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COVID-19

How China next-generation information technologies to tackle COVID-19

How China next-generation information technologies to tackle COVID-19

People will be allowed to leave the city via road, rail and air, the epicentre of a global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Wuhan, Hubei, China April 8, 2020, they scan a health QR code at Wuhan’s Hankou Railway Station as travel restrictions for leaving the city.

COVID-19 is a major global public health challenge. Its outbreak in China presented the fastest spread, the widest scope of infections and the greatest degree of difficulty in controlling infections of any public health emergency since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. In the battle against the outbreak, China actively leveraged digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, cloud computing, blockchain, and 5G, which have effectively improved the efficiency of the country’s efforts in epidemic monitoring, virus tracking, prevention, control and treatment, and resource allocation.

Here are a few of the ways information technologies were effectively:

Artificial Intelligence

In a crisis, collaboration is key. During the outbreak, a range of companies made their algorithms publicly available to improve efficiency and to support coronavirus testing and research. For example, Baidu Research, a world leader in AI R&D, open-sourced LinearFold (its linear-time AI algorithm), to epidemic prevention centers, gene testing institutions, and global scientific research institutions. Zhejiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Zhejiang CDC) launched an automated genome-wide testing and analysis platform. Based on the AI algorithm developed by the Alibaba DAMO Academy (a platform funded by Jack Ma for science research), the group has shortened the genetic analysis of suspected cases from several hours to half an hour and can accurately detect virus mutations.

Artificial intelligence was also leveraged in subway stations, train stations and other public places where there is a high concentration of people and a high degree of mobility. Because using the traditional method of temperature measurement is time-consuming, and would increase the risk of cross-infection due to the clustering of the people, China put forth new temperature measurement technology based on computer vision and infrared technology. This technology made it possible to take body temperature in a contactless, reliable, and efficient manner, with the people even unaware of it. With this technology in place, those whose body temperatures exceeded the threshold could quickly and accurately be located.

Big Data

After the outbreak, big data played an important role in prediction and early warnings, analyzing the flow of people and the distribution of materials. China Internet released “Big Data Migration Map” which users can access through mobile phones or computers to view the migration trend of the Chinese mainland from January 1, 2020 up to date.The tool became an important means of understanding and predicting changes in the epidemic situation nationwide.

Cloud Computing

In the coronavirus response, relatively mature cloud computing technologies became as essential as water or electricity. As the virus spread, the demand for cloud-based video conferencing and online teaching has skyrocketed. The “Online Classroom” function, which is made available for students of universities, primary and middle schools across China without charges during the epidemic, can support millions of students to take online classes simultaneously and has also covered schools in vast rural areas. During the epidemic, the tool provided free access to stable HD video conferences are accessible from phones allowing sharing documents and screens among up to 300 participants.

Blockchain

Blockchain technology eliminates intermediary, prevents data loss and tampering and provides traceability. It can play an important role in ensuring the openness and transparency of the epidemic information and the traceability of the epidemic materials. For example, the nation’s first blockchain epidemic monitoring platform, which can track the progress of COVID-19 in all provinces in real time, and register the relevant epidemic data on the chain so that the data can be traced and cannot be tampered with. The data links based on transparent monitoring and accountability are initially established to ensure that epidemic information is open and transparent.

5G + Smart Applications

5G, which has just been commercialized, has also played an important role in the epidemic prevention and control. It is mainly used in the fields of live-streaming video and telemedicine. China Mobile opened 5G base stations at Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals, and realized 5G high-definition live broadcasting of the construction of these two hospitals, providing real-time views of the construction sites on a 24-hour basis for more than 20 mainstream media platforms. In addition, the epidemic also witnessed the transition of “5G + health” from “experimental phase” to “clinical phase”. In order to make full use of the resources of experts in large cities and hospitals, the 5G + remote consultation system has been quickly implemented in many hospitals across the country to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment.

China’s practice has proven that the new-generation information technologies have unique advantages and can play an important role in responding to major public health challenges. If you want to know more about COVID-19, read the related articles in the past or bookmark our Official Website.

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