Since the Coronavirus outbreak, the Singapore Government have worked tirelessly to ensure that the infected are isolated, contained and all contacts they may have made in recent days prior to infection are track and traced.
These efforts seem to be paying off, as Singapore being one of the first three countries to report a confirmed case of Coronavirus, has largely managed to contain the virus and prevent it from becoming a nationwide crisis.
A huge part of this success is down to the contact tracing efforts of the Governments’ Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Singapore Police Force.
What is Contact Tracing and Why is it important?
People who have had close contact with someone who is infected with the virus are at higher risk of becoming infected and potentially infecting those they have had close contact with. Finding and monitoring these contacts after exposure to an infected person will help them to get adequate care and treatment, and aims to prevent further transmission of the virus.
This monitoring process is called contact tracing, which can be broken down into 3 basic steps as explained by the World Health Organisation:
Contact identification: Once someone is confirmed as infected with a virus, contacts are identified by asking about the person’s activities and the activities and roles of the people around them since the onset of illness. Contacts can be anyone who has been in contact with an infected person: family members, work colleagues, friends, or health care providers.
Contact listing: All persons considered to have contact with the infected person should be listed as contacts. Efforts should be made to identify every listed contact and to inform them of their contact status, what it means, the actions that will follow, and the importance of receiving early care if they develop symptoms.
Contacts should also be provided with information about prevention of the disease. In some cases, quarantine or isolation is required for high-risk contacts, either at home or in hospital.
Contact follow-up: Regular follow-up should be conducted with all contacts to monitor for symptoms and test for signs of infection.
Contact Tracing Procedure in Singapore
The Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore is overall in charge of contact tracing operations in Singapore and the police are called in to help in some cases. Where the details of activity or movements of a patient is incomplete and/or further verification is required, the police will come then support MOH in these investigative circumstances.
A recent study carried out by Harvard University estimated that Singapore was detecting three times the number of COVID-19 cases as other countries, thanks to its epidemiological surveillance and contact tracing processes.
Contact tracing starts at the hospital where a patient is admitted, with doctors and nurses drawing an activity map – a detailed breakdown of a patient’s movements from 14 days before symptoms appear and until he is isolated.
The MOH carries out what is known as “backward tracing” of the movements and activity of the infected patient for the two weeks prior to them first identifying symptoms. This then will help identify links to other cases and potential sources of transmission.
MOH officers also do “forward tracing” to identify who the infected patient had contact with after getting symptoms. These people may need to be quarantined and tested if unwell.
When there are gaps, the contact tracers might interview patients again or talk to the next-of-kin, or recruit help from third parties such as hotels and taxis to review surveillance footage and collect any other relevant information.
To help identify links between cases, a separate data management team also uses the activity maps, cross-referencing them with other cases to see if there are overlaps in locations. If such overlaps are found, the contact tracing team conducts a follow-up investigation.
Digital Footprint Assists Contact Tracing
Singapore has a huge team of contact tracers and they make use of all resources, including the police.
Another technique the authorities are using to fill in missing information on infected patients’ activities and contacts is to examine their digital footprint.
This could be to trace their steps on days prior to virus confirmation – like ATMs, shopping centres or restaurants where they have used their cards.
ATM or credit card activity is incredibly useful as it leaves digital footprints everywhere people go. It assists authorities to track and find out where the person has been, where and how they have travelled.
Digital footprint can also help those infected recall their activities and places visited better as it is not always easy to recollect when feeling very unwell or perhaps not well enough to describe their movements in detail.
Can Technology fill in the gaps in contact tracing?
The COVID-19 spread in Singapore has allowed both the government and app developers to harness technology as part of the response. Transparent, timely public information also helps allay people’s fears and anxiety.
Integrating data from the national health bodies, immigration and customs databases, generating data to trace people’s travel history and clinical symptoms, using mobile phones to track people or just keep them updated shows how technology is advantageous in efforts to control the outbreak in these unchartered times.
Ms Linda Teo, Assistant Director of the police’s Analytics Research and Technology Development said “tech tools like data visualisation and word clouds can help draw links between patients. This was how the dots were connected leading to the realisation of a cluster at The Life Church and Missions in Paya Lebar.”
Singapore’s COVID-19 tracking site
The Ministry of Health have lunch a COVID-19 live dashboard providing up-to-date information on the ministry’s website. These updates summarise the current situation in the country. This dedicated COVID-19 site gives very transparent information on each confirmed case.
