The world is in a major upheaval as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) makes its presence known in the United States and in many countries across the globe. Amidst these stressful and uncertain times, various industries are being confronted with pressing issues that arise from this pandemic.
Technology at Its Finest Hour
As people from all over the world are being strictly instructed to practice social distancing or self-isolation to stop the spread of the virus, technology is at its finest hour.
For instance, the use of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack have dramatically increased as companies strive to maintain their communication and their sense of order.
Likewise, video calling services, as well as social media, have been instrumental at connecting families and friends with each other while they’re staying at home. What’s more, people who are self-isolating keep themselves entertained by using video streaming services.
Needless to say, technology has helped get everyone through these unprecedented measures that authorities have enforced in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
More and more people are asking if emerging technologies that include artificial intelligence (AI) or supercomputers could identify the most effective solutions for COVID-19.
Many are wondering if IoT technologies can do something to help prevent similar situations from taking place in the future. In case you’re not aware, authorities are utilizing technology in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19 and in coming up with ways to treat those who are infected.
A Closer Look at How Taiwan Combats COVID-19
The novel coronavirus may not have spared Taiwan, but the Taiwanese fought against it with the best of what they’ve got. Taiwan has set an excellent example of a nation that has successfully restricted the spread of COVID-19.
The Taiwanese government attributed their success to their 124 emergency response action items, as well as their transparent technology-driven strategies that were implemented when the SARS epidemic hit them hard in 2003.
As soon as the health tech company called Metabiota predicted that the novel coronavirus was going to reach their country in a week’s time, Taiwan immediately made sure that strict border controls were being established.
The SARS epidemic back in 2003 prompted the Taiwanese government to establish active surveillance and screening systems that include infrared thermal imaging scanning (ITIS).
These systems are implemented in major ports and airports in order to screen each traveler for fever. Thanks to the existing infrastructure and Metabiota’s early warning, Taiwan was able to react quickly and efficiently before COVID-19 manages to hit its shores. This made the application of immigration controls, as well as the initiation of quarantines, easier for them.
The Taiwanese government Tracked the COVID-19 Through Technology and Big Data Analytics
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Taiwan has been utilizing big data analytics in coming up with an extremely detailed mapping of the virus transmission. For instance, since they decided to integrate their immigration and customs database with their national health insurance database.
Through this system, they were able to take advantage of the customs and immigration data via the travel ticket scan. The data immediately makes a statistic that is based on the flight’s origin, as well as the total route over the past two weeks.
It’s important to note that aside from its existing national health insurance system, Taiwan also made use of mobile technologies for building datasets of foreign visitors.
Taiwan requires all foreign travelers to scan a QR code that will take them to an online health declaration form. The health declaration form provides details, such as an individual’s contact information and any COVID-like symptoms.
Thanks to these online immigration declaration cards, Taiwan was able to identify and classify the travelers who came from high-risk areas that included Wuhan.
Needless to say, Taiwan was able to leverage the integration of its immigration and customs database with its national health insurance system. However, they took it to the next level by coming up with large datasets for the purpose of analysis.
The task of coordinating the people’s health, as well as their travel data has been made easier when top Taiwanese engineers and researchers created their own data management system. This provided their government with a more efficient way of tracking their citizens’ symptoms and their 14-day travel histories.
Furthermore, their clinics, hospital facilities, and pharmacies had free access to this information for every patient. As a result, they were able to quickly identify the high-risk travelers who needed medical attention were easily identified and immediately triaged or treated in isolation.
To say that Taiwan’s use of data analytics has proven to be an effective strategy is definitely an understatement.
Through it, they were able to identify risk hotspots, generate public health alerts, and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Speedy Implementation of Self-Isolation Measures Through Location-Tracking.
As mentioned earlier, a huge portion of Taiwan’s successful method was largely due to their quick response, as well as the effective mechanisms that they used for case tracking.
For example, several countries across the globe are combining human efforts with technology as they implement their own quarantine compliance mechanisms. However, Taiwan is the first to utilize mobile phone tracking for the same purpose.
The Taiwanese government decided to roll out an “electronic fence” or a geofence through mobile phone location-tracking in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. This location-tracking strategy helped them ensure that the people who are quarantined aren’t leaving their homes.
Moreover, government-issued mobile phones are given to high-risk groups or citizens who are identified with COVID-19 so that they can be monitored through location-tracking.
