Technology mobilized against the coronavirus

the essential
Faced with the coronavirus epidemic, all means are mobilized and in particular everything related to new or older technologies.

To cope with the coronavirus epidemic, the peak of which has not yet reached France, all means are used, as Emmanuel Macron reminded yesterday. On the one hand to relieve the regions already strongly affected by Covid-19 – the Great East for several days in a dramatic way, the Paris region too – and on the other hand to stem the spread of the virus which continues to spread in the hexagon.

In the first case, France, also confronted with the glaring lack of medical materials such as masks or artificial respirators, has deployed great logistical resources.

Medical plane and TGV

Last week, a militarized Airbus A330 Phoenix transferred patients suffering from the Mulhouse coronavirus to hospitals in the south of France. Helicopter transfers via a French Navy building also took place between Ajaccio and various hospitals in Marseille.

Since Tuesday, a military hospital has been installed in Mulhouse. He has to decongest the city hospital, whose resuscitation department is saturated. It is “likely to accommodate 30 patients in intensive care”, said Tuesday the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly before the deputies, specifying that a new airborne medical evacuation was organized Tuesday by the armies to transfer hospitalized patients to Mulhouse, this times to Brittany (Brest and Quimper). Also to relieve the health system in the Grand Est region, the government has decided to evacuate around 20 patients to less affected areas thanks to a medical TGV. “A first in Europe,” said the Minister of Health.

In addition to these logistical resources, France is using technology to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and in particular to enforce the confinement regulations now hardened since Tuesday, particularly with regard to walks and sporting outings. The gendarmerie thus mobilizes its helicopters in certain departments, in particular for flying over areas hidden from view. The police, for their part, use drones to locate and verbalize citizens who do not respect containment measures. Modified and fitted with loudspeakers, these drones are in action in Nice, Corsica or Paris. Techniques developed massively in China.

China: an example to follow?

Faced with an epidemic that has weakened its economy like never before, China very early on carried out large-scale data analysis and deployed its artificial intelligence technologies in all directions. The country is particularly mobilized to measure the temperature of citizens in order to detect potential patients. Facial recognition and infrared sensors automatically photographing each face, thermal cameras and software have been used on a large scale. China has even set up, with the Internet giants Alibaba and Tencent, an application delivering a colored QR code indicating the level of risk assumed by the person.

Can this technological fever, which hardly cares about public liberties and privacy, happen in the West, in France? The effectiveness of backtracking (tracing of the smartphone) observed in Asia challenges in the United States. A group of around fifty scientists asked Silicon Valley players to directly integrate functionalities from tracking in mobile phones. In France, Emmanuel Macron asked his brand new Research and Expert Analysis Committee (CARE) to look into the matter.