Virus: Israel, the artificial intelligence to control the “second wave”

Virus: en Israël, l'intelligence artificielle pour juguler la «seconde vague»

TEL-AVIV | thermal imaging Cameras to take the temperature of a crowd or algorithms plugged in on the vast banks of medical information to determine in real time the homes of outbreak: Israel puts the foot on the accelerator of the future in the hope of containing the “second wave” of infections with the coronavirus.

The “balagan” (“mess”, in Hebrew) and the high technology! In Israel, many would argue that the country takes of the confrontation between these two worlds in opposition: the sometimes anarchic street, and the other of said hyperefficace, young shoots.

It is at the crossroads of these worlds that the authorities are trying to identify the “new normal”, the “exact point of balance” between economy déconfinée and measures to prevent a new wave of contaminations, note Ran Balicer, head of innovation at Clalit, the largest healthcare provider in Israel.

To achieve this, it is necessary to “use the best technological tools to monitor the state of health of the population”, by collecting “electronic data in real time” and allow public policy makers to take accurate and quick measurements, points out the AFP Mr. Balicer.

At the beginning of the pandemic, its teams have worked with the young shoot local “Diagnosis of Robotics” and the ministry of Health to establish a questionnaire to which the population is called upon to respond on your smart phone, in case of the occurrence of symptoms related to the COVID-19.

The algorithm processes data on these symptoms to establish the probability of infection of a person and relates this information with those of millions of others,” says Kira Radinsk, the patron saint of Diagnosis Robotics.


“At the moment the system identifies a growing number of symptomatic cases, a warning is sent to the deputy director of the ministry of Health who generally approve immediately a series of tests for the given location. This allows you to allocate resources quickly to wherever there are needs,” she said to the AFP.

And so close, for example, a neighborhood, a city, in order to prevent a “second wave”, without put the key under the door of the economy as a whole.

Until recently, Israel bombait the torso with less than 20 000 patients and 300 deaths to nine million inhabitants, a low ratio of deaths compared to countries in Europe and America.

But, as the déconfinement, the number of contaminated is on the rise again, to the point that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself has called Tuesday for the use of “digital solutions”.

“Contractors had already worked with academics, government and health professionals on projects involving artificial intelligence and they have rotated to meet the challenge of the coronavirus,” said Wendy Singer, general director of the NGO Start-Up Nation Central a company which promotes innovation “Made in Israel”.

Example with the company Anyvision, which specializes in facial recognition technologies and recently accused by NGOS of having supplied the tools of monitoring of mass in the palestinian Territories, to such a point that Microsoft has cancelled its investment in claiming, however, after audit, that the accusations were unfounded.

Shortly after the beginning of the health crisis, Anyvision has installed special thermal imaging cameras in a hospital in Tel Aviv to allow officials to know who had a fever among the staff.

“Very powerful”

A facial recognition system has also been installed in the hospital Sheba, the heart of the local anti-Covid, in order to identify “a few seconds” the individuals come in contact with a member of staff is contaminated, in order to identify precisely who was to be placed in quarantine, ” explains Alex Zilberman, the head of operations this shoot.

“Imagine a nurse or a doctor tested positive. Before, it was necessary to contact the person by phone and ask him “Who have you met these past 14 days?”. But in a place such as a hospital, it was impossible to meet”.

Big Data, cameras galore, resection of identity: it does not take in a bit of “Big Brother”?

“It is a very powerful system”, said Mr. Zilberman. But “we guard”, it argues, such as ensuring that all the employees can enter the system to monitor the comings and goings or target individuals.

To relieve the hospitals, the government has signed an agreement with the young shoot local Datos. Patients to download an app and enter their own vital signs in the computer system generating the data processed by the algorithm of the company.

The system automatically sends reminders to patients and people in quarantine.

The aim of the operation: enable care staff to concentrate on more severe cases.

“At the beginning of the crisis, the health services were to to call the patients twice a day, regardless of their status,” notes Uri Bettesh, founder of the young shoot.

In the end, will, however, remain a random variable: it is sometimes enough to drive away the “balagan” that he will return at the gallop. And that contamination can explode again.

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