Everything About TraceTogether, an App Developed by the Gov That Helps in Contact Tracing

In the thick of battling COVID-19, our Government has been stepping up its measures.

However, it is not enough that our Government plays its part in this crisis. To combat the spread of COVID-19, we have a part to play as well.

Hence, to assist and supplement the current contact tracing efforts, Government Technology Agency (GovTech), has collaborated with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to develop a mobile app called TraceTogether.

Because there’s an app for everything, right?

TraceTogether; an App Developed by the Gov That Helps in Contact Tracing

Launched yesterday (20 March 2020), TraceTogether is an app that aims to support ongoing contact tracing efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore.

So, how does this app work?

It works by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other users of the app who are in close proximity.

The current MOH guidelines define close proximity (i.e. close contact) as two metres apart or up to five metres, for 30 minutes.

Records of your encounters with other users of this app will be stored locally in your phone. Don’t fret though, your records will not be sent to the authorities. It is only required when you are contacted by MOH for contact tracing investigations.

What if I can’t remember who I’ve met?

Good question, reader. As contact tracing relies on the memory of interviewees, this app helps to curb that issue. You don’t have to remember who you’ve contacted with. This app would enable you to speedily identify users around you. Isn’t it great?

In other words, it becomes your memory so that if you *touchwood* contract the virus, you won’t need to go deep into your memory of whom you’ve met with.

Privacy Concerns

What about the privacy concerns? Tell me more about it.

Sure thing, reader. When you first download and set up the app, you have to give explicit consent to participate in TraceTogether and agree to have your mobile number and TraceTogether data used for contact tracing.

As such, only your phone number is needed for verification at the set-up stage; no other personal particulars will be collected.

Furthermore, all logs will be stored locally on your phone in an encrypted form for 21 days, which covers the incubation period of the virus. These logs do not contain your phone number, but a set of cryptographically generated temporary IDs.

That’s the key thingy: the data isn’t stored in a cloud whereby the authorities would know who you’ve met, but in your phone. This one not Facebook or Google, okay.

If you are still worried, be assured that the app does not collect or use your location data. It does not access your phone contact list or address book as well.

What happens if I do come into close contact with any reported COVID-19 cases?

MOH will be taking these logs under your authorisation as information for contact tracing. Subsequently, MOH will get your phone number and contact you further.

If you did not come into close contact with any reported COVID-19 cases, TraceTogether data that are older than 21 days will automatically be deleted. As simple as that.

What Users Have To Do

OK, this sounds good. What do I have to do now?

Glad, you’re on board, reader! Here are the steps you need to take:

Step 1. Firstly, download the TraceTogether app or go to www.tracetogether.gov.sg.

Step 2. Enter your Singapore-registered mobile number

Step 3. Provide consent to register your number with TraceTogether and consent to share it with MOH if you are identified as either a confirmed COVID-19 case or in close contact with one.

Step 4. Turn on Bluetooth and enable the necessary permissions for TraceTogether to function. Turn on push notifications so that you can be notified just in case your Bluetooth is switched off unintentionally.

Yes, it’s going drain your battery more since your Bluetooth is always on – but that’s better than reading reports about 1,000 new cases a day, isn’t it?

You can watch this video on how it works:

Now that you are convinced to download, encourage your friends and family members to do so too!

The faster the contact tracing process is, the quicker we can identify the people at risk. This means we’ll be more effective in reducing the risk of local transmission.

After all, combating the spread of COVID-19 is a communal effort.

I heard that if you download and use it, the chances of striking 4D and Toto increase by 88%. Not sure if that’s fake news but why not, right?