Using technology to fight Covid-19
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Using technology to fight Covid-19

While it's clear that the Covid-19 virus and story will not be going away for some time, the way in which people and companies are responding to the crisis is providing us with some positive outcomes and solutions that we can apply to other parts of our lives.

The use of technology for measuring and managing risk is one such area.

Some technologies are highly specific to the current outbreak. China's State Council is backing a coronavirus app that draws on a range of data points, such as public transport records and flight bookings, to tell people if they have come close to a person known to be infected with the disease.

Artificial intelligence is also being widely deployed for a range of uses, from analysing data to identifying people who are not wearing face masks and issuing an announcement informing them to put one on.

Drones are also being used for a wide range of applications, such as using thermal imaging to identify people infected with the virus and safely disinfecting contaminated areas.

The private sector is also playing a role. Citizens have been issued with QR codes that indicate their risk level from red -- requiring 14 days of quarantine -- to green -- can travel freely. In Hangzhou, this system is being facilitated through the Alipay app.

Other collaborations include Didi, the ride-hailing app, which has provided data analysis and simulations to medical and aid organisations. Tencent is using its supercomputers to aid researchers, including those at Tsinghua University and Beijing Life Sciences Institute, in their search for a vaccine.

Medical tech is playing an important role in other areas too.

Ping An Good Doctor, which provides virtual online consultation for patients, has reported more than 1.1 billion visits since the outbreak. Given the risk of transmission between medical staff and patients, remote consultations are a very useful way to reduce the need for people to come into close contact with each other.

Many people are now being required to self-quarantine and work from home. They can take advantage of platforms such as WeChat Work, Alibaba's DingTalk and ByteDance's Lark, which allow people to work remotely.

As is the case in other countries, the Covid-19 outbreak has increased Thai people's awareness of public health risks. While we may be trailing China in terms of technology solutions, we still have an opportunity to integrate the use of quality apps and platforms into our daily risk management at work and at home.

Air pollution, notably PM2.5, across Thailand over the past couple of years has resulted in a rise in the local use of apps such as AirVisual to monitor pollution and take steps to mitigate risks, such as wearing masks.

If we can take anything positive out of the Covid-19 outbreak, it could be to learn how we can better deploy technology solutions to identify and manage ongoing and future health concerns.

Suwatchai Songwanich is an executive vice-president with Bangkok Bank. For more columns in this series please visit

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