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COVID 19: A step by step approach for target identification and tracking

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By Dr. Gopala Krishna Behara & Tirumala Khandrika, Wipro Technologies

Corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

COVID – 19 confirmed cases accelerating exponentially in several epicenters China, Europe, North America and Asia. Spread now to 196 countries across globe. Many countries including India have imposed travel and mass gathering restrictions, non-essential business closures to control the spread.

Recently, Microsoft’s Bing team has launched a web portal to track its progress worldwide. The website provides up-to-date infection statistics for each country. An interactive map allows users to click on the country to see the specific number of cases and related articles from a variety of publishers. According to sources, data is being aggregated from sources like the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Also, IBM partnered with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Energy to create the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium. It expected to harness powerful high-performance computing, or “supercomputing,” resources that will massively increase the speed and capacity of coronavirus-related research.

In this article, the authors propose a solution to identify and record the sources of COVID19 affected targets, track and record the targets movement and help the authorities using combination of processes and the tool to identify and track the affected people.

The COVID –19 spreads from Person-to-person mainly when someone with the virus speaks, coughs or sneezes. Small droplets can land in the mouth or nose of someone nearby. Droplets can also land on objects and surfaces too. No idea, how long droplets can survive on air or on surfaces. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. All these causes the transmission of virus from person to person.

Target Identification and Tracking Process
Virus spread might be possible before people show symptoms. There have been reports of this occurring with this novel coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Accurate virus tracking and spread analysis might help the governments, public sectors, hospitals along with others to allocate health officials to mitigate the virus outbreak. There need to be synergy among various government departments, control measures and the tool to efficiently identify and track the targets.

Below are various steps involved in the process of COVID-19 target identification and tracking.
Sources: There can be multiple sources to identify the suspects. Below are possible sources:

External sources – Port of entry (Airports, sea ports, country borders etc.)
Internal sources – Commercial establishments, medical establishments
Govt Agencies – Immigration control, Ministry of home affairs, Telecom department

Data from the above source systems will be gathered and processed as per the below outlined processes

Data Acquisition: The data of suspects can be gathered from above mentioned external/government sources and additionally from local sources by using GPS enabled mobile application available to everyone. It can also be captured using QR code associated with a particular commercial/medical establishment for accountability.

Data Processing: Data received from various sources will be processed by edge processing centers based on location data obtained from the acquired data. These edge processing centers can be at state level and roll into central application. The processed data authenticity will be further verified by the authorized verification agents assigned to respective locations.
The data acquired from immigration department for citizens of foreign countries will be deemed authentic.

Suspect Confirmation: After verifying the data authenticity, verification agents to confirm on the suspects using competent authority (typically medical establishments) certification. Confirmed suspect information will be persisted and target action teams will be intimated. These target action teams are at local level.

Determine Infection range: Upon receiving the suspect confirmation, location specific target action teams will reach out to the confirmed target (person) and gather travel and interaction history location wise and associate (persist as connected data) them with the target. Connected data is typically be travel history, interaction history and any other relevant data persisted as graph structure for establishing the traceability.

Actions on targets and suspects: The following are the actions to be performed on the targets,
#1 The target will be quarantined and for further medical attention
#2 A trigger will be sent to the location specific verification teams to pursue the suspects identified from the target above.  This process continues till all the suspects are inspected and targets are quarantined

Target Tracking: The target will be tagged with a GPS device and will be geo-fenced to track and record the target movements. Any further movements of the target will be restricted

The following diagram depicts the flow of the Target Identification and tracking

High level Solution
The below diagram represents a high level view of the application and brief description of various sub systems.

The solution is based on Cloud Native Architecture with event driven middleware for high scalability and loose coupling. Data from various sources (external systems) identified above in the diagram will be acquired by the application for further processing. Integration, authentication, transformation and any other system specific requirements of channel and external systems are handled by API gateway. IOT gateway will be used to get the data from the tracking device used to track the targets.

Data from edge processing centers and any local centers will be received by API gateway to be processed by the application. API gateway also broadcasts any messages intended for localized processing centers.

API/IOT gateway shall convert the acquired data to events and push to the respective topics on the event driven middleware (EDM). Event handlers (subscribers) will be registered to receive specific events they are interested in.

Subscribers will process the received data and persist to a graph database in case the data is related to a target identification and tracking. Target data, travel history, contact history and any other related information will be stored as a graph (connected data) for effective tracing.
Each graph can link to graph of another person (from the contact history).

Data can be retrieved from the database to be used for reports and dashboards. Predictive analytics for early warnings and for any specific trend analysis can be done by the Machine Learning (ML) module based on the requirements. User management module includes group and user management, KYC and any third party registrations. User/group, third party KYC includes validation of required documents and permits to be eligible for registration

Task management to allocate tasks (in a location specific manner) in case of any actionable event.  Message management deals with various on demand and broadcast messages about actionable events, policy updates, task allocation and any other miscellaneous messages.
Policy management creates, modifies and enforces various policies ex: legal, rewards etc. for various users and/ groups. Horizontal services like RBAC, logging and audit trail provide the required support to the functional modules.

There is a strong need to come up with a solution for COVID 19 target identification and tracking as the chain can quickly become uncontrollable. This solution in a generic way address the issue of any target identification and tracking for any specific cause identified. As it’s foreseen that there will be more such pandemics in the future, it makes sense to come up with a strong identification and tracking mechanism to counter the spread. Hence this tool inception.

Note about the authors:
Dr. Gopala Krishna Behara is a Lead Enterprise Architect in the Global Enterprise Architecture division of Wipro;  Tirumala Khandrika is a Senior Architect in Wipro Digital, division of Wipro.

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