Journal article published in IEEE Access, Aug. 2020
Social distancing plays a pivotal role in preventing the spread of viral diseases illnesses such as COVID-19. By minimizing the close physical contact among people, we can reduce the chances of catching the virus and spreading it across the community. This two-part paper aims to provide a comprehensive survey on how emerging technologies, e.g., wireless and networking, artificial intelligence (AI) can enable, encourage, and even enforce social distancing practice. In this Part I, we provide a comprehensive background of social distancing including basic concepts, measurements, models, and propose various practical social distancing scenarios.We then discuss enabling wireless technologies which are especially effective and can be widely adopted in practice to keep distance, encourage, and enforce social distancing in general. These technologies open many new solutions and directions to deal with problems in social distancing, e.g., symptom prediction, detection and monitoring quarantined people, and contact tracing. The companion paper Part II  surveys other emerging and related technologies, such as machine learning, computer vision, thermal, ultrasound, etc., and discusses open issues and challenges (e.g., privacypreserving, scheduling, and incentive mechanisms) in implementing social distancing in practice.