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For those of us following developments in the IT and technology sectors, the COVID-19 outbreak has largely been the story of an unprecedented digital transformation as organizations navigate the challenges of operating remotely. Just as interesting, though, is what the outbreak is revealing about innovative trends already underway before it started, particularly as big data and AI become more integrated in the technological fabric of the global response. Almost simultaneous with the sudden need for data that can help develop vaccines and treatments, smart database and AI capabilities have begun to cross the threshold to enabling these insights in real time. It now appears increasingly likely that some of the most groundbreaking achievements in information technology that will shape our world for years to come could also prove the most impactful developments in the immediate fight to contain the virus.

Where enterprise AI meets precision medicine

This week, reports emerged that enterprise AI provider C3.ai has launched the COVID-19 Data Lake to support the global pandemic fight, offering this vast resource free of charge to researchers worldwide. C3.ai describes the Data Lake as a “single, unified data image of critical COVID-19 data” gathered daily from sources including the Johns Hopkins CSSE 2019 nCoV-19 Data Repository, the COVID Tracking Project, and the World Health Organization, as well as laboratories, medical journals, policy resources, and demographic monitoring tools. Rather than simply aggregate and list out emerging reports, the Data Lake integrates these disparate data points to prepare them for rapid retrieval and analysis, eliminating the costly and time-consuming data curation typically needed to grapple with massive data.

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What makes a resource like C3.ai’s especially striking is that it simultaneously challenges the benchmark for cutting-edge in both its native industry and the ongoing pandemic response. The COVID-19 Data Lake epitomizes the scalable, flexible cloud infrastructure that has emerged as the vanguard for distributed technical platforms. It also integrates cutting-edge API accessibility for the benefit of diversely equipped users and is designed to be scalable through crowdsourced data. For all of this technical sophistication, though, it is also extremely well-matched to the demands of applying new practices in precision medicine to an acute real-world crisis with no precedent of its scale.  As such, the Data Lake demonstrates the type of role that AI will likely play in its first wave of applications, offering a means of sorting incredible volumes of information and generating answers to problems we might otherwise flail at.

AI and big data capabilities have a unique capacity to tackle problems that defy traditional parameters such as borders and industry divisions (as well as human assumptions). Rather than a faster or more powerful tool for existing problems, they are a fundamentally new type of answer to challenges and opportunities that have only begun to appear following decades of globalization. CSOFT International works closely with enterprise technology providers to facilitate cross-border market access and support the rollout of their services in new markets where these capabilities are needed. With a robust network of professional translators and in-country subject matter experts in 250+ languages, CSOFT’s end-to-end content and localizations services help software platforms reach customers and users across the globe with their services.

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