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Demonstration of Automatic Disinfection System for Municipal Government (Daejeon)

The research group led by Professor Ho-Jong Chang at KAIST Institute for IT Convergence is establishing the basis for smart disinfection to overcome the pandemic crisis. After the declaration of COVID-19 pandemic in January 2019, the research group began from September of the year to develop an automatic disinfection system, which is also called ‘smart disinfection system.’ That was a timely choice that was well matched with the basic motto of the research group, ‘the development of technologies for addressing social problems.’ But, why did they choose restroom as a place to realize the system? Chae-Seok Lee, the senior research, explained th reason.
“Disease prevention can be carried out by tracking confirmed patients in areas where the entry is controlled. However, the tracking is so difficult in shared properties and public facilities that are used by many unspecific citizens. In particular, spaces like restroom that are used by many people have a high risk of cross infection, because they can hardly be prepared against the disease.”

|Platform to be Applied as Another Pandemic Defense Mechanism|

Automatic disinfection system as a solution prepared during the pandemic crisis
The research group immediately began the study by obtaining cooperation from the Shared Property Management Team at Daejeon Municipal Government. In the automatic disinfection system, smart disinfection devices are installed in shared properties (buildings) and publicly used facilities to relieve the citizens’ anxieties about infectious diseases, and spatial analysis and eco-friendly sterilizing water are used to effectively prevent the diseases. The system requires smart prediction of infection status as well the competence to perform urgent disinfection activities when necessary based on the spatial environmental information gathering, IoT and digital twin technologies, and AI-based management system.
The research group provided solutions by converting the entire experimental space into IoT. Two difficult problems were solved by the solutions: ① automatic setup of disinfection time (user-free time) based on AI and sensing technologies; and ② disinfection of restrooms having different structure by applying a rotary head to the automatic disinfection devices. Moreover, the research team gathered information about the subject restrooms, including the humidity, temperature, and carbon dioxide, volatile organic compound (VOC) and microdust levels, and transmitted the gathered information to the telecommunication network. Through the cooperation with the telecommunication service providers, the information was connected with the IoT network, such as Cat M1 (LTE mobile communication network-based low-power wide-area communication technology standard) and NB-IoT (narrow band internet of things), to be saved in the smart city data hub. Lee said that the relevant information is continuously saved even now. “We have opened the possibilities of investigating the environment quantitatively for the urban disease-preventing responses against not only the current COVID-19 but also another pandemic that may come in the future.”

The plan for seeking public interests provided another opportunity.
The automatic disinfection system that was developed for about one year is now demonstrated at 4 locations in the lobby of the Daejeon City Hall, and evaluated about the effectiveness. For this, a total of 11 institutions, including 9 institutions located in Daejeon (including the KAIST research team) and 2 disinfection companies in Seoul, participated in the project, sharing their research fund and donating their talent. Conducting the project was challenging in the absence of any financial supports from the central and municipal governments. However, with the commercialization of the technology around the corner, the application of the system is extending to the preemptive disease control at the overseas gateways of population and materials, such as airports, passenger terminals and container terminals. In addition to the project supported by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, other large-scale R&D projects will also be carried out in relation to the IT technologies applied to the development of the automatic disinfection system, such as digital twin. The research that was initiated for seeking public interests has resulted in another favorable effect.

Prof.Ho-Jong Chang
2021 Annual Report

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