As Chinese authorities race to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 34,000 people and killed more than 700 in China, Beijing is turning to a familiar set of tools to find and prevent potential infections: data tracking and artificial intelligence.
Several Chinese tech firms have developed apps to help people check if they have taken the same flight or train as confirmed virus patients, scraping data from lists published by state media. In Guangzhou, southern Guangdong province, robots at one public plaza have even been deployed to scold passers-by not wearing masks, according to state-run Global Times.
In Beijing, one neighbourhood committee responsible for an apartment complex of about 2,400 households said they used flight and train data to keep track of everyone’s recent travel record.
“Use big data technology to track, screen priority (cases), and effectively forecast the development of the epidemic in real time,” China’s National Health Commission (NHC) told local governments in an online statement Tuesday.
“Strengthen the information link between… public security and transportation, and other departments,” it said, urging them to share train, flight, communication, and medical data.
As Chinese authorities search for potential infections, a point of focus has been detecting fevers, a common symptom of the disease.
While neighbourhoods and office buildings rely primarily on hand-held thermometers, public transport hubs are also trialling fever detection systems that use artificial intelligence and infrared cameras.
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