Coming to a dead-end when doing contact tracing to reduce the spread of Covid-19 is a nightmare for the authorities, with adverse effects for everyone in Singapore.
Currently, contact tracing relies on the recall and memory of interviewees.
But according to the Ministry of Health (MOH), there have been instances where interviewees could neither remember all their contacts nor had information on whom they had been in contact with.
The solution – a new app developed by Government Technology Agency (GovTech) in collaboration with MOH called TraceTogether, launched on 20 March 2020.
With TraceTogether, everyone in Singapore can do their part to contain the spread of the virus.
How It Works
TraceTogether works by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between mobile phones to detect another user of the app. The data is then stored locally in the user’s phone.
Should MOH interview users as part of its contact tracing efforts, they can consent to send their data to the ministry.
According to MOH, the app will help facilitate the contact tracing process and enable contact tracers to trace and inform other TraceTogether users who have been in contact with Covid-19 cases more quickly.
“This enables users to take the necessary action sooner, such as monitoring their own health for signs of flu-like symptoms. Early detection could potentially help reduce the risk of the spread of the virus, and better protect our families and loved ones,” said MOH and Smart Nation Singapore in a press release.
Protecting Personal Data
TraceTogether would require users to give explicit consent to participate and for their mobile number and TraceTogether data to be used for contact tracing.
This consent will be provided during the initial set up stage of the app.
Upon MOH request, users can send their logs to help with the contact tracing process as the ministry and GovTech will only have users’ TraceTogether data when they send it.
To set up the app, the user will only need a phone number for verification, without a need to send other personal details.
All data will be stored in the user’s phone in an encrypted form. The logs will not contain the user’s phone number but will instead show as temporary IDs.
The logs will only leave the users’ phone when they send the information to the authorities to facilitate contact tracing.
Why Should We Download the App?
The answer to this is simple – it is an individual act that will help the nation combat Covid-19 as a society.
When we use the app, it enables us to be socially responsible and do our part in helping to contain the spread of the virus in our community. When we use the app, it helps us protect ourselves and our loved ones by alerting them quickly to take the necessary precautions.