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Amidst the chaos and clampdowns in response to the new coronavirus that originated in China, technological companies have stepped up to help people prevent contamination. Tracker apps/ sites established in the country are now detecting and mapping neighbourhoods where confirmed cases have been reported. Two of the prominent trackers are QuantUrban, a data mapping program, and YiKuang, a WeChat mini programme. These platforms are updating their maps using official government information so that citizens can estimate their proximity to a highly contaminated area. The cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou are covered by YiKuang or ‘Epidemic Situation’. QuantUrban, a browser-based programme, keeps track of nine other cities in the province.
As of February 3, 2020, the death toll in Shenzhen soared to 245 cases, making the tech capital the worst affected large city. According to news reports, volunteers are also helping the process.
Another application made for the potential pandemic is coronavirus.app. Using local government and world data, the application creates estimates for the affected, those cured, and death rates. Other programmes have helped their users track public transport used by an infected person.
That's not all. Alibaba, the country’s biggest e-commerce platform, has partnered with The Global Health Drug Discovery Institute in Beijing in order to utilise artificial intelligence to track the virus. An open-sourced data platform has been developed, and the company’s tools have been offered to various institutes to accelerate research on solutions and viral gene sequencing.
The technology giant Baidu, owner of the country’s largest search engine, has started an RNA prediction algorithm called LinearFold. This system will be lent to various testing centers, epidemic prevention agencies, and scientific research institutions around the world. The company has calculated a reduction in prediction time for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from 55 minutes to merely 27 seconds, reports added.
Additionally, the big players have also contributed to the cause. Google has set up an SOS alert and information directly in the search, while Facebook and Instagram have been actively scanning posts for fake reportage.
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