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Taiwan Mitigates Pandemic Through Host of Tech Solutions

In response to the wave of COVID-19 infections, Taipei introduced new technologies – the TaipeiPASS Contact-tracing Mechanism, the Online Pandemic Relief Application and the Pandemic Information Dashboard. They will enhance pandemic prevention efforts and boost public confidence.

Taipei built on the foundations of the central government’s 1922 SMS contact tracing framework to integrate Taipei’s version into the mechanism, creating a dual-use QR Code for local businesses and venues. Through the shared QR Code, users can also register their contact information by scanning with TaipeiPASS app and forward the information via the internet.

The integrated contact tracing service and the integrated QR codes are already available at all public venues as well as at a growing number of businesses in Taipei. With the city government announcing 9 major COVID relief measures, all applications for these programs will be processed online. This is to eliminate the need for individuals leaving home and risking exposure to COVID.

Furthermore, the city government’s Big Data Center has played a key supportive role in Taipei’s overall pandemic prevention effort. The government’s public data on COVID-19 is being processed and uploaded to the city government’s Pandemic Information Dashboard. Data spanning risk assessment to resource allocation are presented through the program’s visual interface, providing key and precise statistics to Taipei’s decision-makers and allowing them to formulate policies accordingly.

For users who have already downloaded TaipeiPASS, the integrated QR code is easily accessible when they update their software to the latest version. Even those who do not have TaipeiPASS installed can still proceed with contact-tracing registration as long as they scan the dual-purpose QR code with a smartphone that can recognise the QR code.

One advantage of TaipeiPASS scanning is registering multiple visitors who are family members. The user can simply scan the code and enter how many family members are with him or her. This is in consideration of people who bring their kids or elders along on shopping trips.

Both 1922 SMS contact-tracing and TaipeiPASS contact-tracing mechanism share the same objective. Despite the differences in applied technologies, both systems accomplish the same thing while also allowing users to choose their preferred mechanism. The main differences are those of interface, capability to register multiple individuals, verification mechanism, and code support environment.

Taiwan has been actively utilising technology to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 infections. As reported by OpenGov Asia, Taiwan’s Centers of Disease Control (CDC) is collaborating with and Taiwan AI Labs to create Taiwan Social Distancing App for reducing the spread of Covid19. This community project uses Bluetooth technology and alerts users if they are exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases. The app aims to reduce the exposure risk of the COVID-19 cases.

According to the app’s introduction page, they are sure that the app will play a key role to encourage people to keep a daily routine with lower nonessential physical contacts. Disease modellers and epidemiologists with AI algorithms join AI Labs to fight the spread of new infections for flattening the curve.

According to the social distancing guidelines issued by Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), people are advised to stay at least 1 meter apart outdoors and 1.5 meters apart indoors. The app will notify users if they have been less than 2 meters from a confirmed case for more than two minutes.

Users need to enter their Bluetooth identification codes. Then, the app leverages Bluetooth device signal to estimate the physical social interactions out of devices close to the individual. The app stores the data with anonymous hashed ID history at each device for up to 28 days.

CDC also mentions that the app also protects people’s privacy. If the owner of a device with Taiwan Social Distancing App confirms to have infectious diseases, the individual can choose to share the anonymous hashed ID number. Therefore, the device ever physically close to the individual will get noticed without knowing who was confirmed and when was the interactions. It seeks to save other lives with the protection of privacy.

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