COVID-19 has crippled the global supply chain and forced most countries to take preventative measures by closing down their economies. While the pandemic has shown no signs of slowing down globally, cities, states, and countries are slowly emerging from lock downs and are stumbling into the new reality. Global economies are currently in a recession that is likely to continue into 2021. The economies in Asia-Pacific have shown tremendous resilience in weathering the virus. However, Western European economies and the US economy are likely to remain in recession into Q1 or Q2 2021.

This raises the following question: How can technology aid in curbing the spread of infectious diseases that have the potential to create panic and kill millions of people? 

The simple answer might be for enterprises, cities, and national governments to collectively create a massive global network of sensors to detect viruses. However, this would require planning and implementation on a global scale that would tax the very foundations of democracy and obligate governments to place the needs of the planet ahead of the needs of their citizens. The most logical solution is often the most difficult to implement. The amount of planning required to make this solution a reality would, arguably, make it one of the most significant achievements in the history of mankind. 

What are some of the practical ways that IoT can help in the near term? The first step in infectious disease control is detection. While a global network of sensors is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future, China does have the ability to implement such a network in country. China has a history of implementing wide-area IoT solutions (i.e., video surveillance) on a scale that has never been seen before. Why not a network of virus-detection sensors that could be coupled with facial recognition and location and existing surveillance cameras to identify, trace, and monitor people that may have contracted the coronavirus? An added layer would be to track every individual that an infected patient contacted. While this may sound like a police state to many, leveraging IoT and AI may be the most logical way to prevent highly infectious diseases from spreading rapidly in a world that is getting smaller every day with air travel.