KT aims to use telco big data to fight diseases

Eden Estopace
Healthcare Innovation

KT CEO Hwang Chang-gyu is proposing to work with the United Nations to apply big data to efforts to contain the spread of infectious diseases.

In a speech delivered at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York recently, he said the UN, governments, and telecom companies need to cooperate and form a united front to combat diseases.

Hwang emphasized that concerted efforts made by global telecom companies can prevent the spread of communicable diseases as big data, location data, and roaming data are available from 7.3 billion mobile phones.

In his speech, Hwang presented a KT case study that showcased how big data analysis can contain the spread of avian influenza (AI) disease. Results of the study confirmed that the AI transmission route is in large part identical to the movement route of livestock and poultry, and feed material delivery.

He noted that the disease control project starts with sharing the roaming data from a total of 800 telecom companies across the world, followed by sharing the roaming data freely across borders. He claims that about $60 billion to be saved from disease transmission costs.

Currently, KT is developing a system to prevent disease transmission using telecommunications big data in coalition with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The system is aiming to minimize the domestic outbreaks of infectious disease everytime it flares up anywhere in the world.

Unlike the conventional quarantine system that only checks on the country of departure for a returning traveller, the new system will be able to track down all of the countries visited. Therefore, the new system is widely expected to lower the number of cross-border infection cases by travellers.

Hwang said the big data analysis solution is also applicable to other contagious diseases such as SARS, MERS-CoV, Zika, and EBOLA. Aside from AI, KT has also developed disease prevention techniques for foot-and-mouth disease and will be sharing its big data algorithm with the UN like open source.

It said it also plans to support developing countries with its AI and foot-and-mouth disease prevention system. It is currently in talks with the World Health Organization (WHO) to set the standardization of airport quarantine procedures.

Based on the system under development and ICT know-hows in Korea, it plans to introduce measures and process applicable to different situations for each different country.

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