Photo of Vivian Balakrishnan from Mediacorp

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday declared the government’s TraceTogether app a failed project, and said he is going to give everyone a wearable device to trace their movements instead:

“A wearable device for contact tracing may be issued to everyone in Singapore to help curb the spread of Covid-19.”

When PAP MP Vikram Nair proposed that the movement tagging be made mandatory for Singaporeans, Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said he is not enforcing it currently because of application failure:

“Because TraceTogether does not work equally well across all smartphones, we have decided therefore, at this point in time, not to mandate a compulsory use of TraceTogether.”

Currently, foreign workers are being forced, in a ruling last month, to download and use the TraceTogether app, or they may face penalties like deportation.

The PAP minister also blamed Apple for not cooperating with the Singapore government:

“Unlike devices that use the Android operating system, Apple devices suspend the use of Bluetooth scanning when the app is running in the background. We have had repeated discussions at both the technical and policy level with Apple, but we have not yet been able to find a satisfactory solution.”

Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also admitted that the government’s TraceTogether app is unpopular with Singaporeans:

“About 1.5 million users have downloaded the TraceTogether app since it was launched in March, which works out to only 25 per cent of Singapore’s population. This falls short of the optimum number of users that is needed for the app to work well – which is about three-quarters of the population.”