Govt bodies and companies turn to apps and AI to combat the Covid-19 crisis
The Health Ministry launched a pilot project to help manage the Covid-19 outbreak in the country via the MySejahtera app.
The app allows users to monitor their health during the movement control order (MCO), identify nearby hospitals and clinics that provide Covid-19 testing and treatment, and includes a guide on what to do if a person contracts the virus.
The app’s self-assessment feature involves answering six yes/no questions on Covid-19 symptoms and a contact tracing exercise.
Users can also use the app to check-in and share their location or photo with the authorities.
MySejahtera is managed by administrators within the Health Ministry, with the assistance of National Security Council (NSC), and Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu).
Users have to register first before they can download the app from the website (mysejahtera.malaysia.gov.my). According to the site, the information will only be used for monitoring purposes and will not be shared. Also, the user’s identity will be protected even if the person tested positive for Covid-19.
Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) is also assisting in the fight against Covid-19 through its innovation arm, TM Research & Development (TM R&D).
It rolled out the Early Warning, Alert and Response (Ewar) system which detects individuals in a crowd with a higher body temperature, one of the common symptoms of Covid-19.
The company claimed Ewar offers real-time monitoring using a thermal and optical camera that can mass detect abnormal temperatures of approximately 15 individuals per second, simultaneously. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), it can predict the individual’s age and gender, and keep track of where the person is going.
It can forward information of individuals with high fever to the authorities for planning or emergency response purposes.
Meanwhile, Maxis Bhd is ensuring medical staff stay connected at the Sungai Buloh Hospital and Hospital Kuala Lumpur in the Klang Valley via its broadband solutions.
The telco is offering its fixed wireless broadband and wireless broadband, and devices to support additional communications for free. It is also moving to strengthen the network performance coverage at these hospitals for all users.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said it was essential to have Internet connectivity for medical teams and frontline workers in a hospital’s command, operations centres and emergency wards.
Maxis CEO Gokhan Ogut said the telco wanted to ensure healthcare professionals are supported as much as possible through reliable network connections, which is vital during this challenging time.
However, not everyone is scrupulous, as scammers have been sending text messages, claiming the recipients have qualified for Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) and have to provide their banking details to get the aid money.
The Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) warned the public about the scam, reminding them not to respond to messages from personal phone numbers.
The tax authority only sends text messages from the number 62000 or 63833, and has a policy to never ask for personal details such as full name and banking information through SMS.
Those eligible to receive BPN aid will get their alerts via text and also through email from LHDN.
BPN is a government aid given to the B40 and M40 groups. Malaysians who qualify will receive between RM500 and RM1,600, depending on their household income and marital status.
Another group struggling with the difficult economic situation and MCO are startups.
A study by the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), estimated 40% of startups would shutter if the Covid-19 crisis continues beyond May.
Also, 35% of companies interviewed had said they needed loans, 24% needed grants and subsidy, and 4% needed loan repayments to be postponed, while 20% of startups asked for non-financial assistance such as business matching, market access and capacity building.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said he will raise the issue of cash flow problems among tech startups with the government, following requests by relevant agencies urging for an injection of relief funds.
On April 6, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin unveiled a special economic stimulus package amounting to RM10bil for SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) to soften the impact of MCO.
This was in addition to the economic stimulus package worth RM250bil announced on March 27.
He said the SMEs and micro-businesses make up two-thirds of the country’s workforce, accounting for 40% of the country’s economy.
Of the RM10bil, almost 80% will be for additional wage subsidies for those drawing RM4,000 and below monthly.
However, not all the assistance applied to startups, which are now seeking help from various agencies, including MaGIC.