The website shares the age, sex and occupation of each person who has tested positive for the virus. It reveals where they travelled recently, and when they sought medical help. It explains when they were hospitalised and when they were discharged.
The site only includes cases from Singapore, and it has been commended by other countries. It is believed that no other country has recorded such accurate data, and relentlessly tracked and traced every contact possibly linked to infected patients like Singapore has. No country has released as much detailed information about its coronavirus cases as the city-state.
Success absolutely depends on contact tracing
The goal of contact tracing is to try and keep COVID-19 from spreading. And it seems that the Singapore strategy is key to controlling the virus — test, trace, isolate and inform. And with the governments tech savvy agencies, and their resolve to invest in technology to solve current societal problems along with future thinking leadership – they will remain a step ahead of many other countries worldwide throughout this pandemic.
As the Indonesian government begins to boost health tech services and the market becomes more established, the entry of international health tech firms into the market is expected to drive demand even higher.
Product development is becoming more important for health tech service providers as market awareness develops. Digital health is helping Indonesia’s healthcare system in overcoming challenges. E-pharmacies and online consultations are two examples of digital health technologies that help Indonesians in rural and remote areas get excellent health care service
Furthermore, the demand for general practitioners, specialised doctors, and other healthcare practitioners has increased tremendously on these platforms over time. Supporting this trend, domestic platforms are partnering with an increasing number of doctors to provide end-users with access to doctors via platforms.
As the spending budget of hospitals and clinics increases, it is expected that more healthcare IT solutions providers will enter the market, driving the demand. This will also ensure an increase in revenues in the industry.
Digital health is growing quickly in Indonesia, as it is globally. In the last 4-5 years, a range of digital health companies and digital health solutions have emerged in Indonesia. The large and geographically distributed population of Indonesia provides a strong user base for the country’s developing digital health applications. Indonesia’s technologically engaged youth population provides a large customer base for digital businesses.
The pharmaceutical sector will also be experiencing a spike in growth as demand for treatments to treat lifestyle and chronic disease increases. As demand shifts from generic drugs and toward specialised items like dietary supplements and other aspects of biopharmaceuticals, companies will need to identify new drug delivery areas.
Demand for medical devices will be driven by the expansion of private and government hospitals and clinics as well as improvements in existing facilities. Another factor behind this expected demand is the rise of non-communicable diseases and the diagnosing of which require advanced and high-tech equipment.
Portable CTG will be the new and forthcoming technology in Indonesia that will be offered by major health tech platforms in the coming years. The CTG device is made up of specially built hardware and software that is cost-effective, portable, and capable of capturing real-time data for monitoring foetal well-being. Portable CTG that can be used by midwives and doctors in both rural as well as urban areas to provide a high quality of maternal health services.
According to a report by OpenGov Asia, throughout this pandemic, the healthcare sector has been in urgent need of healthcare management systems to manage hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities; the demand for healthcare tech has been soaring. Artificial intelligence is progressively being seen as an excellent technology to leverage for healthcare, even as it becomes more prevalent in modern business and everyday life.
Artificial intelligence in healthcare has the potential to assist healthcare providers in a range of patient care areas and administrative processes. Nonetheless, utilising artificial intelligence in healthcare for diagnostic and treatment plans – rule-based or algorithmic – can be difficult to integrate with clinical processes and EHR systems. When compared to the accuracy of recommendations, integration issues have been a higher barrier to mainstream use of AI in healthcare.
A report titled “Indonesia Health Tech Market Outlook to 2025-Lack of Medical Staff and Protective Gear to Lean on Healthcare Start-ups in Indonesia” suggested that the health tech market is expected to grow in double-digits. The health tech market in Indonesia is being driven by technological improvements and the availability of various services on these platforms.
Due to the entry of new foreign competitors and an increase in product awareness among the country’s growing population, Indonesia’s health tech sales revenue is predicted to grow over the next few years.
In the long-term, the healthcare sector will see tremendous growth as the Indonesian middle class expands and demand for products to cure common and even rare diseases rises. In this sense, foreign investors should stay updated on Indonesia’s digital healthcare sector, as the use of healthcare apps is revolutionising the local market.
As the world has entered an age of digitalisation, digital government, data governance, and strengthening of national development momentum have become the trend of governments of all countries, including Taiwan.
