¶ Mask Map - Cooperation Between Government and Community
Translation section editors
Prof. Ya-Wen Cheng, PhD
In early February, due to the significant increase in the demand of masks, people did not know where the masks were still available. At this time, Howard, an engineer of Goodideas-Studio, spontaneously built a convenient-store mask map. At first, the Mask Map relied on information reported by the general public, which used a reporting system to let people know where to buy masks. Afterwards, through the assistance of the Digital Minister Audrey Tang, the private developer cooperated with the government and was able to utilize data provided by the NHI database, making the information on the Mask Map more comprehensive. The cooperation of the National Health Insurance Administration and private developers in establishing the eMasks Mask-Distribution System Platform allows people to receive real-time information and to enjoy greater convenience in making purchases.
The team that built the Mask Map is called the “g0v” community. This name, substituting “o” in the word government with “0”, is literally translated to Chinese as “Lin-Shi Government” or “zero-time government” in Chinese . It emphasizes the civic society characteristics which are different from the government. With the principle of Open Source, g0V aims to assist all citizens through information technology in the participation of the design and improvement of government projects. The participation of citizens forms a bottom-up social force. The force on one hand works closely with the government, while on the other hand plays a counterning role in monitoring the functions of the government. The first project of g0v was the “Government General Budget Visualization” in 2012. Afterwards, during the Sunflower Student Movement in 2018 and following local elections in the same year, the g0v gathered strong civic coherence. Actions that provided transparent information include making voting guidelines and building public policy participation platforms such as vTaiwan and proposal raising platform.
- Connection with Citizens
With the cooperation of many people, the g0v has completed many projects on online platforms such as the Hackpad and the HackMD. All citizens, regardless of their occupations and identities, can contribute to society by performing their professional skills on the platforms. With the aid of the internet, participants are organized quickly, making the connection among citizens even stronger. Furthermore, the Hackathon workshops that are held annually help enhance the community interaction. At such workshops, participants stay together for a few days for marathon-style cooperation. During the process, people participated and learned about the g0v.
- Information Space
Technology is one of the major features of the g0v community. Participants can directly use open source code to integrate various types of information and create a transparent space to promote discussion among citizens, enhance interaction with the society and shorten the distance between the government and the people.
Unlike the bureaucratic nature of the government, the g0v is a flat organization. Each participant can decide whether to join a certain project or propose his or her project at any time. There are no single people in charge, meaning that all participants could have equal contribution.
In February 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the g0v Tainan Da-Son (hundred-people Hackathon) started to take actions and cooperated with the Goodideas-Studio which is based in Tainan. After they set up the “mask reporting map of convenient stores ”, the Name-Based Mask Distribution System was established. With the help from the Digital Minister Audrey Tang, they cooperated with the public sector and connected pharmacies to set up the “map of purchasing mask in pharmacies” which provides detailed information regarding the availability of masks and the locations of these pharmacies. Afterwards, various types of websites with visualizing data were developed, providing more options and greatly enhancing convenience.
Engineers have used the public data provided by the government to make interactive infographics, allowing people to access information faster.
- What is interactive infographic?
The importance of being interactive is that it makes no presumption with regard to the perspective the user may choose to look into the data. Instead, it allows the user to use sliders and buttons to interact with the graphics. With the method of visualization, it conveys complicated information to the user in an accurate and rapid way.
- How to access the information of the mask map?
Information regarding the amount of masks at each pharmacy is made public based on “the list of designated pharmacies which deliver masks” and the “data of mask availability”, both data sets are provided by the National Health Insurance Administration.
Data of the amount of masks is released in the form of open data (name of data is the detail list of the remaining amount of masks at Health Insurance designated agencies), and is updated every three minutes. The data file contains the code, name, address and phone number of medical institutions, the remaining amounts of adult and children masks, and the source and time of the data.
Using data from the two data sets, engineers working on the g0v information platforms supplemented the latitude and longitude information of every pharmacy, allowing the application of mapping .
- Which tools or program language are used in this mask map?
In the making of mask map, engineers mostly use the following tools:
- Leaflet (clean, free, suitable for making simple maps)
- OpenLayers (multi-functional, free, suitable for making more complicated maps)
- Google Maps Platform (with a fee, the advantage is that people are more likely to use Google Maps)
- Introduction of g0v. https://g0v.tw/zh-TW/about.html
- Look into Taiwan’s “g0v”, what do they change? https://theinitium.com/article/20160601-taiwan-g0v/
- Book mode of g0v. https://bit.ly/2Lp4dLW
- Developed a Name-Based Mask Distribution System within three days, southern Taiwan spurred the power of society media. https://www.facebook.com/g0v.tw/posts/3580268872014373/
- Description of g0v group developed “map of purchasing mask in pharmacy” open code and the engineer Kiang Ming-Tsung. https://github.com/kiang/pharmacies/
The background of the global pandemic map and mask map, the exploration of the developing technique and tool.
National Health Insurance Administration, Ministry of Health and Welfare – mask related information inquiry page.
Jarvis Function – the train of thought of the development of mask map.
There’s too much to change, let’s change the will – participating in the mess of mask.
Translation Associate Editor
Pei-Yi Chen, Yun-Chen Liu, Hsuan Chang
Po-Jung Lai, Shin-Yi Tai
Yi-Yun Cheng, Yao-Chung Chang