Artificial intelligence to live Distancia2?

Regarding the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, the Inter-American Development Bank IDB has developed the digital platform called “Distancia2” to take advantage of existing resources in Latin American countries and contribute to the control of social distancing using artificial intelligence.

Undoubtedly, the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 represents a new reality that involves various precautionary measures in order to take care of our health and that of our family. Among those measures is social distancing. For this reason, the Inter-American Development Bank (hereinafter “IDB”) has developed the digital platform called “Distancia2” (hereinafter “Platform”) whose objective is to integrate with the video systems that already exist in cities in Latin America (ECU -911 in Ecuador) and detect potential outbreaks of crowds in specific places and times in different parts of the city and the country. In current conditions, a tool of this nature is of utmost importance for our city, considering the number of crowds in various sectors of the capital and infections reported in recent days.

In general terms and according to information from the IDB, the information received by the platform is completely anonymous and does not include personal information of the individuals that are captured by the video systems that in the case of our country would be those of the ECU-911; only, the Platform serves to determine and alert about levels of crowding and lack of social distance in specific places; and, on that information, produce a database with statistics of the sites with the largest crowds at a certain time. For what purpose? Possibly, a product with these conditions will serve the Authorities to sectorize the city and assign greater control of the National Police at a specific place/time. Finally, the idea of the Platform is to provide the different governments of Latin America with an additional tool for the care of their population through the use of technology; This IDB project had an approximate cost of USD 500,000 and a duration of 2 years until its implementation.

How does Distancia2 work? The platform uses a type of technology called “Machine Vision” that analyzes and processes images and/or videos using artificial intelligence. Machine Vision is the technology that, for example, smartphones use to identify their owner through facial recognition, but obviously it can also be applied in other more sophisticated fields such as this one. Based on the Machine Vision application, the Platform uses a subcategory of said technology called “Computer Vision” which basically does a recognition of certain objects or patterns after analyzing large volumes of images and/or videos, for which only the object or pattern to be identified must be predefined and a specific algorithm applied.

Undoubtedly, the use of technology becomes essential for our daily life. Possibly because of the global pandemic, some were forced to implement it in their day-to-day life, but this initiative shows us that its applicability goes beyond the borders of an eminently professional subject until it becomes essential for all health care. Yesterday I was reading on Twitter to a technology expert who claimed that this same Platform could serve in the future to possibly prevent and identify people kidnapped through facial recognition. Congratulations on the technology!

Disclaimer: This document is informative and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.