Qatar harnesses AI, digital solutions to combat Covid-19: OBG
April 25 2020 07:47 PM
Oxford Business Group
Oxford Business Group

Qatar is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital solutions as part of its efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19, Oxford Business Group (OBG) has said in a report.

Besides closing educational institutions and non-essential businesses, locking down parts of the Industrial Area and implementing social distancing, “technology is being deployed to limit the social and economic damage of the pandemic,” OBG noted.

Central to these efforts is the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), part of Hamad bin Khalifa University.

Working with the MoPH and Hamad Medical Corporation, the QCRI has been developing a series of new digital platforms – as well as redirecting existing ones – to prevent the spread of the virus, OBG said.

A few weeks ago, in an effort to reduce pressure on the country’s health system and to minimise transmission, the QCRI launched an online self-assessment application that educates users on the symptoms of Covid-19, and advises when to seek medical help.

The app has been made available in 11 languages including Arabic, English, Hindi and Filipino, and has recorded over 500,000 users to date, it said.

Elsewhere, the QCRI’s "fake news" detection platform, known as ‘Tanbih’, is being deployed in the fight against virus-related disinformation.

“Launched in 2018, the news aggregator platform leverages QCRI’s advanced AI and analytics programmes to uncover news being circulated via social media that is deemed to be false,” OBG said.

“As the world joins forces to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, it is also facing another crucial war: a global infodemic,” Ahmed Elmagarmid, executive director of QCRI, told OBG.

“This infodemic is ranked second on the World Health Organisation’s focus areas, with dangers ranging from promoting fake cures, rumours and conspiracy theories, to disinformation and panic. Therefore, scientists at QCRI have developed technologies and innovations to promote awareness amongst readers and to uncover fake news.”

Another QCRI initiative – the data-processing platform ‘Rayyan’ – allows healthcare experts and researchers working against Covid-19 to accumulate and process the huge amount of virus-related information that is emerging daily.

By providing a platform that collects all general research associated with Covid-19, the initiative significantly cuts down the time it takes to conduct further medical research.

“Looking forward, in an effort to restrict community transmission of the virus, the government announced earlier this month that it was close to launching a new app called ‘Ehteraz’.

“Connected to the MoPH’s database, the app will use GPS and Bluetooth technology to help diagnose and track Covid-19 cases, informing users if they come into contact with those who have tested positive,” OBG said.

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