Singapore shows the weaknesses of Corona Apps

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Bangkok The App to contain the Coronavirus has made Singapore a global role model in Front of nearly three months, the Smartphone application, which should help the authorities of the city-state in the search for contacts of Infected started. However, the balance of the system is due to grow.

A few days before a similar App to launch in Germany, swivels around Singapore now a new strategy: Because of the bad experience with the Smartphone application, the government will focus in the future on a specially developed device to completely function independently of mobile phones and may be mandatory could be.

The problems of Singapore’s Contact-Tracing-App to show the difficulties, the App, the Federal government might have. The biggest hurdle: Only a minority is willing to install the App.

The “trace together”-App in Singapore evaluates, as well as the German variant of Bluetooth signals from other users who have also installed the App. Thus, we can see who was with whom in contact. However, the principle is only really meaningful if a majority of the population uses the System. In Singapore, the App has according to the government, 1.5 million users – or about one-fifth of the population.

“Mathematically it is still too low,” said this week, Singapore’s foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is in charge of the Smart Nation Initiative in the country. According to more than 75 per cent should use the App, so that the principle of functioning optimally.

It is also in Germany would be difficult to reach such values, even remotely, suggested last week, a survey by the ARD. Thus, only 42 percent of the respondents announced to the Corona App will install on your phone.

Tens of thousands of signatures against the technology

To be able to in the future, more and more people with digital contact tracking record, is Singapore now a new way: In the coming days, the authorities small Bluetooth want to distribute the devices, which operate in principle the same as the App but may be more acceptable to encounter.

“Trace together Token” is the name of the new technology, to be distributed according to the will of the government to be one of the every inhabitants. The user will guide the device to the clothing or in the pocket – a so-called “Wearable”, this is like a fitness bracelet always.

Good contact tracing was “absolutely essential,” said Balakrishnan as a justification for the new approach. This is true, from his point of view, particularly in view of the loosening of previous Anti-Corona measures. It is going to can cases of infection as quickly as possible to identify. “I can’t emphasize enough how important this is and since the digital tools come into play.”

The introduction of the Contact-Tracing Tokens to attack the weaknesses of the App-based system, the documented numbers in the lower than hoped-for users. As user-provided, among other things, that the constant Bluetooth would use, the phone battery will drain faster. Also, with a view to the protection of privacy many people feel at the thought of queasy to download a government App on the Smartphone.

How large are the concerns, is also to be seen in the fact that even the planned Token opposition, although he does not offer a purely technical nature, less ways to abuse because he shares the memory with other data. An Internet petition against the technology has, in a matter of days, more than 40,000 signatures.

First attempt, on a voluntary Basis

Minister Balakrishnan effort to dispel the concerns: “I emphasize, there is no monitoring device,” he said, referring to the Tokens. This wouldn’t even have a GPS Chip, and also no phone or Internet connection. The via Bluetooth, contact information gathered could only be by the competent health authorities to read.

Whether the arguments are enough to convince people to run the Token actually is not capable of Balakrishnan yet. He wanted to try it first on a voluntary Basis, he said, but admitted that the Token could, depending on the development of the corona crisis is also mandatory to be worn.

The new devices are supposed to have according to his words, less technical problems than the App that is often a failure to Apple’s iPhone operating system iOS. This had not admitted that the App Bluetooth signals, even if it is running in the Background. “We had several conversations with Apple, but it is not succeeded to find a satisfactory solution,” said Balakrishnan.

Overall, his government intends to spend this year, $ 2.5 billion for new IT solutions, to help in the fight against the Coronavirus that’s 30 percent more than last year.

Technology suppliers are hoping for good business – also in the neighbouring countries: David Su, chief of the chip manufacturer Atmosic working on wireless technology with very low battery consumption, sees great potential In the fight against the Virus in the future would probably “many, if not all, of the governments of Asia” on Wearables put, he predicts.

More: Why is the Corona-Warning-App is an Experiment

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