TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In the push for smart city programs around the world, the Taipei City Government’s rebranded digital pass enables a quick vaccination appointment and, in the near future, could incorporate digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination status, adding to the city's array of diverse and smart COVID-19 containment measures.
The digital pass bagged the IDC Smart City Asia/Pacific Award for Civic Engagement this year as well as the 2021 iF Design Award. The app has been downloaded some 1.2 million times since its release less than a year ago.
Known as the “Taipei Card” until last year, TaipeiPASS was designed as a one-stop solution for 80% of municipal services, from paying taxes and parking tickets, to utility bill payments, access to library resources, and a citizen hotline. In addition, citizens can remotely cast a vote, file a complaint, report an offense, and enjoy exclusive dining and shopping discounts at stores.
An English version is available for most of the services.
COVID-19 containment solutions
Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the tech-savvy among the city government have delved into digital technology initiatives to contain the spread of the virus.
A year later, the service has been revamped for COVID check-ins that enable contact-tracing. Also, QR codes are displayed at business and event registration counters, making it easier for people to check in and for the City Covid Response Team to track the footprint of the coronavirus.
Simon Lu (呂新科), commissioner of Taipei's Department of Information Technology, said, “In addition to the check-in, a data analytics model of citizen flows at places of business will be adopted in the service to prevent COVID-19 transmission." As for those less familiar with smart devices, the city is allowing them to check in with a registered Taipei EasyCard (悠遊卡).
As the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program is being rolled out, TaipeiPASS has also tapped into the country’s COVID-19 vaccination registration and reservation system, streamlining the process of scheduling a jab. The system is the scheduling method that requires the least effort, according to popular tech blog Mr. Mad.
Lu told Taiwan News that a plan to incorporate digital proof of vaccination status is underway, with the hope that post-pandemic life will be made easier as the restaurant and tourism sectors get back on their feet.
Contactless bill payments, pandemic relief
Individuals who have lost their job or gone out of business since the start of Taiwan's first major COVID outbreak in mid-May have been able to apply for pandemic relief subsidies through the platform. This reduces the risk of exposure to the virus by circumventing a trip to government agencies.
With the service portal, users can pay local taxes, water bills, parking, medical, and tuition fees. The platform also supports various forms of digital payment, including Easy Wallet, JKOPAY, and ezPay.
As cyber-attacks become increasingly sophisticated and ransomware continues to pose a threat, the platform was built with the highest standard of data security. “The system was built on dual protections — Public Key Infrastructure as well as on Zero Trust Network —the toughest access controls to protect data during transmission,” Lu explained.
“Additional security layers are implemented as the city government leverages cellular and wireless technologies to connect and improve infrastructure to ensure a desired quality of life for residents and visitors alike."