Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Digital technology in Asia's pandemic response

McKinsey and The Financial Times have published an interesting article on the role of technology in Asia's pandemic response.  For a number of reasons, South Korea is the region's outstanding example of how to leverage digital networks and related technologies to attack the outbreak of a novel virus.  Click on the graphic for a full size version.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Digital technology drives Korea's battle against COVID-19

For those who want a deeper dive into South Korea's battle against COVID-19, I highly recommend looking at the translations being done by the COVID Translate Project.  All to often, the details of what is happening here in The Republic of Korea don't get to a broad international audience for one simple reason.  They are not translated into English or other languages. 
Hats off to all the volunteers who are working with the COVID Translate Project.
  Medium recently published an informative article on "How Korea Does Contact Tracing" based on a report available through the COVID Translate Project.  The approach makes it clear that a multi-pronged effort utilizing mobile networks, big data and related digital technologies is an important part of the picture.  Perhaps more importantly, Korea is a democracy and its citizens, corporations and government are all invested in the ongoing battle against this new, deadly corona virus.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Korea's digital battle against COVID-19

South Korea today is leveraging its world-leading digital network infrastructure to battle the corona virus pandemic and that battle, rightly so, is attracting a great deal of international attention. For example, Brookings recently published an interesting account by an expatriate professor in Busan, entitled "How surveillance technology powered South Korea's COVID-19 response."  In April The New Yorker published an interesting interview with a government official in Mapo-Gu containing details on how Gu-level government offices are involved in the battle against COVID-19.  The Harvard Business Review examined "How digital contact tracing slowed COVID-19 in East Asia" appropriately noting that Korea's aggressive approach to combating the virus was influenced by its earlier experience with the MERS outbreak in 2015.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

ICT in Korea's fight against COVID-19

Digital networks and technologies have played a central role in South Korea's battle against the novel coronavirus COVID-19.  The government recently released an excellent report with a lot of detail on the multi-pronged, early coordinated effort. (download it here)  I also recommend Victor Cha's recent article in Foreign Affairs.  I believe the rest of the world can benefit from Korea's example and experience.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

COVID-19, networks and decentralized diagnostics

The Korea Times carried an interesting article today entitled  "COVID-19 outbreak to shed new light on decentralized diagnostics."  It so happens that I'm teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses (online of course!) this semester on networked communication technologies, with a focus on the Internet and related digital networks.  Learning more about the Internet as the largest engineered construction project in human history encourages us to think about the future role that networked digital technologies will play in the world, including their role in combating pandemics like the current coronavirus outbreak.
The Korea Times article uses the example of the blood cell diagnostics firm Noul to highlight the "importance of decentralization in diagnostics, which can help the world to detect diseases faster and prevent epidemics more effectively."  It goes on to explain that "Conventional blood cell diagnostics requires processing of collecting venous blood, smearing and staining and microscopy analysis. These processes are mostly done manually by experienced technicians, thus taking anywhere from one to 66 days for results and requiring large labs, a significant workforce and facilities for water waste."
Noul has combined the whole process of blood cell diagnostics into the device ― which is the size of a small conveyor toaster ― and can produce test results in 15 minutes. (click on graphic for a full size image) "Instead of the conventional labor-intensive sample preparation, miLab tests blood with cartridges, which uses solid chemicals instead of liquid reagents for staining. With a few drops of finger-pricked blood in the cartridge, miLab automatically does the smearing, staining, digital microscopic imaging, and AI analytics. By using different cartridges, the device can diagnose various other oncology diseases including breast and thyroid cancers."
Digital networks may indeed play an important role in public health by enabling smart, decentralized manufacturing of needed equipment, such as the ventilators that are currently in such short supply around the world.  The New York Times and other media have already reported on the use of 3D printers to make copies of ventilator parts to help health care providers.