Agencies develop apps to halt virus
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Agencies develop apps to halt virus

Passengers wear masks on the skytrain in Bangkok. Tech firms are developing mobile apps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Passengers wear masks on the skytrain in Bangkok. Tech firms are developing mobile apps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Thailand's leading tech pioneers and research institutes are seeking ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through the use of a mobile app, high-performance computing, machine learning and material science.

The National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the Digital Government Development Agency (DGA) and the Department of Disease Control (DDC) developed a mobile app allowing people put under quarantine to self-assess their health conditions.

This app will be called "VWatch", said Narong Sirilertworakul, president of NSTDA.

The app is expected to be rolled out within the next two weeks.

"As for NSTDA, we will leverage our technological capabilities for epidemic crisis management as well as increase health safety measures and boost partnership to overcome this crisis," said Mr Narong.

The app helps people under quarantine fill in information, which will be promptly reported to the DDC.

"If those under quarantine report they have a fever and other risky symptoms, they will be picked up and sent to hospital quickly," he said.

NSTDA also provides high-performance computing resources for research hospitals and the startup community, offering free access for Covid-19 data assessment.

In addition, NSTDA plans to offer machine learning tools for health research institutes for CT scans of patients' lungs.

Material science, such as composite coating of hydroxyapatite and titanium dioxide, will be applied for health safety as they can be used as a fourth layer in face masks.

This can help filter viruses by 99%, Mr Narong said, citing a lab test.

Initially some 400,000 masks will have such coatings as there is still short supply in the market.

Panachit Kittipanya-ngam, president of Thailand Tech Startup Association (TTSA), said it has informally worked with 20-30 local startups to leverage staff and tech resources, while ensuring those with possible infection are kept at bay.

They also offer services that help people stay at home.

Many services from startups, including a telehealth consulting platform, medicine delivery and food delivery could ensure at-risk groups stay at home during the outbreak.

"We will use the DDC data as a tool to evaluate the risk of Covid-19 infected people to protect staff and customers," said Mr Panachit.

TTSA plans to work with government agencies for open digital platform and data exchange, he said.

Sathaporn Patanakuha, chief executive of Privacy Co, said the company offers free consulting services for a legal framework to comply with the Personal Data Protection Act in the Covid-19 environment.

Startups and state agencies involved with personal data need to have consent for data collection, he said.

They need to be held accountable when data breaches or data misuse happen, said Mr Sathaporn.

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