A key part of any smart city initiative is smart healthcare, which has become more critical than ever amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV.
Needless to say, 2019-nCoV, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019, has now become a global health crisis. The virus has infected so many people and has killed many people around the globe.
In the beginning, most of the cases were in China, and the rapid increase of infected individuals in the country has caused cities to shut down either completely or partially. Wuhan is already closed to the outside world. Cities in Zhejiang Province, for example Wenzhou and Hangzhou, are in quasi-lockdown status.
In Taiwan, health authorities have done a rather effective job containing the spread of the disease. Despite this, concerns still persist. This is especially the case after some 200 so-called “taishang,” or China-based Taiwan businesspeople, were transported on Feb. 3 from Wuhan back to Taiwan, where they are put under compulsory quarantine. One of them has been confirmed to have the virus and is included in the 11 infected.
Against this backdrop, what cities can do to better prevent the spread of infectious diseases and promote the well-being of citizens has become more important than ever. In this regard, they can turn to smart city solutions for answer.
It’s obvious that smart city projects are mushrooming across the globe amid urbanization. With more people living in cities and municipal administrators finding themselves constrained in resources, they increasingly turn to smart city solutions, consisted of IoT devices and the data they generate, to improve efficiency and make their cities more livable.
It’s important to note that smart city is an umbrella term which entails various sub-components, for example smart transportation, smart environment and smart healthcare. Among them, smart healthcare can help improve the overall health of the city. In this extraordinary time, the role of smart healthcare has become critical.
In general, smart healthcare can help the city with the following.
1. Disease monitoring and control
Data generated from various sources can help cities better monitor and respond to infectious diseases; this is quite important especially amid the current coronavirus outbreak. Health officials can stay a step ahead of fast-moving epidemics by tracking new cases in real time. This may involve monitoring social media, Internet searches, and even cellphone usage — and the tools are becoming more sophisticated. During the 2016 Zika outbreak, experts in epidemiology, technology, and public health teamed up to capture location intelligence and analyze it with data visualizations and mapping tools as the disease spread throughout Rio and eventually made its way to Miami.
2. Better care for patients
Telemedicine enables doctors to remotely check on or talk to patients via videoconferencing over the internet. This is beneficial especially in cities where resources are more constrained. In many middle- and low-income cities, there are simply too few doctors for the size of the population. In these settings, telemedicine has the potential to reduce disability-adjusted life years by roughly 2 percent. With the spread of the 2019-nCoV, this can be an option for communication between doctors and those who are placed under quarantine.
3. Promoting wellness
Cities can better promote health and wellness, which are key to disease prevention, via smart city/healthcare solutions. The advent of more connected devices and healthcare apps can give individuals information and support to make healthier choices about nutrition, alcohol, smoking cessation, drug use, regular preventive care, and adherence to doctor’s orders for existing conditions.
Adapted from a&s Magazine