Government and Citizens Unite Against Covid-19

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2020 / September

Cathy Teng /photos courtesy of Lin Min-hsuan /tr. by Scott Williams


Government agencies have been demonstrating a new aptitude for communication in recent years. Their tactics for getting information out to the public now range from creative social media editing to institu­tional branding to complete revamps of government publications. These methods have given agencies a less conservative look, but is the public buying it?


In 2006, Time magazine placed a mirrored cover on its “Person of the Year” issue, reflecting the image of that year’s winner—“you”—back at the reader.

Communications research has typically depicted readers and listeners as undifferentiated, passive audiences. But audience models have changed as researchers have realized that readers and listeners are active information processors. New technologies now cultivate “active participa­tion.” Mechanisms such as online interaction, community connection, and “self-media” enable speakers to address the world and become “actors” who “do something.” These mechanisms are making it possible for each of us to change the world in our own small ways.

With the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, governments around the world have focused even more intently on disease control and communication. Here in Taiwan, not only has the government taken timely action, but our public too has been sharing information and expertise in the effort to hold the line against the disease. Just as in Time magazine in 2006, this year’s person of the year has been “you.”

Central Epidemic Command Center

“The virus is coming! The virus is coming!”

On 31 December 2019, someone posted on a PTT bulletin board that a SARS-type pneumonia of unknown origin had appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Taiwan responded to the news by beginning an investigation, notifying the World Health Organization, and hitting the alarm button.

Recalling our horrible experience with SARS in 2003, Taiwan also immediately established the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) to prepare our island for the arrival of Covid-19.

First face-mask map debuts

Howard Wu returned to Taiwan after completing studies in the US and founded Goodideas Studio in his hometown of Tainan. An engineer seeking to build something more than a simple shared space, Wu created an information sharing platform for southern Taiwan. He also wanted to cultivate a “different kind” of engineer in Tainan, one aiming to write programs that solve problems in ways that improve people’s lives.

Wu worked through the night to write Taiwan’s first face-mask locator app. He originally intended it just for friends, but unexpectedly found it helping many other people. “I get the most satisfaction from seeing my work truly helping people.” Though the app only existed for two days before the government’s 3 February announcement of face-mask rationing, it enjoyed a huge response over its short life.

Audrey Tang, the government’s digital minister, contacted Wu via the g0v open government portal and arranged for the relevant face-mask data to be released to the open-data community to facilitate the development of additional face-mask maps.

The moment the news came out, others in the info­sphere rolled up their sleeves and began contributing their individual expertise. A data format was announced on 5 February and uploaded the following day. Taiwan’s biggest ever single-issue online hackathon ensued, with the open-data community quickly developing more than 130 apps in a landmark example of government‡citizen cooperation.

The creation of so many tools in such a short time period has enabled the dissemination of large volumes of pandemic information, which has enhanced the public’s focus on and understanding of disease prevention. “Many countries have approached disease control from the standpoint of compulsory lockdowns imposed from above,” explains Wu. “Taiwan took a bottom-up approach in which individuals spontaneously and willingly assumed responsibility for their own behavior and took care of others. Everyone has to have this kind of awareness to have a solid line of defense.”

#I’m OK, you go ahead

Face masks were in short supply during the early stages of the outbreak. Even with the government initi­ating rationing on 6 February and establishing a taskforce to set up new face-mask production lines, it would take time for supplies to catch up with demand. Someone on Facebook therefore started the “#I’m OK, you go ahead” face-mask campaign, which encouraged people to leave the then available masks for those who truly needed them: frontline personnel and patients who had to visit the hospital frequently. Nearly 10,000 people indicated they would participate, and many spread the message online.

Neighboring nations also adopted the idea. A South Korean campaign with a similar name got underway in early March, urging the public to reserve masks for healthcare providers and disadvantaged groups.

Once Taiwan’s supply of face masks had caught up to demand, on 27 April the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) began allowing the public to donate masks via an app to support international cooperation and assistance. As of 25 August, more than 710,000 people had responded, donating some 6.14 million masks in what might be called a further evolution of the “I’m OK” campaign.

