The need for robotization and automation of health and medical institutions has been apparent for quite a while with the spikes of diseases all around the world in the past years. Nowadays, with a COVID-19 pandemic right at our heels, it is more urgent than ever before. According to numerous professionals, this pandemic "could be a catalyst for developing robotic systems that can be rapidly deployed with remote access". Fields such as healthcare, logistics, observation and, more recently, even work and social life present us with many vital functions that could use a smart computer to make them run smoother and safer. This article will discuss ways in which AI can be leveraged in the crisis we are facing now, as well as the place of data labeling companies along the way.

Who can be assisted by AI during a health crisis?

Scientists And Government Officials

First and foremost, the benefits of AI and robotics can be advantageous to the people at the heart of fighting and managing COVID-19. Scientists, researchers and elected officials — all could benefit from AI features in developing successful public health strategies.

Finding data and patterns
The current pandemic got scientists to cooperate on a global scale in search of treatment and prevention of disease spread. When working towards these goals, they often handle large quantities of information, which must be aggregated, categorized and analyzed. More often than not, these datasets are too large to be processed and cross-compared manually. For better illustration, one of the recent such comprehensive resources — COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) — consists of 30,000 scientific articles each of which has 18 columns of metadata. Even reading through all of this can be a time consuming, bothersome task. That's where neural models and algorithms come to the rescue, allowing to mine data for relevant insights, which then are then translated into a better understanding of the issue.
Looking for risk communities
Fighting with a pandemic is a rush for time, and being able to identify the most vulnerable populations and communities promptly could mean many saved lives. Previously gathered data and prediction models can assist governments in identifying the expected path of the disease. Tech giants have already started working on this. Apple and Google have teamed up to enable contact tracing — a technology with an ambitious goal to track COVID-19 exposure. Aggregated, this data can contribute to a development of an effective plan of actions.
Monitoring movement
"Stay home" has been a global health advice we all heard numerous times since the first days of the pandemic. But who actually follows it? On April 2nd, Google released a report on mobility in 131 countries to show the difference between neighborhoods that mostly stay at home and those ones, in which quarantine measures are not so successful. As the company clarified their decision to The Verge journalist Casey Newton, they hope that this data will aid public health officials to "prioritize their response based on areas of greater need"

Healthcare and essential workers

Medical personnel and essential workers who contact others directly are the second large group who could utilize robotics and AI during the pandemic. Replacing certain human interactions or labor tasks with automated machinery could mean a lower probability for individuals to contact COVID-19 and, as a result, lesser risk. Being squeezed from two sides by lack of protective equipment and the virus itself, the institutions have been facing a crisis. Simply disburdening their staff from extra work and making sure to prevent burnout is beneficial for the systems at large.

Robot disinfectants
Due to the ways in which the virus spreads, there has been a stronger necessity to keep common spaces clean. Properly disinfecting all of the surfaces multiple times a day is risky for the essential workers who perform it and the cost of error is too high. Where existing approaches fall short, cleaning robots come handy. One of the most widespread tools to date, which has been gaining momentum since the pandemic, are UVC robots that disinfect spaces. Officials have been deploying them in airports, hospitals and other public spaces as a protective measure and a way to reduce human exposure to the virus.
Automatic temperature checking in public spaces
Infrared thermometry system developed by CloudMind has been filling administrative responsibilities in a Chinese hospital, measuring temperatures of all incoming and outcoming patients. The automated system helped to identify the ill individuals the moment they stepped into the hospital building and to pin down early symptoms faster.

Citizens

Finally, regular citizens can also be serviced by robots under the conditions of quarantine in order to get through the many challenges of isolation. Governments, businesses and private individuals around the globe have been taking steps towards automating deliveries, enhancing social interactions and informing the public.

Delivering medicine and essential supplies
Done delivery is an innovation many of us have heard of or perhaps even experienced previously. Some argue that during quarantine drones are about to become a safer alternative for delivering medicine, essential supplies and food to peoples' homes while social distancing without the risk of involving a human courier. Initiative small businesses have already hopped on this idea, parcels to those in self-isolation.
Social robots
In the circumstances of isolation, human contact and social interaction decrease for many. Moreover, managing stress, panic or uncertainty can be quite challenging during global pandemic. Such social factors can have a negative impact on individual mental health. Due to this issue, chatbots and social robots have been in demand to provide care for both hospital patients and those quarantining at home.
Promoting public safety
Police stations are offloading their work to robots too. To date, a number of countries have deployed robots for quarantine enforcement. In Tunisia remotely controlled security vehicles are positioned to handle individuals roaming around public spaces during nationwide lockdown, while in China, drones are used to warn people in the streets about dangers of staying outside without proper protections. Some creative minds in the UK programmed a pop culture sci-fi villain Dalek to drive around the streets of a town ordering people to self-isolate.

How outsourcing data entry can help?

AI and automation remain powerful tools in development of new technologies and analysis of quantitative data. In the contemporary global situation of a worldwide pandemic, they are playing a significant role in saving human lives or providing relief. Above we have discussed only a few examples of the existing mechanisms and their role in fighting the crisis. Though, it seems that more projects and innovations are on the way. And all of them are reliant on good data. Why? Better data means increasingly more accurate error-free analysis models and AI, which are able to address global health issues at hand. In case you or your company are working on a project which aims to design and produce AI and robotics products, teams at Label Your Data can help. Data labeling is one of the key processes that ensure the quality of the data you're working with. Startup mindset of Label Your Data, combined with our expertise and secure solutions, make us a diligent provider of outsourced labeling services for your data needs.

Veronika Gladchuk by Veronika Gladchuk
on April 15, 2020.