Contact tracing app created by Apple-Google unsuitable for Singapore

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Singapore won’t use the contact tracing app provided by Apple and Google due to the population’s limited availability to smartphones. Instead, they will try to shift into using tokens.

Contact tracing has become a demand nowadays especially in the U.S. with coronavirus cases skyrocketing to over 2.1 million, per the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

Apple and Google have already deployed the contact tracing app to at least 23 countries, according to recent reports. However, some countries oppose to using the app as it has a risk of breaching the user’s privacy.

The U.K. also raised its concerns over using the contact tracing app and it seems that Singapore is having a similar sentiment.

A video provided by VOA News briefly demonstrates how contact tracing will effectively monitor the coronavirus.

A good innovation but not suited for Singapore

On June 15, Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative announced via Facebook that Singapore will not use the Exposure Notifications System provided by Apple and Google as he said in the post:

“We decided that it would be less effective in our local context […] There would be no way to identify how, when and whom the person was infected by or passed the infection to. The ‘graph’ would not be available to the contact tracers.”

Although he acknowledged the innovation from Silicon Valley, the government decided to discontinue its use. Balakrishnan, who is also a Foreign Minister, further added that not everyone in Singapore has a smartphone, and compatibility issues may arise in using contact tracing apps.

He also views technology as a supplement and not a replacement for humans. He then proposed the use of tokens instead as an alternative to the Apple-Google app.

TraceTogether deploys dongles in an effort to curb COVID-19

However, before the announcement of Balakrishnan, Singapore had already deployed its own contact tracing app earlier this year.

As per The Straits Times, former non-constituency MP Gerald Giam inquired about the government’s multi-million-dollar plan to deploy a wearable device for contact tracing called the TraceTogether Token instead of the app provided by Apple and Google.

In addition, last week, Singapore-based electronics firm PCI recently won a bid to supply the first 300,000 TraceTogether dongles that will allow more people to assist in the country’s contact tracing efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.

With countries like New Zealand successfully lessening coronavirus cases, it is imperative that Singapore along with other countries will do its best to combat the coronavirus.

Featured image courtesy of Markus Winkler/Pixabay

Alec Padua

Alec a former mobile app developer turned independent singer-songwriter and busker based in the Philippines, who goes by the stage name "Alex Corner". He has released songs on Spotify and other music digital platforms. A self-taught trader and financial market enthusiast, he also started his own YouTube channel and blog called "The Trading Comedy" where he documents his trading journey in the Philippine Stock Market and beyond. He is also a casual gamer and streamer who enjoys FPS, RPG, and strategy games as well as conducting live charting sessions in the financial markets.

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