South Korea benchmarked Taiwan’s mask rationing system and has set up a new rationing system that ensures more stable distribution to consumers and prevents repeated purchases from the same person. The new distribution scheme allows people to purchase two masks per week on designated days based on their birth years in all pharmacies. The South Korean government has released its mask sales data to the public by providing it as an open API. This has encouraged developers to create apps that notify people about the inventory statuses of pharmacies nationwide. Naver, South Korea’s largest search portal, and Kakao, the country’s largest chat app, have used the data to provide mask inventory services within their respective map apps.
- The new distribution system allows people to purchase two masks per week on designated days based on their birth years in all pharmacies, the last digit of one’s birth will decide the day he/she can make a purchase.
- Residents are required to present their identification cards to see the customer’s mask purchasing history.
- A face mask costs KRW 1,500 (USD 1).
- Government collaborates with the private sector by opening data.
- Developers come up with apps that show mask stocks of each pharmacy in real time.
- By taking full control of the distribution of face masks via public channels, the government helps stabilize supply.
- Anyone can purchase face masks at a cheap price.
- Around 23,000 pharmacies nationwide are selling masks and around 22,000 of these pharmacies have agreed to share their data.
- Around 10 app developers have used the data so far, and multiple apps have helped address the complaints that have arisen due to long queues at pharmacies.
- Naver and Kakao have used the data to provide mask inventory services within their respective map apps.
Sources: Businessinsider, CNN, Technologyreview