The mobile and telecommunications infrastructure use to fight COVID-19 in Korea
Korea has laws allowing information about infectious diseases’ cases to be publicly shared. That might sound as an intrusion to people’s life and as a violation of privacy rights. Certainly, it might be, but during times of crisis, it is also an additional layer of protection for the community.
Since the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in Daegu, the Korean government has made use of the high-tech, widespread mobile penetration and telecommunications infrastructure inside the country. Using the large mobile carriers companies and internet service providers (SK, KT, LGU+), the authorities enabled live feed messages connected to districts blogs, GPS-based tracking mobile systems, apps and websites with trustable information (maps showing where to buy masks, locations with high risk levels and usable data).
Each district’s blog is open to everyone in Korean and English (not all of them). The information will account for cases reported inside that district, with accurate locations and time. It will also allow people to follow the latest news about welfare programs during the COVID-19 crisis for citizens living at that location.
The GPS-based tracking system is more controversial, but also very useful to prevent the COVID-19 transmission. Mobile apps can show the travel log, moves from A point to B point of confirmed COVID-19 cases. People can check at what time any case was at certain points and report themselves if they were exposed to the virus.
Real time information and transparency are essential to slow down the virus transmission for the sake of everyone.
Public collaboration to defeat coronavirus COVID-19
Overall, the mobile technology is deployed for the good of the community, but it wouldn’t be possible without the public’s acceptance. Citizens agree to disclose relevant information about their life and follow the rules, making the system more manageable.
As we entered March, a good percentage of companies asked employees to work from home. Meanwhile, others decided to design single routes to commute from home to the office. Those companies enabled private buses with medical detection equipment to pick up and drop their employees lowering the COVID-19 transmission risks. Once more, Koreans, as disciplined as they are, joined and supported the effort.
Finally, the government hasn’t ordered full quarantine apart from Daegu’s contingency zone until today. Nonetheless, using the mobile message system, authorities have encouraged citizens to wear masks at all times. They have also asked to avoid crowded places, self-quarantine during 14 days to those coming from abroad and reduce social gatherings to the minimum. To all these regulations, citizens have followed without questions and in absolute order (sure there are always rotten apples).
Although the way out seems closer than ever, Koreans understand this is not victory, not yet. Being said that, working together to find a way out of this once-in-a-life-time crisis has been the common understanding between private and public sectors. Therefore, a positive outcome is now more achievable than ever. We keep hoping for the best.
Final word on part 2
Please follow us for the last part of these three posts about what Korea has done to control the coronavirus COVID-19 spread. On the final one, we’ll talk about the coordination between the government and health-related industries, and how common people benefit from that alliance.