Saturday, July 15, 2017

Penang government plan to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to combat the spread of dengue

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Penang government plan to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to combat the spread of dengue.

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is usually defined as the science of making computers do things that require intelligence when done by humans. AI has had some success in limited, or simplified, domains.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government is planning to use the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to combat the spread of dengue by predicting where outbreaks can happen.

State Health, Agriculture and Agro-based Industries, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said knowing where dengue breaks out meant policy makers could intervene effectively.

He said action could be taken at areas predicted to have dengue outbreaks as gotong royong, fogging and larvicide activities could be conducted. He noted such anti-dengue activities were presently only carried out only after a dengue outbreak was detected.

"We have to be proactive rather than reactive," he said in a press conference yesterday.

Afif was speaking after attending a briefing by Artificial Intelligence Medical Epidemiology (AIME) president Rainier Mallol on the AIME system used to predict outbreaks.

The system was piloted in Penang for two months from May to July whic predicted 37 outbreaks 30 days in advance where 30 actually happened for a predictive accuracy of 81.08%.

 Afif said the pilot project cost RM200,000 and pointed out the exchange rate was not so favourable now.

"They are from America so we have to pay them in US dollars," he added when asked about the purportedly high cost.

Mallol meanwhile said the system needed its own high-end server to be setup as well as data for predictions to be made.

"Close to 300 data points will be collected by the AI," he added.

Afif said discussions to subscribe to the system was ongoing and he will be presenting the matter to the Exco soon for a decision to be made. "The cost to subscribe to the system is still under discussion," he said.

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