As the coronavirus pandemic measures taken in Europe are being loosened, technology has started to be used more frequently for contact tracing, with actions being taken especially for travel.
Accordingly, travel applications in Turkey will be made through the Hayat Eve Sığar (Life Fits Inside the Home) mobile app that was prepared by the Health Ministry and that will be used to track intercity travel. The app also shows risky areas and violations of social distancing using Bluetooth technology. Thus, people who are in the vicinity during an infected person’s travel would easily be detected. In addition, risks will be analyzed quickly. While contact tracing during intercity travel eliminates many risks, it will facilitate the prediction of infected people.
Attention to privacy
The two primary operating systems used on smartphones are controlled by Apple and Google. Applications should be used without pushing privacy into backstage. The two companies are supporting countries that try to follow up with software they have developed for use in contact tracing apps, with a focus on personal data privacy. The two companies said around 22 countries and several U.S. states are already planning to build voluntary phone apps using their software. A solution is also being sought after for the accessibility of existing applications' Bluetooth feature on iPhones and the difficulties they encounter in detecting each other. Changes to Google's Android and Apple's iOS system will require users to update their devices.
Mobile operators, spearheaded by Turkey's leading information and communication technologies company Türk Telekom and under the leadership of the Information Technology Communication Authority, are also providing support to the Health Ministry for contact tracing.
Measures against 2nd wave
The whole world fears a second wave of the pandemic. Every country is trying to use many technologies from smart sound analysis to robots to make simulations, analyze test results and try to develop vaccines and treatments.
Lives are not expected to return to normal immediately after COVID-19. But as normalization begins, the second wave scares everyone. That's why many countries take precautions by using technology. Studies continue on many topics ranging from voice recognition to contact area tracing, from vaccines to medicines to be used for treatment. According to research by Deloitte, technological measures are being taken in many countries from the U.S. to China, from South Korea to Singapore.
Scientists on duty
The Safe Paths app, developed by researchers at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and software engineers working at technology companies such as Facebook and Uber, shares the whereabouts of users to protect their privacy and enables users to see if they were in contact with someone who has coronavirus without disclosing their identity. The users with positive test results can share their location data with local health officials and make it public later on.
The artificial intelligence-based COVID-19 Voice Detector app, which can detect the coronavirus disease by analyzing the user's voice, is being developed by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University. The application verifies whether the virus is transmitted into a user's lungs, analyzing the user's breathing habits and some other parameters. The application, which is in the testing phase, continues to receive voice recording data from patients.
Smart algorithms ready for treatment, vaccination
Many companies in China have made their algorithms available to the public to support testing and research and increase efficiency. These algorithms, which are of great importance for organizations conducting research and development (R&D) and test studies for the outbreak, provide much higher efficiency in virus detection and diagnosis than conventional methods by shortening the time spent predicting and examining the ribonucleic acid (RNA) secondary structure of the coronavirus. An artificial intelligence-based algorithm has been developed that allows genetic analysis of suspicious cases to be done in half an hour and can accurately detect virus mutations.
Smart voice scanning technology
In China, Ping An uses a smart voice scanning system to provide COVID-19 outbreak control with artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and blockchain technologies. The Smart Voice Recognition System, which has the capacity of 3,000 AI robots operating at the same time, has performed more than 580,000 scans and successfully detected more than 1,600 suspicious cases for follow-up. While each operator can make a maximum of 300 calls per day in a call center, each robot can make 500 automatic calls and perform a total of 1.5 million scans every day. As a result of the calls, body temperatures and symptoms are classified, and reporting is provided to the relevant institutions.
Robocops on the way
5G patrol robots, manufactured by Guangzhou Gosuncn Robotics by integrating the internet of things (IoT), AI, cloud computing and big data technologies, are used at points where human density and mobility are high, such as metro and train stations, airports and shopping malls, by providing a contactless and reliable measurement of body temperature with environmental and behavioral detection, dynamic decision making and autonomous motion control. These robots remind citizens to wash their hands and send a warning to authorities if they detect a person without a mask or with a high body temperature.
Coronavirus multiplies use of chatbots
The coronavirus pandemic will have a permanent effect on many sectors. Contactless technologies are preferred, which support the increasing establishment of different types of customer relations management. Remote working and education models put into practice also show that new methods are rapidly adopted. At this point, AI technologies are gradually reinforcing their importance as dialogue-based solutions pave the way for a new era for business. Chatbots, which provide cost savings, improve the customer experience and enable staff to adapt to more complex jobs, are critical during and after the coronavirus process.
Sebit Education and Information Technologies Inc., a Türk Telekom subsidiary that specializes in digital education, has played an important role in the renewal of the National Education Ministry's infrastructure. The success achieved in a short period of time by the Educational Informatics Network (EBA), an online education platform, also facilitated rapid adaptation.
