Singapore launches TraceTogether: app for contact tracing

Government Technology Agency (GovTech), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH), has developed a mobile app called TraceTogether to boost current contact tracing efforts on March 20.

TraceTogether supports nationwide efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. By downloading the app and consenting to participate in TraceTogether, users can proactively help in the contact tracing process.

TraceTogether Supplements Current Contact Tracing Efforts

Currently, contact tracing relies on the recall and memory of interviewees. There were however, instances when interviewees could not remember all their contacts, or did not have information on whom they had been in contact with. 

TraceTogether works by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other participating TraceTogether users in close proximity. Records of such encounters are stored locally on each user’s phone. If a user is interviewed by MOH as part of the contact tracing efforts, he/she can consent to send his/her TraceTogether data to MOH.  

This facilitates the contact tracing process, and enables contact tracers to inform TraceTogether users who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases more quickly. This enables users to take the necessary action sooner, such as monitoring his own health closely for signs of flu-like symptoms. Early detection could potentially help reduce the risk of the spread of the virus, and better protect our families and loved ones.

TraceTogether Operates Based on User-Consent

Users have to give explicit consent to participate in TraceTogether, and for their mobile number and TraceTogether data to be used for contact tracing. This consent is provided during the initial set up of the app. 

When requested by MOH, users can send their TraceTogether logs to facilitate the contact tracing process. Up to that point, the authorities, including MOH and GovTech, have no knowledge of the user’s TraceTogether data. The TraceTogether logs are only deciphered and analysed after the user sends the information.

Privacy Safeguards

At the set-up stage, only a phone number is needed for verification. No other personal detail, such as the user’s name, is collected. TraceTogether does not collect or use location data of any kind, and does not access a user’s phone contact list or address book.

All TraceTogether logs are stored locally on the user’s phone in an encrypted form. The logs do not contain the users’ phone numbers but a set of cryptographically generated temporary IDs. The logs leave his/her phone only when he/she uses the app to send the information to the authorities to facilitate contact tracing.

TraceTogether Allows Individuals To Demonstrate Collective Social Responsibility

Participation in TraceTogether is an act of taking individual action that will help us combat the COVID-19 situation as a society, in a similar way as we take steps to maintain personal hygiene.

TraceTogether enables each of us to be socially responsible and play a proactive role in helping to contain the spread of virus in our community through effective contact tracing.
TraceTogether helps to protect ourselves and our loved ones, by alerting them early should they have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 so they can take the necessary precautions.

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group will be working with the public and private sectors, to raise awareness and encourage adoption of the app.

To participate in TraceTogether, simply download the app from Google Play or the App Store.