Explainer: How the TraceTogether token works, where to collect it
SINGAPORE — By December, it will be compulsory to use the TraceTogether mobile application or token to check in at venues such as workplaces, schools, malls as well as food and beverage outlets, the authorities said on Tuesday (Oct 21).
- TraceTogether token uses Bluetooth technology to detect who has come into cantact with the user
- Users can decide between using the token and the TraceTogether app
- Distribution of the tokens will continue until November 2020
SINGAPORE — By December, it will be compulsory to use the TraceTogether mobile application or token to check in at venues such as workplaces, schools, malls as well as food and beverage outlets, the authorities said on Tuesday (Oct 20).
TraceTogether was launched on May 20 as a mobile application that exchanges Bluetooth signals with other mobile devices that have downloaded the same app.
The token version, which is a standalone device, was first distributed to 10,000 seniors in June. In its last update on Oct 4, the authorities said more than 100,000 tokens had been collected so far.
The tokens are being distributed gradually to members of the public until November this year, starting with estates that have a higher number of residents who are senior citizens.
TODAY explains how the TraceTogether token works, how user privacy is protected and when residents can get their tokens.
HOW THE TOKEN WORKS
The TraceTogether token uses Bluetooth technology, exchanging signals with other tokens or smartphone devices running the TraceTogether app. The token will then encrypt data of the devices near it and stores the information for up to 25 days before deleting it.
Each token is registered to a person’s name and does not record the user’s location, but rather who has come into contact with the user. Personal details such as the user’s name, mobile number and identification number are not stored in the device, but in a separate system.
This data collected will be accessed and decrypted only by the Ministry of Health for contact tracing purposes when a user tests positive for Covid-19. The device needs to be surrendered to the authorities for contact tracing.
This works similarly to the TraceTogether app, which can be downloaded on mobile devices. Both the app and token interoperates, so users can choose between either device based on their preference.
During a doorstop on Sept 14 at Jalan Besar CC, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who is Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, said that the goal is to ensure 70 per cent of the population uses the TraceTogether programme.
At the moment, the TraceTogether app has 2.4 million downloads — about 40 per cent of the population.
“It’s the participation that matters. The more users we have, the better contact tracing efforts are,” he said.
One issue affecting TraceTogether’s efficacy is the fact that it does not work well on Apple’s iOS operating system.
TraceTogether has to be kept running in the foreground for it to work most effectively, draining battery life.
In response to TODAY's queries on whether iPhone users' problems with the TraceTogether app have been resolved, the Smart National and Digital Government Group said on Oct 21: "The app needs to stay active in the background in order to communicate with other TT devices and we expect the battery usage to be similar to playing music in the background.
"The team is constantly making refinements and updates to make the app as power-efficient as possible, while keeping users safe during this pandemic. Users are advised to continue to keep their apps updated to the latest version to benefit from the latest enhancements."
Dr Balakrishnan, who is also Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that the new device was designed so that people who do not have access to smartphones, which makes up about 5 per cent of the population, will be able to “enjoy the protection that TraceTogether provides”.
The device is water resistant and has a battery life of about six months.
Users do not need to press any buttons or switches to activate it. It has a green light that blinks every minute to indicate it is working properly.
If the token is faulty or has run out of battery, a red light will blink. Users may call 6973 6511 or email support [at] tracetogether.gov.sg for help.
WHERE TO COLLECT
To collect the device, residents need to have with them their identity cards or other identification documents. Residents can also collect on behalf of their family members by furnishing their identification cards.
Singaporean residents above the age of seven can collect the device at any collection site near their homes when distribution in their estate starts. They can check the TokenGoWhere website for details.