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How digital intelligence will help save lives: Penang Befrienders

AvantiKumar | Oct. 11, 2017
This is how Befrienders in Penang, Malaysia, joined forces with US-based UST Global.

UST Global Launched digital platform for Befrienders NGO

Photo: UST Global launches digital platform for Befrienders NGO


  A digital intelligence platform will be used to help a Penang non-profit organisation to save lives.

Befrienders - the NGO - has the objective of preventing suicide by providing emotional support through trained qualified volunteers, said Dr. Florance Sinniah, chair of Befrienders Penang and also vice president of Befrienders Malaysia.

Dr Sinniah explained the organisation also looks to provide a trusted avenue for individuals experiencing personal calamity to reach out in strict confidence.

She said the digital Intelligence platform will store and monitor anonymized confidential electronic records of the meetings or conversations with callers who may be overwhelmed with a problem, confused and possibly suicidal.

This platform will help to flag suicide risks using an algorithm to detect complex or worrying patterns, said Dr Sinniah. Volunteers will be able to review and discuss cases of 'suicide or self-inflicting injuries' with clinicians, medical professionals then devise a case management plan.

The platform 

It was UST Global Malaysia, a subsidiary of US-based digital technology services company UST Global Inc. that made the platform possible.

Amar Chhajer, country head, UST Global Malaysia, said, "Depression and having suicidal tendencies are medical issues that cannot be taken lightly. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death globally and is notably a significant cause of death amongst young people. At UST Global, we are committed to building a safer community."

"The Befriender's commitment to suicide prevention has encouraged us to come up with a digital platform which will empower them to gather and store data, facilitate a more efficient and effective way to get analytics and form-focused approach to suicide prevention," said Chhajer.

"This new platform will provide volunteers with a quicker access to records, assess feelings, emotional needs of callers, provide empathetic listening and explore options to help them deal with their suicidal thoughts," he added.

Dr Sinniah added:  "On behalf of Befriender Penang & Malaysia, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to UST Global Malaysia for enabling us to take advantage of technology effectively and efficiently which will lead a strategic, focused, solution-based approach towards Suicide Prevention."

Looking ahead, the application is closing expected to offer the possibility of better identifying 'suicide-prone people,' which will then present intervention opportunities.

The platform is able to provide physiological metrics from wearables and the "timing and volume of person's calls and texts which will help to build into predictive models and provide tailored help."

Using Sentiment Analysis machine algorithm techniques, the tool will provide mental health data by "mining text provided during the conversation. Machine Learning algorithms also perform text mining simultaneously when the conversation happens. This tool can be called as a companion that could signal depression and other mood changes. Together with Befrienders, UST Global is providing focused help in Malaysia through this digital transformation."

Following on UST Global's recent opening of a new facility In Penang,  Chhajer explained why the island had been chosen as a base,  Chhajer explained why Penang has been chosen as a base: "UST Global's strategy is to focus on a Tier 2 city rather than a Tier 1 as there a way to realise untapped opportunities, as well as to bring in transformation through talent development,  attain operational efficiencies and cost advantages: Penang was a natural choice for untapped opportunities, talent availability and eco system."
To see some recent Penang news, visit:
 How talent transformation is driving UST Global in Penang: Industry 4.0
 Why Penang Aspen Vision may be a global Smart City model: exclusive
The latest edition of this article lives at Computerworld Malaysia.


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