How AI and IoT Can Help, But Create Privacy Concerns in COVID-19 Critical Event Management

The COVID-19 Pandemic has created a need for accurate and dependable information during the time of crisis management in order to create a proper response. COVID-19’s been a fairly unique challenge for organizations to tackle.

People responding at the front lines are trying to understand how technology such as IoT and AI can help in tackling this outbreak. But while these developments are promising, they’ll also have major issues with privacy.

The use of AI in Critical Event Management

The evolution of AI has grown, to the point where AI can be called on to dependably make contributions in providing relief and response input during crises. Globally, AI can learn about how COVID-19 spreads, where the outbreaks are taking place, which places should be avoided, deliver visibility, and empower actions to manage outbreaks in specific locations while keeping operations in other areas functional.

How IoT in Critical Event Management Works

Companies are becoming increasingly dependent on IoT systems and devices to give themselves expanded capability in delivering information and enabling responses for critical information, guidance, and communication to people in an emergency situation.


IoT can also play an essential part in gathering information needed to make critical decisions. IoT in critical event management can assist in providing data to response personnel, logistics, public warning systems, and automated emergency response systems.

Smart buildings and cities can provide information on relative temperature, the presence of toxic materials in the air, and any other hazardous conditions. They can also assess the traffic congestion during a crisis to provide more effective evacuation plans during events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why Critical Event Management for COVID-19 is Critical

Whatever the critical event may be, a weather event, terrorist attack, or a global pandemic, access to reliable and useful information is the one thing that will help in providing a proper response.

Typically, the larger the incident, the more fragmented and disconnected the information sources will be, and the more difficult it becomes to assess the information and create a coordinated response.

There are multitudes of tools available to provide better responses and minimize the impact on the people tackling challenges and providing responses at the ground level.

They address four stages in the plan of response management.

  1. First, they gather data from reliable sources as quickly as possible to assess the severity of a critical event. We can use analytical tools to correlate data to help response teams understand what is happening now and what could happen later.
  2. Next, we locate assets, employees, and equipment that is vital to response efforts.
  3. In the third stage, critical event management systems can use emergency responders and organizations to act by letting them know what actions that people can take, and collaborate with teams to provide a proper response.
  4. Finally, the system can enable responders to review and evaluate the critical event so that in the future, response efforts can be improved.

Safety vs. Privacy in a COVID-19 world

People undoubtedly understand that emergency response is vital during threat-inducing situations. There is a definite safety requirement when it comes to knowing where different people are located and their physical condition.

But this kind of real-time monitoring has a huge impact on privacy that cannot be ignored. These privacy issues are majorly relevant to technology providers. They’re experiencing an increasing demand from employers who want to know where all of their employees are, at all times. In the case of critical event management for COVID-19, employers want to know which of their employees have been recently close to someone who has tested positive.

While this is valid, the argument is raised that this cannot be a persistent need at all times.

Some providers let people opt-in when it comes to location tracking or set some kind of requirements for approval required.

Another thing that can help reduce the number of privacy concerns is role-based access, to ensure that only relevant personnel can see the data.

One more thing that can be used to reduce privacy concerns is the use of geofencing, which lets organizations know where their employees were without having to access exact locations. These geofenced zones can be relatively simple in terms of UI, but personnel can receive a notification when they enter one of these geofenced areas, without having to let the organization know where their staff is at all times.

Countries like China are focusing on safety more than privacy, and although the effects can be seen with rapid response techniques and improved infection and recovery counts, the lack of privacy leaves much to be desired in their method of response management.

COVID-19 has created another debate over whether the names of patients should be made public so people can see if they have been in close contact with a patient. Even though there are some privacy laws in place already to provide such information, these are still murky waters, since COVID-19 has exposed flaws and issues in current rules and laws that we haven’t seen before.


COVID-19 is an indication of where the world is heading, specifically in how companies and governments handle personal data during emergency response situations. Current efforts are creating disruptions in the global economy. If we had a disease with a larger mortality rate and higher contagiousness than COVID-19, we can only imagine the ways personal data would be used to mitigate the threats, but also exclude certain people from society altogether, even when there’s no proper testing. If technology providers want to improve how they provide a response, there must be a sense of duty in protecting private data instilled into them, as well as wanting to make technology solutions that can establish how they can move forward with critical event management.

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