MORE FROM KrASIA

Shenyang becomes launchpad to track public transit users as companies across China resume operations

Passengers must scan a QR code placed on buses, subways, and taxis, and provide contact info.

Photo: Stock.tuchong.com

The government of Shenyang, a city in northeastern China’s Liaoning province, launched an identity verification system for public transit passengers on Feb. 6, developed in partnership with China’s largest on-demand delivery platform Meituan Dianping, the company announced on Sunday.

Every time before boarding public transit in the city, passengers are required to use their smartphones to scan a QR code—placed on buses, subways, and taxis—and register their contact information on a WeChat mini-program developed by Meituan. For people who forget to bring their smartphones, or cannot use them, drivers of taxis and buses, or staff members in subway stations, will assist in the registration process.

The announcement came as many companies across China resumed operations on Monday after the government eased some restrictions on working, imposed after the coronavirus outbreak.

Once a person is diagnosed as ill, the system can track down their prior movements using the information, which allows the government to identify others who might have been in contact with them, local media Tencent News reported, citing sources from the Shenyang Transportation Bureau.

The data will be encrypted and stored in a dedicated server to safeguard privacy. WeChat-based registration will also reduce human-to-human contact caused by manual registration, Meituan said in the statement.

The identity verification system will soon launch in more cities across China and will cover more public areas, Meituan said.

Many other Chinese tech companies have launched new real-time tracking platforms for the virus. Chinese internet company Qihoo 360 joined forces with tech company NoSugarTech to develop a tracking platform that lets users check whether they have recently traveled near any confirmed infected people, based on information released by public verified sources, such as state-owned media reports and local government websites.

Citizens in Guangzhou and Shenzhen can also find out if any infected patients were living in their neighborhoods using a WeChat mini-program, which can map out confirmed infections by integrating case reports from authorities with map annotations, Reuters reported.

As of 4:30 p.m. on Monday, the coronavirus has inflicted sickness in more than 40,200 individuals in the Chinese mainland and claimed 909 lives. More than 23,000 patients are currently under observation. Cases have also been reported in 24 other countries including Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and the US.