The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that there is 26.6 billion Internet of Things devices worldwide, and that number could grow to 41.6 billion by 2025. IoT during the COVID-19 pandemic has also made inroads into the healthcare sector.
IoT devices proved beneficial and now help regulate social distancing, simplify contact tracing measures and streamline supply chains for businesses.
- How Do Countries Use IoT to Fight off the Virus?
According to Forbes, China began using digital transformation in healthcare in early 2020. These concepts led to the use of 5G-connected thermometers, as well as smart wristbands and rings to collect data on patients’ health conditions, such as their heart rate and oxygenation levels of blood.
These actions reduce the workload in medical centers, prevent contamination from patients, and improve the IoT-based home hospitalization system. To date, 69.5 million cases and more than 1,581,000 deaths have already been reported worldwide. The pandemic has severely affected countries with high levels of human and technological development, such as the U.S., India, Brazil, France, and Russia.
Therefore, the implementation of the Internet of Things is an urgent task for major countries. It is estimated that by now about 60% of global health organizations have already implemented IoT-related solutions.
As the pandemic spreads, many organizations have developed a chatbot to speed up diagnosis to identify potential cases of coronavirus and to keep patients informed about preventive actions they have to follow.
One of the most ambitious IoT projects today, according to Forbes, is IntellIoT. It was launched by the European Commission with a budget of 8 million euros to increase and improve remote services to hospitals in these times of pandemic, cut costs, reduce time and avoid risky contact between patients and health professionals.
IntellIoT will focus on autonomous patient monitoring and interventions, as well as analyzing large amounts of medical information. This will be done through the use of devices and sensors for timely diagnosis, in addition to combining the Internet of Things with other technologies such as 5G, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.
- IoT Implementation in Healthcare
The spread of the COVID-19 has galvanized many healthcare organizations to act and implement new IoT technologies. Today these include ultrasonic distance measurement sensors, clinical thermometers, and IoT masks that help track the distance and the spread of the virus. Many ideas, such as a cough detector or air sensors, are still waiting to be implemented.
Once the pandemic began to hit the world economy, IT organizations stated that the healthcare sector was not fully aware of the potential benefits of IoT devices to deal with the pandemic.
They argue that if they had combined blockchain solutions, for example, to transmit decentralized information about a patient’s health condition, a more appropriate response, backed by accurate statistics would`ve been possible.
Of course, this research also applies to future health crises, but it is still possible to leverage aspects of the IoT today, especially for the logistical challenges of the COVID vaccine.
- IoT for Efficient Vaccine Shipment
This is where IoT applications can be used to the fullest extent as the traceability of next-generation logistics entirely depends on efficient IoT systems that can detect, collect and interpret information from a huge fleet of vehicles.
Vaccine shipment and distribution depend heavily on the adoption of these technologies, enabling better product tracking, as well as providing significant energy savings through light sensors and IoT reports.
Pfizer-BioNTech, for example, seeks to back up the vaccine management with IoT technologies, be it distribution or analysis of medical information about the vaccinated patients.
Microsoft will take these steps with partners such as Accenture and EY. To do so, they will put into practice concepts such as interoperability, AI for predictive and adequate geo analysis, supply chain system transparency, and IoT software development to monitor vaccine effectiveness in real-time.
The adoption of IoT has been gradually expanding in recent months because of the pandemic. The impact of this technology can be seen in increased hospital occupancy and reduced infection spread. The spread of the coronavirus has meant significant progress for the Internet of Things in important areas where people’s lives are at stake.
- IoT Sensors for Venues
Some technologies can quickly record the number of patients in a venue or establishment. They read signals from smartphones via WIFI. The devices are ideal for measurements in large stores or event halls to respond quickly if the number of visitors is exceeded. With an ultrasonic distance sensor organizers and merchants can ensure that a minimum distance is maintained between crowded people and the sales staff.
The IoT is not only about hefty applications that were in use before the pandemic. Today it`s a necessity for a healthcare organization and a better economy. Stanford University predicts that 500 billion objects will be connected to the Internet by 2030, so the impact they will have is not a distant hypothesis. Like all other technological innovations, the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the development of the Internet of Things, and this technology is already creating the necessary solutions for a post-pandemic future.