Initially identified in China, the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to grow more than three months after it was first detected in December last year. Given the official name of COVID-19, the virus has infected more than 2 million people in more than 200 countries and regions across the globe, with more than 126,000 deaths as of mid-April.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases in Indonesia continues to rise. All efforts by the government to flatten the curve have not shown significant results. In some cases, some people under surveillance (ODP), or even patients under treatment (PDP), have tried to get out from hospital quarantine, allegedly due to lack of information, thus spreading the disease in the community.
The pandemic has also hit the country’s economy, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression.
With the destructive power of COVID-19, every element of society, both officials and volunteers, must work together to help one another. The government has set a budget of Rp 110 trillion (US$7 billion) for a social safety net for citizens who are vulnerable to its economic impact. On the other hand, this large amount of funding requires accurate data at the grassroots level to ensure the disbursement’s accuracy and to avoid corruption.
This is where smart-city technologies play an important role. The technologies that combine citizen reporting and artificial intelligence (AI)-based sensors will help the government formulate data-based decisions to cope with the pandemic based on the real situation on the ground. Transparent, quick and accurate decisions will also calm communities and help them get through this pandemic situation.
The heads of neighborhood units (RT), the lowest community organization in the country, are those who understand best their communities’ condition. They can report various data, such as small and medium enterprises (SMEs), informal sector workers, or even workers who have been laid off by their companies. They can report this directly to the government in a real-time and accurate manner. Then, the reports can be integrated with existing citizen-reporting applications to cut the government bureaucracy, which can be an obstacle in the distribution of aid. Both the government and regional administrations can access the same data, as it is integrated.
Reports from the RT heads are important data for the government as they can help them map the areas impacted by COVID-19. By mapping the problems, the government can distribute the aid properly and accurately based on each area’s needs. The data will be visualized in an integrated dashboard that can help the efficiency and effectiveness of non-medical volunteers in the field to conduct verification and distribute the aid right on target. Volunteers in the field are also equipped with an application that is directly connected to the same dashboard.
In addition, smart-city platforms will enable the government to use CCTV as an automatic sensor to provide reports. For example, the computer vision engine developed by Qlue enables CCTVs to recognize faces and analyze crowds. This capability can be integrated with various data, like COVID-19 patients, population and civil records held by the government. By integrating COVID-19 patient data with computer vision, the government can act quickly if there is a COVID-19 patient who escapes from quarantine. It will also send notifications to security staff smartphones so they can respond to the problem in a timely manner.
Enhancing CCTV capabilities with AI computer vision will also enable CCTVs to detect crowds automatically. With the vision-to-speech system that is also integrated with internet of things (IoT)-based speakers, it will have the ability to give warnings to crowds automatically. Other than that, the CCTVs will also send notifications to the nearest security officer, who will disperse the crowd directly.
On the other hand, a smart-city platform will also allow those in self-quarantine to provide periodic updates that can be monitored by the government. By providing citizens with a geographic information system (GIS)-based application, citizens can provide daily reports about their condition and can immediately provide alerts to the government if they are getting worse.
At the end of the day, smart-city platforms and solutions will help the government to effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19 by leveraging data and AI-based sensors. Both regional and central governments should be able to implement the technologies quickly to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The transparent and reliable data will also help recover or gain public trust, which has been decreasing since the first COVID-19 case occurred in Indonesia.
COVID-19, inevitably, will encourage faster city transformation and smart-city technology implementation, which will lead to Indonesia becoming a smart nation. (kes)
The writer is PR and marketing communication manager at Qlue, a comprehensive smart-city provider company in Indonesia, leveraging workforce management, artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT). A graduate of Padjadjaran University, Iwan is a communications practitioner specializing in the area of corporate communications, crisis and issue management, with a journalistic background. He focuses on communicating smart-city solutions to accelerate positive change toward Indonesia becoming a smart nation.