In case you’re wondering, this technology works to monitor phone signals and it alerts the government authorities when persons who are quarantined leave their designated locations or when they turn off their mobile phones.
Within 15 minutes after the alert was triggered, the authorities will contact or visit the individuals who triggered the alert. To top it all off, their local officials make it a point to call these high-risk groups twice a day to make sure that they don’t leave their mobile devices at home to avoid tracking.
The IoT Detects and Controls Critical Supplies Through Data-Driven Technologies
Through the use of data-driven insights, as well as technologies, Taiwan has successfully managed to ensure the availability of their critical supplies.
However, it’s important to note that the Taiwanese government had the foresight to make sure that a large number of personal protective equipment (PPE). Surgical masks were being produced even during the early stages of COVID-19.
With the goal of increasing the production templates of masks, they could meet the demands of their domestic market. Taiwan’s national authorities promptly coordinated with the smart automation sectors, as well as the local technology research institutes.
While other areas around the world are dealing with the shortage of essential supplies because of people who are panic buying, Taiwan’s shining example of addressing this problem is truly remarkable.
By the end of January, Taiwan was already rationing their nationwide supply of surgical masks in order to make sure that they won’t run out of much-needed supplies. They successfully avoided shortages by estimating each of their region’s supply of surgical masks and other health provisions through the use of IT.
Furthermore, their implementation of the “Mas-Real Name” system has been very instrumental as well. This system works to set price limits on health provisions and rations them with the use of an online ordering mechanism and the people’s national health insurance cards.
In addition, tech community solutions are also being prioritized in Taiwan.
To give you an idea, they save lots of time looking for local drug stores that sell surgical masks and other health supplies by using an online real-time map. The maps point people to stores where the items that they were trying to find are stocked and readily available.
With this concept in mind, the government coordinated with a private company to develop enhanced versions of this platform of information and had it integrated into their government data. The result is an online real-time app that allows the public to monitor the availability of medical supplies in each area.
Those who are looking for surgical masks will be able to know which health centers provide masks for adults and children, how far these health centers are from where the seeker is at, and when the featured data was last updated.
Countries from all over the world intend to adopt Taiwan’s use of big data.
The quick use of big data in the process of identifying the number of surgical masks that are available for use, and the Taiwanese government’s idea of using these generated numbers as the basis for ramping up their production of surgical masks to make sure that their supply remains sufficient.
The Government Provided Real-Time Information Through the Use of AI, Digital Communication, and Data Analytics
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Taiwanese government makes sure that the public stays well-informed by holding daily press conferences. They opened the government data on the COVID-19 pandemic and utilizing digital tools such as the various social media platforms and video sharing services.
To make sure that the information that’s being shared on Facebook, Line, or YouTube is accurate, Taiwan worked with fact-checking institutions that include MyGoPen and Taiwan FactCheck Center.
These groups make an effort to promptly correct misinformation or disinformation on the COVID-19 outbreak.
Taiwan’s citizens are automatically alerted through real-time digital updates so that they can steer clear of specific locations where COVID-19 infections were detected.
The government utilized AI during the creation of these updates and complemented this effort by making use of tools that allow their citizens to get a clear idea about their own exposure.
For instance, they’ve managed to create a map-based code with the use of Google Maps timelines. These timelines enable them to detect an individual’s travel history in the last few years – whether they’ve made contact in areas where the COVID-19 cases were previously discovered.
Lessons from Taiwan’s Shining Example
Lessons can be learned from the Taiwanese government’s approach in their fight against COVID-19. For example, forging partnerships between public and private sectors is a must if quicker and more tangible results are needed.
They’ve proven that fast and practical solutions can be produced if the government collaborates with IT developers in obtaining critical product-related information. Taiwan’s government officials didn’t take more than three days to make policy decisions about the use of mask data and map upgrades.
Aside from teaming up with civic society and private technology businesses, the importance of sharing accurate and transparent information to the general public is also a key factor in Taiwan’s successful strategies that prevented the spread of COVID-19.
Possibly the world can take some of these examples and make the world a better place for quickly and effectively helping citizens in their communities who are affected by such things as a pandemic. Preparing for likely scenarios like the COVID-19 pandemic is essential. None of us ever imagined such a life-changing horror that has come upon us globally. But we can prepare now by putting effort into having systems ready and available to save the the world.