As we slowly move and open up to the “new normal,” science and technology is moving center stage in the global fight against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). The Philippines, home to enterprising inventors and creative engineers, now sees tech-savvy Filipinos rising up to the Covid-19 challenge.
A major tipping point is that the “flattening of the curve” appears nowhere near the immediate horizon. The June 5 data from the Department of Health placed the total number of Covid-19 cases nationwide at 20,626. Deaths of confirmed cases add up to 987, while 4,330 recoveries have been reported.
Meanwhile, the cure is still nowhere in sight. Experts agree that a Covid-19 vaccine could take at least 18 months to develop, test and approve for public use. The experience, however, is that new vaccines take years to earn approval even as fears of a second wave resurgence grip the most affected developed nations and developing economies, as well.
While the final goal is to eradicate the virus, the focus now is on preventing the virus’ spread, especially among the most vulnerable social groups consisting mostly of the poorer families. The political response has been restricting the movement of people through citizens’ lockdown and indefinite closure of public and private schools and businesses. A parallel initiative is the regular issuance of health bulletins for stay-at-home residents to be extra mindful of their personal health.
The larger battle entails curtailing the coronavirus’ spread through methodologies in contact tracing, health assessment and monitoring, and community monitoring on top of what international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, are sharing to reduce the toll on human lives as the Covid-19 pandemic rages globally.
The Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (Pcieerd), an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), is at the forefront of the country’s support to priority research projects in industry, energy and emerging technology sectors. In today’s coronavirus-ravaged landscape, Pcieerd has provided financial incentives to a number of locally developed, technology driven tools that keep Covid-19 at bay.
Contact-tracing apps and systems
BirdsEye. Available on Google Play, the app encourages self-reporting and, at the same time, determines Covid-19 hotspots and the places where virus carriers have visited. Developer: University of San Carlos faculty members and students.
QVID. It introduces uniformity of simple and secured data gathering for end-users with or without smart phones by empowering barangay (village)-based registration with the barrio system apps: barrio.citizen and barrio.council. Developer: Arkitek, an Iloilo-based startup providing solutions in collaboration with government agencies and local governments.
WeTrace. Available for download on Google Play and Apple Appstore, this community-tracing app could be used for patient mapping, case reporting and location tracking. Developer: Genii Hut Technologies Inc., a DoST-funded startup.
Personal health assessment and monitoring tools
ENDCoV. This is a community-driven medical information app that checks for symptoms identifies the health condition of a user and provides the corresponding recommendation as it also provides mass notification to persons with whom a Covid-19 positive patient had made prior contact with. Developer: students of the master of science in innovation and business program of the Asian Institute of Management.
Covid-19 SCAN (screening, assessment, networking). Designed to aid users in determining proper action to take given the symptoms by suspected Covid-19 cases, this self-assessment app also contains up-to-date health information on Covid-19 to support users in managing their health and well-being. Developer: Senti AI, a DoST-Pcieerd startup grant awardee.
Barvid-19. A Covid-19 barangay tracker, the app helps identify the number of people infected with the virus and the specific barangay they are in. At present, data for the cities of Manila, Pasay, Caloocan and Navotas could be accessed at https://barvid19-tracker.herokuapp.com. Developer: students of the Technological Institute of the Philippines.
LGU-level community monitoring
SafeTravelPH. With this crowdsourcing tool, users could easily report road and other transport incidents in their area that are related to the enhanced community quarantine. Developer: University of the Philippines (UP) National College of Public Administration and Governance as part of the Covid-19 initiative of the United States.
Covid-19 Symptom Tracker. Accessible at https://symptom-tracker.tedhouse.org/, the website allows individuals to declare symptoms, which will be tagged in the area where these individuals reside. The self-reported symptoms are then projected to a map for easy visualization for further decision-making purposes. Developer: researchers at the De La Salle University Laguna Campus
Kontra Covid PH.Targeted at low-income users to access credible and bite-sized information faster, this is an application suite that addresses the critical needs in gathering data and providing practical guidance to citizens while mitigating the spread and impact of false information. Developer: AI4GOV Philippines, the 2018 #HackSociety winner championing the digital transformation of local government units.