UTS produces physical distance tracking system

Dr Khairuddin

KUCHING: Sarawak’s very own public higher learning institution, University Technology Sarawak (UTS), is developing a smart system that will ensure safe physical distancing is maintained to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Its vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Khairuddin Abdul Hamid said the university was partnering with a Japanese company to produce the physical distance tracking system.

The pilot project is now on a test run at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH).

“We started working on this system early this year and the system is already functional,” he shared with New Sarawak Tribune during an interview on Tuesday (Nov 23).

Explaining further on how the system works, Khairuddin said the Internet-of-Things (IOT) based tracking system could detect people’s movement through the wrist tags approach.

“For instance, in a hospital’s emergency department, there is an influx of people and it will be very hard to maintain physical distance.

“So, those going to the hospital will be given a smart wearable and reusable wrist tag upon entering and from there, their movement will be monitored to make sure there is physical distance.

“When it is too crowded, the person-in-charge of the monitoring system can instruct (the guard) to segregate the people,” he said.

He said he had suggested to the team that the wearable system should alert people if they were too close to the next person.

“On that note, to ensure the people’s privacy when they need to go to the toilet, the movement will not be monitored when the person goes to the toilet and will only reactivate once the person comes out from the toilet,” he said.

On when the system would be fully used in SGH, he said the hospital’s management was looking forward to utilising it.

But the hospital will still need to get prior approval from the authorities.

“Besides the hospital, other localities such as supermarkets, schools and workplaces can be installed with such a system.

“So, these are the technologies that we are developing together with our partners, looking at the current needs especially during Covid-19.

“Covid-19 has led to a lot of opportunities for research for us, using digital technology and using a combination of knowledge from medical practitioners and also our lecturers,” he said.

Apart from that, Khairuddin said the university had been working with international partners from countries such as Zambia, Slovakia, Finland, the United States on ICT development and other research.