KT and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have joined hands to develop solutions to cope with infectious diseases.
KT said on May 17 that it will conduct "A Next Generation Surveillance Study for Epidemic Preparedness" worth 12 billion won (some $9.8 million) for three years with investment from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2000 by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates, which supports global poverty eradication and disease prevention.
Through this research, KT is going to develop 'Artificial Intelligence-based Early Diagnosis Algorithm' and 'Infectious Disease Spread Path Prediction Model' that utilizes telecommunication data. The Gates Foundation supports 50 percent of the cost of research in the form of a fund.
For the project, KT has formed a consortium with Korea University Medical Center professor Kim Woo-joo, Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI), Mobile Doctor and MediBloc.
Its priority is to enable Mobile Doctor and KT to develop an app that users can input flu-like symptoms by themselves based on the Internet of Things (IoT) sensor. Its goal is to complete an algorithm that analyzes data accumulated in this app with AI to derive flu potential.
KT will then conduct a study on analyzing flu epidemic areas and identifying flu spread routes using population mobility history and flu genome test data based on communication data.
In addition, it plans to analyze the trend of flu outbreaks in different regions and develop models for predicting flu seasons by region.
The Gates Foundation noted that Korea successfully managed the COVID-19 crisis through smart apps and wearable devices in the face of the new coronavirus infection and successfully started work at home and online with the world's best ICT infrastructure.
“If big data analysis and mobile technology can predict the path of the disease's migration and spread, it will save time and many lives,” said Andrew Trister, deputy director of the Digital Health Innovation Bureau at the Gates Foundation, adding that research with KT could play an important role not only in South Korea but also in other countries at risk of infectious diseases.
Both sides expect that if the study provides an early diagnosis and quick response solution for infectious diseases, the world will be able to respond more efficiently to new and mutated infectious diseases such as COVID-19.
“KT will work with the Gates Foundation to help raise South Korea's globally recognized ability to cope with infectious diseases to a new level,” said Jeon Hong-beom, head of KT's AI/DX convergence business division.