One of the essential parts of detecting epidemic outbreaks is getting accurate, timely news. The recent outbreak of coronavirus in China is a particularly strange case, as the Chinese government censors and controls the flow of news out of the country, making it difficult to get accurate reporting. An AI bot trained to read international news specifically for the reports of disease outbreaks to give its subscribers advanced warning to potential epidemics before they happen. BlueDot successfully managed to predict the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan before the rest of the world was aware of the gravity of the situation.
A Step Towards Faster Response Times
The CDC and the WHO usually rely on the governments of affected nations to report their issues before they can take action. However, depending on the news leaving deeply authoritarian states can lead to long lag time, and a chance for an outbreak to become challenging to manage. Kamran Khan, CEO of BlueDot, thinks that AI is the way around these roadblocks. The system uses news, alongside airline ticketing data to determine where the probability of the disease spreading would be most likely. Using this system, BlueDot was successfully able to predict the spread of coronavirus from Wuhan to all the other affected areas within days of its first appearance.
Strict Improvements Over Past Systems
Google tried a similar predictive system with Google Flu Trends, but it was taken offline after failing to predict the severity of the 2013 flu season. BlueDot, on the other hand, was successful in predicting the Zika outbreak mentioned by the British medical journal The Lancet. BlueDot isn’t selling its information to the public as yet, but it is making its system available to airlines and frontline hospitals that may need to deal with incoming threats.