Taiwan and many other countries have set up measures, such as travel bans, border closures, curfews and lockdowns, to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday last week, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that effective the following day, foreign travelers would be denied entry into Taiwan to battle the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases over the previous couple of days. European countries and North America also closed their borders to restrict arrivals by non-residents.
By integrating its National Health Insurance and immigration and customs databases, the government identified cases with real-time alerts during clinical visits based on travel history and clinical symptoms.
Furthermore, Taipei uses QR codes, and online reporting of travel history and symptoms to track and classify risk of infection among arrivals. These data provide the government with real-time information for faster immigration clearance.
Aside from affecting people’s mobility, this crisis has had a significant effect on the economy. Many countries have proposed financial assistance, tax relief and contingency packages to protect businesses from the financial ramifications of the pandemic not only due to disruptions in operations, but also to global supply chains.
To boost Taiwan’s health capabilities and business resiliency, the authorities and businesses could strengthen the digital infrastructure for industries and the healthcare system.
The UN has set an agenda for digital transformation to support government capacity developments for effective engagement on new technologies.
With its 2014-2019 Information and Communications Technology strategy coming to an end, the UN late last year announced a plan to develop cyberdiligence and analytics on the path of digital integration to meet its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The strategy focuses on emerging technologies and partnerships in the public and private sectors.
Since 2018, the European Commission has funded a 20 million euro (US$21.9 million) project for industry and infrastructure management research, and a 1 billion euro project for healthcare and biomedical research using digital twin technology.
The projects aim to provide a virtual copy of physical situations to simulate scenarios, such as industry processes and biological processes of diseases. With the projects, authorities can estimate precisely and thus provide predictive measures for corrective actions, optimize efficiency and diagnose problems before the physical situations becomes serious.
The aim is to create a revolutionary potential for digital industry infrastructure and a digital healthcare society for all Europeans.
Taiwanese authorities and industries can develop their own digital twin technology:
First, establish a data management infrastructure to collect and manage large amounts of data; second, develop a flexible cloud-based platform for process simulations and multidisciplinary collaboration for process management; third, enhance and assure cybersecurity and data transparency through distributed ledger technology, such as blockchain; and fourth, establish an integrated collaboration to continue developing and monitoring digital twin systems and strategies.
In the battle against COVID-19, Taiwan has demonstrated a successful model using intelligent technologies and advanced data management.
In response to President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) nationwide development plan for contemplating the future of work and economic enhancement, the next step would be to further investigate and develop digital twin technology to boost the health and resilience of businesses.
Ng Ming Shan is a leadership in energy and environmental design accredited professional and a registered architect in the UK and Switzerland. She is doing research on construction automation and digitization at the Chair of Innovative and Industrial Construction at ETH Zurich. Hackl Jurgen is an assistant professor at the University of Liverpool and is affiliated with the data analytics department at the University of Zurich.
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