One company that puts Artificial Intelligence to work in a powerful way was able to identify important trends that recognized the novel coronavirus nine days before the WHO announced COVID-19’s emergence. The company, BlueDot, is a proprietary software-as-a-service offering designed to locate, track and predict infectious disease spread. The BlueDot engine collects data on over 150 diseases and syndromes around the world by searching every 15 minutes around the clock. This data collection includes official data from organizations like the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. However, more importantly, their system also depends on reams of less structured, and in many cases, even unstructured information. The story by itself would normally be interesting enough, however the timing of this makes this an ultra-compelling read.
On December 30, 2019, BlueDot, a Toronto-based startup that uses a platform built around artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data to track and predict the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases, alerted its private sector and government clients about a cluster of “unusual pneumonia” cases happening around a market in Wuhan, China.
That was the first recognition of the novel coronavirus that has come to be known asCOVID-19. It would be another nine days before the World Health Organization released its statement alerting people to the emergence of a novel coronavirus. As of the date of this story, more than 114,700 cases have been reported worldwide accompanied by more than 4,000 deaths.
How did BlueDot do it?
A little history is important.