Drones, AI make a difference during COVID-19 - GulfToday

Drones, AI make a difference during COVID-19


Helena Samsioe poses for a photograph with her drone.

Gulf Today Report

In the wake of COVID-19, we have seen a plethora of tech providers and innovators step up to assist in efforts to mitigate the pandemic sweeping every nation and community around the world .

But what of the role of drones and Artificial Intelligence? Is there a way for these tools to make a key difference? We conducted an interview with Helena Samsioe, CEO and Founder of GLOBHE, and recent winner of the 2020 Zayed Sustainability Prize in the Health Category, for a better understanding of the Crowdroning service GLOBHE provides.

As a first-of-its-kind AI-assisted global drone data platform for health disaster prevention and response, GLOBHE is uniquely equipped to provide crucial information such as drinking water availability, sanitation and hygiene, environmental pollution and chemical hazards. Helena elaborates on the importance of up-to-date population data in mitigating and preventing pandemics like the COVID-19 virus— and discusses the ways in which GLOBHE is using its Prize funds to scale up its capabilities to address potential disasters and disease outbreaks in the future.

Is GLOBHE currently involved in containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, or in the steps being taken to ensure emergency response preparedness of governments, healthcare centres, and humanitarian organizations around the world? If not, in what capacity could GLOBHE’s drone and AI platform theoretically play a part in assisting global efforts toward this end?

Our drones require visual characteristics in order to be of assistance, such as being able to spot a malaria mosquito breeding site before a malaria outbreak occurs. As such, GLOBHE is currently not directly involved in the COVID-19 response. That being said, we are currently witnessing the spread of COVID-19 in more low-income countries, and our service can provide critical support to these locales by facilitating a more efficient response to COVID-19 through the updated population and geographical data our drone platform produces. As an agile start-up that is ready to assist when and where needed, we are currently in conversations with these countries, in order to be able to offer our service with the cooperation and permission of their local governments.

In previous disease outbreaks for example, our service has been used to update population data in areas where population data is unknown/outdated, and to identify risk zones such as water and sanitation sources as well as identifying access to health centres.

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