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As the coronavirus pandemic hit China hard in January 2020, the Chinese government was forced to take measures to contain the pandemic as it grew into a public health emergency. The pandemic occurred as the country was entering its busiest season occasioned by the Chinese New Year. This forced the Chinese government to move large amounts of medical equipment and mobile hospitals to a worst-hit city of Wuhan in Hubei province. Considering the disease is highly infectious, determining the travel paths of people who went into and out of the city was one of the hardest things.

But there was a trusted servant in technology and big data analysis that came to the rescue during this time. These technologies helped the government in making critical decisions and tracing contacts and are continuing to do so even now. In the center of the fight against COVID-19 is an app that was created to allow the healthcare professionals and responsible agencies to gain insights into the situation and monitor people infected with the disease. The app can display the real-time tracking map of the changing pandemic situation.

Below are some ways that big data and analytics was used in China to fight COVID-19

  1. Monitoring infected persons

After the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan city, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology established a working group responsible for preventing the outbreak and providing data services. These services were responsible for the coordination and sharing of information between departments. With the Teradata platform, advanced analytics created a map that displayed the flow of people, especially those who visited Hubei province, the epicenter. This map also tracked people that had tested positive for the virus within the past 14 days. This allowed officials to trace contacts. As such, the responsible agencies were able to come up with counter-measures.

  1. Drive targeted loans and interest relief for SMEs in response to COVID-19

Results from big data analytics that were conducted by the Teradata Vantage platform helped in providing targeted loans for small-and-medium-sized enterprises. These loans helped in keeping the businesses afloat during the pandemic. Through the knowledge map analysis, officials were able to determine the enterprises that were not likely to survive the effects of the pandemic. This allowed targeted loans and relief to be issued on a priority basis. The loan helped them to avoid bankruptcies. 

  1. Managing community and utilities such as water, gas, and electricity

Gathering data about the consumption of utilities is critical these days when the pandemic is forcing people to stay at home. In China, big data is used to get information on the consumption of power, water, and gas to help in the management of community. With the knowledge on the consumption of these utilities at a given time, the living conditions of residents can be known during the quarantine. Big data algorithms help the government to find out the effects of long term homestays, personnel movement, among others in the community. The same information can also be valuable in finding out the daily flow of people at a given time in a specific area.

In addition to the above areas, big data is also proving helpful in the search for drugs and vaccines that will be used to treat the virus. With the help of AI technologies, historical data can be used to identify the areas that the virus damages and proper drugs designed to fight the disease. Tsinghua University has also developed an AI platform that will be used by Chinese drug researchers free of charge. The platform stores experimental data of more than 900 small molecules that were used in seeking the coronavirus vaccines and treatments in past studies.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for Big Data & Analytics Tech Brief


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