Taiwan CDC changes data presentation

Taiwan’s infection numbers have remained relatively low throughout the pandemic. Aside from watching the daily pandemic press conference, everyone basically went on with their work and their lives.

In mid-April, Designsurfing, a well known Taiwanese design critic, shared an interesting story on Facebook.

Sharp-eyed individuals had commented online that while the MOHW’s daily epidemic report contained a great deal of information, it was hard to take in at one glance. In early April, the MOHW’s social media editors took their advice to heart and revised the layout, enlarging important figures and adjusting the backgrounds to give it more focus and make it easier to quickly grasp.

Designsurfing says that the comments show that the general public’s aesthetic standards have risen, and that the ministry’s willingness to listen and to give young designers greater authority will encourage experts to offer their recommendations more freely. Moreover, the opening of communication channels in this way ensures that the public has a greater voice in creating a more beautiful environment. This advance in Taiwanese aesthetics has been a very small but happy side effect of the pandemic. 

Baseball season begins

With Taiwan one of the few places succeeding in its prevention efforts during the pandemic’s first global peak, the Chinese Professional Baseball League became the world’s first professional baseball league to open its season. When the CTBC Brothers played the Uni-­President Lions behind closed doors at the Taichung Inter­continental Baseball Stadium, CPBL pitchers were the only pro players in the world able to take the mound.

Taiwan’s good fortune led Japanese baseball fans to comment: “How lucky to be able to watch baseball!” and “Taiwan’s people and government are all so diligent!” The American Institute in Taiwan even posted on Facebook to say that with the opening of the American baseball season delayed by the pandemic, American baseball fans were fortunate to have Taiwanese baseball available to fill the void.

On 8 May, the CPBL permitted 1000 fans to attend a game in person, making Taiwan the first place in the world to open a professional baseball game to a live audi­ence since the start of the pandemic.

Pink mask movement

At a 13 April press conference, CECC head Chen Shih-chung and all the officials taking part in the confer­ence donned pink face masks. They were responding to the case of a little boy who was uncomfortable wearing a pink mask for fear of being mocked at school. By putting on pink masks, these usually solemn and dignified officials not only demonstrated their concern for disease control, but also for the feelings of a child. They stood with this boy not just in word, but in deed.

The show of support continued on Facebook as many social media editors colored their avatars and logos pink. The participation of corporations, institutions, and brands including McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Ministry of Culture, the Forestry Bureau, the Ministry of Education, and Taiwan Beer gave the campaign an almost celebratory feeling.

This use of online platforms to amplify the message that color isn’t gendered has not only advanced gender equality in Taiwan, but also heightened disease prevention awareness.

A disease control arts and crafts studio

Illustrator Tonn Hsu got into the habit of drawing while watching the daily press conference on the pandemic. Much like beer with fried chicken, the pairing has proved a perfect match. Hsu has been closely following the Covid-19 situation since the beginning of the year and says that the pandemic feels almost like something you’d see in a novel or a film.

Keeping an eye on the daily 2 p.m. press conferences and wanting to do some non-project-related drawing in her free time, Hsu found herself frequently sketching the cultured-looking minister of health and welfare. She included a face-mask-wearing coffee mug on his desk, and then designed her sketch to work as a 3D pop-up and added a speech bubble. “The speech bubble was crucial because it let everyone add their own thoughts.” Hsu made copies of the drawing, then cut and folded them into shape to create 3D versions of Minister Chen. She was surprised by the enthusiastic response to the figures when she posted them online and opened “classes” at her “Yi Tonn Covid Prevention Arts and Crafts Studio.”

With online followers clamoring for a second drawing, she set to work again. Reflecting on Digital Minister Audrey Tang’s fondness for videoconferences, Hsu chose to put her face on a screen atop a robot body, playfully portray­ing her “tall forehead,” hint of a smile and long hair.

