Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2020-07-07

UAE Combats COVID-19 Through Innovation

The UAE and the Gulf at large have been arduously working with technology to combat the coronavirus outbreak. When the virus hit the region early March, Gulf countries were quick to close their borders, followed by schools, to ensure a containment of its spread.
 
Later on, Abu Dhabi introduced a drive-through testing facility for residents. Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), announced the opening of 13 additional drive-through COVID-19 testing centres within 10 days, following the directives of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of the UAE community, and curbing the spread of the virus.
 
Another seven centres were launched by SEHA in Port Rashid and Al Khawaneej in Dubai, as well as in Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. With coordination between the Ministry of Interior (MOI), National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), police authorities, the Signals Intelligence Agency (SIA), a number of volunteers and the private sector, swift measures took place across the country, including thermal cameras being installed in malls and smart helmets capable of monitoring those who may be infected with the virus.
 
The “super-intelligent” helmets helped authorities detect new cases, ensure that those who were infected were given medical treatment and put in isolation, and monitored the temperature of people within five metres. 
 
“‘The smart helmets have helped to monitor potential people with the virus and, once they enter the service, have enhanced prevention and protection efforts to achieve the highest response and readiness under the conditions of virus and epidemic outbreaks,” said Major General Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi, Inspector General of the UAE MOI & Chairman of ISNR Abu Dhabi 2020 Committee. “The smart helmet is used to diagnose people from a safe distance, enabling them to handle crowds, obtain vital reading and analyse data.” 
 
He said the technology can also create and read QR codes, as they are equipped with thermal cameras and sensors that enable them to recognise faces and store and recognise vehicle licence-plate numbers. They are also capable of night vision. 
 
“There is a lot of smart technology in today's world, and it must be used to develop our strategies and performance in promoting security, safety and civil protection,” Nasser added. “As technologies continue to evolve, it is necessary to keep up with them, and to adopt what is useful and necessary to ensure the support of the UAE's efforts in enhancing its security.”
 
The National Disinfection Programme has also provided a fertile ground for innovation and the application of advanced technologies to increase the geographic scope of the nationwide cleaning campaign. As such, the General Administration of Civil Defense in Abu Dhabi deployed robot TAF35 on the streets to support the sterilisation operations. The robot can be controlled from a distance of 300 metres and is capable of pumping large quantities of sanitising and disinfecting materials. 
 
In Dubai, the municipality also conducted the massive National Disinfection Programme with advanced technology in sterilisation operations, such as drones to enhance the speed and smoothness of such operations effectively and progressively.
 
“In light of the current circumstances, technology has provided us with a great service in  virtual communication, business administration and  the accomplishment of tasks and duties, as the technological capabilities that the GCCPOL (a regional equivalent of Interpol) operates are derived from the vision of the GCCSG and a key part of the strategic plan to enhance security and safety in the GCC countries,” said Col. Mubarak Said Al Khyeli, Director General of the GCCPOL. “There are several advanced technologies that have been used in light of the pandemic. These include using drones in national disinfection and sterilisation, using drones for guidance purposes, and a smart application that monitors infected people who are subject to health isolation. We will continue monitoring the collaboration between GCC counties to implement the best solution to prevent the challenges and transfer it into opportunities”.
 
Tech at the Forefront
According Matthew Cochran, CEO and co-founder of URS Laboratories in the UAE, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) can offer both disinfection and sanitisation of large areas very quickly, safely and at less cost than having people do it. “Large airports, shopping malls, warehouses, schools, and other locations could all be assisted with unmanned drones both on the ground and in the air,” he said. “New technologies are key in this fight. The virus is new, and many innovations will emerge in the next weeks, months and years as academia, industry and government all bring a focus to new technologies to keep us all safe. Khalifa University, for example, has put a large effort to apply new technologies in response to the COVID-19 crisis.”
 
Recently, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, said that, at a time when other countries are only grappling with domestic repercussions of the spread of the coronavirus, the UAE has developed its capabilities to not just help its citizens stranded overseas, but also to help those from various brotherly and friendly countries.
 
For his part, Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, praised the UAE’s efforts in handling the repercussions and challenges of the pandemic. He stressed the need to come up with innovative future solutions for preventive health services and harness smart technologies, such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Big Data Analysis, in addition to predictive models for hospital management. 
 
“The UAE has shown exceptional management of the crisis, whilst leveraging other countries’ experiences,” he said during a UAE government remote meeting. 
 
 

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