Technology Is Vital To Track The Spread Of Coronavirus
Big data can be used to detect and track the spread of Covid-19 whilst helping policymakers to create their planning strategies.
As the world struggles to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, the technology world offers hope as big data and machine learning are both used to track the spread of the outbreak. Detecting the progression of the virus is essential, both to contain it and to assist governments and healthcare institutions in their planning strategies.
China and Taiwan Utilising Big Data
As the source of the pandemic, China has utilised technology to great effect. With a high-end surveillance environment, the nation has lower privacy expectations than the western world. Security cameras have been used widely to track the movement of citizens across the country. In collaboration with mobile phone networks, the authorities have been able to trace individuals who should be in self-isolation and detect their movement if they leave the house.
Public transport also experienced an overhaul as thermal scanners were rapidly deployed to stations. Commuters passed through scanners which would detect an elevated body temperature and require coronavirus testing to be carried out as a result. In the event of a positive test, the authorities would be able to alert all other co-passengers and require them to self-isolate.
Data analytics have also been used extensively to stem the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak in China. The government produced a Close Contact Detector app, which was created so that individuals could be alerted if they had been in close physical contact with a person who had tested positive for the virus.
Looking at China’s neighbours, Taiwan has combined the information from both its national health insurance and immigration & customs databases. This has allowed them to keep track of patient’s symptoms and cross-check these records against travel activities to determine whether there is any associated risk.
Western World Is Adopting Outbreak Analytics
As you might expect, both Europe and America have high standards of privacy in comparison to China, which means that technology is being used differently to fight against Covid-19. Previously, the UK has developed apps such as FluPhone which was initially launched in 2011 to monitor the spread of flu across the country. Unfortunately, the app hasn’t been widely used by the public which has limited its efficacy. However, following the outbreak of the coronavirus, government officials as well as tech analysts now understand the importance in creating an application that supports a coronavirus control strategy. Oxford University’s Big Data Institute is in contact with the government to help develop the technology to accelerate contact tracing in an ethical manner.
Dashboard data such as is provided by the World Health Organisation, offers real-time outbreak analytics to help governments, healthcare officials and policymakers to understand the extent of cases, associated fatalities and their confirmed locations across the globe. This has been essential in helping to forecast hotspots, predict infection rates and model coping strategies to deal with the effects of the virus.
Whilst the fight against the coronavirus is far from over, big data can offer some solace in terms of tracking and understanding the impact of the pandemic. The more information that can be gathered about the spread of this disease, the higher the chances are of dealing with it now, as well as any future recurrences.