To date, about 2.1 million people have downloaded the TraceTogether app on a voluntary basis. The app currently does not cover the digitally excluded population including the elderly and young children in Singapore who may not have smartphones. It also does not work reliably on iOS devices, and can pose a significant drain on battery life. This is a feature of the iOS, and cannot be reliably overcome by the app design.
In order to extend effective protection to as many people as possible, the Singapore Government have expanded the TraceTogether Programme to include a portable device – TraceTogether Token.
The TraceTogether Token will ensure better coverage for everyone in Singapore for effective contact tracing under the TraceTogether programme
The first batch of TraceTogether Tokens will be distributed to the most vulnerable seniors who are currently not digitally connected and at higher risk from COVID-19 from 28 June 2020.
TraceTogether Tokens will extend the protection provided by digital contact tracing tools to as many people in Singapore as possible, including those who may not own or prefer not to use a mobile phone.
Key features of the TraceTogether Token
Each TraceTogether Token will have a unique QR code and will be personalised for the recipient’s individual use only.
Each Token works by exchanging Bluetooth signals with other TraceTogether Tokens, or mobile phones running the TraceTogether app nearby. The data of close contacts will be encrypted and kept only in the Token for no more than 25 days.
The user of the Token will be alerted by an authorised officer from the Ministry of Health contact tracing team if he was detected to be a close contact of a person who was infected with COVID-19.
This will enable appropriate precautions to be taken to keep the user and those close to them safe. The Token has an estimated battery life of 6 to 9 months and does not require any charging.
The Token has no GPS and therefore does not capture geolocation data. It captures only proximity data of other Tokens or TraceTogether apps via Bluetooth technology. The Token and the TraceTogether app are designed to interoperate with each other.
The Token has no Internet or cellular connectivity, so the encrypted data cannot be remotely extracted from the device either. The user is contacted for the data download only if he is confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.
The TraceTogether Token is designed to be convenient, light and easy to use. It can fit easily into a bag or be hung from a lanyard.
During this first distribution exercise, volunteers and staff distributing the Token will provide simple instructions on how to care for the device and what to do when the Token is faulty or misplaced. Users will also be reminded to carry their Tokens with them whenever they leave their homes.
This is the first version of the TraceTogether Token, and SNDGG will work with the tech community to improve on the design and functionality of the Token for subsequent batches.