TL;DR: StaySafe will soon have advanced contract tracing abilities, informing users of COVID-19 affected areas through smartphones.
StaySafe, the Philippines’ official contact tracing system, is getting a big boost in its contact tracing ability thanks to the Google Apple Exposure Notifications (GAEN). According to reports, the new feature will be active on the week of April 5.
The Exposure Notifications system was jointly created by Google and Apple to help governments and the global community fight the pandemic through contact tracing. The system notifies people who may have been exposed to a person who has contracted COVID-19, including those the person might not know directly.
So how does it work? As detailed here, once you opt-in the system, the Exposure Notifications System will generate a random ID for your device. Through Bluetooth, your phone and other phones will work in the background to exchange random IDs.
Your phone then cross-checks all the random IDs associated with a database of positive COVID-19 cases. If there’s a match, you will receive a COVID-19 exposure notification.
For those worried about their information leaking out, don’t be. According to Google, the Exposure Notifications System was built with privacy and security central to the design. Users’ identities are not shared with other users, Google, or Apple.
Take note that you have to have the StaySafe PH app installed on your device for you to be able to use the upcoming feature. The app is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
On an iPhone, there’s an additional step to get going. Apart from the app, users have to opt-in to Exposure Notifications in the settings.
The addition of GAEN to improve contact tracing in the Philippines is a huge step in the right direction. It’s late, but at least it’s here. For this to become truly successful, we all have to do our part.
On Sunday, April 4, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the Philippines to 795,051.