A Singapore-based electronics manufacturer has won a S$6 million tender for TraceTogether Tokens, a government-developed contact tracing project.
The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) in an email to Reuters confirmed that it has “contracted PCI Pte Ltd to manufacture an initial batch of TraceTogether Tokens”.
GovTech added that it will tender for the design, manufacturing and delivery of further batches.
PCI will reportedly supply 300,000 dongles for the TraceTogether Tokens project, which will cost S$20 a unit.
The electronics firm declined to comment on the matter when approached by Reuters.
Reuters reported that according to a government notice, the tender was awarded to PCI on 14 May.
No open tender on the TraceTogether Tokens project, however, can be found in the government procurement website, based on a search conducted by TOC on Friday evening (12 June) at 4.25pm.
Under an Open Tender, all suppliers may participate by responding to Tender Notices. An Open or Selective Tender will be called unless circumstances allow for a Limited Tender to be called.
A Limited Tender will involve invitations from a few suppliers or from one pre-identified supplier.
Limited Tenders may be called in situations where no responsive tender is received from an earlier Open or Selective Tender, when it concerns national security, or when it is not feasible or practical to call for Open Tenders due to the nature of subjects involved such as intellectual property rights or for works of art.
Reuters reported that the total cost of the TraceTogether Tokens project could amount to a whopping S$110 million if the tokens are distributed to all 5.7 million residents in Singapore.
Members of the public have recently criticised the introduction of the pilot project — especially following problems with its predecessor, the TraceTogether app, regarding its effect on the battery life of iPhones in particular — and raised privacy concerns as well as being a potential waste of resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan earlier assured the public that the TraceTogether tokens are not a tracking device, as they will have neither GPS capabilities nor mobile internet connectivity to track user’s movements.
Instead, the tokens will operate solely using Bluetooth proximity.
Dr Balakrishnan added that the data will only be extracted from the phone if a user is infected with COVID-19.
Only a “small number of personnel have access to the data for contact tracing purposes”, he said, adding that the officers are bound by the Official Secrets Act.
However, critics have noted that there have been no assurance from the authorities that data from the tokens will not be used for other purposes such as prosecution for violation of social distancing measures.