PH-made digital solution launched to aid COVID contact tracing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 15) – Developers behind online platform SafePass believe the country can only get ahead of COVID-19 response if the footprint of contact tracing is as broad as possible.

SafePass, a Filipino-made digital COVID-19 incident mitigation and management solution, is now available to all organizations – be it small or big businesses and establishments.

It offers two types of free plans: SafePass Base, which features basic contact-tracing and digital health questionnaires; and SafePass Express, which comes with employee management features, and is free for government agencies and for establishments accredited by the Department of Tourism.

Winston Damarillo, executive chairman of Amihan Global Strategies and CEO of Talino Venture Labs – companies behind SafePass – said it can also be used at home.

Para kung sino man yung dadalaw, pupunta sa bahay nyo, magde-deliver, pwede na rin sila ma-trace kasi anywhere we have contact,” he said.

[Translation: So that anyone who will visit you or will deliver, they can be also traced because we have contact.]

He explained since not all have smartphones or internet, they’ve included a way to request entry and fill out forms using free Facebook.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said SafePass will be a significant partner for stakeholders as it will provide them with all-in-one contact tracing, health declaration, and incident management platform.

“By providing our stakeholders with practical, pragmatic, and effective solutions such as SafePass, we can convince more people to make a shift to contact-less or low-touch economy.”

Contact tracing

Damarillo admitted contact tracing is not simple. They then decided to include a categorization mechanism to make contact tracing more efficient.

Maka-categorize nya agad using data science kung gaano kataas ang risk potential, timing ng potential…. Pwede na mag-create ng incident management,” he said.

[Translation: It will be able to categorize the level of risk potential, the timing of potential using data science...It can create an incident management.]

As one of those who first tried the app, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology officer-in-charge Renato Solidum said the same principles in handling disasters can be used during the pandemic.

“We really need to go down at least to the family level if not the individual level… Because we cannot just focus on the barangay level.”

Data privacy issue

National Privacy Commission Deputy Commissioner Leandro Aguirre said that it is important that they trust the app and the establishment in order for them to disclose personal information.

Aguirre noted SafePass collects the minimum amount of data it needs, such as nickname or an alias.

Any contact tracing initiative will fail, Aguirre explained, unless customers are able to trust that their information will be protected and safe.