The arrival of Coronavirus has put the whole world to the test, shaking the balance of many countries.
However, we must not forget that challenges such as that put in place by COVID-19 have already been faced by the man who, not without difficulty, has been able to rise again. Today, in addition to the past, we have a valid ally: technology!!
How can technology, especially IoT sensors and RFID, help us to overcome and to prevent future emergencies like the one we are experiencing?
The sector most severely tested is undoubtedly the healthcare sector.
IoT and RFID can have many applications in this field, offering the potential to optimize the quality of the service, resulting in improved patient safety and operations of health personnel. The implementation of these innovative technologies involves a transformation in the way healthcare facilities operate, playing a fundamental role in the development of what will be the hospital of the future.
To give some examples, the integration of IoT sensors and RFID within healthcare facilities would result in a series of improvements including:
- Medical device tracking: By affixing the RFID tag on the component, it is possible to trace all information, facilitating the management of items. This helps to ensure that medical facilities have the equipment, the devices and the medicines on hand and available through accurate and updated inventory.
- Life-cycle management of medical health equipment: Using radio frequency technology, manufacturers can use it to communicate information such as product specifications, to send alert maintenance or sterilization and EoL notification. In particular, the EoL notification represents a very important added value, since we know that the use, beyond the lifetime of the product, represents a plus cost for both the manufacturer and the user.
- Staff Management: Through the use of RFID badges it is possible to manage with greater efficiency shifts and replacements, ensuring the necessary mobility combined with the maximum protection of medical staff and consequently patients. By using radiofrequency, it is also possible to ensure that the WHO guidelines on the hygiene of the hospital staff’s hands are respected to avoid the spread of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Download infographic about RFID for Hand Hygiene Download Now
- Better patient experience: By assigning an RFID wristband to each patient it is possible to keep a record of their medications, meals and their needs during their stay in the hospital.
- Prevention with remote monitoring: Real-time remote monitoring via IoT sensors allows to send alerts in case abnormal cases are detected that indicate the onset of disease. This allows to prevent acute states for the patient and prevent possible complications.
- Data accessibility: Accessibility of electronic medical data allows to collect and analyze a massive amount of data, that has a high potential for medical research purposes.
Besides that hospital, one other sector that is found to having to face a sudden increase of market demand.
How can the supply chain handle demand peaks more easily?
It is in the sight of all the new boom of e-commerce, favored by the quarantine to which the world is subjected. To get the measure of the phenomenon, just think that even Amazon’s logistics, an example of an almost perfect mechanism, has gone into crisis. It is correct to say that the longer this emergency lasts, the more online sales will increase. Retailers will, therefore, need to be agile and able to quickly move goods from one place to another. To be able to do this, they will need to know exactly where the products are located in the supply chain.
A good solution could be the implementation of technologies such as RFID that allows to track and trace products so a merchant would know where all products are at all times. IoT sensors in containers could monitor product conditions, digital sales, and operations planning platforms and digital inventory monitoring.
Using these kinds of technologies it can be easier for retailers to quickly allocate more merchandise to e-commerce distribution centers than to stores and provide more products to the regions most affected by COVID-19 where people make more online purchases because non-essential goods are closed.
A further problem to be addressed is waste management during Coronavirus.
For example, in Italy, the various regions have introduced new waste management measures.
One of these is limiting the withdrawal of separate collection of positive or quarantined people, to guarantee greater protection for ecological operators. In some cities, the collection of bulky waste and certain types of WEEE (such as refrigerators, televisions, etc.) has been suspended. Finally, the emergency in the emergency: the problem related to the management of hospital waste, the number of which has grown exponentially since the beginning of the Coronavirus epidemic.
Even if in the immediate future it is not possible to solve these problems, it is possible to think of solutions that can be implemented in the future that allow optimized management of waste and allow to respond in a more agile way if critical situations should recur.
One possible solution could be to use a waste tracking system through RFID systems and IoT sensors capable of monitoring the filling level of the bins.
For example, the Lombardy region has already started testing the smart bin. It is a bin, equipped with a sensor, capable of detecting its filling level, frequency and time of use. The data are then analyzed and processed allowing constant monitoring of the waste collection process, timely intervention should a critical situation arise and adequate use of means and operators.
Another innovative and currently being tested solution is Smart Waste. It is an ecological area where access to waste containers takes place only through user identification using NFC technology (via smartphone) or RFID (via health card).
These are just a few examples of the use of radiofrequency technology and IoT. Their applications are indeed innumerable. They can be of great help in adapting to rapidly changing situations and resisting shocks caused by unexpected events.
Do you think the Coronavirus emergency we are facing will lead to faster adoption of IoT, RFID, and other emerging technologies? And above all, will it inspire us all to build a better world?