Materialities of digital disease control in Taiwan during COVID-19

Sung Yueh Perng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, a wide range of digital technologies and data analytics have been incorporated into pandemic response models globally, in the hope of better detecting, tracking, monitoring and containing outbreaks. This increased digital involvement in disease control has offered the prospect of heightened effectiveness in all of the above, but not without raising other concerns. This paper contributes to ongoing discussions of the digital transformation in disease control by proposing a materialist analysis of how such control has become operative and what its effects may be, both now and in the future. Using Taiwan's digital pandemic response as a case study, the paper explores specific ways in which material processes and arrangements have shaped digital measures, as well as the actions that rendered such measures operable, with their ensuing consequences. This analysis illustrates the importance of historical, material and technological specificities and contingencies to our understanding of how digital disease control takes a particular shape. It also demonstrates how shifting regimes of practice continually reconfigure the ways in which digital disease control functions. The paper argues that paying greater attention to the materialities of digital disease control can provide a more nuanced understanding of the complex ways in which society may be protected or harmed by its use, possibly simultaneously. It is hoped that such increased attentiveness may inform more considered and careful preparation for subsequent pandemics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBig Data and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • citizen participation
  • COVID-19
  • Digital disease control
  • materialities of data
  • pandemic
  • Taiwan


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