Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have been taking the lead in providing financial and material support to society and developing a comprehensive prevention and control strategy based on AI, big data, and cloud computing. All were used on the pandemic frontline.
We established a CNY 300 million pandemic and public health security fund to provide technical and financial support to authoritative institutions such as the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Medical Association, promoting virus analysis and vaccine drug development. We quickly developed AI-powered products and services to support the pandemic prevention and control and the safe resumption of work and production.
Baidu open-sourced algorithms to support virus research
We worked closely with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) to jointly establish the China CDC Emergency Technology Center & Baidu Gene Sequencing Workstation. This used AI and big data to monitor the pandemic, identify relevant scientific needs, and develop customized virus RNA secondary structure analysis tools. In this collaboration, Baidu provided Linearfold, a linear-time algorithm. This was used to shorten virus genomewide secondary structure prediction from 55 minutes to 27 seconds: a boost of 120 times that proved invaluable in the race to combat the pandemic.
Baidu’s LinearDesign is the world’s first mRNA vaccine gene sequence design algorithm. It has helped to effectively solve the most important stability issue in mRNA vaccine development and to accelerate vaccine development.
Baidu Maps’ big data supported pandemic prevention and control decisions
In addition to following pandemic developments and tracking real-time news reports, Baidu Maps launched a big-data-based platform and real-time road traffic information platform to measure the movement of people and real-time road traffic. These assisted national prevention and control in the initial stage of the pandemic. The two platforms handled over 3 billion user interactions during the pandemic.
We also launched, at the first opportunity, useful functions such as a fever clinic map, a pandemic cluster map, and a nucleic-acid-testing location query function. In the post-pandemic stage, we launched a work resumption map and a return-to-work travel map. These actions promote the orderly resumption of work and production and assist society to restore normalcy.
AI temperature screening supports monitoring in public places
Rising to the challenge of temperature-taking in busy public places such as railway stations and airports, Baidu launched an AI monitoring system. This provides a non-contact, non-intrusive, efficient, and reliable way to measure temperature, with a real-time monitoring capacity of more than 200 people per minute. By the end of 2020, our system had completed hundreds of millions of measurements.