NHS trials AI
to predict demand;
Facebook tracker
goes global

The latest news and insight on how the technology sector is reacting to Covid-19. 

NHS trials AI system to predict ventilator demand

The NHS is trialling an artificial intelligence system to help predict upcoming demand for intensive care beds and ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic across England. Trials of the predictive system, known as the COVID 19 Capacity Planning and Analysis System (CPAS), began today at four hospitals.

It harnesses the principles of machine learning to provide statistics, forecasts and simulation environments to the NHS to better plan resources during the pandemic. For example, predictions made by the machine learning system could inform a hospital that capacity will be reached in advance, giving it time to bring in extra resources or share capacity with neighbouring hospitals.

If CPAS proves to be accurate, the NHS will look to roll it out across the rest of the country.

Facebook launches worldwide coronavirus tracking project

Facebook will roll out a coronavirus tracking project across the world, Mark Zuckerberg has said. A survey that asks users to input their symptoms has already been trialled in the US, and will now be made available globally.

The social media giant is running the research in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, which will publish the findings of its first phase today. Zuckerberg told reporters that the university’s researchers were receiving a million responses a week. As part of the global rollout, Facebook will build a tool that allows researchers from across the world to access the information gained from the survey, Zuckerberg said.

New York healthcare provider installs video calling in hospital rooms

Northwell Health, based in New York state, is fitting coronavirus patients’ hospital rooms with Amazon Echo Shows. The two-way video calling devices will allow doctors to speak to patients on video, rather than in person – a move designed to limits healthcare workers’ exposure to the virus and to cut down use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Northwell is the largest healthcare provider in New York state, which is in turn the epicentre of the virus outbreak in the US. America is now the country with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus patients.

CNN reports that elsewhere in America, hospitals have constructed video calling tools where they can – including attaching iPads to IV poles at one hospital in Massachusetts.

Alibaba to invest $28bn in cloud infrastructure after virus boosts demand

Alibaba will invest 200bn yuan ($28bn) in its cloud infrastructure over three years, the company has announced. The investment decision comes after measures to suppress coronavirus prompted a huge demand for business software in China.

The company has said that it will fund work on semiconductor and operating system development, and on building out its data centre infrastructure. During lockdown in China throughout February, the company’s software was widely used – notably DingTalk, a workplace chat app.

The Independent

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