Hsu’s third and fourth drawings focused on warnings against travel abroad and on frontline workers. At the end of April, she partnered with the Hahow educational marketplace to create a paper figure of then vice president of the ROC Chen Chien-jen that can be dressed up in the armor of a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

This is the first time Hsu has involved herself in a social issue in a professional capacity. She says that she hopes her work reminds people in a gentle way not to be afraid, and that it encourages them to use their skills to give back to society so we can fight this disease together.

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文‧鄧慧純 圖‧林旻萱

近年來公部門展現了進擊的溝通力,從創意小編、地方誌變身、機構品牌化,把官方資訊轉個方式讓民眾了解,改變腦中公部門保守的形象,那接球的一方,買帳否?


猶記得2006年《TIME》雜誌評選年度風雲人物,特別透過設計讓讀者能從雜誌封面的鏡面螢幕看到映照出來的自己,呼應了當年度的年度風雲人物「You」。

傳統的傳播學研究,把閱聽人描繪成單一而被動的受眾,靠著媒體餵養資訊;但隨著閱聽人研究典範的轉移,質性研究方法探入閱聽人的生活中,才發現原本以為是被動接收資訊的閱聽人,其實是主動的資訊處理者。新科技的發展亦助長閱聽人的主動性,藉由網路互動、社群串聯、自媒體發聲,閱聽人是向世界發聲的發言者,是能夠do something的行動者,每個小我都有改變世界的可能。

2020年,全球陷入COVID-19疫情風波,各國政府忙著防疫、忙著溝通,台灣亦同。許多人以為台灣與中國大陸互動頻繁,應是首當其衝。但結局翻轉,一路走來,除了是政府的超前部署外,線上線下的傳播、溝通,每個藏在口罩背後的個人,或是雞婆的轉發分享,或是發揮自己的專業,一起守住了台灣的防線,就像2006年《TIME》雜誌的年度風雲人物「You」。

中央流行疫情指揮中心成立

「病毒來襲!病毒來襲!」

2019年12月31日,一則在PTT上,網友丟出中國武漢市出現不明原因類SARS的肺炎病例訊息,讓疾管署副署長羅一鈞警覺查證,除通報WHO外,也按下示警的警戒鈕。

台灣因為2003年SARS的慘痛經歷,立馬預判局勢,超前部署,成立中央流行疫情指揮中心,全面備戰COVID-19來襲。

全台第一支口罩地圖程式問世

一月底二月初,口罩實名制尚未施行前,全台最常見的景象就是大家穿梭在超商間買口罩。這樣的畫面一再重複,看在工程師吳展瑋的眼裡,他心想,應該可以用程式解決。

從美國學成歸國,回到故鄉台南成立「好想工作室」,吳展瑋想做的不只是共享空間,打造南台灣的資訊交平台,他還想在台南培育「不一樣」的工程師,願意用程式解決問題,讓生活變得更美好。

「對我來講,做這件事情最大的成就感就是看人家用了你的東西,然後真的幫助了別人。」他拚了一個晚上,熬夜寫出來的台灣第一支口罩地圖程式,上線後,流量爆表,原本只想給親朋好友利用,卻無意間嘉惠了許多人。只是沒料到程式實際上只存活兩天,2月3日行政院宣布改成口罩實名制,但這兩天的傳播,已造成廣大的回響。

首先是政務委員唐鳳透過g0v零時政府的平台與吳展瑋接觸,洽談串聯政府與民間合作的可行性,唐鳳居間協調釋出相關open data,讓民間一起來幫忙開發口罩地圖。

此資訊一釋出,資訊圈各個摩拳擦掌準備進場,貢獻專所。「我覺得它算是一個奇蹟了」,吳展瑋說。2月5日才公布資料格式,2月6日上線,不僅沒有大當機,後續藉由open data民間開發出來的應用程式超過130筆,「那是全台灣單一議題最大的線上黑松客,就是一種百花齊放的感覺。」回顧這一回,吳展瑋認為這是「官民合作的一個重要里程碑」,是政府把資料攤開來,藉用民間多樣的資源和創意提供解決方案。

