TraceTogether Adds Bluetooth Enabled Token to Help Slow to Spread of COVID-19 in Singapore
The Singapore government is giving out contact tracing tokens as part of its COVID-19 contact tracing program. TraceTogether uses smartphone apps and now a small hardware device to contact trace people who may be infected with the COVID-19 virus. The objective is to slow the spread of COVID-19 through contact tracing so businesses, schools, workplaces, and activities can resume.
#TraceTogether Tokens Free to All Singapore Residents
TraceTogether tokens are a hardware-only version of the contact tracing app which was introduced back in March. They are a small Bluetooth enabled device that can be carried, attached to a lanyard, or placed in a bag. The Singapore Ministry of Health began token distribution on 14 September.
Singapore was one of the first countries to deploy a contact tracing app and is again one of the first to use a hardware tracking token. The tokens are for anyone who does use the app – either because they don’t own a smartphone or prefer not to download the app.
Since its introduction, 2.4 million people have downloaded the app. About 1.4 million used it in August, according to a BBC post.
Singapore’s TraceTogether – How it Works
Both the app and the token use Bluetooth to detect other TraceTogether devices (apps or tokens) and record proximity between them. For app users, if the user tests positive for COVID-19, then data from their app is uploaded to the Ministry of Health. If the infected person uses has a token, then it is given to the Ministry.
Residents can opt to carry the token or use an app on their phone. Both modes are voluntary for residents. But if you are a migrant worker living in dorms, use is mandatory. These workers account for the majority of Singapore’s 44,000-plus infections.
The battery in the token lasts up to nine months without requiring recharging.
Contact Tracing Data Privacy Concerns
Like app, information is only stored locally on the token. Contact tracing app data is stored locally on the device and purged every 25 days. All log files are encrypted.
According to Singapore’s GovTech Twitter, “The app does not collect any location data and there is no way for the government to locate your whereabouts with this app.”
The contact-tracing token is free to Singapore’s five million residents including foreign residents. The intention is to improve contact tracking especially in high-risk businesses like gyms, hotels, and conference centers while reopening the economy.
Bluetooth technology uses the 2.4 GHz ISM spectrum band (2400 to 2483.5 MHz). Other devices must be within 400 meters (outdoors) to be detected. The range is much less when indoors.
TrackTogether Works with Singapore’s SafeEntry system
Currently, Singapore citizens check-in to shops and office buildings using the SafeEntry system. The user has a QR code that records their presence at a location. For some high-risk settings, residents will have to do SafeEntry on the TraceTogether app to check in.