DOST-ASTI highlights COVID-19 related projects and support activities

8 Apr 2020 10:50 AM

Amidst the global pandemic, the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) is working on several research initiatives to combat the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

Mobilization of Satellite Images

The DOST-ASTI's Philippine Earth Data Resource Observation (PEDRO) Center and Remote Sensing and Data Science Help Desk (DATOS) Project are working on the deployment of satellite images to monitor areas of interest during the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

The pre-quarantine images were retrieved from commercial Earth observation satellite Worldview 2 (2019) and remote sensing satellite Kompsat 3 (2019), while images of Metro Manila during the quarantine period were tasked on 18 March 2020. Satellite images showing traffic situation (comparison before and during ECQ implementation) have been processed for various places in Metro Manila for public information. More images have also been posted on the social media platforms of DOST-ASTI.

Further information are being gathered from the satellite images. PEDRO provided high resolution satellite images, while processing and analysis was done by the DATOS Project using DOST-ASTI's science infrastructure (INNOVATE: COARE for computing, PREGINET for network).

Partnership with Philippine Genome Center

The Philippine Genome Center - Core Facility for Bioinformatics (PGC CFB) called for volunteers to crowdsource the implementation of a number of computational studies related to COVID-19. The PGC CFB asked help from DOST-ASTI’s Computing and Archiving Research Environment (COARE) Facility to host the computing needs of some of PGC CFB's volunteers since they received an overwhelming response. The COARE Facility will support PGC CFB by providing access to its supercomputer or high-performance computing (HPC) service. For their COVID-19-related computing needs, volunteer researchers will have access to a next generation supercomputer with the following capacity:

  • GPU: six (6) Nvidia Tesla P40 (with 1Tb RAM per GPU server)
  • CPU: 1728 cores (with 512Gb of RAM per CPU server)

As of 01 April 2020, four (4) researchers already have access to the supercomputer of COARE. Their activities are focused on phylogenetic analysis, computational studies, evolutionary analysis, and in silico detection of SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19.

The COARE is a facility that has supercomputer/HPC, science cloud platform, and large storage servers to enable the running of high-level commands and analyzing & simulating large sets of data, which could be utilized for diverse scientific studies, including Genomics and Bioinformatics.

Development of Thermal Scanners for Frontliners

DOST-ASTI is also working on the development of a non-contact temperature-taking device that uses a medical grade sensor that can be utilized by front liners.

There were three types developed:

  • A Modified Wood Moisture Meter retrofitted with a thermal sensor. This is an existing product for the woodworking industry that was co-developed by DOST-ASTI, the DOST - Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI), and Alexan. The device looks similar to the typical thermal scanners used in checkpoints with temperature readings displayed in a screen.
  • A small device that can be attached to smartphones using typical wire interfaces.
  • A small device that can be attached to smartphones with wireless/Bluetooth interfaces.

The idea for the latter two was to develop a small attachment that can be fitted with a phone to take advantage of its availability and prevalence. Temperature readings will be displayed in the phone screen through an application.

The project is developed by DOST-ASTI's embedded, wireless systems, and PEDRO teams.

Provision of Facility Support for FASSSTER Project

DOST-ASTI will also be providing facility support for the project “Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases (FASSSTER)” led by Ateneo de Manila University and funded by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).

Access to a satellite image archive and provision of virtual servers is currently being enabled by DOST-ASTI to help the FASSSTER project on their data, compute, and storage requirements. Through the PEDRO Center, FASSSTER was given access to satellite images and geospatial data on 27 March 2020. These data will be used as an input to FASSSTER’s activities on COVID-19. COARE, on the other hand, will provide several virtual servers to FASSSTER subgroups from Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines—to be used for their predictive models and as data warehouse.

FASSSTER is currently mobilized as a response to COVID epidemics and is now part of the Data Analytics Technical Working Group of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Provision of HPC Resources to Folding@Home

Last March 17, the COARE facility also volunteered to allocate a portion of its high-performance computing resources to the current COVID-19 research of Folding@Home, an R&D project dedicated to help combat worldwide diseases through pioneering research pursuits carried out through distributed computing. Further information about this initiative can be seen through this article: The DOST-ASTI’s COARE Facility Helps in the Fight Against the COVID-19 through Folding@Home Initiatives.

The complete press kit may be downloaded through this link.