Last Updated on 06-11-2023
Because of the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control and Taiwan AI Labs on May 14, 2021 have launched a new social distancing app which replaces the real-name registration system.
It has become difficult for the government to control whether the population is reporting their contact/travel history and rapid test results honestly. Therefore, we are recommended to install and use the app on our mobile devices to assist the government in its efforts to contain the spread of the virus. In this article you will have a better understanding of how this new “Taiwan Social Distancing App” works, how to use it and its benefits.
What is “Taiwan Social Distancing” App?
The “Taiwan Social Distancing” app has been created to improve COVID-19 monitoring in order to reduce the risk of community transmission. It uses Bluetooth to detect nearby users and record your duration of distance from each contact.
The app will alert you about any contact you have had for more than two minutes with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days so you can monitor your health status.
The app is available for anyone living in Taiwan including Penghu, Kinmen, and the Matsu archipelagoes. It is up to you to install or uninstall the app. It also allows you to upload your vaccination certificate for more convenience.
“Taiwan Social Distancing” app detects nearby mobile devices & notify you if you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the past 14 days. If you test positive for COVID-19, you can also anonymously share your status.
The app bluetooth setting works on a 2m distance for a duration of more than two minutes. It does not track your location and only works if your bluetooth is on. One thing that you could probably be worried about is its effects on your device battery, but the app uses lower energy Bluetooth (Bluetooth LE), so the battery impact on your device is insignificant.
In the above picture, the individual A who has contracted COVID-19 without showing symptoms, left his home and took the train for work. During this period of time, he got in contact with individual B, C, D, E, F and G. After showing symptoms and took a rapid test, individual A report himself as a positive case on the app and anyone who has been as close as 2m from him will need to do self-monitoring for 7 days. The following people should be individual B, C, D, E, F, G as shown in the picture.
How to use the App
The app can be easily downloaded on Play store if you are using an Android mobile phone and on App store if you are an Apple user.
Open the app
Enable the “Exposure” and “Notification” settings
How would it look like if you WERE in contact with a COVID-19 positive person in the past 14 days?
If you were in contact with a COVID-19 positive person, when you open the app you will see a RED rectangle with the words “You have been in proximity with registered positive tests” written in it as shown in the picture below. By clicking on it you can get access to your daily summary and you will know when and for how long you have been exposed.
You can have access to your daily summary on the app to know your status and in case you were to test positive you can also upload your status anonymously so they can alert anyone who has been in contact with you.
Remember to always have your Bluetooth settings on as it is crucial for the app to work.
As I know you might be worried about your data privacy on the app, it should be noted that privacy of all users are protected while preventing further spread of COVID-19. You are never asked to put any personal information. The unique information the CDC has about you is the random device ID (Bluetooth identification code) and the only form of data transmission involved is the bluetooth signals between devices to calculate the distance between each user.
The app service starts using your personal data (Bluetooth identification code) when you click “Agree” and use the app. Your data will not be uploaded to any cloud service system; the random ID recorded in the app will only be kept in your phone for 14 days, and it will be automatically deleted afterwards.
Taiwan has been a world leader in containing the spread of the virus in the country. However, with the constant discovery of new COVID-19 variants, vaccines will be less efficient in controlling the expansion of the virus. Social distancing is one of the keys to live with the pandemic and the effectiveness of this “Social distancing app” depends on its acceptance among the population.
Taiwan government keeps encouraging us to download the app through initiatives such as lucky draw or by creating awareness. As of now, more than 6 million people in Taiwan have already downloaded the app and done their part to contribute, have you?