It only takes a spark.
Yesterday, Team TraceTogether was contacted by both Apple and Google executives to share the linked announcements under embargo.
TraceTogether is the world's first fully-functional nationwide Bluetooth contact tracing app.(And OpenTrace at https://BlueTrace.io is the first complete open-sourced BLE tracer codebase.) It took a great deal of hacking by a doggedly persistent team of software engineers and designers. It was not a perfect product. We faced limitations that prevented us from accessing full Bluetooth scanning functionality in the background on iOS devices. This affected both user experience and usage. It was the very best we could do at the time.
But, TraceTogether isn't just a product. It started a movement. What started out as a modest project to supplement contact tracing efforts within the tiny island of Singapore, quickly grew as more than 50 countries and many more private enterprises and individuals expressed interest in adapting the technology we had developed to serve their communities.
TraceTogether's launch made waves across the Pacific, and drew Apple's and Google's attention. And we have been in constant discussion with both over the past 3 weeks, to understand how we can collaborate to make Bluetooth contact tracing a universal reality.
Adoption has always been one of TraceTogether's weaknesses. We needed high adoption rates for it to be effective. It matters not only that you have it installed; it also matters that everyone around you also has it installed. But this is also TraceTogether's greatest strength: that it requires all of us coming together, each engaging in a small act of social responsibility, but collectively strengthening our communities, protecting those around us and ourselves. #SGUnited and #SingaporeTogether. When we TraceTogether, we are safer together.
And now, that message has been heard. In spades. And beyond our wildest dreams.
We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Apple and Google on the specifications for the contact tracing technology, which allows cross-border inter-operability. At the same time, any contact tracing protocol should respect and be adaptable to the specific local circumstances of the sovereign communities it will be deployed in. Contact tracing is not just a technology. It is also a human-centred process. We make this point in discussing our protocol design considerations in our white paper.
Our work starts again, to incorporate these new APIs into TraceTogether and make it a better product for Singaporeans!
A team of thinkers and doers working with code, pixels and people