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Taiwan social distancing app gains in popularity

App notifies users when they come near COVID patients

(Taiwan News, Wendy Wu image) 

(Taiwan News, Wendy Wu image) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the number of pandemic cases reached a single-day high in Taiwan, the download count of Taiwan's new social distancing app surged, making the app rank No. 1 in both the iOS and Android app stores.

The Taiwan Social Distance app (臺灣社交距離) measures the distance between the app's users with the aim of preventing transmission of COVID-19. The app will notify users if they have been less than two meters from a confirmed case for more than two minutes.

With 16 new cases reported on Wednesday (May 12), a record one-day high since the start of the pandemic, Taiwan could soon raise its epidemic warning level to three, according to Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). Six of the new cases have an unknown source of infection, and the footprints of the infected cover New Taipei City and Yilan.

MedPartner, a medical fan page with 270,000 followers, posted on Facebook to encourage people to download the app. The more users, the more accurate the notifications will be, it said.

Taiwan social distancing app gains in popularity
Taiwan Social Distance app ( CNA photo)

Introduced by Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Taiwan AI Labs, the social distancing app uses Bluetooth technology to automatically save distance records from the last 14 days. Turning on Bluetooth and notifications for the app allows users to be informed when exposed to confirmed cases.

The app meets the standards of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), an EU regulation on data protection and privacy, according to the CDC. There is no need to register or fill in personal information, as the app functions through calculating distance via the strength of Bluetooth signals rather than by location records.

Neither the government nor the developer gain access to the records, which consist of a hashed ID changing every 15 minutes, according to the CDC. When a user is confirmed to have an infection, whether to upload that information is completely voluntary, the CDC added.

When notified of having neared a COVID patient, users may seek help at nearby hospitals or call 1922, the communicable disease hotline, the CDC said.

Updated : 2021-09-28 21:49 GMT+08:00