Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh ropes in Facebook, IIT-Tirupati for better management of COVID-19

File photo.

File photo.   | Photo Credit: AP

In the backdrop of spike in COVID-19 positive cases and casualties, the Andhra Pradesh government has roped in social media giant Facebook and IIT-Tirupati for better management of the pandemic.

The mapping and analysis of people moving in public places, apparently, has been a big help for the government machinery in its containment measures initiated for the fast-spreading disease.

Anonymised data

For the record, the State has a total of 27,235 positive cases, including 1,813 reported on Saturday. While 14,393 people have been discharged, 12,533 remain active. The death toll has touched 309, of which 17 were reported on Saturday.

While Facebook has provided anonymised and aggregated data on the population density, movement and social engagement, IIT-Tirupati has analysed the data to arrive at figures on how people are moving around hotspots, or red zones, during days and nights.

Also read: Coronavirus India lockdown Day 109 updates

Using the ward-level coordinates from the government, the information is further analysed and feedback given to the government. This mobility of people has helped the government to prioritise the regions of high mobility, especially during nights, for focused surveillance.

Speaking to The Hindu, Pratap Bhimireddy, Special Representative, Investment Promotion & Infrastructure Development, who is working on enhancing COVID containment and related infrastructure, said the reports by Facebook and IIT-Tirupati had been of great help in handling the pandemic in the State.

Real-time view

“Technical reports from Facebook are very helpful as they give real-time view of important correlates of disease transmission and mobility. IIT-Tirupati is supporting us with the analysis from Facebook datasets,” Mr. Bhimireddy said.

The data helped the Police Department handle the borders and miscreants indulging in betting and other illegal activities during the COVID days, while it came in handy for the Health Department to fix the locations for containment zones. Besides, the government could also use the Facebook network to get over 10,000 units of blood donations across the State so far.

Responding to The Hindu, a Facebook company spokesperson stated over email that disease prevention maps have helped organisations respond to health emergencies for over a year.

“In the coronavirus context, researchers and non-profits can use the maps, which are built with aggregated data that people opt to share, to understand and help combat the spread of the virus,” the spokesperson added.

Speaking about the data analysis initiated by IIT-Tirupati, Kalidas Yeturu, who led the project, said the data from Facebook provided a better view on the movement of people. “We developed the algorithms needed to provide insights into whether people are staying near home or visiting many parts of the town, and provided information on whether preventive measures are headed in the right direction,” said Dr. Kalidas.

Dr. Kalidas and his team have developed a mathematical procedure to determine mobility in and around a given location and for a specific time frame of the day of interest. The automation software generates a report and saves it to cloud and emails it with just a click. The software is made accessible to government officials via IIT-Tirupati.

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Printable version | Aug 15, 2020 2:27:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/andhra-pradesh-ropes-in-facebook-iit-tirupati-for-better-management-of-covid-19/article32053956.ece

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