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Combatting COVID-19 with Tech
In an increasingly digitalised world with an influx of information online, it is vital for governments to provide a reliable and accurate source of news and updates, particularly during a global crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered new and pressing demands for digital government services to provide timely assistance and solutions to cope with the outbreak.
To develop and scale digital solutions quickly, GovTech leveraged its robust digital infrastructure and strong engineering capabilities to meet citizen and business needs. National portals and initiatives were successfully implemented as a result.
The GoWhere Suite consists of the GoWhere Directory, a one-stop national resource hub for citizens to access all official COVID-19 related information and government guides efficiently and quickly, and location query-based websites that have helped facilitate nation-wide distribution exercises. For example, TokenGoWhere, one of GoWhere’s suite of websites, facilitates TraceTogether token collection and has recorded close to nine million visits since September 2020 and been integral to COVID-19 communications efforts. With inclusivity in mind, the GoWhere suite is available in Singapore’s four official languages – English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
Video Analytics System (VAS)
Our whole-of-government Video Analytics System (VAS) features scalable video sharing platform leveraging cloud services, on-demand Video Analytics (VA) as a Service and VA enablement that allows you to train your own VA models.
The Video Analytics System is one of the key technologies behind Safe Distance @ Parks, the national website and app that shows users near real-time crowd sizes for parks across Singapore. This is achieved by relaying image snapshots captured by CCTV cameras in parks, at regular intervals, to VAS. The technology proved useful for citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic as citizens can access real-time information on visitor crowdedness online without needing to physically visit the parks to gauge visitor levels. VAS helps citizens to make informed decisions before visiting parks or specific areas within big parks to avoid crowded areas, while also allowing officers to be more efficiently deployed for safe distancing measures. New features are being added to VAS and more use cases with government agencies could be expected in future.
In response to contact tracing efforts to minimise the spread of COVID-19, SafeEntry was implemented as the national digital check-in system in 2020. Built with inclusivity and accessibility in mind, SafeEntry is used by more than 200,000 businesses and public venues handling over 15 million check-ins daily, and supports our COVID-19’s response efforts by:
Reducing the time needed to identify individuals who have potentially been in contact with COVID-19 clusters and cases
Integrating with TraceTogether to support TraceTogether-only SafeEntry check-ins to enhance contract tracing efforts
Allowing venues to check visitors’ vaccination statuses to support vaccination-differentiated safe management measures.
TraceTogether is a contact tracing technology that utilises Bluetooth for contact tracing through the logging of encounters between users. It allows a log of individuals that one has been in close contact, done in a privacy-preserving manner. This is made possible as TraceTogether relies only on the Bluetooth communication between TraceTogether devices to estimate the duration and proximity of interaction between individuals. The data exchanged is anonymised, encrypted, and stored only on users’ devices, and shared with the Ministry of Health for healthcare follow-up if an individual tests positive for COVID-19. To further protect data privacy, contact tracing data stored on each TraceTogether device is automatically deleted after 25 days, and the TraceTogether solution will cease after the pandemic. Since its launch, over 60 countries have indicated an interest in its technology, with Australia, Canada, and Poland adapting the open-source version of TraceTogether.
The Singapore Government has also donated TraceTogether’s open-sourced code ‘OpenTrace’ to the Linux Foundation Public Health’s Herald Project, in strong support of an open-source community around a non-GAEN contact tracing standard.
Currently, over 99% of Singaporeans are currently using TraceTogether as a community effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Through digital contact tracing, the timeline to issue a quarantine order has been lessened from four days to under two days.