A team of Filipinos has developed a community-based contact-tracing application that can help the government track possible cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.
Covid19TrackerPH, which can be downloaded on your smartphone, was created by a team of local IT specialists and system developers to support the government's ongoing tracing efforts in the Philippines.
The app has yet to secure government approval, but according to Mark Penafiel, a managing partner of 8box Solutions, they are already in talks with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) about possibly launching the app on major platforms.
GMA News Online spoke with the one of the developers to answer a few of your questions:
How does it work?
Penafiel says a user enters personal data including whether or not s/he's a person under monitoring (PUM) or a person under investigation (PUI).
Using Bluetooth technology, the app is designed to detect information from other users in a particular area. This would also allow and notify other users if they are in close contact with other infected users.
"Parang ginawa namin siyang (app) parang waze ng [COVID-19]," Penafiel said in a phone interview.
"Nandoon na rin 'yung ibang mga hospital na nakapaligid sa 'yo, and nandun 'yung mga icon din ng mga nag-report na PUM atsaka PUI."
User data can also be retrieved to identify and trace other users at high risk. "Para rin ma-track mo 'yung sarili mong progress."
How do you use it??
1. Once you've downloaded the app on your phone, you can create an account with your mobile number
2. To use the app, you need to turn on your bluetooth and GPS and data
3. If you area PUM or PUI, log in your recent symptoms, routes or history
The creators have yet to make the Covid19TrackerPH app available in the Google PlayStore, but you can download it from its website for free.
Can it effectively help in addressing the country's COVID-19 situation?
Covid19TrackerPH was inspired by Trace Together, an app that the Singapore government has been using in its contact tracing efforts amid the COVID-19 threat.
"Y'un talaga ng main purpose: Ma-trace mo sila tapos, matulungan 'yung government at ang ibang tao na mag-quarantine. And then if ever gusto ng government i-call sila, nasa kanila na 'yun," Penafiel said.
The developers also hope that the public can "be part of the solution" in curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
"Ang problem ay contact-tracing, kasi 'yung solution, nasa tao rin," Penafiel said. "Hindi naman siya invasion of privacy. Kailangan mo silang ma-track. More on protection lang din, para hindi kumalat 'yung virus and then matulungan din 'yung government ma-contain. Kasi isa lang makawala, parang dadami na naman."
The Philippines had 3,246 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a death toll of 153 as of Sunday. — Margaret Claire Layug/LA, GMA News