Winning the war against COVID-19 and adjusting to the new normal are the Filipinos’ two top priorities right now. As the economy reopens and people find themselves going back to work, everyone needs an assurance that he or she has the right tools to reduce the risk of getting infected by the virus.
In the absence of a vaccine, smart technology remains a vital ally in helping defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
I still remember the time our team of developers at MultiSys Technologies Corp. dedicated ourselves to join the rest of the world in a united stand against the pandemic. At the outset, I recognized that we will be facing a virus that is different from what we usually deal with. This time, it cannot be eliminated by an anti-virus software.
Luckily, we already have an existing end-to-end healthcare system with health condition monitoring modules — the HealthBox platform, which we only modified to help mitigate the pandemic.
When the enhanced community quarantine was enforced and mass public transport was suspended, our programmers did not have to worry about travelling to and from their homes because they literally live in our workplace where everything is provided for — accommodation, food and recreation center. Thus, when I handpicked a team of software engineers and programmers for the cause, those geeks were more than willing.
For seven sleepless days and nights, our team did a marathon work to: understand the dynamics of the crisis response; design the systems flow; simplify the data requirement that would comply with the Data Privacy Act; configure the user interface; design the backend reports and analytics; and design and develop the solution.
Our pandemic mitigation platform StaySafe.ph was finally up and running on April 1, 2020, initially for our company and partners’ use only. Several local government units (LGUs) also tapped us to implement their own localized contact tracing, heat mapping and citizens’ health condition reporting system.
With the success of our implementation, numerous organizations encouraged us to present StaySafe.ph to the different government agencies. Discussions eventually led us to propose the technology directly to the National Task Force (NTF) for COVID-19, which is the implementing body of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
After a number of technical presentations to government representatives, StaySafe.ph was accepted for technical vetting on April 8.
After two weeks of myriad technical workshops, the IATF on April 22 released Resolution No. 27, which recognized StaySafe.ph as the country’s official contact tracing, health condition reporting and social distancing system.
StaySafe.ph is just one of the systems currently being used by the government. There are dozens of solutions that collaborate and integrate with each other towards the same goal of defeating the virus, such as the COVID KAYA as the epidemiology database of the Department of Health (DOH); Tanod COVID as the text message-based health condition reporting; FASSSTER as the predictive analytics for LGUs; and DOH’s KIRA chatbot.
It makes me proud to be part of such daring and inspirited government agencies and private companies that are eager to contribute to the national cause. Not only have they helped the country, but more importantly, they have enabled a platform that promotes “Digital Bayanihan.”
StaySafe.ph is a web and mobile application (iOS and Android) that enables contact tracing by alerting its users if they have come into close contact with COVID-19 cases declared by LGUs as suspect, probable or confirmed cases.
Its manual and digital contact tracing, real-time heat mapping and area scanning features are being mobilized by LGUs to protect citizens and send immediate medical response, if needed.
Citizens, on the other hand, are able to protect themselves, their families and communities with the social distancing notifications, COVID-19 nearby alerts, health tips and hotlines. Companies also benefit on the COVID-19 area scanning, employee and customer protection via QR code or scan and digital health checklist.
DOH has been very supportive in guiding us, especially on how to improve the system. They initiated technical meetings to ensure that StaySafe.ph adheres to the mandate that all health data should be owned by DOH, and that StaySafe.ph data shall be transferred to its COVID KAYA database.
“ COVID-19 may be a formidable and dangerous enemy but that does not mean that we, ordinary citizens, cannot contribute in the global effort to contain the virus. Small acts, especially when combined, can become powerful interventions during these trying times. ”
Other agencies have also guided us: the National Privacy Commission (NPC) on data privacy compliance; the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on LGU-level system training and deployment; and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on overall integrations and proper implementation.
Using StaySafe.ph is one of the many simple acts we can do to support the government in its contact-tracing efforts.
Contact tracing has now become a crucial pandemic mitigation measure, and physical distancing via StaySafe.ph’s alerts, QR code scanning and other features will go a long way in helping alleviate the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 may be a formidable and dangerous enemy but that does not mean that we, ordinary citizens, cannot contribute to the global effort to contain the virus. Small acts, especially when combined, can become powerful interventions during these trying times.
In fact, that’s what the bayanihan spirit is all about. Every individual can keep the bayanihan spirit alive at this time with the simplest of actions.
“ We have to start embracing the notion that we all need each other. We have our weaknesses that can be complemented by another’s strengths. On our own, we may have limitations. But together, we have it all. ”
Let us not lose our focus in doing something to help. Let us focus on what's relevant rather than fame, pride, tirade, competition or careless arguments. In this time of crisis, it is no longer about any company, organization, or government.
It's all about “us.”
We have to start embracing the notion that we all need each other. We have our weaknesses that can be complemented by another’s strengths. On our own, we may have limitations. But together, we have it all.
God may have allowed this pandemic to happen so that humankind will start helping each other, again; set aside differences and start working together, again; start believing and trusting each other, again; start forgiving and loving each other, again; and start accepting the fact that life is short.
Let us use this time right — and be united against the challenge ahead of us.
Edited by Janvic Mateo