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​Telcos must share data for contagion prevention: KT

Speaking at the United Nations Global Compact, KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu said global telcos must take new roles to prevent contagions by sharing their big data during a state of emergency.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer


Global telcos must take new measures to prevent contagious diseases from spreading by sharing their big data and using preventive solutions, chairman of Korean telco KT has said.

Speaking at the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York, company chairman Hwang Chang-gyu said around 800 telcos around the world should cooperate closely to share the roaming, GPS, and traffic data of their 7.3 billion mobile users in case of contagions.

Hwang proposed a program called Big Data Initiative on Disease Diffusion Mapping, where the joint data sharing of telcos can observe the spread of diseases and allow for correct preventive measures to be placed.

The chairman showcased KT's big data solution that prevented the Avian Influenza from spreading in South Korea. Their GPS solution tracked the movement of trucks carrying livestock and how they matched the spread of disease. The application saved the government $1.8 billion.

The solution can be applied for SARS, MERS, Zika, and Ebola, with joint support from worldwide telcos, he said.

For the program to take shape, first, the 800 telcos will share their roaming data, and second, UN member states should support the sharing of data, as roaming data is private information that requires government approval to be used for public safety. Third, the UN should supervise the telcos and governments.

KT is already developing a similar program for local use that will allow authorities to monitor, during a worldwide contagion, where a visitor has travelled -- not just the last place they have been, but his or her whole travel history. The telco said the program can save Korea up to $60 billion a year.

The United Nations Global Compact was founded in 2000 and the summit is held every three years for member companies to encourage sustainable and socially responsible policies.

KT, South Korea's second-largest mobile carrier and largest fixed-line provider, is planning to showcase its 5G and VR prowess at the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.

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