Hackers, officials launch coronavirus crowdsourcing tools

By Joshua Chambers

Mask sharing and mask collection systems developed by local do-gooders.

Images of mask distribution and MaskGoWhere team by Dr Janil Puthucheary.

Singapore’s GovTech Agency, and local civic tech hackers, have launched new systems in the past week to allow people to crowdsource supplies during the city state’s novel coronavirus outbreak.

Civic tech collective Better.Sg has this week launched a new system, MaskGoShare, which allows people to donate surgical masks to neighbours who do not have them. The system connects people in need and those with a surplus, allowing them to share their post code details and arrange drop offs in their mailboxes. The system auto deletes information after they have arranged a collection.

Better.SG founder Brigadier General Gaurav Keerthi said: “We believe that we can build innovative and simple tech tools to help bring out the best in people, and to nudge us all towards building a better Singapore. The current fear surrounding the nCoV has led some people to panic-buy large stockpiles of essential supplies, such as masks, sanitisers, and other goods”.

“We hope that with a simple tool like this, we can highlight that there are people near you who need emergency or essential supplies urgently. If a visitor to our site feels like they bought more than they need, we hope that they reach out to their neighbours and share a "gift" of love and concern, for a fellow Singaporean,” he added.

Meanwhile, the GovTech Agency of Singapore launched its MaskGoWhere site last week, which allows Singaporeans to easily find where they can collect the four free masks being provided by the Government.

As Senior Minister of State Dr Janil Puthucheary wrote on Instagram, the GovTech team built the system in 24 hours, working through the night to generate over 8 million pageviews in its first week.

The MaskGoWhere system shows how govtech can help officials rapidly adapt in testing times.

Further afield, America’s Johns Hopkins University has used public open data to visualise and map the spread of the virus across the world. “The dashboard is intended to provide the public with an understanding of the outbreak situation as it unfolds, with transparent data sources,” wrote Lauren Gardner from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Visit maskgowhere.gov.sg to find Singapore mask collections, better.sg/maskgoshare to donate or collect supplies, and https://www.gov.sg/features/2019-ncov for the latest updates in Singapore.