09 April 2020
Nearly 5 hours ago, the government of Singapore finally decided to release the source code of the TraceTogether application that they were using to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This application helps by safely and securely monitoring the distance between every phone that has the app installed and giving you recommendations for self-isolation or even quarantine, based on all the people you encounter in your day-to-day routine.
This is a major development because of their advancements in finding the right parameters and functionalities of such an important and critical solution can now be shared globally. People across the globe can modify the newly open-sourced solution and quickly release and distribute their own version of it, free of charge but with some limitations.
Limitations consist of:
- having to keep the solution open-sourced, with the same license it was released
- keep track of any modifications that occur to the code in the eventuality of the Singaporean government asking them to release all modifications as open-source
In my opinion, those limitations are good, keeping the people at bay for eventual add-ons that will jeopardize the user's privacy.
Wich people exactly? Good question, Apple released the following statement: "To ensure the credibility of health and safety information, Apple is only accepting COVID-19 related apps from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions. Only developers from one of these recognized entities should submit an app related to COVID-19 to the App Store. For more information visit https://developer.apple.com/news/?id=03142020a". That statement will exclude most if not all of the people that can take advantage of the good-will of the Singaporean people and want to help their country in the battle against the spread of Covid-19.
What can you do now?
No matter the country now it is time to put pressure on the people you voted to defend you at any cost. Ask them to bring tech people they trust to the table, and act upon this chance swiftly and without hesitation. Tell them that you need this app because you want a safety net of responsible people around you, people that stayed home when it was required and now they will try to re-enter 'normal' step by step. And the first step is regaining trust in each other.
What WE ( Jiratech, Envisage, DeepVISS ) are going to do now
In the last month, we've pitched this idea to a series of investors, businessmen, founders and public with hopes of gaining enough founding and visibility that will eventually put in motion two separate processes: getting started developing such Romanians and opening our government's or other health-based NGO's doors to release the app under their authority.
Now we are currently documenting the released code, looking for security issues, vulnerabilities and other problems that we may encounter in transforming their solution into a solution that is ready to use by all of our peers. Our public repositories can be found here, for any developer that wants either to use it as their own solution or help us modify it and prepare it for public release in Romania. In order to comply will with all regulations in our country ( GDPR being one of them ), we are currently investigating all of the flows of the data and their protection, to ensure that this app will be 100% compliant at the time of the launch.