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Pakistan

Web Desk
June 17, 2020

Technology behind Pakistan’s hotspot-based lockdown strategy for COVID-19

Pakistan

Web Desk
Wed, Jun 17, 2020
AFP/Files

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has began to impose smart lockdown in coronavirus hotspots in a bid to avoid economic losses as infections continue to surge in the country.

Dr Umar Saif, CEO Surveyauto.com and Chief Digital Officer Jang/Geo Media Group was asked by the government to use his start-up's technological prowess to create a system whereby the strategy can be executed. 

Dr Umar Saif

Surveyauto.com came up with a system that can pinpoint hotspots of the coronavirus disease, enabling the government to only seal selective areas rather than locking down the whole country, which would otherwise severely hamper economic activity.

How the system works is simple: Data obtained from the government's field workers, who use smartphones to record them, is used to generate sophisticated mathematical and epidemiological analysis.

Spatial analysis of the outbreak is done by using Artificial Intelligence on satellite imagery, which generates population maps, house counts, case incidence rates and forecasts using SEIR prediction models.

These models, in turn, use this analysis to issue real-time alerts based on clusters of patients which show signs of developing into a wider outbreak; generates patient forecasts for each hotspot; maps anticipated patients to capacity in hospitals, and mandates the field teams to report containment activities from the field.

The Prime Minister’s focal person for COVID-19, Dr. Faisal Sultan, appreciated Dr Umar Saif's contribution towards the crucial strategy, saying:

"Grateful to Umar Saif and his startup SurveyAuto for providing the platform for hotspot-based selective lockdowns in Pakistan. It is based on sophisticated mathematical & epidemiological models to pinpoint hotspots, and enables the govt to monitor containment activities in real-time.” 

Dr Umar Saif has reportedly not charged a single penny for the project. "It’s [the system] for a national cause, and, at this time, that’s all that matters for me," he said in a brief comment.

Head of Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus, responding to Sultan's tweet, said it was important to acknowledge everyone's contribution to the national COVID-19 response regardless of affiliations.