COVID-19 contact tracing apps must be interoperable, says IATF

Published May 21, 2021, 2:51 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government is pushing for the interoperability of all contact tracing applications used by local government units to boost the fight against the coronavirus spread.

Dozens of people wait to receive Pfizer coronavirus vaccines at a mall in Paranaque City on May 18, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) has approved the recommendations of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on matters related to ensuring the different digital tracking apps would function with one another.

The latest decision came months after the government launched the StaySafe.ph as the official contact tracing application. The software, which seeks to ensure fast and efficient tracing of contacts of a person with suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection, however has not yet been fully implemented over reported technical concerns.

In Resolution No. 116, the IATF wanted the contact tracing applications used by LGUs to be intensified as well as interoperable.

“Contact tracing applications of various local government units such as those used by Pasig, Mandaluyong, Antipolo, and Valenzuela, among others, be scaled up to aid in addressing the rise in COVID-19 cases,” the IATF resolution read.

It also directed the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) “to issue a policy to ensure that all contact tracing applications are interoperable.” The DICT has been designated as the lead in national interoperability pursuant to the IATF Resolution No. 109.

Early this month, the Palace claimed that the issues related to the StaySafe.ph contact tracing application have been addressed. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government would proceed “full speed ahead” with the implementation of StaySafe.app.

Prior to Roque’s remarks, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong bared that the Department of Health has rejected the use of the contact tracing application until further study.

Magalong, the government’s contact tracing czar, explained the tracker software could not yet be deemed as “highly reliable” due to incomplete documents submitted by the developer. The application will undergo further study by the Department of Interior and Local Government, he added.

With problems surrounding the StaySafe.ph, many local government units and business establishments have developed their own tracking systems instead. The Palace recently admitted that contact tracing was an area that needed improvement after a flood of tracing apps has caused confusion.

 
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