With Wuhan, China as the frontline epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore's new TraceTogether contact app will track coronavirus encounters.
TraceTogether contact app tracks coronavirus encounters
The new app does as the name suggests: it traces the encounters phone users have with others. It passes Bluetooth signals between phones over a 2-meter distance.
All the contacts users encounter within 2 meters, no matter where they go, are recorded and stored on their phone. The data log, however, is encrypted and doesn't grant location information to authorities. Singapore's health ministry may require users to submit their data logs. This is due to the phone encryption that prevents authorities from accessing phone data logs automatically.
TraceTogether targets the lethal nature of COVID-19
TraceTogether targets the lethal nature of COVID-19. Some focus on the fact that not everyone is contracting the disease. While that is true, it's also the case that the disease is a silent infecter. It spreads from person to person while those spreading it show no signs or symptoms. In many cases, individuals who are not traveling to highly risky areas contract COVID-19. When these individuals contract the disease, they cannot reveal who they encounter that has the disease.
The new contact-tracking app allows user phones to track who they encounter that has the disease. While users cannot see other user's locations, the data logs that track these encounters could prove useful to authorities as they continue to work to contain the disease.
TraceTogether is more privacy-friendly than Close Detector app
Singapore's new contact-tracking app could prove to be popular and a huge help to the nation's fight against COVID-19. The reason for its upcoming success is due to its privacy-friendliness. The app does not share user location data, so users cannot find out where certain individuals live who may have coronavirus.
TraceTogether is in large contrast to Beijing's Close Detector app. Close Detector is China's first app to combat COVID-19. It requires users to login with their governmental ID to discover if they are at risk of contracting the disease or have had a risky encounter. Unfortunately, that app is privacy-invasive. With no data encryption, Close Detector uses phone cameras, Bluetooth, internet signals, and perhaps facial and iris scanning to record its results.
TraceTogether is working only for the efforts to combat COVID-19. After the disease outbreak subsides, authorities say the app will no longer be available. Whether China removes Close Detector after the coronavirus battle is unknown at this time.
Singapore phone users can download TraceTogether at the Google Play Store.