COVID-19 Wastewater Monitoring with Michigan Dashboard – OpenGov Asia
Taiwan encouraged other countries to consider Taiwan’s example of open digital development and privacy protection to fight digital authoritarianism and affirm democratic values. To develop the tools Taiwan has used to promote transparency and public trust, the key is to work not only for the people, but with the people.
“The decade between the end of martial law and Taiwan’s first direct presidential election, democracy and the Internet, had developed side by side. Democracy is like a social technology for the Taiwanese.
Audrey Tang, Taiwanese Minister of Digital
Taiwan’s private sector-developed and widely regarded SMS contact tracing system has enabled the government to limit the spread of COVID-19 without harming private information. All location data is purged from the database after 28 days. A judge had refused a request for a police warrant to access the data on the grounds that it did not constitute information, showing how seriously the government took privacy.
As further examples of public-government collaboration on digital solutions to the problems of the day, the digital minister cited the pollution monitoring system and the Civil IOT Taiwan program. They use the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technology to provide the public with real-time data on air, water, earthquakes, and disaster prevention.
Additionally, a recent report from a human rights organization showed Taiwan to be Asia’s only green light this year. Taiwan was considered the only truly open civic space in the region. Other democratic countries should embrace digital innovation and invest in civic technologies. Not to trust is not to trust.
Taiwan has to put online collaboration at the heart of its governance. The idea is to bring technology into the spaces where citizens live, rather than expecting citizens to enter the space of technology. The premise is this: the government must first trust the people with the power to set the agenda; then the people will be able to make democracy work.
Taiwan’s national online participation platform is called “Join”, and the Taipei City Government has adopted the government system for projects to include the public in budget matters. Data visualization tools help people understand what’s allocated where. The “Join” platform, with over 4 million participants, goes beyond budget matters. Anyone can start an e-petition on the platform. Once a file has 5,000 signatures, the relevant ministries must respond in public.
The Minister of Digital has set up a network of Chargés de Participation in each ministry. They serve as links between the general public and the public sectors, and as channels for inter-agency collaboration. Whenever a proposal is raised, a collaborative meeting can be organized, with participants from government departments and the public invited to join in the discussion and jointly create new policies.
Adopting civic innovations in the public sector requires an established system of regulation, maintenance and accountability. Thus, it is imperative that government, tech community, and business come together to form a collaborative ecosystem to amplify the impact of civic technology: code can support democratic values in ways that were not possible before.
As OpenGov Asia reports, digitization is no longer an option, but a necessity in Taiwan. With face-to-face contact being limited, digitization has become crucial not only for businesses but also for schools. Local businesses were cautious about reorganizing the old IT infrastructure to keep up with the global trend of digitization, but most office workers still worked in front of desktops in their offices.
Small businesses in Taiwan have been slow to digitally transform, ranking the nation lower in the ‘digital observer’ category than other Asian countries, according to the Small Business Digitization and COVID-19 Survey released . Most countries fell into the “digital observer” category, the second of the four survey categories. Small businesses in Asia-Pacific were mostly lagging behind those in the United States and Europe.
Government agencies and private enterprises in Taiwan should keep making progress to meet the growing needs of their citizens and clients.