The concept of digital government refers to improving the government’s service to the people and enterprises by data and digital technology. Taiwan’s government uses data as the basis, makes good use of digital technology, strengthens government efficiency and national security, and combines government services with people’s needs to optimise the quality of governance decision-making.
Looking at the development trend of digital governments in advanced countries, the role of information and communication technology in Taiwan’s public governance has evolved from the early management of public affairs to the current innovative governance efficiency, and will gradually change to the development goal of creating public service value in the future. The use of emerging technologies to optimise the government service process, innovate the service style for the people, and meet the needs of the people has become the direction of continuous promotion of digital government.
Taiwan plans a state-level transformation strategy for the development of Taiwan’s government, industry, talent, and society. The National Development Council (NDC) has formulated the “Digital Government Program 2.0 of Taiwan (2020-2025)” to accelerate various response measures to promote the government’s digital transformation.
NDC will follow the strategy of the plan to coordinate the implementation of various ministries, strengthen the transformation of cross-domain service processes from the needs of the people, and use a safe and reliable data transmission platform to share data across agencies. The government will continue to offer its efforts in the following tasks:
- Enhance digital infrastructure around all government agency: With the maturity of Internet technology and the popularisation and application of 5G wireless broadband communications, we will continue to inject resources to strengthen the digital infrastructure and support the government’s innovative service operations.
- Strengthen the release and application of data: NDC will actively promote the data management measures of public agencies, give priority to strengthening data standards, data interface standards, etc., and attach importance to the release of high-value data, such as map information, transportation and other data sets. It is necessary to establish a management mechanism for the public to apply to use and specify the rights and obligations of the use of data.
- Implement evidence-based governance decisions: The digital transformation of the government is demonstrated in the policy decision-making of using data to improve the efficiency of government governance. In the future, the applications of big data analysis in governance issues will be made to quickly respond to external challenges.
- Construct data-based public governance: Through data analysis to see the needs of the people, and integrate government resources to support the people in solving problems of life, and take the initiative to propose measures for the people. In the future, digital applications will use data to drive service transformation, making data the core of services.
Apart from formulating a digital government programme, NDC has also formulated the Action Plan for Enhancing Taiwan’s Startup Ecosystem. As reported by OpenGov Asia, Taiwan’s startup ecosystem has blossomed over the last few years, with good performance in the international arena. The good performance is partly because of the Taiwan government’s effort in pushing forward policies of innovation and entrepreneurship in recent years.
NDC proposes 5 major policies:
- Providing ample early-stage funding for startups
- Developing talent and adjusting regulations
- Building partnership between startups and the government
- Providing startups with various exit channels
- Helping startups tap into global markets
By putting this plan into action, they can effectively create an environment favourable to startups. To do this effectively, all agencies involved need to take initiative to implement this plan to demonstrate the government’s commitment and capability.
Under an initial 12-month pilot, Singapore’s 3rd largest bank confirmed that they had launched a programme allowing customers to sign electronic documents using the Singpass app. The bank said it will first test the use of electronic signature services with a set of its retail and corporate customers.
Some of the transactions the pilot will cover include forms for individual wealth planning services and other corporate applications. After the pilot ends, the service will extend to more of its products and services for retail and wholesale segments in Singapore.
The bank also plans to expand its electronic signature capability to the ASEAN region from 2022. Once rolled out across all markets, electronic signatures will cut down the use of more than 2 million paper forms a year, said the bank. This is in line with the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s green fintech push in recent months. For markets without a national digital identity platform, the bank will use electronic signatures and authenticate the customer through two-factor authentication.
The bank said it is the first in Singapore to pilot the use of the Government Technology Agency’s “Sign with Singpass” to confirm transactions or product applications using a customer’s digital signature. The digital signature is identifiable and uniquely linked to the person who signs. During the digital signing process, only a cryptographically random, indecipherable code will be shared with the bank’s document management platform to confirm that the customer has signed the document, thus ensuring the confidentiality of personal data, the bank added.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, since November last year, SingPass users can use the new “Sign with SingPass” feature to electronically sign contracts, agreements and other legal documentation. This feature will be progressively rolled out by GovTech’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Assurity Trusted Solutions Pte Ltd (ATS), in collaboration with eight digital signing application providers.
The signed document is platform agnostic, such that the validated signature can be viewed with the user’s preferred system. Digital signatures made with “Sign with SingPass” use certificates issued by ATS, the National Certification Authority. Upon ATS’ accreditation under Singapore’s Electronic Transactions Act, signatures made using “Sign with SingPass” will be regarded as secure electronic signatures.
