IBM recently added a new feature to its popular Weather Channel mobile application. The meteorological analytics tool now provides up to date and highly localized information on the coronavirus pandemic. The program now tells users how many people in their area have been infected by the respiratory disease and provides them with tips sourced from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A Public Service
The Watson supercomputer-powered Weather Channel app provides subscribers with up to date news on the pandemic’s spread. By sourcing its data from the WHO and Johns Hopkins University, it supplies users with key facts, not misinformation.
The Weather Channel app also utilizes IBM’s Cognos Analytics tool to gather coronavirus data at the state and regional level.
To access information on the pandemic, users just need to click on the “COVID-19” button within the app. The program will then show how many people in the area are coronavirus positive. Moreover, the mobile program displays statistics on how the illness is trending locally. The feature also includes health and safety recommendations from the CDC and links to news stories about the pandemic.
IBM gave its new tool the same uncluttered layout and intuitive interface as the Weather Channel app’s home screen.
Pushing Back Against Hackers and Misinformation
As of this writing, there are more than 487,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world, with over 69,000 in the United States. However, malicious operators have worked to distort the public’s understanding of the severe respiratory illness.
Recently, hackers have deployed fake coronavirus email alerts and tracking maps containing insidious malware to ensnare unwary users. Social media giant Facebook has worked to squash the spread of misinformation regarding the coronavirus pandemic for months now. Similarly, e-commerce corporation Amazon had to purge 1 million listings from its platform that falsely claimed to cure or treat COVID-19.
IBM’s upgraded Weather Channel app gives the public direct access to verified data about the disease.
While there are many vetted sources for data about the illness, the app has a remarkably wide reach. TechCrunch reports it currently has 45 million monthly active users. For the sake of comparison, ephemeral messaging service Snapchat had 46 million daily active subscribers as of last year.
IBM has also taken an active role in helping researchers looking for new COVID-19 treatments. In conjunction with the White House, the corporation assembled a consortium of tech companies and institutions to utilize their collective processing power to aid researchers in finding potential coronavirus medications or cures. Because of the initiative, clinicians can now run experiments much faster than they would with a standard computing platform.
By harnessing the power of IBM’s SUMMIT supercomputer, researchers from the University of Tennessee recently identified 77 compounds that can potentially prevent COVID-19 from infecting human cells.
Despite facing significant operational disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s heartening to know IBM is dedicating its considerable resources to the greater good.