China uses big data to fight COVID-19
By Wei Diqi

China is using big data to accurately prevent and control future coronavirus cases. Data collection and analysis are helping authorities make better decisions for prevention work. 

People coming back to the city, workers heading back to offices, and now, pinpointed locations of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. This is the platform where all the latest epidemic information can be monitored in Beijing's Haidian District. 

CGTN interviewed the director of Industry Promotion Division II of Zhongguancun Science City Administrative Committee, Shu Bilei. He said, "It took us around a week to develop it. We aim to collect all the data from different platforms, such as community and some tech firms. For example, when someone is coming back to Beijing and needs to register personal details while going into their neighborhoods, details about transportation and body temperature will be immediately uploaded to the community and then we will know that."

The biggest challenge of virus prevention work for now is to monitor the flow of suspected people. Chinese search giant Baidu has made efforts to track the virus with the help of big data.

According to Xie Dehua, the senior manager, Baidu Maps Operation Management Department, "At the outset, we upgraded our Baidu Migration Index to provide information about travel flows of people from high-risk areas, such as Wuhan or Hubei Province. As the virus broke out, we built a special 'epidemic map,' that is updated in real-time with authoritative information, including the location of confirmed cases, so people can avoid going to the same places."

Using big data can help authorities make quick and effective decisions. But Shu says, it can't impact people's decisions, only make information more accurate and efficient. "We need to link all this collected information together, so as to improve the efficiency of data analysis. Then the government can make some hypotheses and prevention work based on this analysis."

However, with the widespread collection of personal information, data security and unauthorized use of it become major concerns for the public. To address these concerns, the Cyberspace Administration of China recently emphasized, it's important to protect personal data and has set a few principles to regulate third party data collection.