COVID-19: NBI eyes use of Singapore’s mobile app for contact tracing

By: Tetch Torres-Tupas - INQUIRER.net March 30,2020 - 06:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday said it is coordinating with their digital forensic counterpart in Singapore about the use of mobile app TraceTogether as it looks for ways to simplify and hasten contact tracing of persons possibly infected with COVID-19.

“Meron ngayong bagong app ang Singapore. Hopefully, maipa-share sa amin ‘yung Trace Together,” said NBI Deputy Director and spokesman Ferdinand Lavin.

(Singapore has a new app. Hopefully, they would be able to share this with us.)

According to Lavin, the Singaporean government is willing to share the app with the Philippines for free.

Since Singapore’s first COVID-19 case in January, it has launched a multi-agency operation to contact trace individuals that may have been infected by the virus. It has used activity mapping, analytic tools, and surveillance footage. This month, it has started using TraceTogether, a smartphone app that was developed by SGUnited, GovTech, and the Ministry of Health.

The app uses Bluetooth to identify other nearby phones and tracks when it is in close proximity to another person with timestamps.

“If the need arises, this information can then be used to identify close contacts based on the proximity and duration of an encounter between the two users,” the Singaporean government said in a statement.

Lavin said talks started last week when the Department of Health (DOH) reached out to the NBI to conduct contact tracing using TraceTogether.

Currently, DOH is looking for volunteers with a medical background to help in its contact tracing effort after a spike of COVID-19 cases in the country.

READ: Wanted: COVID-19 contact tracing volunteers

It is still not clear how the country is doing its contact tracing with little or no information at all about the country’s COVID-19 epicenter.

READ: PH ‘missed opportunity’ to find outbreak epicenter, contain virus

“It would be easier for us through this app…This is a country to country engagement,” Lavin said. / KGA

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TAGS: contact tracing, COVID-19, digital forensic counterpart, mobile app, NBI, Singapore, TraceTogether

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