In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan’s government has rolled out preventive measures against the coronavirus. At the highest peak of the pandemic, tens of thousands of individuals in Taiwan were subject to home quarantine/isolation, placing huge personnel and logistic burdens on local civil administration and police agencies. With the support of the Technology Development Programs of Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT), Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), ITRI recently launched the HoMe Care Quarantine Service, a smart system for tracking home quarantined/isolated individuals that aims to provide digital support for local governments’ tracking personnel. The system’s automated scheduling feature arranges online calls to home quarantined/isolated individuals and its multiple sensing information greatly improves the positioning accuracy, which can effectively lessen 80% of the tracking burdens of village chiefs, clerks, and police officers.
According to ITRI Executive Vice President Pei-Zen Chang, four in ten people in the world are subject to mobility restrictions in order to contain the outbreak, meaning that governments around the world are in desperate need of digital technologies to implement quarantine/isolation measures. ITRI’s HoMe Care Quarantine Service goes into overdrive to improve positioning accuracy. The purpose is to reduce false alerts caused by positioning errors that often exhaust inspectors. Dr. Chang emphasized that related technologies developed by ITRI have now completed the internal testing phase. As the HoMe Care Quarantine Service is being verified by local governments at the moment, counties and cities with an interest in the system are welcome to get involved. The system will be further expanded to senior citizens living alone, school-age children, and individuals whose location and needs should be tracked for the government to provide necessary care and support.
Dr. Chang further stated that the HoMe Care Quarantine Service features four highlights that make it an ideal tool for frontline tracking inspectors: 1. highly accurate positioning that results from the integration of multiple sensing information; 2. highly accurate identity verification that utilizes mobile phone biometrics; 3. high user privacy protection that prevents the app from storing user data, which are uploaded to physically separate intranet servers and deleted once the quarantine/isolation period is over; 4. high convenience that enables high scalability and bilateral reporting of the system. It is hoped that the system will lend technological support to secure Taiwan and protect its citizens’ health.
Dr. Tzi Cker Chiueh, ITRI’s Vice President and General Director of Information and Communications Laboratories, pointed out that the HoMe Care Quarantine Service is a multi-functional app. Once home quarantined/isolated individuals download the app on their mobile phone, their location will be tracked. The multiple sensing information collected from cellular base stations, GPS, Wi-Fi connections, and gyroscopes is used to identify if an individual stays indoors or outdoors. The integration of multiple sensing information enables multiple tracking that can reduce false alerts caused by positioning errors. ITRI’s test data show that the system can reduce the positioning error margins from more than 100 meters to less than 10 meters and has higher positioning accuracy compared to that of single sensing information. Upon login, the app immediately connects to the user’s phone biometrics such as facial recognition or fingerprints for identity verification. In addition, the system features videoconferencing functions to enable future recognition through audio and video records.
ITRI’s HoMe Care Quarantine Service offers a feature of electronic village chiefs/clerks. The bilateral reporting mechanism automatically schedules dials to those in home quarantine/isolation to keep track of their whereabouts and allows home quarantined/isolated individuals to report to the system in an efficient way. More importantly, the virtual app service platform developed by ITRI manages app versions in the backend so that it only takes one modification for every update to be run on all models of mobile phones. App operators do not need to run tests on different phone models, and users do not have to constantly update the app on their phone. It is expected that the app can connect to more services that local governments provide for those in home quarantine/isolation, such as garbage disposal, meal delivery, and telemedicine.