EBTIC Researchers Share Novel Covid-19 Predictive Management Platform at Virtual Workshop


ABU DHABI - Researchers from Khalifa University’s Emirates ICT Innovation Center (EBTIC) participated in a virtual workshop organized and hosted by BT Applied Research’s Global Research and Innovation Program (GRIP) on COVID-19 pandemic responses, according to the official website of the University. 

The event gathered distinguished researchers from across GRIP’s collaborative base to discuss and develop initiatives between global universities to tackle emerging problems in the COVID-19 pandemic, share global experiences and best practices, and to identify the key issues and potential R&D collaborations that can take place. 

The main focus of the talks was to understand, limit, and mitigate the pandemic and its impact on individuals, communities, and businesses. The workshop also looked at how countries can prepare for a sustained period of disruption followed by a new “post-COVID” normal, with potential areas such as contact tracing, modeling, and the expected impacts on work, the economy, education, and travel. 

Dr. Dymitr Ruta, Chief Researcher at EBTIC, presented the “COVID-19 Predictive Management Platform” —  a project led by Etisalat Digital that is being designed, developed, and tested by EBTIC researchers. The tool will allow UAE Health Authorities to predict undetected active cases, assess transmission risks within  the UAE, detect emerging new outbreaks early, and provide vital spatio-temporal information that can guide pandemic spread prevention policies, like when to send SMS warnings or establish stricter quarantine measures. The platform, which is also being developed as a mobile application, works by measuring Covid-19 transmission in the population in real-time through use of live, shared presence at the Call Detail Record (CDR) resolution of 70 meters x 70 meters. 

The platform can also monitor the presence and mobility of active COVID-19 cases, highly exposed negative cases, risky inbound international travelers, as well as elderly and vulnerable members of the public, in order to minimize the transmission risk and protect the population’s health, as well as the economy.

Dr. Ernesto Damiani, Research Professor at EBTIC, Senior Director of Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems Institute, Director of C2PS Center, and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Khalifa University, presented another COVID-19 tracking solution he is developing, which complements the EBTIC project, called Spatio-temporal active surveillance, or “PLACES”. The project is one of 14  flagship initiatives of the Khalifa University COVID-19 R&D Task Force. 

PLACES also leverages CDR presence data to measure virus transmission. It expands upon Etisalat’s COVID-19 Predictive Management Platform by providing the context and purpose for a population’s presence at a given CDR location. Information on land infrastructure, buildings, roads, area functions and points of interest will be provided, and will help researchers and decision makers understand the role such infrastructure plays in attracting a significant population presence.

PLACES will also explore the role that external factors like weather (temperature, wind, air-quality), time of day, and different presence categories (such as when people are at work, at home, or moving) have on the risk of receiving and transmitting the virus. Ultimately, the plan is to develop and translate the capabilities being developed by PLACES into new pandemic risk indices that can be added to the Etisalat COVID-19 Management Platform.

Other speakers at the workshop were from Monash University, Australia; Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China; Indian Institute of Science, India; University of East Anglia, UK; University of Surrey, UK; Ulster University, UK; BT Applied Research, UK; and MIT, USA. 

Each speaker discussed their national situation in terms of the pandemic response, as well as the current key challenges. They also presented some of the current project activities currently underway in each university. 

Speaking after the workshop, Dr. Nawaf Almoosa, Acting Director of EBTIC, commented, “We were delighted to take part in this extremely informative event. It was fascinating to hear from the distinguished speakers, and we’re grateful to BT for organizing it. EBTIC will participate in the follow-up workshops to ensure that links remain, and we are exploring collaboration opportunities.”