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Singapore trials smartphone app offering mini check-ups

Image credits: Reuters

Technology has been central to Singapore’s COVID-19 response, and more broadly to its government’s work. The government has progressively built up the digital infrastructure and engineering capabilities of the country to combat the effects of the pandemic. This enables them to respond decisively and swiftly to the COVID-19 outbreak with a wide array of digital tools to help disseminate timely and accurate information to Singaporeans and to enable other agencies to better manage the crisis.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently said that while the country has a supportive environment for technology, the key factor is talent. Therefore, to further aid the national effort against the pandemic, an application developed by a Singapore start-up conducts mini-medical check-ups just by using a smartphone. In just 45 seconds, the app can tell the user of  their heart rate, oxygen levels and even his/her stress levels. It can also tell the user if he/she should see a doctor.

It offers a diagnosis of the user’s health condition, relying solely on a smartphone camera that can measure heart rate by picking up changes in the reflectivity of light on the user’s skin between heartbeats according to blood flow underneath.

Workers at various sites have used the application as part of a government-initiated programme that provides companies with trial-stage technology to help them adjust to the new pandemic-era norms. The construction firm that used the app believes that a medical check-up is the first line of defence against another outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The city-state has kept a tight lid on its infections and wants to avoid a repeat of last year when a series of clusters emerged in migrant worker dormitories.

The tech’s founder said that the government was very interested in the technology, and they see the most traction coming from healthcare providers, both private and public, which will help further help in the country’s mission of containing the virus. The app is still undergoing local review but the Director of the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Health Innovation and Technology said it could have a big impact if approved by regulators.

Department of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat allocated over S$24 billion of the Budget over the next three years to help businesses and workers to be well-equipped with technological resources. This budget also aims to enable firms and businesses to emerge stronger. About S$1 billion will be allocated to mature firms to get co-funding for the adoption of digital solutions and technological improvements.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, governments from all over the world, not just in Singapore are pushing for the development of these innovative apps to aid their effort in containing the coronavirus. One of which is a contact-tracing app. The public sector is keen to introduce a digital contract tracing as traditional methods are slow. Transmission of the virus is fast, many of the infected do not show symptoms straight away and by the time authorities have identified those who have been exposed, they have already transmitted the virus to others.

Motivated by these challenges and constraints, got Mohit Sagar, founder and CEO of Access Anywhere, envisioned a solution that would empower citizens to take responsibility for their wellbeing in their own hands. He partnered with industry leaders Microsoft, SAS and Confluent to create a cloud-based solution that gives people real-time risk assessment of their health: Liberty and Passage.

Liberty and Passage is a total outbreak management system application that offers users the ability to continue routine activities like going to work and socialising with friends without compromising their own or the health of those around them.

Gerard Mcdonnell, the Regional Solution Director of Fraud & Security Intelligence of SAS, said the Liberty App as a digital risk assessment tool can proactively warn organisations’ corporate management about the health risk status of employees.

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