Outbreak prevention: learning from history & making use of technology

The outbreak of the coronavirus is not the first time humanity has had to deal with a global outbreak. What can we learn from earlier outbreaks? How could we prevent or lower the chance of them in the future? And what would be the role of technology?

Outbreaks in history

In earlier stages of history, humanity has encountered other outbreaks that had a big impact. Some similar to the current outbreak, some less severe, and some that were (way) worse. You could think of the outbreak of cholera, and the easy spread of all kinds of other diseases, due to the bad living conditions during and after the industrial revolution.

Although the effects of such diseases were disastrous, they also had a positive consequence. These diseases were the triggers that initiated drastic, permanent changes in infrastructure, like the laying of pipes for water supply and the construction of sewer systems.

The current crisis

Today, in 2020, the coronavirus has taken the world by storm and we experience how vulnerable even the modern world is. People feel the effects of it, both physically and psychologically, in their everyday lives. Especially, the fear of- and direct measures against infection gain a lot of attention. But what about preventive methods that lower the chance of a similar pandemic in the future?

Just as water pipes and sewers became the standard after waves of diseases in the densely populated cities of the industrial revolution, designing public or frequently-visited places in a way to minimize indirect spreading from one person to the other could become the standard after the corona crisis.

How? Ben van Berkel – expert on architecture, urban planning and infrastructure – predicts that technology will play a big part. In a recent article in financial newspaper ‘Financieel Dagblad’, he says he strongly believes in the possibilities of technology for a new infrastructure of prevention. And we, as 20face, do too.

Making access contactless

To stop indirect spreading of diseases, it is important to provide access without having to make contact with doors, gates, door handles or card scanners, which are well-known carriers of a lot of bacteria.

Although motion sensors could provide a basic solution for contactless access, the matter becomes more complicated when permission to enter has to be regulated. That’s where facial recognition comes in. The software can recognize which people have permission for entry and makes sure the door or gate is opened automatically when they do.

The result will be contactless access, less indirect human-to-human infections, and thus slowing down or even preventing the spread of bacteria. In this way, we can use learnings from the past and state-of-the art technology to help prevent outbreaks in the future.

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