Dubai students win award for AI-powered system that detects Covid violations Filed on September 24, 2021

(File photo)

The innovation stood out among more than 40 submissions to the FabLab UAE Innovators Competition

Soon, artificial intelligence (AI) technology will be able to detect social distancing violators and alert on-site security teams via WhatsApp — all thanks to an innovation by two Dubai students.

The duo from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai have won a Dh20,000 prize, following their recent win in the FabLab UAE Innovators Competition.

The solution, which is aimed at combating Covid-19 social distancing violations, has been designed for both educational and workplace settings.

Explaining the idea behind the tool, Noman Sheikh, a second-year BSc computer security student, said: “We know that social distancing is an important aspect in preventing the spread of Covid-19."

"So, our idea was to create a tactical private 4G-LTE network using software defined radio integrated with AI-based computer vision to detect violations and send an instant alert to the on-site security team through automation, so that they can intervene to enforce the regulations. We are moving forward with the implementation of this over 5G.”

The innovation stood out among more than 40 submissions to the FabLab UAE Innovators Competition. The team was one of six that made it to the final stage of the competition and presented their project to expert juries.

Shedding light on the technology used to create the innovation, Izhan Hyder, also a second-year BSc computer security student, said: “The system combines computer vision technology with an artificial intelligence model detection algorithm to evaluate whether social distancing violations are taking place."

"If social distance is not maintained, an automated message is sent to the security team via WhatsApp. The tactical 4G-LTE network allows us to provide networking capabilities anywhere and anytime with security of the communications over the network and over the air interface.”

Dr Ali Raza, team supervisor and professor of computing sciences at RIT Dubai, said that one of the most important elements of the technology is that it detects and relays violations immediately, allowing security to take action quickly.

“This feature can have a number of applications beyond this technology, across various industrial and professional settings. This solution allows the digital transformation of monitoring and preventing the spread through close contact."

"I am looking forward to the migration of our solution to a 5G network where we can see the benefits of higher speeds to support higher resolution images with ultra-low latency," he said.


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He added that the two students implemented an entire 4G-LTE radio and core network over a short period of time, climbing a steep learning curve.

“I have been very impressed by their dedication to the project. Nurturing talent and offering guidance to these kinds of projects is an important part of our role as professors and we are very proud of what they have achieved.”

Nandini Sircar

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