Koronadal City, South Cotabato – The Provincial Government of South Cotabato (PGSC) headed by Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo, Jr is presenting the South Cotabato COVID-19 Contact Tracing System (SC-CCTS) before the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Leaders’ Summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 24, 2020.
In an e-mail dated September 14, the OGP invited the PGSC to showcase the SC-CCTS, after being chosen as a “great example of cross-sector collaboration and thorough consultation.”
The OGP described the SC-CCTS as a “great effort that discloses accurate contact tracing information designed to include marginalized communities.” It stated that it is particularly interesting that the approach used was designed by a variety of sectors including government, civil society, the private sector, and the academia.
The video highlighting the SC-CCTS will be presented as an example of the Open Response + Open Recovery at the Leaders’ Summit, to be attended by Heads of State and Government, government officials, and civil society leaders to discuss ways OGP members have ensured their response and recovery efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic are open, transparent, participatory, and accountable.
To reiterate, the SC-CCTS is a localized web- and mobile-based application developed for the efficient and expeditious contact tracing of confirmed COVID-19 positive patients. It is a digitized or electronic logbook system that aims to contain the transmission of COVID-19, increase confidence of local government units (LGUs) on the safety of their population in reopening and restarting economic activities during or beyond the General Community Quarantine, and satisfy one of the provincial government’s criteria for readiness to restart the economy, which includes functional COVID-19 center/hospital, adequate personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other essential medical supplies and equipment, functional local testing center, and effective contact tracing system.
A CCTS Card, which is generated upon registration, is issued by the PGSC to a resident or visitor within the territorial jurisdiction of the Province of South Cotabato. It serves as an electronic logbook that needs to be scanned when entering the premises of government offices or private establishments for the purpose of recording the date and time of entry/visit, and which bears the holder’s name, address, identification number and a uniquely-assigned QR code.
In the same way, the PGSC, through an ordinance enacted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), has mandated the registration and use of SC-CCTS scanners to all national and local government offices including all government-managed or owned facilities and economic enterprises in the province, all private business establishments and entities to include religious and educational institutions, and all modes of public transport or public utility vehicles operating in the province. Once registered, these establishments shall download the SC-CCTS mobile application. All CCTS Cards of persons who are entering these registered establishments or offices shall be scanned using the mobile application.
The system was planned, designed, and developed in April of this year by the local Information Technology (IT) experts of South Cotabato who are at the same time bona fide employees of the provincial government. It is the first system in the country that does not require smartphones and/or internet connection on the part of the residents/citizens, and the governor himself instructed that the provincial government is willing and open to share the system to the rest of the country, free of any charge.
The approach, as it considers the most affected individuals who do not have access to technology, provides accurate information for efficient contact tracing and is designed to effectively defeat the pandemic while upholding people’s right to privacy.
In order to ensure that important basic rights are secured while lives are protected, data protection safeguards were introduced in the local ordinance enacted by the local sanggunian or the provincial legislative body implementing the SC-CCTS. Thus, the SC-CCTS development and implementing teams included the creation of an external third party monitor – the SC-CCTS Audit Team comprised of external experts and/or local representatives from the academe, civil society organizations, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Commission on Human Rights and Department of Information and Communications Technology.
The audit team conducts regular assessment and evaluation of the overall system, and ensures data protection and privacy in the entire process or stages of system implementation up until the deletion of data.
As part of the safeguards for data protection, the PGSC also ensured that data subjects need to provide consent upon registering, and that only the duly designated Data Controller (DC) or Data Protection Officer (DPO) from the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU) shall have authorized access to all information gathered and stored in the server, which shall be used for contact tracing purposes only, should there be a confirmed COVID-19 case.
In addition, all recorded information of a person’s date and time of visit or entry in the establishments and public utility vehicles shall be automatically deleted from the SC-CCTS as well as in the manual logbook sixty (60) days after their storage. Ultimately, there is a termination clause which provides that after the applicability of the ordinance, or when the pandemic is finally over, the SC-CCTS Application shall be removed from smartphones and app stores, and all information collected, processed and stored for the purpose of the SC-CCTS shall be deleted from the server.
As of August 26, 2020, the SC-CCTS has already been adopted by the Regional IATF of Region XII as the official contact tracing system for the entire region. Hence, it will now be called the Region XII COVID-19 Contact Tracing System or the R12-CCTS. Other LGUs outside the region have also adopted the system, all without incurring expenses on their part.
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