MRT-3 dumps StaySafePH, launches its own contact tracing app

Published January 15, 2021, 8:38 AM

by Robert "Bob" Reyes

As the country continues its fight with the dreaded COVID-19 while allowing business and the workforce to adapt to what we call the new normal, the MRT-3 will upgrade its manual contact tracing process to digitized one by soft-launching the “MRT-3 Trace” [] web application on Monday, January 18, 2021, with full implementation by February 1, 2021.

“MRT-3 Trace is a web application that will help us and the passengers avoid further transmission of the virus through direct contact between our commuters and personnel. It will ease the process of contact tracing,  and thus, prevent long queues in stations,” according to MRT-3 Director for Operations Michael J. Capati.

Using any smartphone with an Internet connection, passengers will simply have to point with mobile web browsers (Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, etc.) to and fill out the basic information such as full name, birth date, address, and contact number for one-time account activation. To use the contact tracing app, passengers need to scan the unique quick response (QR) code located at designated areas within the train station. The user needs to present the verification message to the security personnel before he/she may be allowed to enter any MRT-3 station.

All information gathered will be transmitted to the MRT-3’s Data Center for security and easy tracing of individuals. The MRT-3 Trace is compliant with Republic Act 1017 or the Data Privacy Act.

Passengers who do not have smartphones may opt to manually fill-out the health declaration forms provided by the security personnel at each of the train stations.

The MRT-3 Trace web app was developed by the MRT-3 Support Division.

Why Not Use StaySafe.PH?

I asked the management of the MRT-3 why they opted to develop their own contacting tracing app instead of using the official contact tracing program of the Philippine government – According to a spokesperson of the MRT-3, they opted to develop its own contact tracing app to gain quick access to data, which shall help the management to also quickly respond to scenarios such as confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 among the passengers. They also said, that by developing this web app in-house, they will have the freehand to add features when the need arises.

All data captured by the MRT-3 Trace app is stored in their data center. The MRT-3 Support Division also said that the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) of the MRT-3 Trace app will be added to their existing PIA for monitoring of employees and passengers with Beep Cards.

Multisys Updates StaySafe.PH; Removes GPS & Bluetooth from App

To alleviate public reluctance in StaySafe.PH, Multisys Technologies Corporation, ensured zero surveillance in the app as the current version now runs without the GPS and Bluetooth-enabled contact tracing features. The developer also enhanced the app’s QR code security to remove possible data exposure.

According to Multisys, StaySafe.PH has over 8 million users from both mobile app, web app, and smartphone camera QR scanning.

When asked to comment on MRT-3’s move to develop their own contact tracing app instead of using StaySafe.PH, a Multisys spokesperson said, “MRT-3’s contact tracing app will be integrated to StaySafe.PH, too. Believe the team is working on this.” However, this statement was refuted by MRT-3 management, saying that this is the first time that they had heard of such a “plan” and that they do not have any information related to the integration of the MRT-3 Trace web app to StayS