coronaGovernments across the world have been using big data and artificial intelligence in response to the coronavirus, with companies including Facebook and Amazon meeting with Downing Street and the White House in recent weeks. AI and other technological solutions was a prominent element in its response to the pandemic.

Sharing Data Analytics

Data including news reports, social media posts, and government information can be analysed by AI to learn to predict and detect an outbreak.

Facebook is offering helpful data and analytics by working with researchers to use anonymous user data about people’s movements through high-resolution population density maps which researchers can utilize to make predictions for the potential spread of the virus. Facebook is also providing significant data regarding public opinion of the coronavirus via Crowdtangle, a tool which aggregates posts on social media platforms.

Combatting Misinformation

In this age of growing social media influence and a constant barrage of fake news, it can be difficult to keep up with what’s real in the middle of a global pandemic. Google has stated that its team has been working tirelessly to protect users from various forms of malware, phishing, and misinformation regarding the coronavirus. The search engine has also implemented an alert notification which appears when the terms coronavirus or covid-19 are entered into the search bar and includes links to helpful information and advice.

Similarly, YouTube has replaced its usual homepage design with links to educational and informational resources, including the World Health Organization, and are pushing forward in an intensive effort to remove any videos which are promoting false information about the virus.

Finding a Vaccine

AI has the potential to aid with the current global crisis we are facing in a range of ways – chief executive of start-up company Exscienta Professor Andrew Hopkins reports that AI can be used to develop vaccines and antibodies more rapidly than traditional methods, by scanning existing drugs for repurposing and fighting a future outbreak of the coronavirus. He provided an estimated time-frame for these advancements of around 18-24 months at the earliest and reminds us to be realistic about what this AI technology can potentially achieve, given the manufacturing and safety testing that will need to be carried out beforehand. Anthony Fernandez, a blogger at Essayroo and Australianhelp, says: “There are many other tech start-up companies around the world are embarking on similar endeavours to assist with this viral crisis.”

Major tech companies including Huawei and DiDi are lending their resources to researchers to expedite the development of a possible cure or vaccine for the coronavirus. These supercomputers and other computing systems are able to run calculations and process solutions at an incredible speed.

AI and Robotics in Admin and Cleaning

AI technology also has some more mundane applications during the pandemic, such as providing safe and efficient cleaning services, as well as providing a remote presence for meetings or appointments.

Robots are able to perform business and administrative tasks as patients in medical facilities are surging. This technology can be used to speed up processing patient claims, as well as intrinsically reducing the face-to-face interactions between staff and patients.

Similarly, such technology can also perform simple, yet vital tasks, including delivering medical supplies and food.

Chatbots for Communication

Communication tools like chatbots are useful while needing to maintain physical distance from others; largely used by the travel and tourism industry currently to ensure travellers are kept up-to-date on new information, regulations, and disruptions regarding travel services. It can also be used to facilitate more online communication in a wide range of sectors and contexts to promote social distancing and remote interactions.

When the planet is facing a global pandemic like COVID-19, AI, big data/data science, and other tools and resources of the technology sector cannot be undervalued when it comes to responding to the outbreak and finding a cure.

Molly Crockett is an expert marketing and business writer at Ukwritings and Boomessays, offering advice to managers looking to optimize their business practices. In her own time she regularly finds new ways to help young people develop their writing and research skills.

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