National applied research and development centre MIMOS said that not knowing the real impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could negatively influence decision making, which may adversely affect the nation’s economic and societal well-being.
MIMOS Chief Technology Officer Thillai Raj said when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was announced to curb the spread of the virus, among the first concerns observed among the rakyat included food security, loss of jobs, restriction on returning to hometowns and fear of getting infected.
Raj noted that the chaos brought forth by the virus is not confined to health, economy, or any one or two spheres. Many critical sectors and social set-ups are reeling from the impact of the pandemic, and have received extensive coverage in national news updates, or have become trending issues in the social media. These have resulted in further discussions and appropriate responses by the relevant authorities, he said.
“While anxiety, frustration, stress and sadness are common public sentiments during the MCO, it is also pertinent not to overlook the positive elements, as there are also compassion, trust, hope and a sense of widespread togetherness,” he said.
Raj said that based on the experiences of various countries, it is crucial to understand what people are talking about during a crisis, what more a global pandemic like Covid-19, which has brought immense impacts and far-reaching implications across practically every sector.
Taking this into consideration, MIMOS has developed the Malaysia Covid-19 Information Hub (MyC19) (https://covid19.ai.mimos.my/) to perform sentiment analysis on people’s concerns. MyC19 uses MIMOS’ patented artificial intelligence (AI)-based text analytics system together with MIMOS’ other data analysis technologies.
The application aggregates information on the progress of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia so that affected sectors and communities can be better prepared.
Apart from daily Malaysian and worldwide official statistics on the pandemic, the web-based application provides customisable information, including latest news coverage, updates and announcements from the National Security Council and Ministry of Health.
The application uses AI-based bots which crawl the Internet to acquire content and information, which are then culled to pick up sentiments posted in Malay, English and Mandarin. The sources for information include 36 news sites, popular social media platforms, medical mapping data and various coronavirus-related sites such as www.coronatracker.com.
“While there’s no denying the importance of listening to experts during the pandemic, listening to people’s sentiments can help the Government and other organisations make informed predictions and better decisions,” Raj said.
He said based on data analysed using advanced technology like AI, organisations can react to a crisis promptly and efficiently. The MyC19 can provide valuable insights that can potentially help the Government and industry enhance their responses to the pandemic, he said.
For example, by understanding certain data trends, relevant authorities could begin measures such as conducting proactive testing operations or hastening delivery of certain food items. For the business community, certain spending patterns or online conversations could provide leads to products in high demand. Further analysis and follow-up activities could trigger market optimism, Raj said.
While the MyC19 is meant for general public awareness on Covid-19, it can be an effective tool for the Government and business sector to get to know people’s sentiments towards an identified issue, he added.
The MyC19 is a collaborative effort between MIMOS, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Communications and Multimedia. MIMOS welcomes feedback and suggestions from the public, which can be emailed to [email protected].