Respond to the crisis, “Coronavirus reminder’ – from observation to action (Designing Safety Content That You Want to Keep It on Your Desk)

The 2020 SEOUL DESIGN INTERNATONAL FORUM has obtained written consent from the speaker to publish the summarized and edited content

SPEAKER: Choi Juwon (Student, Korea University)

Corona Alert started at the end of January, not long after the outbreak of COVID 19, with the idea of ​​creating a service that can give a little help to society with the programming skills we learned. The members who developed 'Corona Alert' all gathered through the same programming conference. The team members who studied coding together at the conference and had experience in actually developing various services were working as developers of startups. I saw a lot of advertisements saying that such sites exist.

We first analyzed several services already on the market. If it is similar to the previously released services, there is no significant meaning, so we considered the inconveniences and the direction of improvement for the existing services. In addition, we established the core value of the service by determining on what points we differentiate, and what value we can provide to users, beyond simply removing inconveniences.

Corona Alert Development Process

At the time of development, several services showing the areas visited by confirmed patients had already been launched, and they continued the movement by directly marking the areas visited by the confirmed patients on the map. This method was considered to be a service with a core value of showing the real-time situation of a pandemic. This is also meaningful in that it visualizes text data, but it is not a very useful solution. Suddenly, I thought, 'Will users even wonder if there is any danger in the places they haven't actually visited?' For example, it is not really helpful for a person living in Busan to see the areas visited by confirmed patients in Seoul. This is because information about the individual and those around her/him took priority over the overall information. In addition, services focused on the area visited by the confirmed patient are designed to display a map of the entire Republic of Korea on the first screen and to find the area, so users eventually find the area and find the information while expanding to see the information of the surrounding area. Recognizing that there are unnecessary inconveniences and problems in this process, we decided to plan a service that shows the 'area visited by the confirmed patient' as 'centered on the user's location'.

We started to define essential information that can be definitely helpful to users through the process of empathizing and observing users. In fact, after making some hypotheses, we observed how users use the service. In the end, users wanted to make sure that the areas around me were safe. Therefore, we made it a core value to make the area visited by the confirmed patient operate based on the location around me. Here, my surroundings is a definition that not only refers to my current location, but also includes the places I want to go and the destinations I plan to visit today.


We defined these core values and thought in detail what additional information would be needed. In addition to simply indicating the areas visited by confirmed patients, we thought about what additional information would be needed according to the corona situation. Rather than randomly listing additional information, brainstorming was conducted focusing on the coronavirus itself.

In fact, it is important to identify the area and movement of confirmed patients and minimize visits prior to quarantine, but it is important to quickly get a checkup when symptoms are present and isolate them at an early stage. Therefore, we also thought about a method that could lead to testing by identifying the location of a screening clinic where corona screening is possible in case of overlapping or contact with a confirmed person. To this end, keywords such as ‘the user’s current location center’, ‘providing the location of the screening clinic’, and ‘initial diagnosis’ were defined, and the intuitive and familiar map application was used as much as possible to prevent users from learning new usage.


When the service is turned on, it operates based on the current location, and there are tabs for visited areas and screening clinics in the lower menu bar (Footer), which can be viewed separately or together. It is configured so that information can be checked based on the current location as well as the destination through the search bar at the top. It was not a service with many functions, but it is the result of organizing information and organizing core values based on solid concerns.

In this way, we quickly developed a prototype and did a beta test. In fact, the appearance of the service that was first launched was a little different. Many aspects such as the location of the bottom menu bar (Footer), the opacity of icons, and the web data loading speed after developing the first prototype, recommended that acquaintances should try it first, and updated it based on the feedback from there. The location of minor buttons and various bugs were supplemented during the testing process, and after that, it was judged that there is no major problem in using it and stabilizing it to some extent, so the publicity started with the school community. Throughout development, we continued to try to consider the user's point of view, and these considerations led to good results. I think that I was able to arouse sympathy from many users thanks to the process of considering the method of data provision and the convenience of use, rather than simply providing data.

Problems after launch

Corona Alert was not originally developed with profitability in mind. That's why we didn't add any ads. Even though we didn't spend a separate marketing fee to promote it, starting with an article posted on the school community, many people went on and on Naver real-time search queries all day long. In a way, the word-of-mouth strategy was a very successful example, with close to 5 million users visiting within a few days.

However, we soon faced a major crisis. After patient 31, who was a super-infected person, the corona situation began to change rapidly. Previously, there were less than 10 confirmed cases per day, and even if 10 people visited many places, it was a little over 100. However, after the super infection, almost all areas in Seoul were counted as visited areas. In addition, in Korea, the quarantine system for areas visited by infected people is very well equipped, so even though it is a place that is not a problem even if it is used after quarantine is completed, it is marked as a visited area in the Corona Alert, so it is unintentionally causing business damage to self-employed people. In line with this shift in the corona crisis, we started to think again about the essential role of services. Since the service had a greater social impact than initially thought, we could not stand by the economic damage caused to the self-employed because of us.

We thought of renewing the service by focusing on preventing the corona virus, rather than inducing avoidance by marking the visited areas. Again, it was decided to go back to the beginning.

Development of services in the aspect of corona prevention - mask reminder

While looking for ways to help prevent infectious diseases in line with the transition of the coronavirus, I came to the subway station and forgot a mask and came home after hearing the story of a friend who went home or rushed to a convenience store. As a result of actual research, it was found that many people felt inconvenience, embarrassment, and discomfort due to the experience of forgetting their mask. At that time, there was a shortage of mask stock across the country, so sales and supply did not occur smoothly even when purchasing masks. In line with this situation, we planned the development of a service that could identify the offline mask inventory status in real time.

At first, it was intended to launch a completely new service related to the real-time inventory status of convenience stores by utilizing a delivery application service. Like the Corona Alert, we provided information by counting the supply of masks around me, and the Mask Alert was loved more than the Corona Alert. At the time of the first launch, there was no service that provided quantity information about the mask itself, so it seems that many users were able to get sympathy.


It seems to have provided the greatest convenience in that you can know in advance that the quantity of masks sold out is sold out when you know it through user feedback or log analysis. After our service was released, the government implemented the public mask system at the same time as developing an app for mask inventory management. The public mask supply status data is provided in the form of an open api, so the mask notifier was able to change the service that displayed only the stock status of convenience stores in the past to the public mask stock status display.

As we went through a series of service development processes, we encountered great technical and social difficulties.

The most difficult thing in terms of technology during development was the collection of data. The time required to collect fragmented data while checking the accuracy of the information was considerable, and since information was published separately for each city/province/autonomous district, a lot of manpower was required for the collection process. Afterwards, even when developing the mask reminder, before the mask stock was released through the government, the service was planned by directly contacting a delivery company or a convenience store. Since it was very difficult for individuals to collect data, it was regrettable that it would be possible to disclose and share information that does not have any legal problems at the national level so that it can be used usefully.

Another difficulty was the responsibility for the social impact of the service provided to actual users. Unlike the experience of conducting a virtual project in a major class at school, services provided in the real world provide convenience to some, but may cause damage to others. This valuable experience gave me an opportunity to think about a design that can satisfy a large number of users in the future.

I don't think there is a design that satisfies everyone. However, if we continue to update through observation and empathy, even if we cannot satisfy everyone, we thought that we would be able to satisfy everyone among possible people. It felt like trying to get as many apples as possible in a basket, not too full and not too under-packed. I think that if you start with small things instead of trying to solve big problems from the beginning, you can develop meaningful designs.

Category related contents
Hashtag related contents