Data collection after covid: what will it look like?


I am sure everyone understands and agrees that technology innovation is playing a crucial part in our fight against the pandemic. There are so many benefits which occurred thanks to data collection such as the most rapidly developed vaccine ever, facial recognition to for monitoring the exposed citizens, but also essential things such as pharmaceuticals delivery to elderly patients. Although smart cities have been talking about data collection since the 1990s, the pandemic has accelerated this need in order to help us fight the spread of the disease. More and more cities are now turning to technology to help them survive the post-pandemic period, both when talking about health but also the finances.

Data collection has always been a very sensitive subject. A lot of people strongly protests against it, however there are different positive examples which are really helping with the fight against the virus. Here are a few examples:

Canadians released a tracking app which uses Bluetooth to exchange codes with other smartphone users. When a person tests positive on covid, they log their results in the app and other users get informed of the potential exposure. Although the data is securely encrypted, Canada agreed to be tracked. This is something that was not possible in the pre-corona period. Furthermore, USA uses facial recognition technology to monitor those who have been exposed, while Russia uses it to monitor all those in quarantine to be sure they are following all the rules and staying inside.

Thanks to smart city technologies, services such as delivering groceries to infected individuals or pharmaceuticals to elderly patients are also available, while drones have been employed to communicate physical distancing and health regulations. The overall increased reliance on technology is helping people to see the benefits of a connected city with equal access to broadband and internet services.

Since we are still not sure how what will life look like once the pandemic is over, it is logical to think that future smart city technology will focus on collaborative, data-driven infrastructure for healthcare and public security services. A growing need for public safety initiatives to track crowds and their movements will be needed. Cities need to ensure that future outbreaks can be managed quickly. However, local governments will also need to gain everyone’s trust by highlighting all the benefits and increasing data transparency.


Photo credit Chris Liverani for Unsplash