The bank’s head of group technology and operations said that as more customers take to the convenience of managing their banking needs online, banks must ensure that they offer them a seamless and safe digital experience. She added that in 2018, they were the first bank in Singapore to digitalise all consumer banking product applications. Today, they are aiming to build on earlier efforts with their digital signature initiative. The initiative will not only increase the convenience for the customers but also remove one of the roadblocks – the need for physical signatures – in fully digitalising the documentation process.
The Senior Director for National Digital Identity of GovTech said that they are delighted that a bank will be piloting “Sign with Singpass” for its suite of digital services. The bank’s integration of “Sign with Singpass” is a significant step towards offering a more secure and efficient process for customers. The agency affirmed that it would continue to work with industry partners to build more beneficial services and establish new digitally enabled ways of doing business.
Today, SingPass has evolved to provide seamless and convenient access to over 1,000 digital services offered by some 250 government agencies and private organisations. There are now over 2.1 million users of the SingPass Mobile app since its launch.
U.S. programmers further developed their ai enabled housing solution, an application to help automate Dallas-Fort Worth’s Section 8 voucher program. The app uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), and automation to help voucher holders find rental units, property owners complete contracting and housing authorities conduct inspections. The software and mobile app were released in partnership with the Dallas Housing Authority, which gave access to data from some 16,000 Section 8 voucher holders.
AI has been used in a host of algorithms in medicine, banking and other major industries. But as it has proliferated, studies have shown that AI can be biased against minorities. In housing, AI has helped perpetuate segregation and discrimination. The creators of the app were worried that the AI would promote bias, so they tweaked it so that tenants could search for apartments using their voucher number alone, without providing any other identifying information.
As AI is adopted by more industries and government agencies, U.S. lawmakers want to strengthen and update laws to guard against racially discriminatory algorithms – especially in the absence of federal rules. Since 2019, more than 100 bills related to AI and automated decision systems have been introduced in nearly two dozen states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This year, lawmakers in at least 16 states proposed creating panels to review AI’s impact, promote public and private investment in AI, or address transparency and fairness in AI development.
A bill in California would be the first to require developers to evaluate the privacy and security risks of their software, as well as assess their products’ potential to generate inaccurate, unfair, biased or discriminatory decisions. Under the proposed law, the California Department of Technology would have to approve software before it could be used in the public sector.
A lawyer described algorithms such as the ai app as a gatekeeper to an opportunity that can either perpetuate segregation and redlining or help to end them. He also praised the developers for their decision to omit a person’s name. However, the government cannot rely on small groups of people making decisions that can essentially affect thousands. The government needs to audit these systems to ensure they are integrating equity metrics in ways that do not unfairly disadvantage people.
The app’s developers are sure it would pass any state-mandated test for algorithmic discrimination and it has already been a huge success in Dallas and beyond. The Dallas Housing Authority has used the app to cut the average wait time for an apartment inspection from 15 days to one. Since its launch, Dallas and more than a dozen other housing agencies have added some 20,000 Section 8 units from landlords who were not participating in the program because of the long inspection wait times.
Dallas Housing Authority partnered with the developers to come up with some technology advancements to their workflows and automation so that they could respond in a more timely manner to business partners. The housing authority wanted to ensure that their partners the dealy as a lost lead in terms of working with the voucher program.
The real promise of AI in the housing space is that it may eventually produce greater fairness and equity in ways that we may not have possible before. Lawmakers are keen to make sure that the biases of the analogue world are not repeated in the AI and machine-learning world.
U.S. researchers have been creating AI for a multitude of purposes, such as an AI that can have free-flowing conversations. As reported by OpenGov Asia, the newest conversational artificial intelligence (AI) model, called Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) aims to replace artificial, robotic conversations with AI, with more natural dialogues. LaMDA can engage a conversation in a free-flowing way about a seemingly endless number of topics. It is an ability that could unlock more natural ways of interacting with technology and entirely new categories of helpful applications.
The researchers are developing several qualities in LaMDA, including sensibleness, specificity, “interestingness” by assessing whether responses are insightful, unexpected or witty. They also want LaMDA to stick to facts and are investigating ways to ensure LaMDA’s responses are not just compelling but correct.
A wastewater treatment plant being built to service a smart city development in western Sydney will use digital twin systems that monitor temperature and moisture to produce recycled water on demand for greening, cooling and household uses.
