Essential


Singapore’s TraceTogether App does everything needed for Covid-19. It captures anonymous bluetooth proximity records, displays personal vaccination records and registers SafeEntry check-ins. The personal token does this too but has no displays. Personal tokens must be exchanged when the battery runs out.

The smartphone has become so necessary, you can’t leave home without it, and it isn’t just because you need to make calls or be contacted.

One new feature is that phones now have wallets to make contactless payments, so you don’t need to use cash or physical cards to pay. You could tap a smartphone to get on a train or a bus, or buy a cup of coffee.

More incredibly, phones are now used to verify identities. For example, you need a phone for two-factor authentication to log into secure emails or bank accounts. In a related fashion, we use phone apps as loyalty cards to get store discounts. By showing the app, we indicate “this is my phone, this is your app, I’m a member.”

And we use our phones to read news, surf the Internet, check out driving directions, order food deliveries. I sometimes use my phone to make blog posts.

Covid-19 has made the phone quite essential everywhere you go in Singapore especially the TraceTogether App. To gain entry to places, it is mandatory to register by tapping your phone at SafeEntry gantries and be traced should one be a Covid case contact. The app bluetooth is on all the time to capture which other phones you have been in significant contact with, again for contact tracing purposes. You need a phone to show your vaccinated status before you can buy food to eat. Unvaccinated persons can still buy food to go or takeaway but cannot eat in public.

A special TraceTogether token does all the phone app functions but without the display. The tokens can be read by special readers.

So you can see it is all highly regulated, and Orwellian, since you are tracked everywhere you go.

The dependency on the smartphone means that if the battery runs out, one must go home.

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