Applications of Big Data in COVID-19 Pandemic
Coronavirus is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered virus that emerged in China in December 2019. Later, it is officially named as “COVID-19”. The virus gets transmitted from one body to another mainly through the droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. It mostly spreads when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
You can protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands, using an alcohol-based sanitizer, and by not touching your face frequently.
Sadly, there is no specific vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. But to get control over the situations, countries are using innovative technologies. New-age technologies like Big data, data analytics can serve a lot in controlling the spread of COVID-19. Many clinical trials evaluating potential treatments.
Let us look at a few of them:
1. Researchers around the world are using Big data analytics to develop models that simulate and predict the pattern of the spread of the virus.
2. Genomic research is an area where Big data joins Deep learning and Bioinformatics. In a few weeks, only the coronavirus genome was sequenced by multiple labs around the world. This would be impossible without advanced machine learning tools.
3. Globally, vaccine development is now the hottest and most critical task. Bioinformatics tools are increasing the efficiency of the vaccine development process. Without the collaboration of tools and Big data, this would be an impossible task.
4. Health officials in China, South Korea, and Singapore are using real-time tracking tools to understand the virus. Tracking also helps to take the necessary steps to control the spread of disease.
Globally, the coronavirus outbreak has already hit millions of lives with thousands of deaths. And with every day, new cases are coming out which are continuously rising the threat of this virus. However, countries affected by the virus are now using AI and Big data technologies to address it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Big data is playing an important role in China’s response to Coronavirus.
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How different countries are using Big data to control COVID-19?
1. Taiwan (China)
It is using Big data to control the spread of coronavirus. Over 400,000 of the citizens of Taiwan work in mainland China. So, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), in order to protect citizens, they use Big data analytics and cellphone tracking assisted officials to control the spread of Coronavirus.
Officials have conducted a detailed mapping of people who were infected and from whom they caught the infection. Then this information gets integrated into the Taiwan National Health Insurance databases with updated information about the health report of citizens.
With the help of this data, the Taiwanese Government could trace the 14-days travel history and symptoms of the citizens. International travelers were instructed to scan a QR code. This QR code redirects them to an online health declaration, which was used to provide contact information, symptoms, and necessary steps needed to be taken.
2. Shanghai (China)
It is also leveraging Big data in order to minimize the further risk of the coronavirus. There, workers report their temperature, travel history, and other information which is then sent to the authorities. These authorities are working on a Big data platform to manage epidemic preventions.
Shanghai’s cross-department data platform integrates the information collected from police, government departments, and health authorities. This will then be used to alert local community workers or citizens to take action accordingly.
3. South Korea
In South Korea, the government has slowed down the pandemic by using an active tracking tool. The government has released a smartphone app that can track and ensure that self-quarantine patients are not leaving their homes and maintaining a strict separation from other people. Those who are under quarantine needed to report their symptoms using this app. Their health status then gets updated to government and health officials.
Similarly, Israel is also using a mobile app to track the updates of those who are tested positive for the virus, and through the inserted data app also identifies who needs to be quarantined.
In Bangladesh, the government has developed a digital map to track coronavirus cases. The map tracks and finds out the areas susceptible to contamination. The track is maintained by using a mobile user’s information. Under a self-reporting method, mobile users are getting an SMS from their operators, and users can share their health information in reply to the SMS.
Around 16.62 crore mobile phone users in the country are getting SMS, and they will be asked to make a call on some particular number, which is free of charge.
During the 90-second call in the form of IVR (Interactive Voice Response), users will reply to a few questions. The questions are about their age, whether they have breathing problems, any fever or cough problem, whether they have come in contact with an infected person, their travel history, etc.
In the US, the government is in active talks with Google, Facebook, and many tech companies and health experts.
Working together helps the government to track the location from the citizen’s phone. And this tracking helps them to control the spread of the novel Coronavirus. They track whether people are keeping one another at a safe distance, taking the necessary steps for prevention or not.
India is using the “Arogya Setu” App as one of the mediums for giving the necessary health-related instructions to be followed. In the app, a notification is sent to all users to get a COVID-19 screening test.
Based on test questions, you might get a call informing about the chances of getting a virus infection. You will also get notified in advance of what necessary steps you need to take to prevent it from spreading.
Big Data Identifies the Early Signs of Virus Outbreak
On December 30, 2019, a Toronto-based startup BlueDot that uses machine learning, big data, and artificial intelligence platforms tracked the sudden outbreak of Coronavirus. Blue dot alerted the private sector and government about the unusual pneumonia cases happening around a market in Wuhan China.
Some reports earlier claimed about 27 pneumonia cases associated with the seafood market in Wuhan. And the cities which Blue Dot identified were also connected to Wuhan. They were connected via global airline ticketing data, which helps to detect where the infected might be traveling.
The international destinations that BlueDot anticipated would have the highest number of travelers from Wuhan were Bangkok, Tokyo, Taipei. Phuket, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, etc. In the end, 11 of the cities at the top of their list were believed to be the first places to face COVID-19 cases.
COVID-19 is threatening our lives and our livelihood. We need strong health organizations to fight against the virus. This is a medical fight that requires the support of the most powerful tools. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Big data are the tools needed to win this global war.
As responsible citizens of a country, we must follow instructions given by our government and health organizations. Each one of us has to stay at home only to fight against the COVID-19. This is a global war that we will definitely win !!!