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  • With direct flights to Wuhan and densely packed cities, the strategy promised to be a disaster.

  • But no, by the 20th of May, Taiwan had had just seven COVID-19 deaths.

  • So where did it all go so ... right?

  • Back in 2003 Taiwan faced another epidemic, which also originated on the Chinese mainland--- SARS.

  • This time around, the government immediately began testing and tracing specific parts of the population.

  • Using, for example, travel data to see who'd just returned from Wuhan together with health data pointing to those with recent health problems.

  • Those who were quarantined were monitored using location data from their mobile phones.

  • But how did this democratic island persuade the people to allow such use of their data?

  • Well, last year we met Taiwan's digital minister, Audrey Tang, who was part of the 2014 Sunflower revolution, in which citizens stormed the parliament buildings, demanding to be listened to.

  • Among the protesters, civic hackers like these who worked together using open data to solve issues in the public interest.

  • They've since come up with transparent ways of giving ordinary people a biggest say in making decisions.

  • After that occupy (occupation) at the end of 2014, the entire cabinet started to learn the art of listening skill.

  • And today, the listening continues.

  • So when a citizen reposted a warning from whistle blower Dr. Li Wenliang of a SARS-like disease at the end of December, people took note.

  • And so because of this, we were able to gain precious time to set up the central epidemic command center even before that, we had the first confirmed local case.

  • Along with strong messaging about hand washing and social distancing, Taiwan was keen to emphasize the benefits of wearing masks.

  • In Taiwan, people care about each other, and we billed masks as something that, A, reminds you to wash your hands properly and B, protects you from touching your mouth.

  • And that is the main benefit of (a) mask to the person who wear(s) it.

  • Of course, we know once a majority of people in the same place start wearing medical mask, they start protecting each other.

  • The peer pressure only takes effect if a majority of people in the room wear a mask.

  • Mask production was ramped up from two million to 20 million a day, and to combat panic buying, they were rationed.

  • Then the hacking community stepped in with a series of real-time mask maps to show the nearest points to you where there were still available.

  • As the maps became more popular, more volunteers came on board, and features like voice activation for the visually impaired were added.

  • We trust the people a lot, sometimes the people trust back, and the people who trust back first gets their applications.

  • Their innovations amplified by the government into essentially civil engineering infrastructure, so that more than 10 million people use it in a participatory way to keep each other accountable.

  • When rumors started to circulate online that toilet rolls were made from the same kind of paper as masks, toilet rolls started to run out.

  • In response, Taiwan's premier was enlisted to quash the misinformation with a meme.

  • He shows his bottom wiggling a little bit on and says that: "we only have one pair of buttocks each."

  • And then a table that says, the mask are produced using domestic material and tissue paper are produced using South American material, and these two do not overlap.

  • And this went absolutely viral.

  • We make sure that these ideas travel faster than conspiracy theories, than rumors by using cute dog memes.

  • So that's all the press conferences gets translated by the "spokesdog" that explains hand sanitation rules, social distancing, mask use and things like that and in many languages.

  • And so this is literally our "spokesdog" and all of them go very viral.

  • Back when we encountered SARS, we had to barricade an entire hospital unannounced and with no fixed time limit.

  • And that was barely constitutional.

  • There was severe trust crisis, and so we know how it was like because it was very chaotic.

  • It's just that the entire society gets inoculated by that experience.

  • The important thing is that as a society, one need to start deliberating about, for example data use, the robust civil society take control of most of the data applications, or do you want a surveillance state?

  • Or do you want the multinational companies (to) play that role ?

  • And that decision must be made by the entire society, (and) by the time that the next wave comes or the next mutation comes, that will determine how your society respond(s) to it.

With direct flights to Wuhan and densely packed cities, the strategy promised to be a disaster.

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B1 taiwan mask data society sars people

COVID-19: How did Taiwan manage to contain the virus so well?

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/08/29
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