Dr. Chung How did you use AI to detect Covid‑19 ahead of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization?
Dr. Khan To detect threats at their earliest stages, our system uses AI to process vast amounts of online data in 65 languages, searching for early signals of outbreaks involving more than 100 different diseases and syndromes – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It doesn’t rely solely on official news of outbreaks reported by government agencies, but also analyzes information generated through digital media, health blogs and other online sources.
On the morning of December 31, 2019, the system picked up an article from Wuhan, China, describing an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases. This event captured my attention, given the number of parallels to the emergence of SARS in 2003. My team submitted results of this analysis for publication in the open‑access, peer‑reviewed scientific publication Journal of Travel Medicine on January 8, 2020, in order to make the data available to anyone.
Dr. C. In 2019, Air Canada was the first airline to subscribe to BlueDot Insights in response to Ebola outbreaks. What is the biggest benefit to passengers as a result?
Dr. K. Peace of mind. Though it’s all happening in the background, passengers should know that Air Canada is using BlueDot’s outbreak risk software every single day to track and assess global infectious disease risk. That informs timely decisions to protect the health and safety of passengers and crews.
Dr. C. How has access to BlueDot data helped Air Canada adjust its safety protocols in the past?
Dr. K. Air Canada was using BlueDot’s epidemic intelligence well before Covid‑19 appeared on the scene. With early warnings about events like a measles outbreak at Hong Kong’s international airport and a hand‑foot‑and‑mouth outbreak at a Caribbean resort, Air Canada was able to quickly implement additional screening and sanitization measures to protect their crews and passengers.
Dr. C. How might AI continue to help us mitigate risk, build resilience and shape the future of travel?
Dr. K. The key word here is resilience. Outbreaks appear around the world all the time, and we all need to be prepared. Artificial intelligence helps us detect and assess disease threats early, while human intelligence helps us put those threats into context. I envision a world where the combination of human and artificial intelligence empowers the whole of society, where organizations and individuals are empowered to protect themselves and the world around us. Ultimately, that’s how we’ll build the resilience we need.