Technological: Tele-medicine powered by 5G, AI-driven temperature measurement, freight transport with automatic guided vehicles and other such innovative measures are widely used to contain the spread of COVID-19 in China.
“New technologies, from 5G and big data to cloud computing and artificial intelligence, are powerful tools to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges, including the pandemic,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on Sunday.
As part of China’s “new infrastructure,” such innovations have been playing an indispensable role in the unprecedented fight against the epidemic.
The concept of new infrastructure was first put forward at China’s Central Economic Work Conference in December 2018.
It mainly focuses on three areas: information infrastructure, including 5G networks, industrial internet, AI, cloud computing and data center; converged infrastructure, which is about widening the use of technologies such as the internet, big data and AI to support the transformation and upgrade traditional infrastructure, like the smart transportation infrastructure; and innovative infrastructure, which mainly refers to the public infrastructure that supports scientific research, technology development and product development.
Power of information technology
During the SARS outbreak in 2003, it took one week for the Chinese health authorities to check one by one the 175 hospitals at or above the second class in Beijing in order to find out all the admitted cases.
Thanks to the development of digital technologies, shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, nationwide data with visual illustrations can be accessed on a daily basis. Local governments and enterprises jointly developed applications to map the epidemic, which can be viewed at any time using mobile phones.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said in February that it would support the application of the internet, big data, cloud computing and AI in epidemic monitoring, tracing of virus sources, epidemic prevention and treatment, and resource allocation.
As of late March, a total of 198,000 5G base stations had been built across China, covering over 50 million users.
In terms of medical treatment, frontline medics have been conducting remote diagnosis and treatment via 5G networks to help patients at home and abroad.
Huoshenshan and Leishenshan, two recently built hospitals in central China’s Wuhan City, are equipped with 5G network, via which patients can ask for immediate help and experts from other regions such as Beijing can discuss treatment plans with doctors working there.
Moreover, AI-based CT scans are being used to improve efficiency while supercomputing is aiding virus strain analysis. Online medical treatment and psychological assistance have also eased the pressure of offline medical resources.
Unmanned equipment facilitated by 5G network has been put into use for epidemic containment. For example, China Mobile’s Chengdu industrial research institute joined hands with two local enterprises and realized unmanned patrol. Within three days, a total of 52 residential areas, six towns and two agricultural products trading centers were well-patrolled, covering a population of 144,000 and a flight area of 210 square kilometers.
As the country resumes education, work and production in an orderly manner, AI-based temperature monitoring equipment, unmanned disinfection facilities and health QR code powered by big data have emerged as must-haves for public places and individuals.
Life reshaped by the pandemic
Many enterprises have asked their staff to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. /VCG. The pandemic has accelerated the process of digitization.
Digital technology has been particularly prominent in reshaping people’s daily life after the outbreak, with a rapid growth in mobile social networking, online entertainment, online education, telecommuting and fresh food e-commerce.
Data from the MIIT showed that the mobile internet access traffic per household in February increased by 45.5 percent year on year in China. Internet-based service enterprises realized a year-on-year growth of 10.6 percent in the revenue of the first two months.
More than 18 million enterprises in China adopted telecommuting and over 300 million users worked from home during the Spring Festival of 2020, according to iiMedia Research, a third-party data mining and analysis organization.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has given people a compelling digital experience and made them more aware of the importance of the new infrastructure construction,” said Wu Kun, secretary-general of an AI industry alliance of SenseTime, according to Xinhua News Agency.