The rapid spread of COVID-19 has brought together doctors, researchers and data scientists to find a solution. Scientists are using sophisticated technologies such as big data analytics, machine learning, and natural language processing for tracking the virus and learning more about it.
As lots of patient data is being stored now, it is difficult to analyze each record and determine a solution to curb the virus. This is where big data comes in. Big data is becoming a powerful tool in analyzing these datasets and identifying patterns that can help in COVID-19 detection and recovery.
How is Big Data helping in the fight against COVID-19?
The big data role in COVID-19 aid starts from the first step – detection. Toronto-based big data startup BluDot detected some unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China in December 2019. They did it by using their big data algorithm that pulled data from a variety of sources. The algorithm analyzed data from health records, airline ticketing data, government notices, news reports and disease networks to predict the rise of an illness.
Analyzing the spread of COVID-19
Using airline ticketing data, BluDot was able to predict the spread of COVID-19 from Wuhan to other Asian cities. Apart from this, mobile phone data is also used for tracking where the virus might spread. Location statistics are also useful.
For example, big data tools can analyze disease data and information about senior citizens, who are at risk of contracting coronavirus. The algorithms and tools can track these people down to the postcode level, keeping in mind factors such as obesity or diabetes. These analysis reports will suggest healthcare centers and hospitals where additional medical facilities such as beds will be required.
Data scientists are working on mobile applications that will be used for contact tracing. By utilizing the location data on their smartphones, people can be alerted if they have been exposed to the virus. A team at Southern Illinois University (SIU) has developed a data visualization tool that uses GPS data to alert users about locations of COVID-19 cases.
Virus tracking dashboards
Big data role in COVID-19 aid is becoming more evident as organizations such as WHO, CDC and Microsoft are creating dashboards based on it. These dashboards pull data from different countries and show confirmed cases, deaths and locations. The dashboards can be used to prepare datasets for big data models. The models can predict possible hotspots and warn the healthcare authorities beforehand.
Another crucial big data process used against COVID-19 is outbreak analytics. This deals with the collection and analysis of outbreak response data. Data including deaths, confirmed cases, tracing people contacted by infected patients, population densities, and much more are used to develop data models for the disease. These models can predict peak infection rates and their impact.
Big data can play an important role in analyzing screening data of patients and connecting it with unnamed health issues of hospitalized patients. The results of this analysis will help in determining the key risk factors. So, as more and more data is fed into big data programs and tools, the accuracy of risk predictions will increase.
Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence system uses big data to understand the virus by analyzing its characteristics. This will help doctors to develop drugs and treatment plans.
Big data role in COVID-19 aid – Securing our future
After this global pandemic is resolved, big data can help the governments to prevent and battle against future outbreaks. The data from this outbreak can be used to test scenarios and analyze their outcomes to make vital decisions in the future.
In the upcoming years, big data will play an important role in analyzing global data about detected viruses, disease modeling, tracking human activity and visualization of this data. As more and more data pile up into huge datasets, data scientists will have a better shot at preventing such outbreaks. Read more to learn how data science helps us to prevent future pandemics.
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