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Wikipedia is the perfect Covid-19 datasource, says IBM research director for healthcare informatics

Wikipedia is the perfect Covid-19 datasource, says IBM research director for healthcare informatics

Ahead of speaking at Startup Nation Central’s ‘The New Digital Age’ online conference, Dr. Michal Rosen-Zvi spoke with CTech about how data can be collected now to help us in the future

James Spiro | 19:03  06.09.2020

Scientists are turning to an unconventional source to track coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in preparation for a new pandemic: Wikipedia. The open-source platform, which is open to volunteer-based editing and contributions, has proven to be an effective tool in monitoring and recording social and governmental cases around the world.

“With the pandemic, it was clear that regions and governments needed to intervene, but it wasn’t clear what would be the ultimate intervention,” said Dr. Michal Rosen-Zvi, research director of IBM Research speaking with CTech. “We realized that we could have learned from what different governments decided to do, but to be able to learn from that you need to have structured data. What we’ve done is collect data from 261 different countries and territories and we created a structure for this data.”  

Dr. Michal Rosen-Zvi Credit: Miri Davidovich Dr. Michal Rosen-Zvi Credit: Miri Davidovich Dr. Michal Rosen-Zvi Credit: Miri Davidovich

Rosen-Zvi discovered that thousands of people were crowdsourcing global information about Covid-19 in the most unlikely, but obvious, location: Wikipedia. Using each country’s dedicated page to the pandemic, IBM could then collect all the necessary data to help prepare for future pandemics, such as timelines and methods of intervention for things like transportation and public services.

“People could volunteer to collect the data, and we ended up with a dataset that sits here with more than 6,000 entries that show the interventions. We have interventions about confinement, contact, domestic violence, and so on,” she explained. “This was made available 2 weeks ago, and from now on researchers who want to analyze and learn the impact of different interventions can benefit from it.”

Dr. Rosen-Zvi specializes in machine learning, medical image analysis, and cognitive computing. As an expert in Artificial Intelligence for healthcare and machine learning, medical imaging analysis, and bioinformatics, she knows how tech can save us if we’re ever faced with another pandemic.

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This week, Dr. Rosen-Zvi will speak at “The New Digital Age: The Role of Technological Innovation in the Post-Covid-19 World,” where she is expected to comment on the role of technological innovation and acceleration brought on by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Appearing alongside Johnson & Johnson’s Dr. Alan Tennenberg, Start-Up Nation Central’s Prof. Eugene Kandel and the World Health Organization’s Dr. Peter Singer, she will be discussing ‘pandemi-tech’ and how tech is “our best hope for fighting the next pandemic.”

Her appearance at the conference comes off the back of the publication of her latest paper, ‘The case of missed cancers: Applying AI as a Radiologist’s Safety Net’. In it, she argues against the idea that AI can replace radiologists entirely, but instead empower them with a tool to enhance their capabilities and provide patients with better, more efficient healthcare.

The New Digital Age is an online event being broadcast on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Hubilo. It will include speakers from a myriad of respectable institutions such as Harvard University, Israel Innovation Authority, Ourcrowd, and of course, IBM Research.

Dan Senor, co-author of the popular book ‘Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle’ is also expected to appear.

The online interactive event is hosted by Startup Nation Central, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to highlighting some of the most innovative technologies coming out of Israel. Founded in 2013, it helps connect business, government, and NGO leaders to future-facing solutions presented by Israeli innovators and entrepreneurs. The event will take place over three days, September 8-10, 2020
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