Tech

This App Developed by Volunteers Can Help Ease Gridlocks At Traffic Checkpoints

There’s another one that efficiently tracks COVID-19 cases in the country.
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The age-old phrase “necessity is the mother of invention” never rings truer than when there’s a crisis. Technology, in particular, almost always steps up to help address the most pressing issues related to the problem at hand. 

In the case of the coronavirus pandemic, people have been scrambling to develop innovative solutions not just to combat the virus itself, but other adjacent concerns. Two of the more recent innovations are apps to help government quickly identify authorized vehicles and personnel at checkpoints, and give access to map-verified COVID-19 cases.

These apps—RapidPassPH and TraceCovid.ph—were created by a team of IT developers, entrepreneurs, students, and enthusiasts from Developers Connect Philippines (DEVCON) in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology and Microsoft Philippines.

When DevCon Philippines, one of the biggest tech developer organizations in the country, called for volunteers in March to help think of solutions to support efforts against COVID-19, over 200 people heeded the call. The DevCon Community of Technology eXperts (DCTx) was then formed, with almost 1,200 people signing up to volunteer and roughly 600 participants in succeeding development initiatives.

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The result is the development of the two apps that could make a huge impact in how the country is dealing with the pandemic.

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RapidPassPH can generate QR codes for each registered user, which checkpoint personnel can quickly scan and validate

Photo by Microsoft Philippines.

Faster process for frontliners at checkpoints

RapidPassPH is a virtual identification system that helps frontliners and authorized personnel through Metro Manila’s checkpoints by facilitating a faster and more streamlined verification system for priority private and public vehicles.

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Following a scan-and-go approach, the platform will generate QR codes for each registered user, which checkpoint personnel can quickly scan and validate. Users can opt to present their QR codes using their mobile devices or through a printed copy.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology, which has been tasked to oversee the implementation of the RapidPass System, encourages frontliners and companies providing goods and services to apply for quarantine passes in order to enable faster, hassle-free identification throughout the various designated checkpoints in the National Capital Region.

Since the system was launched on April 2, the platform has generated over 370,000 unique QR codes. And with gridlocks reported all over Metro Manila since the start of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), perhaps this RapidPass System is exactly what we need.

Traking confirmed cases with TraceCovid.ph

The other innovation DCTx Project volunteers developed is TraceCovid.ph, a platform that shows DOH-verified cases and other relevant information in a visually consumable format.

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Launched on April 15, TraceCovid.ph is equipped with an up-to-date list of hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 cases, as well as facilities with available COVID-19 test kits. It also allows users to anonymously contribute location data to facilitate close contact detection in case a user tests positive for COVID-19.

The applications are powered by Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, which enables developers to expand their projects and allow their apps to run on a high-volume file storage database. Under Azure, DCTx developers also ensure that all data gathered from the applications are secured and protected in compliance with the law.

“It is during these times that we are called upon as a community to address problems strategically, and build sustainable, innovative solutions to fight this pandemic,” DevCon Philippines President Winston Damarillo said. “Through this collaboration, we aim to bring the brilliant ideas of Filipino innovators into real-life impact to help the country in its time of need.

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“We are grateful to our partners and sponsors from the government and the private sector, who generously supported this initiative and invested in the rich local tech community in the Philippines,” he added. 

“Our mission as an organization remains the same, more so now in the face of this global pandemic. Finding a solution will require massive amounts of synergy and we’re committed to providing people and organizations with the support they need to turn the tide against COVID-19--both here in the Philippines and across the globe," said Microsoft Philippines Country General Manager Andres Ortola. 

RapidPassPH and TraceCovid.ph are among the first wave of collaborative initiatives that the government, the private sector, and local IT community are doing in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

For more information, please visit the RapidPass website or TraceCovid Facebook page.

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About The Author
Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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