The UAE Government put to use several smart solutions to detect the cases of COVID-19 and control its spread. Most useful among the smart solutions is the ALHOSN UAE app. The app detects if an individual has been in close proximity to someone who had contact with someone infected with COVID-19. The other is the chatbot service titled Virtual Doctor for COVID-19. The chatbot in the Virtual Doctor service asks several vital questions which will help it to deduce if a person is at risk of getting COVID-19.
Laser-based DPI technology for testing COVID-19 cases
On 14 July 2020, Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) introduced the laser-based DPI technology (Diffractive Phase Interferometry) to detect COVID-19 cases. The DPI technology is based on laser technology using blood samples for examining the virus. It allows the health authorities to carry out large-scale screening within a few seconds. It serves as a first step to detect suspected cases of infections before they undergo a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) swab tests. Laser-based DPI is based on optical-phase modulation which is able to give a signature of infection within a few seconds. It is user-friendly, non-invasive and low-cost.
The Government of Abu Dhabi announced that people wishing to enter the emirate of Abu Dhabi must be screened for COVID-19 by the laser-based DPI technology. People with negative test results will be allowed to enter the emirate, while those with a positive scan result will need to undergo a PCR (nose swab) test (which can be done at the same place). They will be allowed to pass only if the PCR test result is negative.
Those who wish to enter Abu Dhabi emirate, must pre-book an appointment online. The test costs AED 50; the testing centres are available at the last exit on Sheikh Zayed Road before the Ghantoot checkpoint.
People can enter Abu Dhabi also by presenting a negative result of the COVID-19 test which was conducted within 48 hours before reaching the Abu Dhabi checkpoint.
Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) launched a chatbot service titled Virtual Doctor for COVID-19. People can use the service to assess whether their symptoms could be associated with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
The chatbot in the Virtual Doctor service asks questions relating to the persons’ travel history, if they have come in contact with someone who has travelled and is sick and if they have come in contact with someone known to have COVID-19. It also asks if the person is suffering from specific symptoms and about his health habits. Depending on the person’s answers, the chatbot will deduce if he/she is at risk. It will connect him/her to a doctor through the same service.
The ALHOSN UAE app is the official integrated digital platform for COVID-19 tests in the UAE through which individuals can receive COVID-19 test results on their smartphones.
It can also detect if the user has been in close proximity to people who have had contact with others infected with the COVID-19 virus, provided that they too have the same app downloaded on their phones. The detection can happen after the user activates his phone’s Bluetooth function.
Every user who downloads the app will have a unique QR code, which would contain information about the user’s health. The app is encrypted and the data remain on the user's phone. Through this data, the competent health authorities can identify people who can transmit the virus and who could be at a risk of contracting the virus. They can then communicate with those at risk and re-test them.
The app combines the benefits of the StayHome and TraceCovid apps. It also guarantees a high degree of privacy protection to the users through artificial intelligence.
Register and authenticate by entering your Emirates ID and phone number followed by the OTP sent to your phone.
It is mandatory to turn on Bluetooth and push notifications on your smartphone.
Watch this video about using ALHOSN UAE app.
Smartwatch to monitor self-isolating patients
Abu Dhabi Government is using electronic wristbands as part of its effort to enforce isolation and reduce the spread of COVID-19. The device serves as a tracing and monitoring tool and is linked to the COVID-19 testing and tracing app, Al Hosn and will be used to make sure that self-isolating people actually stay at home.
The smartwatch helps to identify and track the geographical location of the patient and ensure that he or she does not leave home and jeopardise public health. These smart tools are provided to the patients free of cost.
Read related news coverage on the websites of WAM.
AI in taxis to curb the spread of COVID-19
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced that the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, such as computer vision and machine learning algorithms, proved very effective in detecting and reporting violations of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 preventive measures.
AI technologies have been employed to monitor and verify the compliance with the preventive measures undertaken to limit the spread of COVID-19. The technology can also report offences such as the failure to observe physical distancing and the improper wearing of face masks, thanks to the video analysis feature.
Read related news coverage on the websites of WAM and RTA.
OMAC COVID-19 Hackathon
In April 2020, Dubai Future Foundation launched the One Million Arab Coders COVID-19 Hackathon to engage Arab coders from around the world to develop innovative solutions to challenges specially in the areas of health and education, that have emerged due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The hackathon provides participants with an opportunity to highlight their skills, ideas and knowledge in employing the programming languages to find solutions for challenges case by COVID-19. Arab coders from all around the world can participate and present their innovative solutions through the OMAC COVID-19 Hackathon.
Once the phase of preparing for the project concludes, the jury will select 15 best teams based on prototype work, economic feasibility, user experience and cost of implementation. These teams will present their projects and solutions to a committee from Dubai Future Foundation which will select 5 projects worth USD 50,000.
The TraceCovid app detects other devices that have the same app and shares proximity data with it. When two users who have installed the TraceCovid app come in contact with one another, a ‘Secure Tracing Identifier’ (STI) is exchanged and stored in their respective phones. This STI list contains the records of individuals that a user had close contact with. If one of the users is infected with the virus, the relevant authorities will be able to access the user’s data and timestamp and reach out to possibly infected individuals easily.
Hence, the app helps in tracking COVID-19 cases by auto-recording all the people who had been near a COVID-19 patient, including those that might not be known to the patient. The app functions on Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. The Bluetooth feature must remain active at all times for the application to read and determine the user’s exact location.
The StayHome app ensures that people directed to self-quarantine are complying with the mandatory quarantine requirements. Through the app, a quarantined person can share his self-quarantine status and his location with Department of Health - Abu Dhabi (DoH). DoH can send alerts to quarantined people to stay within the range of movement allowed during the quarantine period.
When a person is identified for home quarantine, DoH will advise him to download the StayHome app from Google Play or Apple Store. DoH will then issue him a username and password to use the app. The quarantined person must enable the app’s access to camera, media, location, audio and calls for the app to work effectively. DoH will periodically send notifications to the quarantined person asking him to check in to his location then. The person has to take a photo of himself to finalise the check in.
The DOH RemoteCare app
The DOH RemoteCare app is a free digital healthcare solution through which people can receive healthcare at their own homes, without visiting a hospital or clinic physically.
The app has a tool for examining symptoms, diagnosing non-emergency cases, booking appointments and getting tele-consultations with doctors via voice or video calls or text messages.
In addition, the app enables users to obtain referrals from doctors and request prescriptions online and get medicines delivered to their homes.
The app was launched by Department of Health – Abu Dhabi to cater to the medical needs of people with chronic diseases, the elderly and to those who have been infected with COVID-19 and are under home isolation.