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KT gets Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's W12b funding for epidemic research

KT’s artificial intelligence and big data services team conducts a videoconference with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Director of Innovative Technology Solutions Dan Wattendorf. (KT)
KT’s artificial intelligence and big data services team conducts a videoconference with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Director of Innovative Technology Solutions Dan Wattendorf. (KT)

Korean telecommunications firm KT will research for epidemic preparedness solutions, backed with 12 billion won ($9.7 million) in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

KT said Sunday that the philanthropic foundation had wished for an epidemics monitoring study carried out in Korea -- a country of widespread smartphone penetration equipped with 5G infrastructure.

The research, called “A Next Generation Surveillance Study for Epidemic Preparedness,” will seek to develop a solution for infectious disease using artificial intelligence and big data in the next three years.

Through this research, KT aims to deliver an artificial intelligence algorithm that will facilitate early diagnosis of an epidemic, as well as a telecom data-based prediction of the course of epidemic spread. The Gates Foundation will support 50 percent of the research cost.

“The use of mobile technology and sensors paired with smart data analysis can help address some of the challenges countries face in timely and effective response to disease outbreaks,” said Andrew Trister, deputy director of digital health innovation at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Knowing where a disease is moving and being able to predict spread can help save time and save lives. We’re pleased to be providing co-funding alongside Korea Telecom for this consortium of research partners. These will be valuable learnings for South Korea, and applicable to other geographies,“ Trister said.

In the research consortium with KT are: infectious disease expert professor Kim Woo-joo from Korea University College of Medicine, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information, the team behind the smartphone application Mobile Doctor and blockchain medical data processor MediBloc.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s interest in KT sparked after KT presented its Global Epidemic Prevention Platform in April 2019 at an information and communication technology forum hosted by the Foundation’s RIGHT fund.

The GEPP app, developed by KT and intended to aid the governmental disease control measures in real time, is being used in Kenya, Ghana and Laos.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)
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