New tool tells users their likelihood of contact with coronavirus patients in Taiwan

Taiwanese, Korean health authorities joined forces last month to disclose areas visited by confirmed COVID-19 case

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(Google map screengrab)

(Google map screengrab)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Thanks to a new trilingual tool rolled out by a group of programmers on an online civic tech community, people can now check their probability of having come in contact with confirmed Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.

Members of g0v.tw, which advocates transparency of information and builds tech solutions to improve civic engagement in politics and policymaking, recently built a page that matches government information on the recent movements of confirmed coronavirus patients with users' location history based on Google Maps Timeline to check whether or not they may have had contact with the patients, and if so — where and when.

To do so, users must turn on their location history on Google Maps, which when enabled displays red dots on the map. If the feature has just been switched on, there will be no data to match and the system will begin keeping track of the places a user visits.

The second step is to select the period in question. There are five options to choose from: today or the past three, seven, 14, or 31 days. The tool will then begin to compare the user's data with that of confirmed cases as traced by the authorities.

The service is currently available in Chinese, English, and Korean and in two countries — Taiwan and South Korea. User data is not uploaded to any server during the matching process, the developers claim.

They also caution that the data provided by the authorities is far from sufficient and advise users to be aware of updates. Taiwan's health authorities joined South Korea in late February in disclosing areas recently visited by one patient, an undocumented Indonesian caregiver, who was confirmed as Taiwan's 32nd case of infection.