline medical staff safe.
Hospital staff can remotely monitor or study patient behaviour and symptoms in greater clarity and high definition. Thermal, infrared and high-resolution cameras, along with other types of lenses, come into play, as well as powerful data storage servers. Such enhanced hardware significantly contributes to improved hospital operations and medical research processes.
Medical responders can monitor body temperatures of quarantined patients in a non-intrusive manner, picking up the smallest temperature differences in high resolution. This can aid in the identification of viral patterns, augmenting the diagnosis and treatment process, whilst minimising contact with infected patients.
Video analytics can determine if a person or object breaks pre-set actions or boundaries within an area; for example, distinguishing movement such as lying down on a bed or sitting on the floor. Nurses can be quickly notified if a bed-bound patient needs assistance or has had a fall.
The time to act is now
Video technologies act as a shield for frontline personnel by becoming the first point of contact for suspected cases.
Governments and healthcare organisations should explore how these technologies can be integrated into video management systems to bolster our containment strategies. When it comes to keeping our cities safe, the possibilities that video offers for frontline defence are limitless.