Alibaba Cloud offers AI, cloud services in fight against Covid-19

Alibaba Cloud offers AI, cloud services in fight against Covid-19
Photo Credit: Reuters
19 Mar, 2020

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese ecommerce behemoth Alibaba, has rolled out artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud-based technology solutions in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cloud-native solutions stem from joint efforts of Alibaba Cloud experts, scientists and researchers from Alibaba DAMO Academy and the technical team at DingTalk, the company said.

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Founded in 2014, Alibaba-owned messaging app DingTalk is humorously referred to as the stricter version of Slack, given its features that help managers track employees. The company recently launched e-classes for schools and currently supports some 120 million students across China.

Interestingly, the app was recently in the news for being downvoted by students in Wuhan who were unhappy about being monitored during a shutdown. 

DingTalk’s team has now launched an international medical expert communication platform, hosted on Alibaba Cloud. The platform helps medical workers all over the world to directly contact doctors from medical institutions such as the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University and others in China, who have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 battle.

"We are committed to sharing our proven technology in the fight against Covid-19 across the globe. In India, we hope to help students and workers stay connected remotely through technology, and ensure our customers can conduct businesses online with cloud computing technologies so that we can help minimise the impacts that Covid-19 has brought on to our daily lives,” Alex Li, general manager, Alibaba Cloud South Asia, said.

Through video conferencing and real-time AI translation into 11 languages, Alibaba Cloud aims to build a virtual community. Doctors in China can use the platform to share their experiences and answer questions from global peers. The platform currently supports Arabic, Bahasa, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

Alibaba Cloud is also offering elastic high-performance computing (E-HPC) solution for life sciences, which is a cloud-native computing cluster solution designed for researchers working on life sciences applications. 

Other Chinese technology companies have also pitched in to support the fight against Covid-19. Search engine major Baidu, for example, has open-sourced its Linearfold algorithm. The tool helps scientists understand the virus’s structure. 

The cloud unit of telecommunications network equipment maker Huawei has also helped in the development of a tool that enables researchers to understand the genetic makeup of the virus.

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