CAT Telecom launches COVID-19 application to track health of tourists

Telecom provider uses open-source software support services from IBM to help hotels control virus spread as Thailand reopens its borders

By | 3 minute read | January 7, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous economic impact on Thailand, particularly its tourism industry. In the early days of the outbreak, when Thailand first locked down and its citizens traveling abroad began to return home, the manual, paper processes the government used to log returns to the country hindered its ability to track and control virus spread.

Thailand’s government soon realized that to reopen its borders to tourism, it would need a more effective method of testing and tracing. CAT Telecom PCL, one of the largest telecommunications providers in Thailand, stood ready to meet the challenge. CAT Telecom worked with IBM to develop and deploy a web application to enhance the country’s readiness as it resumes tourist activities and to ensure that strict measures for foreign visitors are in place.

While CAT Telecom had the necessary landline, mobile and cloud services infrastructure in place to support the new application, it realized that developing the app in such a short period of time would be challenging. IBM’s open-source software support services helped address that issue.

“As Thailand starts to reopen its door to tourists as a way to boost the economy, CAT saw the need to help reduce the risks from direct contact or exposure to foreign visitors during the quarantine period, while also increasing the safety of hotel officers and those locals working on site,” said Dr. Wongkot Vijacksungsithi, Senior Executive Vice President of Digital Business at CAT Telecom.

With open-source software support from IBM, CAT Telecom was able to launch, within a month, its CAT Covid Tracker web application service. The collaboration has allowed CAT Telecom’s development team to overcome open-source software usage concerns, while also ensuring quality of service to end users.

“Today, the app effectively provides a monitoring and notification system for tourists and hotels to track and report COVID-19 risks, in alignment with the government’s reopening policy,” said Dr. Wongkot.

How it works

When travelers to Thailand opt to stay in alternative state quarantine (ASQ) hotels during their mandatory quarantine upon entry to the country, they use the CAT Covid Tracker web application to record their daily health conditions. The application automatically creates report files for the hotels, which are then submitted to the Department of Disease Control. If potential symptoms are detected, the app supports online chat services with doctors or nurses from participating hospitals where tourists can be tested. If a COVID-19 case is found, the app provides prompt notifications so hotel personnel can protect themselves and their guests from possible spread.

“IBM is glad to bring our open-source management service to support the launch of the CAT Covid Tracker app, under the objectives of curbing the spread of the COVID-19 virus while bringing convenience and ease of use to both users and stakeholders,” said Patama Chantaruck, VP of Indochina Expansion and Managing Director of IBM Thailand. “While Covid-19 has brought about a widespread crisis, it has also accelerated the need for digital transformation. The app is a great example of how digital innovation can help the tourism industry, which is the lifeline of Thailand’s economy.”

The CAT Covid Tracker application is currently under consideration at Thailand’s Centre for the Administration of the Situation due to the Outbreak of the Communicable Disease Coronavirus (COVID-19), where it has been proposed to become an official tracking tool for the country as Thailand continues to phase in its reopening. All ASQ hotels across the country can contact CAT Telecom retail locations for further information on the CAT Covid Tracker service.

And there’s more on the horizon for CAT Telecom and IBM. “With this successful partnership, CAT is ready to introduce more new digital services with the IBM open-source software support team,” said Dr. Wongkot.