Translation Section Editor
Prof. Chi-Tai Fang, PhD
By this Lunar New Year (2020/01/25), accounts about the spread of an unidentified lung disease have been circulated. Departments concerned were gathered to discuss the possible developments of this situation and make forward-looking preventive plans during the vacation with concerns over people’s health. On the night of January 28th (the fourth day of the Lunar New Year), discussions on our coronavirus response with high-tech tools, especially in the implementation of home isolation and home quarantine were made by officials from the National Communications Commission, the ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Information Security Administration under the Executive Yuan. After the brainstorming, we decided to employ smartphones in the execution of home quarantine and isolation, as people keep their phones with them all the time. Meanwhile, we agreed that the digital fence system should be established on mobile phone signals to ensure the protection of individual privacy.
We ordered departments concerned to build integrated systems that store all information from a potential patient’s entry to their home quarantines, with an eye to fortifying our coronavirus response through the help of technology. Combining “the quarantine system for entry” with the pandemic tracking system that helps police officers and executives in charge of civil and health affairs and with the “digital fence” tracking and monitoring system on the backend, this set of systems has achieved automation and technologicalization in our coronavirus response and ensured the implementation of each preventive measure.
During COVID-19 pandemic, any kind of measures intending to prevent the spread of the disease, such as home quarantine and home isolation, etc., may put some limitation on civil rights. However, Taiwan is a free and democratic country ruled by law. The Personal Data Protection Act mandates that collection of personal data should be limited to the minimum extent for the authorized purpose only. We establish relevant preventive measures based on the authorization of the Communicable Disease Control Act. Taiwan highly values citizens’ personal privacy and information security. Thus, once the pandemic ends, the government will delete all personal information collected during this period, as mandated by law, and will abolish the tracking system established during the pandemic period. Moreover, quarantine breach constitutes a potential risk of disease transmission to neighbors. Therefore, Taiwan citizens overwhelmingly support government to take necessary actions to ensure quaratined persons staying at home.
The Personal Data Protection Act mandates Taiwan government to take necessary action to protect the personal data of citizen from being maliciously hacked, which constitutes a crime in Taiwan. To ensure citizen’s information security, Taiwan government has continuously improved the technological aspects of cyber defense against such criminal activities.
Taiwan Centers of Disease Control cooperates with HTC Research & Healthcare to establish Line ＠taiwancdc, which, in response to the pandemic circumstances, gives the information COVID-19, provides approaches to take precautions, notices for people who return from foreign countries, and global circumstances of the disease to provide people with correct information to prevent the disease.
The CDC has cooperated with DeepQ for public welfare purposes for 3 years since 2017.We utilize AI applications as personal disease assistants through Medical Language Processing, MLP, and the ability of language communication strengthened by AI. Currently, Line @taiwancdc, has provided interactive consolation functions and the information about free vaccine programs against influenza, contracted clinics with medicine for viruses, certifiable diseases, infant vaccination for new parents, domestic and foreign circumstances of the disease, and travel precautions.
In case that a single system cannot satisfy people’s need, citizens can dial 1922 that Taiwan Centers of Disease Control sets up,to request more information. It provides services such as a 24/7 access for people to report cases, consolation of infectious diseases, conveying policies and measures of disease prevention.
I understand the effort of front-line personnel who are responsible for the tracking of people in home quarantine and isolation. Here I want to thank them for their hard work. Since the “electronic fence system” functions based on cell phones, the accuracy of actual operation will be restricted by the density of cell sites, the intensity of signals, and the way signals are dealt with. What I want to emphasize is that there is not any kind of technology able to perform with perfect accuracy, and the “electronic fence system” will be integrated with other approaches in the future to improve the accuracy. As the number of people returning Taiwan increases, the number of people in home quarantine will increase. This may pose great stress on font-line officials and workers.
Since the “electronic fence system” is based on cell phones, the accuracy of actual operation will be restricted to the density of cell sites, the intensity of signals, and the way signals are dealt with. If one is in the area in the scope of two cell sites, some fluctuation in positioning may occur because of the switching between cell sites. We have requested the carriers to assist the identification and analysis of signals.
As our data shows, the proportion of the wrong alarming texts sent by the “electronic fence system” from March 21 to 25 is as the following. Generally, the accuracy is quite high.
3/21-3/23: notification texts sent: 18,953 number of misdeliveries: 132 error rate: 0.70%
3/24: notification texts sent: 5,824 number of misdeliveries: 93 error rate: 1.60%
3/25: notification texts sent: 8,221 number of misdeliveries: 81 error rate: 0.99%
From the data shown above, we can see that the error rates are not high, and in our analysis, we find that the reasons causing the errors include the wrong addresses, a lack of cell sites, people being in between different cell sites or on upper floors, or the situation that people rush back after receiving alarming texts because of a brief leaving. Now we have also asked the sections concerned to actively delve into the optimization with the carriers to lower the error rates. Aside from the signal problems with the "electronic fence system”, we also asked the carriers to improve the positioning techniques. Moreover, besides the positioning conducted by cell phones, to meet the need of people in home quarantine, we inquire about situations of people in home quarantine through sending texts between the two sections. If we do not receive any reply for multiple times, we will further give a call to attend to them, which may lessen the burden of the front-line personnel and ensure that we constantly provide necessary and virtual assistance.
Translation Associate Editors
Ju-Hsin Ou-Yang, Feng-Yun Fan
Yi-Yun Cheng, Yao-Chung Chang