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Countries step up innovation efforts, using over 500 digital apps to fight COVID-19

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NEW YORK, 8th October, 2020 (WAM) — From chatbots in Singapore to drones in Oman; from robotic medical assistants in Indonesia to virtual doctors in Brazil; while the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc across the world, governments have been working hard to implement digital solutions to minimize the adverse impact of the virus and to ensure business continuity.
"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technologies have enabled governments to connect with people and to continue to deliver services online," said Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, DESA. "In many countries, the digital government has stepped up its central role as a necessary element of communication, leadership and collaboration between policymakers and society," he said.
In a quick call for inputs by UN DESA, government officials from around the world shared more than 500 COVID-19 related digital applications that they have been using during the pandemic.
The "Compendium of Digital Government Initiatives in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic," launched on 6 October 2020 by UN DESA, explains how governments have been using campaigns and chatbots to provide reliable information about the virus and to combat fake news, disinformation and viral hoaxes.
Due to the lack of medical personnel and capacity in hospitals, health apps have provided people with tools to self-assess their health status and for doctors to remotely monitor the wellbeing of their patients. In Croatia, the digital assistant "Andrija" used artificial intelligence to process thousands of health requests via a government portal and social media.
Digital technologies have also been used for contact tracing, allowing both health authorities and people to be informed about cases and trace down contacts of infected people to test for the virus. To promote social distancing, some governments used robots, drones, self-help temperature Peoples’ expectations of governments have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and they will likely remain high in the post-pandemic era. As policymakers respond and use digital technologies to achieve their development goals, they should not forget addressing heightened concerns over data protection, privacy, misinformation and disinformation.