Singapore has announced that it will make the source code of the state tracking app "TraceTogether" available as open source. The app keeps track of who has encountered the corona virus – health authorities in the authoritarian city-state use the information to locate and quarantine contact persons.
Bluetooth for tracking in metropolitan areas
The app has the so-called Blue Trace Protocol the state digital agency GovTech underlying. When the Bluetooth and location services are switched on, the app should document a time stamp, the Bluetooth signal strength, the phone model and a temporary identifier (device nickname), goes out of the blue trace manifest forth. Accordingly, the app does not record the locations of the users, but records the distance between them. The use is on a voluntary basis, but citizens are encouraged by the state to use it.
A spokesman for the development team reports that GPS is unsuitable for tracking in a metropolitan area and in enclosed spaces. With Bluetooth, however, distances could be derived from the decreasing signal strength. The biggest technical hurdle was to take into account the different calibration of phones. For this reason, the device type is included. In collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Nanyang, GovTech carried out tests in anechoic rooms (without signal reception).
Other open source initiatives related to COVID-19
Even if an app for tracking users deserves a critical consideration even without precise location, the release as a project to combat the spread of the corona virus is worth mentioning.
To counter the pandemic, developer brainstorming is currently taking place worldwide on how people and states can better manage the crisis. HackTheAlps is organizing #WeAgainstVirus from South Tyrol on March 28, 2020, and GitHub has already presented open source projects on the topic. Together with the WHO, Devpost is organizing the from March 26 to 30, 2020 Hackathon # BuildForCOVID19. The thematic blocks are health, vulnerable population groups, companies, community, education, entertainment and free topics.
. (tagsToTranslate) apps (t) corona virus (t) tracking