Edge Computing and AI in Incheon COVID-19 Screening

Image Credit: iStockphoto/ZZ3701

South Korea’s main gateway Incheon International Airport is using mobile edge computing (MEC) technology to operate an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system to screen for the Covid-19 virus among passengers.

The Ministry of Science and ICT has implemented the system, which identifies passengers without masks and those with Covid-19 symptoms at the arrival and departure halls using digital kiosks and video surveillance.

The system uses MEC technology to minimize latency and sends data to localized small-scale data centers rather than to a decentralized data center at a greater distance from the site.

According to the Ministry, MEC technology helps reduces the delay before transferring instructions to health staff at the airport, enabling both rapid response to any Covid-19 risk and helping maintain the flow of passengers. 

SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest wireless carrier, has installed millimeter wave (mmWave) band 5G base stations at the airport as part of the infrastructure, which also uses SK’s new AI chip called the SAPEON X220.

The system is also designed to deploy disinfection robots for specific areas of the airport, although these are yet to be rolled out.

In March, Incheon announced a commitment to become a “Covid-19 free” airport and ramped up its processes and technology over 2020, culminating in the roll-out of the new MEC based system in December.

In August, Incheon also trialed Smiths Detection’s computed tomography (CT)-based carry-on baggage scanner HI-SCAN 6040 CTiX at its Terminal 2 Transfer Inspection Centre.

While 5G users have reached around 10 million in South Korea since its commercialization of the latest generation network in April last year, the country is in the early stage of rolling out mmWave 5G services that take full advantage of the network's high speed and low latency.

Rival carrier LG Uplus Corp. is currently testing mmWave 5G at the Kumoh National Institute of Technology in Gumi, about 200 km south of Seoul.

The ICT Ministry said it will provide more support for MEC-based 5G services, with 120 billion won (US$108 million) set aside for projects using the technology up to 2022.

Image Credit: iStockphoto/ZZ3701