AI for a better normal: PH ramps up Artificial Intelligence technologies for National Roadmap

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By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios
Image by THEPHILBIZNEWS

It is undeniable that the Philippines has a deep bench of illustrious scientists and innovators. As the country starts to navigate the uncharted new normal, it is empirical for us to adapt to the change that is needed in order to thrive and at the same time be globally competitive.

Through the years, we have proven our innovation prowess by taking the 50th rank in the 2020 Globel innovation Index. Not resting on our laurels, the Filipino scientists, together with the Department of Science and Technology and other research and academic partners untiringly work round the clock to develop what our country needs to gain a competitive edge over our neighbors.

Ensuring that the Philippines is abreast with the digital transformation, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) being at the forefront of the country’s research and development recently launched numerous programs and technologies in support of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) National Roadmap. 

In a virtual press conference broadcast at the DOST- Science for Change Program (S4CP) Facebook page, AI scientific outputs related to health, industry, agriculture and aquatic technologies and those for the betterment of society were presented.  

File photo of DOST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña from DOST-STII

“Since 1958, the DOST has worked on building the country’s research and development (R&D) capabilities, infrastructure and capitalizing on human resource development in identified priority areas in the fields of agriculture and aquatic, health, energy, industry and emerging technologies, among others,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña. “AI has been included among our R&D priorities since 2016. It is one of the important technologies that will guide and prepare us in what we call the fourth industrial revolution.” 

Themed: “AI for a better normal,” the event premiered the CHERISH Study or the Retrospective Study on the Accuracy of AI-Powered Reading of Chest X-Rays in the Diagnosis of COVID-19 Pneumonia in a Tertiary Hospital.   The technology, nicknamed CHERISH App, from DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) aims to develop and determine the diagnostic accuracy of AI-powered Chest X-ray reading software for COVID-19 pneumonia as a tool for ease of diagnosing the disease. Several studies suggest that CT-scan combined with clinical conditions, lung lesion density, morphological characteristics and other associated signs, has a high accuracy for the early diagnosis of COVID-19 and acts as the differential diagnosis from Community-acquired Pneumonia.​ This is vital in the triage of patients coming in and out of hospitals, most especially in cases where immediate medical attention is required.  

Another COVID-19 AI technology is a monitoring tool from DOST-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) with a graphical user interface that provides at-a-glance views of the number of COVID-19  cases or progress reports across the National and Local Government Units, Regional, Provincial, Municipality, Barangay. Called CCMON for COVID-19 Cases Monitor, the social data gathered from this public online dashboard will provide gender-specific insights based on COVID-19 epidemiological and socio-economic data.   
AI is also used for technologies in aid of food security and economic recovery.  From DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) is the Mechanization Resource Mapping, Monitoring and Data Analysis Sysytem or M3DAS, which is an important aid for mechanization planning, implementation, and policy data generation of government departments and LGUs. Another agricultural technology is the Automated Furrow Irrigation System which is a smarter automated furrow irrigation system that integrates crop production models, irrigation management strategies, soil and crop sensors and control system that is called, “AutoFurrow.” The system uses real-time and precision farming that can be operated through a mobile app.

There are also significant developments in AI for Traffic Management.  From the DOST-S4CP CRADLE Program and DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD)  is “Driver.PH”.  This project will combine information communication technology (ICT) solutions to monitor and record the driving attitude of drivers such as their sudden acceleration, stopping, swerving, and turning. It will also determine the degree of driving knowledge of drivers through a gamified assessment with emphasis on technical driving and vehicle roadworthiness know-how.

There are also AI technologies specifically tailored to the aid of industry, most specially startups and MSMEs.  

“Through R&D, DOST aspires to aid various government stakeholders develop data-driven AI-enabled solutions that will help enhance government functions and delivery of its services to the FIlipino people,” says DOST Undersecretary for R&D Rowena Cristina L. Guevara.  “AI is bound to change our lives. We need to continuously promote R&D and its useful outputs to ensure that all Filipinos benefit from science and technology.  This is the way R&D can positively CHANGE our country and the world.” 

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