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Can Urban Computing Be Leveraged To Prevent Another Pandemic?



Can Urban Computing Be Leveraged To Prevent Another Pandemic?

Using technologies such as AI and IoT for smart healthcare can be instrumental in preventing another global health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are many who rightly believe that the COVID-19 pandemic could have been prevented if all countries had prioritized public healthcare more. A collective lack of preparedness, coordination, and empathy has allowed the virus to run rampant and become the global monster we know today. While governments around the world can be held accountable for handling the contagion poorly, they can redeem themselves by ensuring that such a situation is not allowed to repeat in the future.

The correct use of urban computing for healthcare data collection, sharing and analysis can prevent another global pandemic. The use of AI, blockchain and IoT for smart health applications enables governments to test, trace and isolate infected individuals and stop regional outbreaks before they grow bigger.

How Urban Computing Helps Prevent Pandemics

As you may already know, urban computing involves the usage of intelligent and connected technologies for citizen welfare. There are multiple ways in which technologies such as AI and IoT for smart healthcare can be leveraged to predict and prevent a large-scale contagion in smart cities.


1. Evaluating Viruses Originating in Animals

Most infectious diseases such as COVID-19 are caused by viruses that originate in other animal species such as bats, chimpanzees, pigs, pangolins, amongst others, before migrating to humans. Detecting them at an early stage gives healthcare experts a much-needed head start in their fight against a potential pandemic. Researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed a system that uses predictive analysis and genomic sequencing to evaluate the migration capabilities of viruses. The system uses machine learning models developed using data from viral animal genomes to predict if such viruses will jump from animals to humans and then from humans to other humans. Healthcare centers in smart cities can similarly adopt AI and machine learning for viral research. The early discovery of zoonotic viruses before understanding their ability to migrate to humans allows healthcare researchers to begin an early investigation and facilitate outbreak preparedness.

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2. Tracking and Isolating Infected Individuals

Generally, fever is the first sign of a foreign virus affecting an individual’s body. Such individuals can unknowingly spread the virus to others in crowded places. Therefore, detecting and isolating them is imperative for public health authorities to stop an outbreak. Smart cities can use thermal imaging cameras in crowded zones such as train stations, subways, sporting events, and concerts to detect the presence of high-temperature individuals. Designated health officials in such places can then test them to see if they’re carrying a novel virus that may be causing epidemics in other cities, states, or countries.

3. Using Healthcare Resources Optimally

Urban computing enables smart cities to be hyper-connected so that information can be shared from one point to another in minimal time. Such information is critical for channelizing healthcare resources in infection hotspots in a smart city. As a result, the zones with the highest number of sick people during an outbreak can receive more doctors, medical equipment, and medicines. If the situation in such hotspots gets worse, public healthcare agencies can set up triage centers in a bid to save as many lives as possible. By isolating such hotspots from other zones, the spread of infection can be contained within them.

Data collection is as important—if not more important—as how it is used in smart cities for public healthcare. IoT sensors, computer vision cameras, and other data capture devices create highly useful data points in smart cities to collect health-based data such as body temperature, skin paleness, and other sickness indicators in individuals during a period of contagion. Based on the information received from such devices, public healthcare bodies can manage an outbreak efficiently.

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How Hotels and Resorts are Adopting Virtual and Augmented Reality



How Hotels and Resorts are Adopting Virtual and Augmented Reality

Once upon a time, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) were only used for video games or seen in movies (think Tony Stark and all of his cool gadgets in Iron Man).

But today, thanks to all of the advances in technology, the use of AR and VR is no longer something you see only in sci-fi thrillers or something that you use for entertainment. No today, AR and VR are becoming much more commonplace, and this technology is being used in a variety of useful applications across a variety of industries. The hotel and hospitality industry is just one field that is making use of augmented and virtual reality, and its popularity is really exploding!

In fact, AR and VR have become powerful marketing tools for hotels and resorts around the globe. These technologies are really changing the way people are travelling, and it’s definitely for the better.

