During these past few weeks, we have seen a rise in measures such as stricter border movements, to mandatory temperature scanning before entering a building, put in place by the Singapore government in bid to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Aside from these measures, we've also witnessed healthcare professionals fighting on the frontline of this pandemic.
Banding together are also developers who are working quietly behind-the-scenes to leverage and develop tech in this fight, from chatbot helpers, rapid-response test kits, to digital epidemiology tools. It is evident that tech is playing a big, vital role in helping the medical industry test, track and detect the virus and its symptoms.
As a tribute to them, we put together a list of some of the tech innovations and initiatives that are being pushed out by Singapore’s tech community to help combat the novel coronavirus.
UpCode Academy has developed a dashboard of the COVID-19 virus outbreak in Singapore, collecting and displaying data about all cases and how they are connected. They are currently collecting funding to be able to expand and launch in more countries, in belief that sharing accurate information about the situation will help fight against this disease.
Software Engineers from the national HIT agency in Singapore (IHiS) and KroniKare, a local healthcare AI startup, have partnered and created an AI-powered temperature-screening solution called iThermo. The device screens and identifies those having symptoms of fever in a more quick and safe way than manual forehead thermometers by scanning people as they walk by using a smartphone fitted with thermal laser cameras. This is also reducing the risk of frontline staff to come in contact with undetected infections.
GovTech, the Ministry of Health and PHPC have come together and created a platform, Flu Go Where, where people in Singapore can easily search for the nearest Public Health Preparedness Clinic. PHPCs and polyclinics will provide special subsidies for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents diagnosed with respiratory illnesses (e.g. common cold).
Previously, GovTech along with the People’s Association also launched Mask Go Where, displaying where respiratory masks were available to collect. However, the mask collection exercise in Singapore ended on Feb 29th.
Up until now, contact tracing has been based on the memory of interviewees. This is a flawed method, since there have been instances when interviewees have forgotten interactions or do not have any information about the people they have interacted with. The TraceTogether app launched by GovTech detects other users of the app, in a radius of 10 metres, by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between phones. The app will help facilitate the contact tracing process by enabling tracers to more quickly inform users who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases to help prevent the spread. The technology behind the app does not geo-locate or give away any identifiable information.
The Institute for Health Innovation and Technology are in the process of developing a rapid-response COVID-19 detection kit based on their 2018 enVision technology platform. Traditional detection kits for coronaviruses take a day to produce results while enVision (enzyme-assisted nanocomplexes for visual identification of nucleic acids) can detect the presence of diseases in 30-60 minutes.
Check out this global open source Coronavirus Tech Handbook, where people from all over the world are contributing with valuable, important information and tips covering everything from tech- and institutional responses to community resilience and how to spend your days in quarantine.
Or if you’re simply tired of reading about this virus, take a listen to this calming COVID-19 Lo-Fi beat.