Evolving Complexity

So, since my last blog text, the Game of Corona has certainly become more serious and complex in terms of countries and people affected and the consequences for societies and businesses.  According to the World Health Organization, the figures on March 4 were as follows: a total of 92 943 reported cases of COVID-19 globally and 3 160 deaths. The organization has raised its assessment of the risk of spread and impact of COVID-19 to be very high at the global level.

From Wikimedia Commons, street photo in Guangzhou city

In order to avoid creating unnecessary panic, but to try to be wise, prepared and win the game, we need to take feasible, appropriate, but at the same time proportional countermeasures and share correct information on the subject.

This takes me to the news that caught my eye for some time ago. It was about the use of some modern information tools for giving early warning and forecasting the spread of coronavirus. Like you may know, in threat events we are always running against time, but we have seen that states may vary in their willingness to share information on the existence and progress of the situation. However, truthful, objective and timely information and critical looks over the data sources are something we really need – denying and hiding the facts and figures do not help anybody. The same is true for fake news, rumors and false information that start to spread easily together with insecurity.

Artificial intelligence may create mixed feelings and thoughts on its use for the good and the bad, but as a matter of fact, AI is a valuable and interesting tool like a Canadian company, BlueDot, shows. According to the company, they provide solutions to track, contextualize and anticipate infectious disease risks.  They utilize an AI-driven health monitoring platform in order to analyze billions of data points that originate from global news reports, blogs, airline data and reports of animal disease outbreaks. They claim to combine more than 100 data sets with proprietary algorithms to deliver critical insights on the spread of infectious diseases. Natural-language processing and machine learning techniques are applied to screen the data. After  evaluations made by health professionals, the BlueDot sends the automated results as early-warnings to its clients in the public and private sectors. In fact, the company was capable of alerting its customers of the corona outbreak already at the end of December 2019. This took place even before the notifications were made by the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just recently, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland announced that they also take use of AI for analyzing Twitter discussions and the themes raising around corona.  In the Game of Corona, one front line seems to be formed by a division of Brothers and Sisters in Arms – the experts of different fields equipped with advanced data analytics.

How about taking this one step further and applying machine-learning and AI as tools in fighting against intentional CBRN threat events, too?  

WHO – World Health Organization

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The views and opinions expressed in Bertin Environics Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Environics Oy. Any content provided by the authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, neither they serve as a scientific statement.


Katja Kiukas

(FORMER) CBRN Application Manager

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