How are hotels and resorts utilizing augmented and virtual reality and how are these technologies helping both entrepreneurs and travellers alike? Read on to discover the exciting technologically advanced future or travel!

What is Augmented and Virtual Reality?

Before we jump in and explore how hotels and resorts are using augmented and virtual reality, it’s first important to understand exactly what these technologies are.

Both AR and VR create experiences that fully immerse users into different environments or allow them to experience things in a whole new way, but these two technologies do differ. Loosely defined, virtual reality means near-reality (virtual meaning near and reality meaning the here and now; what you are actually experiencing.). Virtual reality immerses users into an interactive computer-generated environment. It incorporates a variety of senses, primarily sight and sound, to create a life-like experience. In other words, you feel as if you have been transported to another location even though you never physically left your current location.

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Augmented reality, on the other hand, involves adding to the reality that you already see; it doesn’t replace your reality, but rather enhances it. AR has the ability to bring elements of the digital world into the real world (again, think Tony Stark in Iron Man).


So, now that you have a basic understanding of virtual and augmented reality, let’s examine how hotels and resorts are utilizing these technologies.

Providing an Experience Before Booking


How many times have you reserved a hotel, only to find, much to your dismay, that it was not at all what you were expecting. Sure, pictures can help you get a vague idea of what to expect, but they really can’t give you a clear idea.

With virtual reality, you can get a real idea of where you’re going to be travelling before you make a reservation. You can slip on a headset and be transported to a resort or hotel and actually walk through the lobby, see the guest rooms, and check out all of the amenities.

VR is not only beneficial for travellers’, it is also beneficial to hotels and resorts; particularly lesser-known properties or those that are located in remote areas, as it allows them to give people the opportunity to see what they have to offer.

Establishing a Competitive Edge

The hotel and hospitality industry is extremely competitive. Travellers’ have so many options when it comes to where they can stay. And with hotel and resort database sites, like and, the competition has become even steeper.

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With so much competition, it can be hard for hotels and resorts to set themselves apart from the crowd. Photos and marketing content can only do so much. But augmented and virtual reality can really help hotels and resorts establish a competitive edge. It allows them to distinguish themselves and showcase their unique selling points. In other words, it gives them the chance to show prospective travellers the chance to explore the gardens, visit the restaurants, and lounge by the pool that resort A has to offer, thus allowing the resort to stand out in the crowd and attract more people.

Making Booking Easier

Another way that hotels and resorts are adopting advanced technologies to simplify the booking process for their guests. For example, most hotels and resorts offer different types of accommodations; standard rooms, suites, handicap accessible rooms, and so forth. By using augmented and virtual reality, guests can actually see what different accommodations offer to determine what will best meet their needs.

When potential visitors have the opportunity to really experience different accommodations, the process of making reservations becomes a lot easier for them.


Ensuring Guest Satisfaction

Hotels and resorts are also using AR and VR as a way to improve guest satisfaction. When people have the chance to see what they are going to get before they arrive, it’s much more likely that they are going to have a more pleasant experience, and when they have a more pleasant experience, guests are much more satisfied. When guest satisfaction improves, so does the reputation of a hotel or resort, which translates to much greater success.

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Augmented Environments


A lot of properties are using AR as a way to make the environment of their hotel or resort more enjoyable for their guests. For instance, some hotels are using AR to allow guests to use their smartphones to see them alongside images of their favourite celebrities or cartoon characters.  Other hotels are using AR as a means for showcasing products or entertainment options the hotel/resort features.

Summing It Up

Augmented reality and virtual reality are already proving to be invaluable tools for hotels and resorts around the globe. These technologies are a truly effective way to develop a competitive edge, allow guests to see what properties have to offer, improve the booking process, and ensure guest satisfaction.

Given the incredibly positive effects that augmented reality and virtual reality have had for hotels and resorts, it is exciting to think of how these technologies will further be adopted by hotels and resorts, and how AR and VR will enhance marketing for establishments and experiences for travellers in the future.

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