The Getting Sick Vs. Getting Poor
That “We never step into the same river twice” has never been more profoundly relevant than in our times as the chain of events continue to accelerate at the backdrop of the COVID19. Several months into a pandemic that has claimed around half a million of lives so far and damaged economies around the world, one thing remains clear is that with all coordinated efforts by scientists to untangle the mystery of the virus we really still don’t have a unified and agreeable theory about the exact mechanism by which the virus contaminates others. In most parts of the world lockdowns are already easing and people are preparing to return to a new version of work and social life, as governments and organizations are confronted with two rather conflicting choices with equally detrimental consequences of either reopening the economy vs. continuing the lockdown, or to simply let more people get sick vs. letting them get poor.
Why Face Masks and Social Distancing Combined Matter!
So, what do we know so far! According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, the novel coronavirus is primarily spread by droplets from an infected person who is coughing, sneezing or even talking within a few feet away, making face masks and social distancing to be the most obvious and powerful deterrent to the virus. In a recent study published in the Lancet, the absolute infection risk for COVID19 of was found to shrink from 12.8% to 2.6% with at least 1 meter of physical distance, and maintaining physical distance of 2 meters appears to be more effective. Also, mask wearing was associated with a large reduction in the absolute risk of infection from 17.4% with no face masks to 3.1% when wearing masks. To illustrate the joint effect of social distancing and face masks, a group of researchers developed a computer simulation model that demonstrates how changes in safety measures in their communities, including wearing face covering and social distancing, can change the course of this pandemic. The simulation shows the effect on a hypothetical group of 100 infected people out of a group of 1,000, whereby 80% of people wear masks and practice social distancing, on slowing the infection rate to almost zero within 60 days.
Monitoring Compliance…The AI Way
Motivated by these findings, Cognitro a US-based AI (Artificial Intelligence) firm with global presence specializing in video analytics created COVIX, a smart platform that monitors and tracks adherence to safety measures by recognizing people who are or aren’t wearing masks and practicing social distancing within a public scene captured by streaming video images and analyzed using deep learning technology. COVIX currently operates on fixed surveillance cameras installed in malls and cinemas. Mobile deployment is also underway on Boston Dynamics Spot robot which can roam parks and open-door alerting violators with audio announcements. The platform is powered by NVIDIA technology which also allows for on-the-camera recognition.
But COVIX is also an index, a numeric representation of safety or compliance represented by a weighted-average composite metric. The COVIX index is normalized by the total number of people in the scene and can be monitored in both real-time or using previously stored video data. An operational dashboard captures instantaneous fluctuation in the COVIX metric over time as people with various degrees of compliance appear and disappear. To analyze and understand key insights on sources of non-compliance, peak violation time, as well as physical bottle necks impeding compliance, an executive BI (Business Intelligence) dashboard facilitates deeper investigations and discovery of critical processes needed to be reconfigured in the scene to achieve greater compliance in practical ways.
COVIX Around the World
A global compliance index, or world COVIX index, is currently feeding from designated public surveillance cameras in streets, malls and parks in several parts of the most visited countries in the world including New York, London, Dublin and Rome. To do this, a cloud-based version of COVIX is running 24/7 capturing and analyzing the general public behavior and updating the COVIX index on daily basis for those cities (covix.ai/world-index). So far, the data indicates an overall low compliance in the European cities of London, Dublin and Rome with an average score of 12 on a 0-100 scale. The city of New York scored slightly better with a COVIX index of 30. Those figures may by not be considered scientifically accurate enough for meaningful inference but do provide a broader picture on compliance to safety measure that could serve as a general benchmarking tool and/or to guide national strategic policies.
Effective fight against the COVID19 mandates concerted efforts between technology leaders, research institutions as well as health and government organizations. For instance, using COVIX data, investigators can examine possible correlation between compliance/safety measures and the rate of infection. As a standalone AI platform, COVIX is poised to aid airports, malls and in-door public facilities reduce the spread of the COVID19 especially in light of any clear established relation, and bringing in the COVIX index parameters would help countries and officials create a risk-adjusted optimized approach the new norms with minimal inconvenience to the public. COVIX undoubtedly demonstrates that the union of two powerful allies, namely sophisticated AI and practicing common-sense social distancing and wearing masks in public, may not be sufficient to contain the devastation of this virus and ensure that our economy is restored but it’s necessary as we try to navigate out of this universal storm.
Cognitro is a global data science and AI firm with offices in the US, UAE and Egypt. Cognitro is dedicated to unlocking stories from data and value from intelligence across healthcare, insurance, finance, security, telecom, retail and transportation. Cognitro also seeks to accelerate the rapid movement towards smart planet, by democratizing analytics, opening data science & AI and bringing advanced analytics to disrupt business and transform industries. Cognitro is also the mother company of ACITYI (www.acityi.com) an AI-driven platform that empowers cities with the ability to monitor, analyze and manage strategic sites remotely and with minimal human intervention. ACITYI was recently awarded Nvidia inception award and Cognitro was recently featured among the top 10 the Artificial Intelligence companies in the CIOReview magazine.