A Microsoft engineer who designed an app to track North Dakota State University football fans on their annual trek to Texas for the national championship has taken that concept and applied it to contact tracing for the coronavirus.
The Care19 app is meant to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by retracing the steps of people who test positive for the virus, in order to find others who may have had contact with the sick person and also collect data to help with modeling, Gov. Doug Burgum said Tuesday during his daily briefing.
"This is a way that every North Dakotan can save lives by downloading the Care19 app," Burgum said.
Tim Brookins, 55, a principal software engineer at Fargo's Microsoft campus and CEO of sports app software company ProudCrowd, came up with the popular Bison Tracker app a half-dozen years ago. Last year, more than 15,000 football fans from various states and provinces accessed the app en route to North Dakota State's eighth national title in nine years.
Burgum, a former executive at Microsoft, sparked the idea at a COVID-19 brainstorming session with Microsoft engineers when he introduced Brookins as the creator of Bison Tracker.
"My staff just lit up and said, 'That's what we need,'" Brookins told The Associated Press.
The app is free and optional. It has been approved for Apple users and should be available for Android devices in about a week, Burgum said.
Like the Bison Tracker, Care19 is anonymous and doesn't ask for names, phone numbers or log-in information. Once the app is downloaded, individuals will be given a random ID number and it will cache the individual's locations throughout the day. Users are then encouraged to categorize their movement into different groups such as work or grocery.
State health officials have so far been relying on extensive interviews with people who are sick, or in some cases incapacitated. The app should show all the places the user has been for at least 15 minutes, the time it takes to put people at high risk for contracting the virus if there's face-to-face contact, according to federal health officials.
The app can also assign a risk score to the users depending how they move and interact across the state, Brookins said. If a person stays home for the most part with maybe an occasional trip to the grocery store or gas station, he or she would be assigned to a low-risk pool. If people go to work for eight hours, in many cases for jobs deemed essential, that would likely place them in the high-risk bucket.
The information should be valuable for state officials in their modeling and planning, said Brookins, noting that Burgum is a "very data-driven man." One reason the governor has not issued a stay-at-home order is because he said he hasn't found statistics showing that it makes a difference.
"Everybody wants to know, especially our president, when we can go back to normal, when we can release the stay-at-homes, things like that," Brookins said. "Well, knowing how people are moving will inform that and we'll have much better projections."
In collaboration with Huawei, Deloitte has published a whitepaper recently discussing how key features of 5G can combine with other technologies to enhance the effectiveness of pandemic prevention and treatment, as well as drive the digital transformation of healthcare systems in response to major public emergencies.
The whitepaper, titled "Combating COVID-19 with 5G: Opportunities to improve public health systems", analyzes examples of COVID-19 control and treatment in China to ascertain the data demands of different stakeholders during major public emergencies, said a press release.
As well as presenting these findings, the report discusses how key features of 5G—such as high speed connection, large arrays of connection points, low latency and expansive data bandwidth—can synergize with big data, AI, and the Cloud technologies to enhance pandemic prevention efforts.
These features can address data transmission challenges during an epidemic, as well as open up possibilities for fresh ideas and new treatment methods.
Amongst its findings, the whitepaper notes that the effectiveness of communication and data exchange has been essential in screening for infected individuals and controlling the outbreak.
Robust mobile network infrastructure like 5G is also enabling continuous remote monitoring and diagnosis during patient transfers, and is supporting thermal imaging for contagion monitoring.
Supporting pandemic monitoring platforms, natural disaster command centers, and remote medical consultation are three additional applications of 5G that can be taken advantage of after the rapid escalations of COVID-19.
Ultimately, healthcare systems with access to 5G connectivity have benefited from improved response times, patient monitoring, data collection and analytics, remote collaboration, and resource allocation. It sets an example for building digitalized, data-driven, and cloud-based public emergency-response platforms.
In China, Huawei worked with Huazhong University of Science & Technology and Lanwon Technology to develop and launch an AI-assisted quantitative medical image analysis service for COVID-19.
With the leading AI technologies such as computer vision and medical image analysis, the service can automatically output CT quantification results to imaging and clinical doctors, alleviating the shortage of imaging doctors who can accurately diagnose COVID-19, relieving the pressures of quarantines, and reducing the heavy workloads of doctors.
The whitepaper notes that the success of 5G applications in the public health domain could inspire businesses in other sectors to leverage 5G's popularity and explore new applications of the technology in smart city management.
These may include manufacturing resource allocation to environmental protection and transportation systems maintenance.
Huawei and its global partners have worked together on multiple 5G projects, covering many domains including healthcare, new media, campus, and education.
Through its 5G Partner Innovation Program, Huawei plans to invest US$20 million into innovative 5G applications over the next 5 years, contributing to a thriving 5G ecosystem.
As a leading global 5G supplier, Huawei has been awarded 91 commercial 5G contracts and shipped over 600,000 5G Massive MIMO Active Antenna Units (AAUs).
Israeli hi-tech companies raised about 2.74 billion U.S. dollars in funds in the first quarter of 2020, setting an all-time record, the Israeli IVC Research Center reported Sunday.
In comparison, Israeli hi-tech companies raised 2.36 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2019, and 1.56 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2019.
The new record was set in 139 deals, up from 138 deals in the fourth quarter 2019, and 130 deals in the first quarter of 2019, according to the Israel Tech Funding Report, written by IVC and ZAG-S&W law firm.
According to the report, the COVID-19 crisis has caused businesses to cease regular activity and search for ways to survive this uncertain period.
They noted that the first to suffer from the global recession in the Israeli hi-tech industry were young seed companies, with only four capital-raising deals made since February.
Marianna Shapira, research director at IVC, told Xinhua that "the coronavirus crisis impacts are not yet reflected in the data because it includes continuous deals and trends from previous quarters, but the changes will be significantly seen in the coming quarters' figures."
Noting that the telecom sector is facing economic challenges following the coronavirus outbreak, the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) on Thursday urged the law enforcers to extend cooperation for smooth functioning of top-up stores during the ongoing nationwide shutdown.
It also informed that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are already observing trends in usage patterns that may leave some dent on their overall revenue, said a press release.
The data usage has increased by 15-20 percent following the reduction of data pack tariffs byup to 50 percent, AMTOB said, adding that the voice calls have dropped by upto 20 percent in the last couple of days.
It also said the total number of recharge through the retail channels has also dropped by around 20 percent due to the restrictions on people’s movement.
The organisation alleged that although telecom sector was declared as an emergency service during this crisis period, law enforcement agencies are imposing restrictions in some places.
It also urged customers to recharge for talk time using other means such as mobile financial services, electronic money transfer and mobile applications.
The government on Wednesday extended holidays till April 11 to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Earlier, a general 10-day holiday was declared from March 26 to April 4.
Grameenphone (GP) will donate 50,000 units of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and 10,000 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test kits to hospitals designated for coronavirus treatment by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
These will help protect health professionals on the frontline tackling the outbreak situation, said a press release of GP.
Posts and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar welcomed the initiative, and said he hoped other companies will also come forward and stand beside the government to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.
Yasir Azman, Chief Executive Officer of Grameenphone, said: "This is our utmost responsibility to contribute as individuals and corporations during this unprecedented global crisis.”
Meanwhile, Bangladesh confirmed its sixth coronavirus death and three more cases on Wednesday, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 54.