而資訊圈在短短時間內創造出這麼多的工具,代表著有大量的防疫資訊藉由應用的過程被傳播出去,當每個人都從新聞、app接收到這些資訊,漸漸累積對疫情的重視和防疫的觀念。「許多國家以『封城』強制由上而下的管理方式來防疫,但是台灣是由下而上,每個人都自發性地、有意識地去注意自己、關懷別人,當每個人都有這樣的意識的時候,才有辦法建立一個沒有漏洞的防線。」吳展瑋說。

疫情初期,口罩數量吃緊,政府雖已預告將於2月6日啟動口罩實名制,並啟動口罩國家隊,打造口罩生產線,但由於產能的時間差,供給尚未追上需求量,因而有網友在FB上發起「#我OK你先領」禮讓口罩運動,希望大家把口罩留給真正需要的第一線人員和其他需要經常出入醫療院所的病患。網路活動有近萬人響應參加,並獲得網友大量廣傳分享。同時,政府也啟動溝通,解釋台灣並無社區傳染個案,感染風險極低,希望大家可以把口罩讓給有需要的人。

#我OK你先領

「#我OK你先領」也讓鄰近國家借鏡,3月初,南韓也處於口罩短缺的緊張期,南韓網友參考台灣的網友活動,也自發性呼籲「나는OK,당신이먼저!」(我沒事,你先來),把口罩留給真正需要的醫護人員和弱勢團體。

4月27日,台灣口罩供應已上軌道,為了展現國際互助,衛服部開放全民響應政府的人道救援,民眾可以透過app捐贈過去可購買卻尚未購買的口罩,迄今已有71萬人次響應,捐贈了口罩614萬片(上網日期:2020年8月25日),可說是「我OK你先領」的進化版,「Taiwan Can Help」是全球嚴峻疫情中的最暖心的一雙手。

衛福部疫情資訊改版

防疫期間,台灣疫情相對穩定,民眾除了每天準時收看防疫說明記者會,緊盯著衛福部發布的圖卡快訊外,大家仍都在工作崗位上善盡職守,發揮專才。

設計人亦然,對於分釐都要講究的設計者而言,看到不美的東西總想要伸手調整一下。四月中旬,國內知名設計評論者「設計發浪Designsurfing」在FB發文,分享了一個小故事。

眼尖的網友會發現每天衛福部發出的疫情報表,資訊豐富,但眾多的訊息總是難以一目了然。在四月上旬時,衛福部小編在網友的建議下修正設計,將版面略作調整,把重要數字放大,排版有了重點,讓人更能一窺全貌。

近年來,台灣的美感教育靠著設計師的扎根努力,引起大眾的思考與注意。設計發浪Designsurfing表示,這顯示民眾美學標準提升,還有中央部會給予年輕設計師最大的權限,政府願意傾聽,專業者願意提供建議,這樣的溝通讓大家共同為美感環境發聲,台灣美學向前一步,是疫情中小小的番外篇。

防疫中,台灣職棒開打

疫情緊繃,全球封城防疫,禁止一切戶外活動,更何況是一大群人同處一空間,一起分享喊聲、汗水的職業賽事。唯獨台灣因為防疫有成,中華職棒成為全世界第一個開打的職業棒球聯盟比賽。

4月12日,由中信兄弟隊在台中洲際棒球場迎戰統一獅隊,雖是採閉門賽方式,但全世界只有中華職棒的投手能夠站上投手丘。

對比國外的景況,這樣的幸福讓日本球迷寫下:「好棒喔!能看棒球好幸福!」「台灣的國民跟政府大家都很努力!」美國在台協會也在FB發文寫道:「美國職棒因疫情的緣故暫時無法開打,還好台灣棒球帶來了及時雨,填補了美國球迷的空虛!」

5月8日,中職開放觀眾入場了。在富邦悍將的新莊主場,開放1,000名觀眾進場觀賽,是COVID-19肺炎疫情爆發以來,全世界第一個開放觀眾入場觀看的職棒球賽,就在台灣!!

