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ICTA to introduce high-tech contact tracing for pandemic control – Chairman de Silva

close up on Phone with app in caucasian hands

ECONOMYNEXT-Sri Lanka’s Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) will launch the new Stay Safe Digital Project on Monday, November 9, to make contact tracing for pandemic control more efficient using technology.

Speaking in an interview with TV Derana, ICTA Chairman Jayantha De Silva said that once the curfew is lifted on Monday, Stay Safe will allow the authorities to identify the contacts of future COVID cases easily which will save their time and the time of the general public.

He also said that the ICTA along with the developers have worked on the project for the past 6 months to use technology to control and prevent COVID-19 in Sri Lanka.

“Since it would not be successful if we used this technology only through smartphones as only about 50% of the population uses smartphones, this project idea was introduced to us by four young people who created the Stay Safe Digital Project,” he added.

Also speaking in the interview Shanaka Perera who is a member of the project told that they looked at the all technologies used by other countries to control and prevent COVID-19 and the idea of endorsing QR method came after looking at New Zealand but depending on the smartphone penetration in the country it could not be directly implemented in Sri Lanka.

Accordingly, he said that the all businesses and organisations have to register with Stay Safe through the website https://staysafe.gov.lk/ upon the registration the business or organisation will receive a poster with unique QR code and a Location code which should be displayed at the entrance of a business or the organisation.

People who are entering the business or organisation should scan the QR code by just opening the camera of the Smartphone or non-Smartphone users should SMS the Location code mentioned in the poster to 1919.

In the first instance, the individual who is using Stay Safe should scan the QR code and then enter the details such as the name, National ID number and a mobile number through a notification that will appear which will register him to the system.

Then onwards he/she will have to simply scan the QR code and show the notification containing his information to the security officer of the business or organisation before entering.

The notification which will give the details of the particular individual after the scan or after the SMS is sent will show whether he can enter the premises, whether he is a COVID patient or contact of an infected person.





After registering with the system it will also send an SMS to that particular individual whether he is a contact of future COVID cases.

Once a COVID patient is identified who is registered with the system, just by entering his National ID number to the system the Health authorities can find out the places he had visited in the past 14 days in order to identify his contacts rather than going through logbooks in businesses and organisations based on the statements given by the patient.

Further, regarding the privacy issue, he said that since all the data will be collected at the Lanka Government Cloud which is managed by the ICTA, the data is stored within the country and the notification which a particular individual receives once he/she scans the QR code or SMS the location code will display only the last four digits of his/her mobile number

“So the privacy of every individual is protected by this project,” he added. (Colombo, November 5, 2020)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe

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