Philippines is fast making its presence felt in the tech innovation ecosystem in South East Asia. Harnessing the power of technology has come to the fore in addressing the current COVID-19 crisis, with local talents developing innovative tools to fight the pandemic. These tools – apps and other online innovations – are being used for diverse requirements including contact tracing, health assessment and monitoring, and community monitoring.
The Department of Science & Technology- Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD), is playing a nodal role in encouraging, supporting and promoting such innovations as a quick response to fight the pandemic.
Contact-tracing apps and systems
Contact-tracing apps were designed to encourage Filipinos to help in the contact tracing of COVID-19-infected individuals:
BirdsEye – Developed by University of San Carlos (USC) faculty members and students, this app encourages self-reporting with the following key features: location mapping and matching, transportation matching and mapping, temperature management, mass testing management and contact tracing. Through these features, it determines COVID-19 hotspots of specific places (i.e. malls, hotels and more) and modes of transportation of where virus carriers have visited
COVID19TRACKER.PH – This is a free, community-based contact tracing tool that uses Bluetooth signals to log your closed contacts in the database. The user will be immediately alerted if you are in closed contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient for the last 14 days. You can also monitor your status, whether you are a Suspect, Probable, Confirmed, or a Recovered patient.
WeTrace – WeTrace is a community tracing app developed by the same team under Genii Hut Technologies Incorporated, a DOST-funded startup, and was endorsed by the provincial government of Cebu for mandatory use in the province. The app can be used for patient mapping, case reporting and location tracking.
Personal health assessment and monitoring tools
To avoid further community transmission, health assessment and monitoring tools help people evaluate and submit their current health status in the comfort of their own home. These will also aid them determine whether they need to seek immediate medical care.
COVID-19 SCAN: Screening, Assessment, Networking – Senti AI, the country’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) company, designed this self-assessment app to aid users in determining proper action to take given the symptoms being experienced and history of travel encoded. Moreover, it contains up-to-date health information on COVID-19 to support users in managing their health and well-being in this time of health crisis. Senti AI is a DOST-PCIEERD Startup Grant Awardee which developed a machine-learning-based language classifier that automatically detects the language of any document.
AI-enhanced knowledge management tool – Also developed by Senti AI, the tool will be implemented as the “central brain” for the Department of Health’s (DOH) communication channels. The tool will be filled with FAQs, public or health worker inquiries, and the latest guidelines from DOH. The solution makes use of numerous AI technologies including natural language understanding, intent detection, and entity detection to intelligently capture the context behind an inquiry and provide the most relevant, up-to-date answer from DOH’s official knowledge base. The tool can easily be integrated to various chatbot providers which unburdens the user from sifting through hundreds of documents with different versions of the same policy. Ultimately, the biggest value of the tool is ensuring that all governing entities from the cities to remote areas of the country can be in sync with the latest official guidelines.
Barvid-19 – Developed by students from the Technological Institute of the Philippines, the COVID-19 Barangay Tracker is a barangay and city-wide tracker that can help the public identify the number of people infected with COVID-19 and the specific barangay where they are. At present, data that can be seen in the app are for the cities of Manila, Pasay, Caloocan and Navotas.
Communities need to be closely monitored to ensure that each Filipino is protected from the spread of COVID-19. These tools can aid community leaders and LGUs (local government units) in keeping a watchful eye on the whole community amid the pandemic.
SafeTravelPH – This app is a crowdsourcing tool developed by the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) for users to easily report road and other transport incidents in their area that are related to the ECQ. These reports will be relayed to national and local authorities for their immediate action. The app also supports disease spread monitoring and control, emergency logistics, and disaster relief operations. Real-time updates and data from the app will be useful to community leaders.
COVID-19 Symptom Tracker – This is a simple website developed by researchers from De La Salle University – Laguna Campus that allows individuals to easily declare symptoms which will be tagged in the area where these individuals reside. After submitting the symptoms, personal information such as age and gender, are the only required personal information to be filled in. The self-reported symptoms are then projected to a map for easy visualization that will be useful for decision-making purposes.
Other innovations include mobile AI-enabled thermal systems, and big data analytics for quarantine policies.
Mobile AI-enabled Thermal Scanners – In partnership with Orbital Exploration (OrbitX) Technologies, six artificial-intelligence-powered thermal scanners mounted on drones are being produced initially to easily scan and pinpoint people with high body temperature. These drones provide real-time data transmission, are equipped with GPS, and has a 2-km range for communication. This technology aims to shorten the queuing of people and minimize contact between individuals in checkpoints.
Big Data Analytics for Quarantine Policies – The De La Salle University (DLSU) is pursuing big data analytics and transportation network analysis to support traffic management during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period. The simulation results showed relative intensities of incoming traffic to Metro Manila at various entry points. This will be of use for those managing the checkpoints (PNP and AFP) in the periphery of Metro Manila.