The new waves of COVID-19 have created a fluctuated pattern on the rate of infections in Indonesia ever since its first confirmed case all the way back in March 2020. This constant up and down pattern of fatality triggers scientific speculations that the future of this virus is guaranteed to come in more powerful and produce deadly variants. Moreover, Indonesia’s low rate of fully vaccinated citizens is a huge hindrance in achieving her immunity, creating another major threat to its health and economic recovery.

Fortunately, during the recent long shutdown of PPKM (Pemberlakuan Pembatasan Kegiatan Masyarakat), several Indonesian ministries — Ministry of Health, Ministry of Communication and Information, Ministry of State-owned Enterprise along with COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Committee — have worked together hand in hand to develop its first national contact tracing application: PeduliLindungi. 

PeduliLindungi is an online mobile application developed by the government that aims to aid government agencies in tracking and stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia. This application took a solid reference from Singapore’s TraceTogether app to provide proactive measures on the virus spread. PeduliLindungi application relies on collective participation from communities to actively share location data with the system to allow detection of possible contact history tracing with COVID-19 patients that are geographically near each user. Moreso, users will be alerted when they are in a red zone, especially in areas with a high rate of confirmed patients.

Since the enforcement of PPKM level 3 in several regions, the government has obligated the use of this application when entering public places including shopping centres and malls. Thus, how does this application work? 

As users download the PeduliLindungi application on their smartphones, the system will ask for users’ consent to always enable location data. When location data is activated, the application will periodically identify users’ location and provide information related to the crowds and zoning of the spread of COVID-19. Through the results of this tracing, the system will continuously identify users with symptoms of the virus as potential patients who need to receive further treatment. Thus, the accuracy of this application relies heavily on the rate of users within each regions.

With access to users’ locations, this application also comes with its limitations. As PeduliLindungi took a solid reference from Singapore’s TraceTogether features, situational differences (including population size between Singapore and Indonesia) have made several features to be irrelevant when adopted to Indonesia. The reliance on information technology awareness is key to its low accuracy. As per 2021, Indonesia has 74% of active internet users from all age ranges, claiming that the rest 26% of the 200 million Indonesian population are technologically illiterate making this a major weakness in the app’s effectiveness. Another prime limitation of this app is its reliance on users’ location for contact tracing. As with reliance on location, the app’s accuracy will be fragile in places with weak connections and internet signals, such as basements and inside of buildings. Thus in reference to a US private institution developed app of Novid, this limitation can be tackled through the use of ultrasound censoring and bluetooth connection rather than GPS tracking.

Aside from contact tracing, the main features of PeduliLindungi also contain tracking and fencing. This app highly encourages vaccinations to aid the recovery of this pandemic. This app promotes features that provide information regarding vaccines registrations and availability, travel histories and travel consents. Through this feature, only users who have been vaccinated and tested negative are allowed to travel and enter public places.  Moreso, with partnership with health applications such as ‘halodoc’ and ‘prosehat’, users are able to do private consultations regarding their health condition and immune system to grapple with the new variants.

The main importance for community recovery in battling new coming variants of COVID-19 is collective participation in taking proactive measures. Thus, let us all participate in the recovery of our community by actively following protocols and utilising this innovative app to prevent the worsening rate of infections. Most importantly, participate in COVID-19 vaccination program to protect oneself, family and surroundings from COVID-19. Implement thee 3M protocols correctly – wear masks properly, keep an adequate distance and maintain sanitations for the greater good of society.

Written by: Tamara Rosa
Sources: PeduliLindungi, Kompas, CNBC Indonesia, Carnegie Mellon University