The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) is investigating a portable device that may become Singapore's new method of contact tracking.
Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, the minister and foreign minister responsible for the SNDGG, announced this in Parliament on June 5.
Although no further information on the devices has been released, it can be distributed to all residents of Singapore if tests show that they work well.
In March, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) launched the TraceTogether app to step up contact tracking efforts.
Using Bluetooth signals to log incidents when users get close, the app’s data can fill in memory gaps if an infected person has forgotten who they were close to.
Migrant workers had to download and use the latest version of the app.
However, only about 1.5 million people in Singapore – or a quarter of the population – downloaded the app.
The ideal proportion of users needed to ensure that the app works effectively is around three quarters of the population.
Dr. Balakrishnan answered questions about whether the TraceTogether app should be used better, for example by training people who need help with the technology or making it mandatory for everyone.
One of the main problems with TraceTogether is that it doesn't work well on iPhones.
Apple's iOS interrupts the Bluetooth scanning function when the app is running in the background. Therefore TraceTogether must always be activated.
Despite "repeated technical and political discussions with Apple", there was no satisfactory solution.
"Since TraceTogether does not work equally well on all smartphones, we decided at this point not to use TraceTogether compulsory," said Dr. Balakrishnan.
Selected image source: Altium Resources