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Paperless contact tracing apps in the Philippines

Image credit: Philippine Information Agency

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently hosted a Contact Tracing Applications Pitch Party via Zoom to promote the reduction of pen and paper for establishments.

Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo cited that government agencies should use the applications to make the communities safer from the COVID-19 pandemic in preparation for the new normal. Through this process, the institutions will learn what applications they can use for their operations and protect both clients and staff as they re-open for business.

According to a press release, the event gathered about 12 tech startups/companies that pitched their contact tracing app to a panel of reactors coming from the private and public sectors. Remollo said showcasing these apps will encourage business enterprises and the government to adopt and implement in their respective areas and localities as the current pen and paper method entails a lot of risks and does not inspire the confidence of the public.

The Pitch Party was the second session in a series of webinars, under the DTI Ready to Recover (R2R) Program, that showcases effective, low-cost digital tools for contact tracing. The event is managed by DTI in partnership with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Startupisland.PH, the Company-Cebu, and the city government of Dumaguete.

The first session, dubbed “Understanding Smart Contact Tracing for Safer Communities and Faster Business Recovery”, discussed the science of contact tracing, contact tracing technologies/tools, Baguio city contact tracing best practice, and data privacy issues in contact tracing.

Recently, the Caloocan city government announced it will tap the scheduled use of quarantine bands (Q-bands) to process contact tracing. The City Administrator Oliver Hernandez stated that quarantined patients in the city may soon wear the innovative Q-band wristband to have their health status and locations monitored.

He said the plan is to have patients who are waiting for their swab test results to wear a quarantine wristband printed with a QR Code. The Q-band system will be a passive way to keep track of the patients. The wristband is made of durable acrylic. Patients must download the application, which includes a drop-down menu, to report their health status and locations. The city council, however, will still have to pass an enabling ordinance that would include fines for violators before the project is implemented.

Earlier this month, the Pasay City government rolled-out a contactless Quick Response (QR) Code System App to accelerate its COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. As OpenGov Asia reported, Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano said that the internet-based QR code technology was designed to give real-time updates of information and data to the city’s Contact Tracing Command Centre (CTCC). Once operational, an individual’s whereabouts, before a COVID-19 diagnosis, will be recorded in the system.

The Mayor added that the project is in response to the city’s preventive measures to contain potential virus transmissions in the country. The advanced digital contact tracing app’s key features include the ability to investigate COVID-19 cases, reveal testing results, provide clinical information, and conduct quarantine management.

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