Emerging technologies have been deployed across Asia to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. From Singapore to South Korea to China, technology is being used by governments around the globe to monitor and comprise the coronavirus outbreak — some over others.
“Occasionally the rate of innovation in emerging digital technologies can be held by infrastructure, funding and bureaucratic limitations,” explained Jonathan Tanner, an electronic adviser at the Overseas Development Institute, a think tank.
“When faced with a challenge like reacting to the coronavirus outbreak, there are powerful incentives to overcome those constraints quickly and place new technologies to the evaluation,” he further added.
In Singapore, the government there has established an app named TraceTogether. This app uses Bluetooth signals between smartphones to see if potential carriers of the coronavirus have been in close contact with different people. This is yet another powerful tool utilized by the authorities to monitor potential carriers as well as contact tracing teams on the floor. The use of software paired with greater surveillance have imputed to the country’s slow rate of disease compared to many other countries.
An identical tech strategy was used in Hong Kong, where a number of citizens were required to wear a wristband which linked to a smartphone program and could alert authorities if a person suspected or infected with coronavirus left their place of quarantine.
In the beginning stages of this outbreak, South Korea has been supposed to be the next possible epicentre of the virus. On 1 March, it was reported that South Korea had a total of 3,736 infections with over 500 infections overnight while Italy in precisely the same time reported that a total of 1,577 cases.
The South Korean authorities used documents such as credit card transactions, smartphone place data and CCTV video as well as interviews with people to make a system where verified cases were monitored. The end result was used to create a map which was released to the general public for them to monitor if they’d made contact with a coronavirus carrier.
As of Thursday, South Korea has reported 10,062 instances and 174 deaths while Italy has over 115,242 instances and 13,915 deaths. South Korea has with no doubt, displayed among the most exemplary government responses to the pandemic. The nation began its crisis response when it had only four documented cases on 27 January — instructing 20 medical businesses to begin development of testing kits. By mid-March the country had put up walk-in test booths nationwide and analyzed over 290,000 individuals and recognized 8,000 infections. The wide scale testing and effective monitoring makes South Korea’s reported instances among the very accurate on the planet.
Last week, the South Korean government established an improved instrument that it says can help monitor patients much more closely at near real time, in order to observe where the disease was shifting
‘Living in a farce’
While Asian nations are faster to use data-centric apps to respond to the crisis, countries like the United States (US) have yet to embrace a universal program to create a central channel for a nationwide monitoring system. Even hospital staff who may have been exposed can’t get a test, she said. “We’re a rich country but we don’t have these kinds of things?”
Malaysia can be taking strides in technology and innovation atop the outbreak. The World Health Organisation (WHO) immediately picked up on a community-based website called CoronaTracker developed through the expertise of 2,000 people such as data scientists, medical professionals, IT developers, graphic designers as well as residents from all over the world.
CoronaTracker was created to stop the spread of misinformation as well as centralising available data for study purpose. The web site has been recognised as a valuable tool in forecasting and forecasting infections, deaths, and recoveries which could be used on a worldwide scale.
Although the technology employed in different countries change, the ultimate goal of embracing these methods are universal; track and contain.