The construction site of Huoshenshan Hospital on Jan 28, 2020. [Photo by Shi Yi/chinadaily.com.cn]
China's electronics and information sector is making a big splash in combating the novel coronavirus, as the authorities and companies scramble to leverage technological prowess to further contain the outbreak.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has called for immediate efforts in using advanced technologies including big data to analyze the outbreak, monitor the floating population and prevent its sustained spread.
"As the anti-coronavirus battle has entered a key period, cutting-edge technology should be utilized to contain the outbreak in a more scientific and effective way," said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice-minister of industry and information technology.
More than 50 electronics and information companies have provided necessary IT equipment and other technological support to the affected areas. By Wednesday, the total donations reached 3 billion yuan ($432.5 million), according to the China Information Technology Industry Federation.
The construction of Huoshenshan Hospital and Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, were good examples showing the power of electronics and information technology in the battle against the novel coronavirus outbreak.
It took China's three major telecommunications operators — China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom — around just three days to complete construction of the communication network at Huoshenshan Hospital. The full coverage of 5G in the two hospitals will not only ensure a smooth and reliable communications environment but will also play a critical role in intelligent medical treatment.
Industry insiders pointed out that to pull through the novel coronavirus outbreak, the wide use of electronics and information technologies is as important as wearing a surgical mask.
"Past experience has shown us that the electronics and information sector, especially the telecom segment, has played a significant role in conquering such emergencies," said Xiang Ligang, a telecom veteran and director-general of the telecom industry association the Information Consumption Alliance.
To support hospitals in Wuhan, leading software firm Neusoft donated high-end CT equipment and software worth a total of 27 million yuan to hospitals. Computer manufacturer Lenovo donated advanced IT equipment including computers and tablets, while Yonyou Software offered its cloud service platform to the city.
With all this cutting-edge IT equipment, hospitals in Wuhan can gather, manage and analyze huge amounts of data online. They can also do remote consultation and track patients.
Hao Peng, Party secretary of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said that the role of technology should be lifted to a new high as it will help boost "the first line of defense" against the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Several Chinese tech startups have leveraged big data to develop applications, where people can type in a train or flight number to check whether they have been exposed to confirmed coronavirus cases.
To avoid potential infection, Meituan-Dianping announced on Thursday that it will launch intelligent delivery lockers, which will enable customers to take the ordered meals from the locker instead of deliverymen.
Mapping companies including Amap and Baidu Map have added real-time population flow into their online maps so that people can avoid traveling to densely populated areas.