Govt developing wearable device on lanyard as alternative to TraceTogether app: Vivian Balakrishnan

He said getting voluntary participation is essential.

Sulaiman Daud| May 22, 09:42 PM

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan revealed that the authorities are coming up with an alternative to the TraceTogether app, after receiving feedback on issues of battery life.

In an interview with Sky News Australia on May 22, Vivian responded to presenter Annelise Nielson, who asked about the number of Singaporeans who downloaded the app, citing a figure of 20 per cent.

Vivian said that it has gone up a little, with 1.5 million downloads, which is between 20 to 25 per cent of Singapore's population.

Feedback on battery life

Getting the app is still a voluntary exercise, and the government wishes to keep it voluntary.

Vivian acknowledged that the government has received feedback about how the app impacts battery life through its use of Bluetooth proximity data.

However, an alternative is at hand. Added Vivian:

"So, the other thing which we are working on now to supplement this is to develop wearable devices, a little device on the end of a lanyard, which would be working on a battery and will not drain your battery life, and which you would just carry with you as you go around your daily activities."

Vivian said that a combination of these devices and the app would increase the participation rate "considerably".

Nielson asked if more people would be willing to use the lanyard instead of downloading the app, and asked if user issues or privacy concerns worried them.

Vivian replied that voluntary participation is essential, which meant respecting their privacy concerns:

"I think it is a combination of user issues primarily, and having a wearable device which people can just leave in the handbag or wear it and forget about, makes it much easier. That will help increase participation rate.

But again, I want to come back to my first point that it is not just about technology, and you need to make sure that the human remains at the centre of it all. Maintaining trust, respecting privacy and getting voluntary participation is absolutely essential."

Australia developed app based on Singapore's

The TraceTogether app was developed by the Government Technology Agency in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

It was rolled out on March 20, with 620,000 downloads in just three days.

Australia itself developed its own app based on TraceTogether, called CovidSAFE. It was released on April 26.

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Top image from Vivian Balakrishnan's Facebook page.