Vulnerable seniors begin receiving TraceTogether tokens from Sunday

The TraceTogether token that will be distributed to vulnerable seniors from June 28 to June 30. PHOTO: SMART NATION AND DIGITAL GOVERNMENT GROUP
The TraceTogether tokens will be distributed to the most vulnerable seniors from June 28, 2020. PHOTO: GOVTECH

SINGAPORE - Vulnerable seniors, such as those living on their own, have poor family support or physically frail and do not own or use digital devices, began receiving TraceTogether tokens from Sunday (June 28).

Volunteers and staff with the Silver Generation Office will be distributing the devices until Tuesday and will also show the seniors how to take care of the devices.

The Bluetooth-enabled dongles are an alternative to the TraceTogether smartphone app, and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) in a statement on Sunday said vulnerable seniors had been given priority in the three-day distribution exercise.

"TraceTogether tokens will extend the protection provided by digital contact tracing tools to as many people in Singapore as possible, including those who may not own or prefer not to use a mobile phone," said SNDGO.

The tokens are for the use of the recipient only, and each comes with a unique QR code.

Similar to the TraceTogether phone app, the tokens work by exchanging Bluetooth signals with other nearby tokens or phones running the TraceTogether app.

When a TraceTogether user is confirmed to have the virus, contact tracers from the Ministry of Health (MOH) will contact the user to facilitate the download of data from the device.

Contact tracers then use this data to determine and contact the patient's close contacts.

"This will enable appropriate precautions to be taken to keep the user and their loved ones safe," said SNDGO.

The token only captures proximity data based on Bluetooth signals, and holds data in an encrypted format for no more than 25 days, added SNDGO.

The encrypted data cannot be remotely extracted as the device does not have any Internet connectivity, said the agency. The tokens also cannot capture geolocation data as it has no GPS.

The portable devices have a battery life of about six to nine months, and do not need to be charged.

In its statement, SNDGO said that more people need to come on board the TraceTogether programme so that it can be used effectively and improve the time efficiency and accuracy of contact tracing.

To date, only about 2.1 million people have downloaded the application voluntarily, but this is not enough, said SNDGO. It declined to reveal how many tokens will be distributed over three days.

"It is only with sufficient usage and the relevant data that these digital tools can work effectively," said SNDGO, adding that effective contact tracing is critical as Singapore gradually resumes its business and social activities.

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