“The epidemic control in China relies on traditional wisdom and good urban management, while artificial intelligence (AI) is bound to play a role in the future public health system, realizing real-time online and offline integration,” Zhang Wenhong, head of the Center for Infectious Disease at Huashan Hospital of Fudan University said at the 2020 World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on July 9.

“We have realized AI has a very strong ability to allocate materials in the future,” Zhang suggested, adding that when Shanghai medical team came to Wuhan for help, he really hoped AI could be widely used across China, so that medial staff could know where masks and ventilators were in shortage and quickly allocate goods and materials.

Zhang said after the COVID-19 outbreak, governments need to reflect on how AI can help improve urban management in the future, including accelerating early warning speed in the public health system. “The CT imaging findings of COVID-19 were totally different from the previous flu and other pneumonia. If a large number of CT imaging of lungs were seen by AI in early December last year, the data will give alert,” Zhang said.

“AI also helps the government achieve the intelligent management,” Zhang stressed, adding that after many communities in China were locked down, AI helped maintain normal operations of the city for one or two months.

Zhang concluded the application of AI in the public health monitoring system should integrate online and offline data and raise early warnings in a bid to form a complete system.

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