Construction of the Sydney Science Park recycling plant started last week at Luddenham within the planned Western Sydney Aerotropolis. The plant will eventually be able to produce 2.4 million litres of recycled water a day, enough for 40,000 people, but that has the capacity to be scaled up, according to Sydney Water’s growth planning and community frameworks manager.
The official stated that while water recycling is traditionally done at large centralised plants, the SSP plant will be located in the community it will service and sit within the urban form of the Science Park. The plant will use a membrane bioreactor system, which the official makes for a smaller footprint and less noise and smell.
Sydney Science Park’s smart systems include digital twins which will allow the plant will interact with the environment via moisture and temperature sensors to inform the amount of recycled water that will be produced and deployed. “So if you’re coming up for a heatwave on Sunday, you’re not sitting there storing the tanks in the water for Sunday, you’re getting it into the ground now,” the official said.
The system’s computer modelling coupled with real-life environment predicting what’s going to happen to determine the operation of the plant and how it’s producing its water. Excess wastewater that isn’t used for the Science Park will be piped to Sydney Water’s St Marys treatment facility.
Urban living lab
The Science Park, being delivered by a private firm on 287 hectares of land as a mixed-use smart city, has been designated as an urban living lab by the CSIRO. The Urban Living Lab concept is based on using local community knowledge coupled with scientific expertise to try new ways of doing things and measure outcomes in a real place. As a designated CSIRO Urban Living Lab, Sydney Science Park aims to create a more liveable, sustainable and resilient city, and water is at the forefront of this.
To partner with Sydney Water and have recycled water being used not only in homes but in public spaces is a first for greenfield development and will create a much greener and cooler environment at Sydney Science Park.
Sydney Water’s Managing Director noted that the partnership meant Sydney Water would be able to provide sustainable and resilient water services as well as trialling new smart technologies for future use.
Sydney Water currently has 14 water recycling sites and is investing $1.3 billion on infrastructure projects in the Western Sydney Aerotropolis Growth Area between 2020 and 2022. It and will have invested about $3 billion in infrastructure across Western Sydney Parkland City by 2026.
The Smart city strategic framework of Sydney identifies the 5 outcomes to be achieved with smart, ethical and secure use of data and technology, underpinned by smart infrastructure:
- Supporting connected and empowered communities. The city government co-creates the design and provision of city services and facilities with local communities. And empowers them to make more effective decisions by using open data and having the skills and tools to innovate and thrive.
- Fuelling global competitiveness and attracting and retaining global talent. Digital disruption is embraced to foster an innovation ecosystem, cultivate a culture of experimentation and sustain Sydney’s position as a global magnet for talent.
- Futureproofing environment and bolstering resilience. Data is used purposefully to monitor, predict and manage city conditions and the impacts of shocks and stresses on our city and community. New technologies that accelerate the city’s progress to a carbon-neutral future are embraced.
- Cultivating vibrant, liveable places. Data and technology are used to help optimise street space allocation and prioritise active transport, improve the planning, building and maintenance of infrastructure, assets and systems, and enhance the experience of the physical city.
- Providing customer-centric efficient services. Data is used to understand the community’s needs and preferences to enable the provision of joined-up, personalised and responsive services. Smart technology and operating models are embraced to provide the efficient services local communities expect.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) plans to use Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technologies to limit road accidents and improve passenger safety in buses. According to a report, the corporation recently floated a tender for the implementation of an AI-powered Collision Warning System (CWS) and Driver Drowsiness System (DDS) for 1,044 buses. CWS will provide features like forward-looking collision warnings (FLCW), lane departure warnings (LDW), and virtual bumper. It will also generate real-time alerts. This is probably for the first time in the country a state-run bus corporation is using technology on a large scale to reduce accidents. Other state-run bus corporations are also waiting to adopt this system.
The tender is likely to be finalised by the end of June 2021, the report said. KSRTC officials said the FLCW system will identify an impending collision and inform the driver that they have entered an unsafe distance zone. An official noted that this would help the driver prepare to take the necessary action to avoid a collision. The system will provide real-time alerts to warn the driver against impending collisions. AI-based camera sensors will provide the detection of a vehicle from a sufficient range of at least 150m at any speed so that it can effectively warn the driver.
