The pandemic that began more than a year ago in the Chinese city of Wuhan has caused significant loss of human life, as well as economic and social imbalance throughout the world. Despite the progress made with the vaccine, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc. There are countries where the incidence has been higher and others where the infection curve has been smoothed, as in the case of Wuhan, where the first cases were reported.

The difference between the countries that have controlled the situation more quickly and those that have not lies, above all, in the social distancing and rigorous compliance with health indications and the control of information on changes in the virus and the behaviour of citizens.

In this regard, the BISITE Research Group at the University of Salamanca is working on the development of an intelligent epidemiology system that allows for the collection, use, access and interpretation of coronavirus data. The research is being carried out and applied in Caldas, Colombia, with the aim of providing accurate information and facilitating decision-making regarding the evolution of the pandemic in the locality.

Our group has designed a COVID Registry platform, which collects data on infected people or suspected to be infected, in order to unify them with data from other sources for the georeferencing of information. This system is reinforced with machine learning mechanisms, with the aim of generating estimates based on the population that has been infected. It also uses strategies to adapt to changes in the population, with simple dashboards to make it easier for the competent institutions to act according to the indicators.

Artificial intelligence to mitigate Covid-19

The project has also involved the design of a hybrid artificial intelligence system, which uses several intelligent models to predict the evolution of the pandemic with respect to infections and deaths. Moreover, it makes it possible to control healthcare resources in hospitals and distribute them efficiently according to the number of admitted patients. This project has been made possible thanks to an initiative funded by the Colombian government to develop actions that help mitigate the problems caused by Covid-19.

The project has been led by the University of Caldas with a group of researchers from different faculties, the Telehealth programme and the principal investigator, Rector Alejandro Ceballos Márquez, who has brought together researchers from different national and international institutions, including our BISITE group, the University of Prince Edward Island (Canada), the Austral University of Chile, the Institute of Food Research and Technology (IRTA), the Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology of Colombia and government agencies such as the Territorial Directorate of Health of Caldas and the Mayor’s Office of Manizales.

This is undeniably a great project, one we are proud to collaborate in and to contribute our grain of sand in the solution of a problem that affects the society. We will begin by applying the proposed solution in Caldas, with the aim of replicating it in other cities around the world.

You can read the following article published in El Mundo in the Innovators section, on April 6th, to learn more about the project.

Posted by Juan M. Corchado

Juan Manuel Corchado (15 May 1971, Salamanca, Spain) is Professor at the University of Salamanca. He has been Vice-Rector for Research from 2013 to 2017 and Director of the Science Park of the University of Salamanca. Elected as Dean of the Faculty of Science twice, he holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Salamanca and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of the West of Scotland. He leads the renowned BISITE (Bioinformatics, Intelligent Systems and Educational Technology) Research Group, created in 2000. Director of the IoT Digital Innovation Hub and President of the AIR Institute, J. M. Corchado is also Visiting Professor at the Osaka Institute of Technology since January 2015, Visiting Professor at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Member of the Advisory Group on Online Terrorist Propaganda of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (EUROPOL). J. M. Corchado has been president of the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, and academic coordinator of the University Institute for Research in Art and Animation Technology at the University of Salamanca, as well as researcher at the Universities of Paisley (UK), Vigo (Spain) and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK). He currently combines all his activity with the direction of Master programmes in Security, Digital Animation, Mobile Telephony, Information Systems Management, Internet of Things, Social Media, 3D Design and Printing, Blockchain, Z System, Industry 4.0, Agile Project Management, and Smart Cities & Intelligent Buildings, at the University of Salamanca and his work as editor-in-chief of the journals ADCAIJ (Advances in Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal), OJCST (Oriental Journal of Computer Science and Technology) or Electronics MDPI (Computer Science & Engineering section). J. M. Corchado mainly works on projects related to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT, Fog Computing, Edge Computing, Smart Cities, Smart Grids and Sentiment Analysis. He has recently been included in the board of trustees of the AstraZeneca Foundation, along with other health professionals and researchers recognised for bringing scientific knowledge closer to society.