27-01-2020 5:18 am Published by Nederland.ai Leave your thoughts

During the type of virus outbreak that China and other countries are currently experiencing, time is essential. The earlier the warning, the better the chance to contain the infection.

However, a problem is that governments are sometimes reluctant to share information. That was the case in 2002 and 2003, when the Chinese authorities were accused of hiding the SARS epidemic which ultimately claimed more than 740 lives in the world.

With the current outbreak involving a corona virus that originated in Wuhan and has cost more than 40 lives so far, the Chinese government has become more transparent, as the German Health Minister said to Bloomberg yesterday on the sidelines of the Economic World Forum in Davos. (Others share a weaker vision of her efforts).

But even though Beijing had been less progressive, the world now has better means of information at its disposal than 17 years ago. One is provided by Bluedot, a Toronto startup whose AI-driven health monitoring platform analyzes billions of data points. The company was launched in 2014 and warned its customers of the outbreak on December 31, well ahead of the reports from the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The company says it uses “big data analytics to detect and anticipate the spread of the world's most dangerous infectious diseases.” Last August it announced an investment round that brought its total funding to around $ 10 million.

Bluedot uses natural language processing and machine learning techniques to sift through global news reports, aviation data, and animal disease outbreak reports, as described by Wired. Epidemiologists look at the automated results, and if everything is right, the company sends alerts to its clients in the public and private sectors.

BlueDot tries to trace and move information faster than the disease can travel. It has correctly predicted where outside of mainland China the Wuhan virus would end up in Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo after its first appearance.

The company founder, Kamran Khan, told the Canadian press: “On the one hand, the world is changing rapidly, where diseases develop and spread faster. On the other hand, we happen to have more and more access to data that we be able to use … to generate insights and spread them faster than the diseases themselves. ”

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