How does a smart community handle coronavirus? Ask Taiwan.

I just happened to hear an interview with Audrey Tang, the Taiwan government’s digital minister on Public radio about all of the ways Taiwan is using technology to curb coronavirus. Technology supports quarantining for people crossing a border into Taiwan…

Anyone returning to Taiwan has two choices. Either they go to a quarantine hotel for 14 days, in which case they’re physically barred from leaving; or, if they live in a place with their own bathroom and with no vulnerable group of people, they can also choose to digitally quarantine, placing their phone into the digital fence. In that case, the nearby cellphone tower will measure the signal strength, as they always do, and send out an SMS whenever the phone runs out of battery or breaks out of the 50-meter or so radius. So, the idea is that during those 14 days, we pay each person in quarantine about $33 a day as a stipend. But if they break out of the quarantine, then they pay us back a thousand times that. So, very few people break the quarantine.

Technology to provide mask inventory to the public…

There was a person named Howard Wu in Tainan city who developed a map so that people could see the nearby places and exactly how many masks there are in stock. So, we very quickly supplied them, every 30 seconds, the real-time mask levels of all the pharmacies, and later on convenience stores, so that people who queue in line can keep this system accountable.

And they make sure everyone has broadband

And the second thing is about equality. In Taiwan, broadband is a human right. Even on the tip of Taiwan, which is almost 4,000 meters high, people still have 10 megabits per second at just $16 per month. No additional cost, unlimited data. Otherwise, it’s my fault. And so, we will not systemically exclude people who don’t have broadband.

I know it’s not Minnesota, but I also know Taiwan (population 23+ million) has been in single digits for COVID cases since April 12 and Minnesota (population 5.6 million) had 730 cases on Aug 14 alone.

This entry was posted in Healthcare and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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