Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 apps ‘setting example for the world’: AI Authority president

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Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries in the world to launch a coronavirus contact tracing application, the president of Saudi Arabia’s Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) said on Thursday.

“Saudi Arabia is setting an example for the world in realizing the potential of digital technology… We were amongst the first around the world to launch COVID-19 contact tracing applications,” Dr. Abdullah al-Ghamdi said at the International Media Centre in Riyadh ahead of the upcoming G20 Summit this weekend.

The Kingdom’s coronavirus social distancing app “Tabaud” – which was launched in June – notifies people if they came into contact with an individual infected with COVID-19.

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The app works by using Bluetooth to detect other nearby users who have been confirmed by the Ministry of Health to be infected with the coronavirus. If an infected user is detected, a notification is sent to all users of the app who were in close proximity to them within the previous 14 days.

During his speech at a live-streamed media briefing on data and artificial intelligence entitled “Shaping New Frontiers”, al-Ghamdi also highlighted the need to address the technology gap in developing countries.

“While there is a lot of potential from emerging technology such as AI, there is also a growing digital gap which if not addressed collectively will further widen,” he added.

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