Coronavirus has hit the world hard. Economy crisis, growing unemployment (14,7 percent in the United States alone), social isolation, and millions of deaths worldwide require effective solutions.  

Humanity needs some bleeding edge technologies to deal with the pandemic, and in this regard, the Internet of Things could be what we are looking for.  

IoT is the network of smart devices that can collect and exchange data and perform operations without human intervention. Almost any IoT case study today points out the specific ways in which IoT can automate routine tasks, help people minimize social contacts, and enable them to work effectively under social isolation conditions. 

IoT devices generate large volume of data, and to function at their best, they need edge computing. It allows to process data at the source of its creation, without transferring it to the cloud or remote servers. With that said, edge computing is faster, safer, and more stable. This is especially important considering the growing number of IoT devices: by the next year, there will be more than 10 billion IoT devices connected every year. By 2030, this number will more than double. 

IoT devices connected annually

Edge technologies are already making the world a safer place. Let us see how they can get us through the pandemic. 

Healthcare IoT and smart hospitals 

Today it is crucial to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and maximize the healthcare institutions’ efficiency in treating those who have already got sick. A lot of healthcare IoT solutions today prioritize these tasks. 

Infection control 

The “Coping with COVID-19: How IoT Can Help Save the World” IoT case study contains multiple examples of how edge technologies can be used to prevent contracting coronavirus. For instance, NESA, a Miami-based company specializing in real-time locating systems, offers its Halo Contact Tracing system to maintain the appropriate social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The acquired data allows distancing regulation through real-time reports and notifications. Halo Contact Tracing can be used with other IoT solutions such as proximity sensors or intellectual contact tracing systems to identify people who have been possibly exposed to the coronavirus. 

Telemedicine and remote diagnostics 

IoT wearables designed to collect PGHD (patient-generated health data) can reduce the number of unnecessary social contacts and minimize the risks of getting COVID-19. These wearables are generally called RPM (remote patient monitoring) systems and include: 

  • ECG and EEG monitors 
  • Blood pressure monitors 
  • Glucose level indicators 
  • Thermometers and oximeters 
  • Apnea and cardiac monitors  
  • And others 

These devices accumulate a large amount of PGHD. Edge computing technologies allow RPM wearables to process and analyze data in real-time and send it to your doctor for diagnosis, consultation, and treatment prescription.  

Smart hospitals  

Infection control and remote monitoring technologies can become a part of a more complex healthcare IoT solution: smart hospitals. The 2016 ENISA research defines smart hospitals as institutions relying on interconnected devices and systems to improve patients’ quality of care. RFID and RPM systems, CIS (clinical information systems), medical equipment, and even hospital infrastructure can be interconnected for enhanced patient experience, efficient diagnosis, and flawless surgery.  

The existence of smart hospitals depends heavily on the development of edge computing technologies because data volumes generated by interconnected IoT hospital systems will be too massive for transferring and processing them in traditional ways.  

Work environment and industry IoT 

There are jobs that cannot be performed remotely. Construction, food and medication delivery, factory work, scientific research, retail – these and many other jobs require workers to be present in their workplace. Consequently, they especially require edge technologies to get through the pandemic.  

To fight the spread of COVID-19, enterprises that cannot switch to remote work should guarantee: 

  1. Proper social distance between workers 
  2. Precise contact tracing  

Occupancy control systems can effectively implement both. There are many OCS providers such as Manusa or JLC, but all of them go in-line with popular IoT trends, performing such functions as: 

  • Controlling proximity between your employees 
  • Centrally managing your facilities and workplace events 
  • Monitoring your facilities’ occupancy rates to prevent overcrowding  
  • Tracing your employees’ contacts to quickly identify potential virus carriers  

Here at TEAM International, we have developed an OCS solution for one of our clients, too. Infrared temperature-taking sensors provide quick non-contact diagnostics of their employees, while personnel tracking and indoor occupancy control systems maintain safe workflow and ensure compliance with the social distancing requirements. 

Whatever OCS you choose to use at your enterprise, it is a worthy investment.  

Industrial IoT solutions include technologies for remote equipment monitoring, automatic inventory management, waste reduction, asset and process optimization, and predictive maintenance. Of course, there are industrial IoT solutions for ensuring staff wellbeing, e.g., workforce tracking or tools for remote collaboration.  

IoT to facilitate education during the pandemic 

Pandemic or not, education is crucial, and the educational process must continue. This can be achieved by integrating edge technologies into school infrastructure. 

For example, Actian’s Raspberry Pi can help educational institutions monitor social distancing efficiency and other precautionary measures by overseeing students, school facilities and territories, appliances, and more.  

Raspberry Pi is a simple computer that relies on radio frequency identification (RFID). Paired with school security cameras, it can use facial recognition to control social distancing and monitor whether students and teachers are wearing masks.  

IoT-powered smart cities 

One of the priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic is to make cities a safer place. Creating an IoT smart city where data is harvested across vast urban areas would be impossible without edge computing.  

Automated delivery drones 

Amazon’s new, intelligent drone generation is emerging. These drones will rely on computer vision technology and AI to autonomously navigate the city and track objects and individuals. This feature can be used for the targeted delivery of food and medication right to your doorstep. 

Smart shopping 

During the pandemic, stores and retail networks want to help their customers minimize contact with other people while shopping, and there are several edge technologies precisely for that. For example, Caper Lab’s self-checkout carts allow customers to scan bar codes and pay for products with built-in scanners, eliminating long lines at the cashier desk and direct contact with cash, shelves, and other surfaces. Smart shopping is expected to become an integral part of any IoT smart city. 

FAQ 

What are the core components of IoT solutions? 

An IoT ecosystem typically consists of the following components: 

  • IoT devices 
  • Field gateways 
  • Storage 
  • Analysis 
  • End-user devices 
Edge technologies IoT components

What are the bleeding edge technologies? 

Some of the hottest IoT trends may sound like a sci-fi movie. Imagine IoT sensors that can work without batteries for up to 20 years. Or smart clothes accumulating your biometric info to monitor your physical condition and provide real-time alerts and recommendations. Think about AI-powered video conferences and presentations, automated management of industrial infrastructure, hardware and software that make machine learning possible on tiny, low-power devices–these are just some of the bleeding edge technologies in 2021. 

How IoT helps business during COVID-19 time? 

IoT helps enterprises keep their employees healthy. Companies that cannot switch to remote work can integrate non-contact solutions for everyday interactions to minimize risks for their employees. 

On the other hand, IoT improves operations cost-efficiency and enhances resource and asset management, which is important during the economy crisis caused by the pandemic. Additionally, the Internet of Things helps remote workers maintain or even improve their effectiveness, engagement, and productivity.