Alibaba Healthcare AI Targets Macau’s Flu Season

Alibaba is using artificial intelligence to predict the upcoming flu season in Macau.

The e-commerce giant has an ambitious plan for transforming China’s major urban centres into smart cities by leveraging the strength of AI, and now Macau is getting its turn. In 2017, Alibaba secured a strategic partnership with the city’s administrative government to push ahead assorted digital developments by 2021. The agreement included a smart healthcare initiative, and Alibaba has now set its sights on flu prediction in the southern city.

An influenza epidemic can spread on a wide scale and infect a large proportion of people. It can have destructive consequences and cause serious financial losses. The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic claimed over 50 million lives.

Alibaba has trained machine learning models with data on disease trends and historical flu analysis to predict the risk of outbreak intensity and disease transmission over the next two weeks. It’s hoped that informing citizens and local health bureaus will help with both preparation and prevention. The head of the Macau Health Bureau says the project meets local healthcare standards and will be deployed across local medical institutions.

This smart healthcare technology was developed with ET Medical Brain, Alibaba’s comprehensive suite of AI-based solutions for the medical industry. Launched in 2017, ET Medical Brain offers a range of solutions from drug development to hospital management, medical virtual assistants, and AI-based image screening for diagnosis of diseases and tumors.

Alibaba is not the only company or institution upping its efforts on flu predictions. Germany’s University of Osnabruck has teamed up with IBM Watson in the creation of a flu prediction platform; while in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies 2,000 different influenza viruses each year to determine which are most likely to circulate over the following six months.


Journalist: Tony Peng | Editor: Michael Sarazen


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