Fifth-generation (5G) technology will have a critical role to play in the world’s battle against Covid-19.
A new White Paper produced by advisory firm Deloitte and information and communications technology giant Huawei shows how the effectiveness of communication and data exchange has been essential in screening for infected individuals and controlling the outbreak by enabling thermal imaging, continuous remote monitoring and diagnoses during patient transfer.
The ‘Combating Covid-19 with 5G: Opportunities to improve public health systems’ report also highlighted the need to build and upgrade public health emergency response mechanisms, through which governments are able to make right decisions promptly and allocate resources more effectively.
“5G can enhance the effectiveness of pandemic prevention and treatment, and drive the digital transformation of healthcare systems in response to major public emergencies, such as the current pandemic of Covid-19,” the report suggested.
The key features of 5G include high speed connection, large arrays of connection points, low latency and expansive data bandwidth that can synergise with big data, artificial intelligence and the cloud.
In tandem with innovative applications, 5G is driving the transformation of emergency response mechanisms to become digital, accurate and smart.
Further, 5G has advantages over fourth-generation (4G) in speed, latency, number of connection points and range, making it more adaptable.
During the outbreak in China, telecommunications operators collaborated with Huawei to rapidly set up a specific 5G network dedicated to Covid-19 treatment hospitals, with the White Paper analysing examples of Covid-19 control and treatment measures and identifying challenges that face epidemic management in terms of monitoring, quarantine and treatment.
“In China, owing to its vast landscape, large, highly mobile population and their complicated demand for resources, the effectiveness of communication and data exchange have been essential in screening for infected individuals and controlling the outbreak,” the report highlighted.
The next-generation technology can promote collaboration by enabling connectivity, maintaining effective communication among hospitals, and enable medical data and reference sharing between hospitals and scientific research institutions, especially “in the rapid increases in data volume and mounting demand for remote and high-definition (HD) video-based treatment” scenario.
“5G networks can provide the bandwidth, speed and mobility needed to stably transmit large data sets in real time. HD remote diagnosis and other medical monitoring systems are required when infected people are being transferred to hospital.”
However, 4G networks do not have the capacity to fully support large volumes of HD images, such as the transmission and storage of files, and dynamic personal movement tracking inputs, including thermal imaging, travel history and close connections.
A 5G+ thermal imaging temperature monitoring system can accurately monitor a moving object's temperatures in real-time without contact and issue abnormal temperature alerts.
“Through 5G networks, the data collected by terminals can be sent to central monitoring units and shared to the cloud in real time with no lag. This enables 24/7 online public temperature monitoring, imaging and travel and contact history tracking when needed,” the White Paper elaborated.
In addition, the report indicates that the success of 5G applications in the public health domain could also inspire new business models in other sectors.
It also sets an example for digitalised, data-driven and cloud-based innovative major public emergency response platforms.
“The success of 5G applications in the public health domain could also inspire businesses in other sectors to leverage 5G's popularity and explore new applications of the technology,” the paper concludes.