February 28, 2024

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University Students Develop Tech Solutions to Combat COVID-19

The spread of viruses is a complicated function of several factors, including biological properties, preventative measures such as sanitation and masks, the environment, and the level of physical proximity. Governments can control this last factor through social-distancing directives. However, with a pandemic like COVID-19, data is always lagging and biased because it can take a week or more for a patient to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 and be recorded as positive.

As a result, there may be a time lag of several weeks between the implementation of a regulatory measure and its observed effect. As a result, there is an urgent need for real-time information on the level of physical proximity while maintaining personal privacy.

The pilot experiment of a virtual token, a collaboration between researchers at the University of Auckland and universities in Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States. The virtual token app spreads harmless tokens among smartphone users using Android phones and Bluetooth to better understand the relationship between physical mobility and epidemic spread.

Following the rapid Auckland lockdown, the virtual token experiment is already giving signals showing that the lockdown works to inhibit the spread of both Covid-19 as well as the virtual token strands.

The virtual token was created to assist public health officials in controlling epidemics such as Covid-19 by providing real-time data on people’s general level of contact. Such real-time data could, for example, assist officials in understanding the efficacy of various regulatory measures. When participants run the virtual token app, it sends and receives Bluetooth signals, or tokens, that simulates virus spread. The app then sends a total number of ‘virtual infections’ to a server. The app’s collected data is aggregated and anonymised.

“This experiment aims to improve scientific understanding of how physical mobility and epidemic spread interact and how evolving technologies for assessing epidemic spread can be improved,” says the project leader of the project at the University of Auckland.

“The app on Android phones collects anonymised aggregated data on secure servers but is of course harmless. This data can provide epidemiologists with real datasets that should be a great resource for policymakers to beat future pandemics early on.” In the real world, the spread of an epidemic like Covid-19 is a complicated function of multiple factors such as biological properties, preventative measures like sanitation and masks, the environment, and the level of physical proximity between people.

Unlike contact-tracing apps, the virtual token does not record any information about the identity of people who encounter a participant; instead, it simply records whether their devices have received one or more virtual tokens (if they are also running the app). But, more importantly, it transmits this data in real-time to a central database. This gives it a significant advantage over contact tracing apps in terms of understanding how an epidemic spread in a population. Contact tracing apps report more detailed information on the identities of contacts but much later if the owner of a device tests positive.

The virtual token app was designed to respond to contacts in the same way that a real virus would, but only a small percentage of the population would need to participate for the app to provide reliable predictions about the effect of social distancing on virus transmission.

After five days of lockdown, the system’s live measurements show that the number of exposed participants is decreasing, which is reflected in the number of incubating participants. The number of infected participants, on the other hand, remains constant.

Even though it is impossible to measure exposed cases in Covid cases, the effect of the lockdown on actual case numbers in New Zealand is not yet visible. The virtual token will allow citizens to see the actual effect of lockdown measures in the subset of the population that has the app on their devices.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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