Forecasting Covid-19 pandemic with predictive analytics and Big Data tools
A month long virtual event “Big Data and the Big Fight”, focused on understanding various states’ strategies and planning to fight against the pandemic culminated on August 6, which saw imminent speakers like Jayesh Ranjan from Telangana, Dr. K. S. Jawahar Reddy from Andhra Pradesh and M. VijayaKumar from Tamil Nadu. They all agreed that without analytic tools and emerging technologies, the fight against Covid-19 was not possible.
A month long series of webinars “Big Data and the Big Fight” organised by Express Computer and SAS came to an end on August 6, 2020 with the culmination of South zone webinar in which officials from Telagana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu participated and shared experiences of their fight against the coronavirus.
While delivering the Keynote Address at the south webinar, Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Department of ICT and Industries & Commerce, Government of Telangana spoke at length about a string of digital initiatives that the Telangana government has taken to prevent spread of the pandemic and trace, and treat patients in the state.
He pointed out that the country has done exceedingly well on the Covid-19 front by using cutting edge technology. Telangana has not seen alarming transmission of the pandemic and the state has been able to ensure it doesn’t go out of control.
He highlighted that a lot of analytical decisions have been taken by the Telangana government ever since the pandemic broke out in the country.
“The state has created two dashboards for beneficiaries in the health and other departments. The government has eight data sets namely-households, migrants’ data of municipal corporations, pin code data of old age people, statewide Covid-19 data, data of labourers, partnerships with aggregator companies and medical corporations data,” he said, adding, the government has predicted Covid-19 spread right till November, 2020.
Ranjan said Telangana was one of the first states to open industries in a phased manner and no restrictions on the number of employees and shifts were imposed because the government was confident of having solutions through predictive tools.
He said that the state has worked tremendously well in healthcare by using Big Data which enabled the stakeholders to get real time information on number of beds, doctors and other medical facilities across the state.
The webinar’s second Keynote speaker, Dr. K. S. Jawahar Reddy, Special Chief Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Andhra Pradesh said that the government started strengthening all the districts with testing capacities and hospital preparedness.
He stated that “learn everyday and evolve” was the mantra of the government in Covid-19 management in Andhra Pradesh.
He concurred with the fact that non-digital management was not possible.
Dr Reddy said that his department had to go through a lot of data and keep an eye on the analytics to track patients.
“Technology was used in all phases of Covid-19 like detection, contact tracing, isolation, testing, hospital admission, clinical management and discharges/deaths,” he added.
“We tested 100 percent people who were coming back to the state,” he mentioned.
Dr Reddy spoke about enhancement of testing capacities which has now risen to 60,000 tests per day and how patient identity number is being generated automatically for the officials to track such patients’ recovery and health parameters.
He said that the people in Andhra Pradesh can download test results in the PDF form and that data gets transferred to village and district administrations. Once districts get the data, contact tracing teams connect with persons tested positive to keep a track of their health.
Dr Reddy informed that at present 5-10 percent cases require hospital admission in the state. Monitoring teams of experts have been instructed to reach hospitals daily to interact with people found positive, he remarked.
He also spoke that in order to get latest healthcare related inputs and information, the state health department conducts webinars with AIIMS regularly.
Andhra Pradesh has also partnered with UNICEF and door to door syndromic surveys are being conducted.
Meanwhile, while giving his special address, M. VijayaKumar, Managing Director, Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd (ELCOT), Government of Tamil Nadu highlighted that Chennai is the ‘Mecca’ of medicine as it has some of the best doctors.
He said that a combination of tradition and technology was the solution of Covid-19 and India can find a solution to the global pandemic as it has all capabilities to do so.
“Traditional Ayurveda will solve Covid-19. The western world is struggling to find a solution but Ayurveda can help in finding a thorough solution not just to prevent the spread but to kill the virus,” he said.
Dr. Viduthalai Virumbi Balagurusamy, Health Officer, Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Department of Health, Government of Tamil Nadu said it is important to have a baseline data so that emerging technologies can run on that data.
Dr Balagurusamy mentioned that the private sector should share the data with the government, which can solve 50 percent of the problem. In Tamil Nadu, the data surveillance tool was used and data analytics was run over it for taking actionable decisions.
He added that Tamil Nadu has taken multiple IT initiatives in the form of IVRS facility for citizens, call centre, website and Telegram channel.
He believes that human resource shortage and de-duplication of data are the two challenges being faced by the government.
Radhakrishna B, Director – Fraud Management & Security Intelligence Practice, SAS Institute (India) Pvt Ltd said that state governments wanted to understand in the midst of April what could be the repercussion on the people if the lockdown is relaxed. They wanted to know about the peak and number of infections. “We updated the governments on these predictions,” Radhakrishna stated.
He said that SAS helped the governments to understand what could be the possible migration and the number of people likely to come back to their domicile states. It helped district administrations to put healthcare infrastructure, like beds, in place to meet surge in number of cases.
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