Software robots on task
Cbot has launched two major projects during this critical period with both Coronabot, which provides accurate information to citizens about the coronavirus with its competent experience in the field of artificial intelligence, and the EBA Assistant, which has been used in cooperation with the National Education Ministry, that is experiencing an increase in demand of dialogue-based AI solutions in integral sectors. In a statement, Cbot underlined that the volume of chatbot usage in the banking sector, which stands out because its structure adapts rapidly to new developments, has increased fivefold in the last two months, and that it has observed a twofold increase in e-commerce where customer management is critical. Again, EBA Assistant, which is powered by the technology of Cbot, has achieved global success to become Turkey's leading chatbot by answering the most questions with artificial intelligence.
Productivity at forefront
Cbot Founder and CEO Mete Aktaş said this extraordinary period will bring radical and lasting changes in both the operational and service models of companies, and adding that this new period will lead to a world where service will not fail, can be maintained with the same quality thanks to digital tools, and productivity will be at the forefront.
“The huge digital wave that has already begun will accelerate. Even today, we have seen that companies that established their digital infrastructures have firmly adapted to the new situation and continued their services without interruption,” Aktaş said.
“We have seen that banks in Turkey have established a rapid adaptation process that will set an example for the world, which is, of course, the result of their advanced digital infrastructure. We are in a period when it is very difficult to predict and there are estimates and different scenarios, which point to various levels of revenue declines for companies. This shows us that costs will be reduced and companies will need to continue on their way as more efficient structures,” he added.
Stressing that digitalization is no longer an option for companies of all sizes but a necessity, Aktaş said dialogue-based AI holds an essential place in this huge wave of digitalization because this field offers companies the tools that both employees and customers can use, allowing them to get immediate answers to their questions and make their transactions instantly, and which are at the center of remote working models and digital service models. “We think that virtual assistants and chatbots increase the speed of entry into our lives and that the near future will be shaped in this framework,” he added.
Virtual classroom apps boom in distance education
During the social isolation period that came with the coronavirus pandemic, employee demand in the distance education field has boomed. The data published by Enocta, which serves more than 500 institutions and about 3 million people in the field of distance education, has revealed striking results.
According to their study, the amount of digital training that employees received after March 15, when some workplaces were closed due to the coronavirus outbreak and the time spent at home was extended, has skyrocketed. Digital sessions jumped from 1.8 million in the March-April 2019 period to 20.3 million in 2020, an astounding 1,041% increase.
Enocta CEO Ahmet Hançer said that due to the prolonged time spent at home, professionals receiving distance education have boosted demand and the need for different training courses has unprecedentedly increased.
Virtual classrooms on the rise
Hançer stated that Enocta, which offers 5,000 units of content prepared by experts, is available to individuals who work in institutions and is open to development. He added that there are a series of very valuable pieces of training on many different topics from stress management to insurance.
“Distance education was a well-known and often used but not fully adopted education method. The benefits of distance education were better understood in the March-April period, and were adopted in a manner never seen before,” he said.
Hançer also touched on the current situation in the education sector, which was also caught unprepared during the pandemic. “Primary and secondary schools have been using educational technologies for a long time to facilitate the learning process and to support their education. However, none of us expected the transition to distance education to be this fast and complete,” Hançer continued. “Initially, it was very difficult, there were several technical difficulties, teachers, students and families were not ready. But in these two months, very fast actions were taken regarding distance education. Schools started to conduct their curriculum with live virtual classrooms, and teachers, students and families started using many different tools. This semester will pass from afar with live classrooms, assignments and supportive digital course materials.”
Schools plan to enrich content
Hançer also stressed that some schools will enrich learning by bringing students together in virtual classrooms and doing virtual teamwork.
“Some schools will support education further with 'digital course materials' such as instructional animation, video and digital education content. Somehow this period will be overcome,” he said. “Of course, for children when the experience of being and learning together remains incomplete, something will be missing. But the conditions require this. I think that schools will develop a new education model in online group work with digital tools, digital learning materials and live virtual classrooms that will be activated when necessary. I do not expect a radical change in secondary and primary education. But I think these changes are also very important. I think that school administrations and teachers' skills related to digital tools will and should increase. Families will also keep up with this change as part of education.”
Universities adapt faster
Hançer said that the adaptation of universities to online education was faster because lecturers and management were experienced in it and already had the necessary skills. He stressed that online education is not only a live virtual classroom but requires a learning experience design with different tools, methods and digital content.
“I think we have been inadequate in this regard. This period will be completed by taking the exams online or giving the passing grade by evaluating the homework,” he said. “I think that there will be more changes in universities from now on. The changing needs in business life after COVID-19 and the economy trying to recover will reveal the need for university students to be prepared differently. I believe formal education will be supported mostly with digital tools and content, and universities will allocate more resources and time to prepare students for business life.”
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