When minimum safe distance is not maintained, an alert will be generated. This minimum safe distance is based on a calculation of the time-to-collision (TTC) with the vehicle ahead including 2/3 wheelers, pedestrians, and cyclists. The officials added that the alarm will be initiated at a TTC of up to 2.5 to 3 seconds, be operational at a vehicle speed range of up to at least 120kmph, and generate both visual and audible alarms. It will also notify the driver when lane marks are not available.
DDS will check its drivers from dozing off at the wheel. It will monitor the driver’s eye movements and sound a warning alarm in case they appear sleepy. AI-based CCTVs will watch the facial behaviour of the driver. It will also alert the KSRTC central control room if the driver ignored the alert. This will be helpful for night services, said an official.
In April, OpenGov Asia reported that the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar (IIT-Ropar) had developed an algorithm for driver drowsiness detection using machine learning and computer vision. The researchers said they used computer vision algorithms to extract facial features such as eye closure and yawning as well as machine learning techniques to effectively detect driver’s alertness. It is an industrial and academic challenge to develop drowsiness detection technologies.
Multiple techniques have been developed in recent years. One method is where the driver’s operation and vehicle behaviour can be monitored by the steering wheel movement, accelerator or brake patterns, vehicle speed, lateral acceleration, and lateral displacement. Another set of techniques focuses on monitoring the physiological characteristics of the driver such as heart rate, pulse rate, and electroencephalography. The third set is based on computer vision systems, which can recognise the facial changes occurring during drowsiness.
The first method is limited by the type and model of the car. The second method though with more accurate results has widely been downplayed due to the impracticality in deploying it on a large scale, as well as its intrusive nature. The third method is a very promising one, which the researchers have followed and developed a model on the same.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make its presence felt all over the world, news reports say that the Philippines’ National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has urged the government to accelerate the wider application of the country’s digital contact tracing system that could help reduce the period from detection of the virus to isolation from 7 to 5 days.
Citing epidemiological models, NEDA said that implementing the digital contact tracing system can reduce COVID-19 cases by 51 per cent. The system is currently just being implemented in Pasig, Mandaluyong, Valenzuela, and Antipolo cities.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has approved the expansion of this system to the rest of the country and ensuring interoperability across apps and LGUs.
NEDA also recommended the timely implementation of the recovery package, consisting of fiscal, monetary, and financial interventions amount to over 15.4 per cent of the country’s GDP since last year. This includes the 2021 budget, the 2020 budget extension, the “Bayanihan 2” extension, the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, and the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act. Accelerating the pace of their implementation would bring forward the benefits that these measures intend.
NEDA has recently advised the government to accelerate the implementation of the vaccination programme following the IATF’s decision to expand the A4 vaccine priority group to include all workers who work outside their homes, including government employees. The added protection against COVID-19 will give workers more confidence to go out and earn a living while reducing virus transmission to their families.
Based on a report from the World Health Organisation, before WHO declared a pandemic in early March of 2020, there was immediately a need for information and data on the COVID-19 response. In those early weeks, the main question revolved around contact tracing: how many contacts were being traced, how many were being quarantined, and where and how to get this information.
Before the pandemic, WHO Philippines had already been working with software developers doing apps for monitoring and recording tuberculosis (TB) cases when the pandemic was declared. So, they began to explore doing a digital platform that would address information management needs for the COVID-19 response. When technical experts from WHO Philippines presented the app concept to the Department of Health (DOH), the latter was eager to support its development.
“COVID-KAYA” was then developed and approved for nationwide roll out after the testing. However, because the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau (EB) already had an information system (as well as StaySafe.PH and other local contact tracing apps) that was being used in their satellite offices all over the country, it soon became apparent that these systems must be integrated.
To address these, another IATF resolution in June 2020 delineated the functions of both StaySafe.PH app and COVID-KAYA, which are officially collection and storage of data, respectively. Essentially, Resolution No. 45 established COVID-KAYA as the central repository of all data related to the pandemic response. All data from the StaySafe app was required for migration to COVID-KAYA.
This migration took longer than anybody had anticipated. For weeks on, the system kept collecting new information every day even as migration was being done. Additionally, those who had become used to using the old system had to be given basic training on how to use COVID-KAYA. It also did not help that many local government units (LGUs) had their formatting system in place. Manual correction and cleaning had to be done during data migration.
WHO’s representative to the Philippines said that as the country expands and strengthens testing and contact tracing, isolation and treatment are more effective and can pave the way towards the better and faster rebuilding of the economy as well as a healthy future for all Filipinos.