Data-Driven Global Pandemic Management

5 October 2020


President Kuo delivered a lecture for the Hong Kong Institute for Advanced Study.

Hong Kong Institute for Advanced Study (HKIAS) plans events that encourage conversations about how science relates to broader social issues. Professor Way Kuo, the President and University Distinguished Professor of the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), presented a lecture titled “Data-Driven Global Pandemic Management” at the inaugural online series for the HKIAS Distinguished Lecture at CityU on 30 September 2020. Over 300 online participants from both local and overseas, including renowned scholars and researchers, attended the virtual lecture through the video conferencing platform Zoom.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic acts as a severe threat to global public health. President Way Kuo, a Senior Fellow at HKIAS and a renowned scientist for designing the reliability of electronics systems and energy, discussed how curiosity-driven, unfettered science could help address significant challenges and prepare the world for an unprecedented pandemic.

Over 300 online participants joined the virtual lecture.

In the talk, President Kuo consolidated the effects of global disasters by comparing the fatality rate and social impact of epidemic outbreaks, major nuclear accidents, traffic accidents, suicides, and air pollution. He said such data was essential for reducing losses on both health-wise and economically.

To manage pandemic outbreaks, President Kuo suggested learning lessons from dealing with nuclear power plant accidents. He explained that identifying the critical elements that impact the spread of infectious diseases is just as important as identifying the essential elements in the fault tree of operating nuclear power plants.

In addition, President Kuo recommended adopting an ideal surveillance-response system called “C³ I,” – “Communication,” “Command,” “Control,” and “Intelligence.” He said that the “C³ I” team requires input from engineers and expertise in infectious diseases, bioinformatics, behavior science, quality assurance in addition to public health. In managing crisis related to a global pandemic, such adoption could significantly reduce the infection rate in highly susceptible communities, he concluded.

Professor Way Kuo is a Member of the US National Academy of Engineering, Academia Sinica in Taiwan, and Hong Kong Academy of Sciences. Before joining CityU as the President in 2008, he was on the Senior Management team of Oak Ridge National Lab and served as Dean of Engineering at the University of Tennessee. His popular science book Critical Reflections on Nuclear and Renewable Energy, Wiley, 2013 was translated in Chinese, English, Japanese, French, and Russian, and published in Tokyo, Paris, and Moscow. He has been invited to deliver dozens of speeches on this topic across the world.

This lecture is supported in part by the Kwang Hua Educational Foundation.

  Distinguished scholars from CityU discussed how data-driven can manage global pandemic with President Kuo throughout the talk while maintaining social distancing. (Right) Professor Jacob Huang, Executive Director of HKIAS and Chair Professor of Department of Materials Science and Engineering, presented a souvenir to (left) President Kuo.  

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