The Philippine government is getting ready to launch a contact tracing mobile app soon to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the country.
According to an exclusive interview with Inquirer, National Privacy Commission (NPC) chair Raymund Liboro said that they are currently assisting a team of 15 software engineers and designers from the University of the Philippines to launch the app to the public.
Liboro claims that they are already preparing to do beta testing, which means that real users will be invited to sample the technology.
The purpose of the app is to be able to identify people who had contact with someone infected with COVID-19 which will allow health authorities to isolate potential new cases quickly and prevent the spread of the virus.
The app is patterned after Singaporean-made TraceTogether which makes use of Bluetooth technology that helps the Singapore government identify, based on the user’s in-app data, the physical distance and length of time that contact was made with a confirmed COVID-19 case over the last 21 days.
The UP-developed app is said to have added features to help deal with the situation that not all Filipinos have smartphone apps. No definite launch date has been set.
Meanwhile, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has separately sought the aid of Singapore to help launch TraceTogether in the Philippines. DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said that Singaporean Ambassador Gerard Ho Wei Hong is willing to provide technical assistance to DICT for the tool.
Local government units have also launched their own contact tracing apps ahead of the national government. Cebu already has the WeTrace app developed by a Cebuano scholar of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and is now available for download for Android phones.
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