TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei rolled out ID-based mask vending machines on Saturday (April 11) in a bid to reduce the hassle of purchasing the much sought-after protective gear amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A collaboration between the city government’s technical task force, industry players, and the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA), the machines allow people to buy surgical masks via multiple payment options using their NHI cards for ID verification.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who tried the new service personally, said it took only 30 seconds to complete the purchase. He touted the invention as easy, reliable, and time-saving for the majority of office workers, who do not have the luxury of queuing up for masks at pharmacies, and seniors, who find it challenging to access the cellphone app-based mask rationing system, wrote UDN.
Building on its experience introducing smart vending machines on a host of high schools and elementary schools last year, Taipei has drawn on the expertise of Micro-Star International Co. (MSI), a local IT company that designs and provides computer software and services, to develop the mask-vending machines.
MSI incorporated telecommunications, mobile payments, an interactive display, and AIoT technology in designing the machines, the first of their kind in Taiwan, reported Liberty Times. The company believes the invention will help relieve designated mask distributors of their burden while ensuring that personal data are not intruded upon.
During the trial run, there will be three machines installed at the capital’s Xinyi District Health Center before the service is expanded to all of Taipei’s 12 administrative districts, said Ko. More stress testing will be conducted so that the service can be implemented nationwide with the assistance of the central government, he added.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je demonstrates how to access the ID-based mask vending machine. (Taipei City Government photo)