粉紅口罩事件

口罩的新聞還有小插曲,是一個暖心的小故事。

4月13日,指揮官陳時中率領全體官員戴上粉紅色口罩,而成為防疫記者會上的粉紅亮點。原來有記者提到有小男孩不想戴粉紅色口罩,怕在學校怕遭議論。為此,平常幾位嚴肅的長官們,戴起萌萌的粉紅口罩,和孩子站在一起,而非只是口頭說說,指揮中心除了勞心防疫之外,也關心到細微的心理層面。

粉紅口罩事件並未就此落幕,而是持續在FB上發酵,許多社群小編都紛紛將大頭貼、LOGO換成粉紅版,從麥當勞、肯德基、文化部、林務局、環保署、教育部、台灣啤酒等機關企業,網路上一片粉紅風,如慶典一般。

這插曲意外成為台灣性平宣導的絕佳機會,大家紛紛用自己的力量來告訴社會「顏色沒有性別」。全民的防疫意識透過議題的效應,產生不斷+1的效果,對性平意識和防疫來說,台灣都往前邁了一步。

一Tonn防疫美勞教室

就像炸雞配啤酒,防疫期間插畫家許彤的搭配是畫畫配防疫線上記者會。從年初開始密切關注COVID-19的疫情,「這有點像小說或電影中才會出現的情節。」許彤說。加上去年她在杭州讀研究所,心中對於那邊的朋友總有一份記掛。

守著每天下午兩點準時開場的記者會,許彤一邊作畫,得空休息時,想畫一些案子以外的東西,她隨手畫下總是溫文儒雅的陳時中部長,穿著夾克背心,一手持麥克風,彷彿可以聽到「各位記者女士先生們大家午安,今天新增……」,細節處連桌上的水杯都戴上口罩。喜歡做點不一樣的許彤,設計讓作品立體起來,最後再加上對話框,「對話框很重要,這年頭大家不喜歡聽人家講話,喜歡寫自己的『淺見』,」她到7-11列印出來,手工裁切再折起來,成為3D的時中部長。一貼上網,沒想到獲得網友熱烈詢問,「怎麼獲得部長?」「一Tonn防疫美勞教室」開課了。

許彤無私地分享出檔案,還寫下步驟和製作細節,網友繼續敲碗求第二彈。印象中政務委員唐鳳很喜歡利用視訊會議,那就用機器人呈現好了,許彤解釋。高額頭配上微微笑意,披著長髮的唐鳳出現在螢幕中,彷彿能聽到唐鳳超高語速的說話聲,下半身是機器人,這支難度高一點,要一點巧手才能完成。

第三彈旅遊警戒和第四彈前線戰士也因應國外旅遊警戒和包機返台等新聞時事,應運推出。還有番外篇「愛的距離」,把部長的桌子拉長,要記得保持1.5公尺呦!四月底跟Hahow好學校合作的前副總統陳建仁紙偶,讓講桌後的副總統可以用紙娃娃變身術,一秒變成聖墓騎士。

防疫美勞教室獲得大量廣傳分享,許多網友製作完,拿出自家的公仔一起互動開會,也像在商討如何防疫一般有趣;有人列印部長放在急診室、診間,作為防疫的灘頭堡;老師把部長擺在教室裡,提醒學生戴口罩勤洗手,這些小插曲被拍照上網,有趣之外,都有廣傳的效益。

許彤說這是她第一次以自己的專業參與社會議題,三、四月的時候疫情趨向嚴重,整個社會感覺有點緊張,她希望自己的作品,以輕鬆的方式,提醒大家不要太恐慌,而且「一Tonn防疫美勞教室」的諧音哏你發現了嗎?「一Tonn」音「一同」。許彤想跟大家說,大家都可以善用自己的專長,回應社會,一同防疫吧!

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