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GNSS joins the fight against the global pandemic

23 / 03 / 2020
Rainer Horn
Managing Partner at SpaceTec Partners / Global Coordinator of GNSS.asia
GNSS joins the fight against the global pandemic
Industry Developments
This article explores different ways of how GNSS technologies are being used around the world to combat the outbreak of Coronavirus

New applications of GNSS

Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) serve as the technical basis for numerous applications which make our lives more convenient and efficient. Now with the worldwide spread of Covid-19 virus, GNSS even further proves to be an invaluable technology. The struggle to tame the pandemic motivated the development of various initiatives, the feasibility of which solely relies on the ability to reliably obtain accurate positioning information.

Unmanned and autonomous vehicles

Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which were previously mostly used in agriculture for spraying pesticides, now are being repurposed for large-scale disinfection. With the help of precise navigation, pilots can cover areas of up to five thousand square meters within ten to fifteen minutes. This results in a fifty times higher speed efficiency as well as greatly reduces the workers’ exposure to the virus and chemicals. Another way that GNSS-enabled drones are saving lives is through executing accurate and timely deliveries between the areas with the Coronavirus outbreak and medical centres. Such an approach allows delivering medical test samples fifty percent faster while simultaneously minimising direct human contact.

A similar concept has been executed with the help of autonomous vehicles. Those are being used as an effective means of delivering the essentials like food and medicines to the people in need as well as for disinfecting hospitals. When it comes to a smaller form factor, GNSS-powered autonomous robots complete multiple critical tasks ranging from meal deliveries to the quarantined people to performing diagnosis and conducting thermal imaging of the hospitalised.

Online systems and applications

Governments also use GNSS technology for improving efficiency in the areas of infrastructure and logistics. The unprecedented rapid construction of the hospital in Wuhan would not be possible without the GNSS-based surveying of the cite. Also, GNSS terminals installed in vehicles allow tracking of the entire road transportation system. While on the micro scale, the technology informs drivers about possible congestions and helps to optimise the route, on a more macro scale, governments can better allocate the much-needed resources to maximise the positive impact.

Furthermore, several helpful applications have been developed that take advantage of the GNSS data to further the cause of fighting Covid-19. One online platform analyses the patterns of the virus spread to calculate and suggest the safest possible commuting route to the people who are not able to work from home. Another application makes it possible for people to conduct a self-diagnostic and, if necessary, request immediate hospitalisation. Alternatively, there is an app that can be used to locate and reach the nearest specialised facility, be it a Coronavirus testing lab, an isolation centre, or a hospital. Moreover, users also receive detailed information regarding each of the institutions they intend to visit such as, for example, the available amenities or the level of hygiene.

Stay home, stay safe!

Still, it is critical to remember that any technology is just a mere tool in our hands and not an ultimate remedy. It is we who decide how to tackle the problem, and it is up to us to win the fight!

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