COVID-19

Server problems hit MRT3’s new COVID-19 contact tracing site

Aika Rey
Server problems hit MRT3’s new COVID-19 contact tracing site

CONTACT TRACING. A man scans the QR code for the MRT3's new contact tracing site.

Photo from DOTr-MRT3

Some MRT3 passengers are unable to access the contact tracing site due to the volume of people trying to log in

It was the soft launch of the contact tracing site of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) on Monday, January 18, but some passengers complained they were unable to access it.

The new contact tracing site can be accessed at trace.dotrmrt3.gov.ph on Google Chrome. Commuters must create an account and approve the site’s access to their phone camera to scan the QR code at train stations.

Some passengers, however, complained on the MRT3’s Facebook page that they could not access the site. MRT3 Director for Operations Michael Capati attributed this to server problems, because of the number of people trying to log in.

“Kapag sabay-sabay kasing ginamit ang MRT3 Trace, bumabagal ang response time ng web application. Upang matugunan ito, nag-migrate ng mga data sa ibang server upang mas maging mabilis ang pagtakbo ng web application,” Capati said.

(When a lot of people use MRT3 Trace simultaneously, the web application’s response time slows down. The MRT is migrating data to another server to make the web application respond faster.)

Some Facebook users suggested that it would be better if passengers have their own individual QR codes to be scanned by train personnel – just like how several local governments do it.

“Ko-connect ka pa sa internet at mag-access ng website na baka hindi naman kaya ng service ‘nyo. Too much data. Much better katulad na lang sa Pasig at Antipolo. One-time registration, save or print QR code, ‘yun na. Tapos very convenient, no internet needed,” said Jeh Ferreras in a Facebook comment.

(Passengers still have to use the internet to access the website, which your server may not be able to handle. Too much data. It’s much better if it would be like in Pasig and Antipolo. One-time registration, you just have to save or print your QR code, then that’s it. It’s very convenient, no internet needed.)

Residents, visitors, and employees working in some cities only have to register and download the QR code assigned to them, which will be scanned at establishments.

According to the MRT3 management, the contact tracing website was developed by its Support Division. Full implementation is targeted in February.

For now, manual contact tracing is still implemented for those who cannot access the site. Passengers write their details on paper.

Why not use StaySafe or Traze?

In November 2020, the national government’s coronavirus task force made the StaySafe app mandatory for entry in government offices and even private establishments. (READ: Gov’t goes full-throttle on StaySafe app, but user data concerns remain)

In that same month, the Department of Transportation also required the use of Traze in seaports and airports nationwide. It is a contact tracing app developed by the information technology experts of the Philippine Ports Authority and IT firm Cosmotech.

Asked why the MRT3 developed a separate site instead of using StaySafe or Traze, Capati pointed to “quick access” to information.

“Dinevelop ang MRT3 Trace, unang-una, para magkaroon ang pamunuan ng quick access sa information, na siyang numero unong kailangan para matugunan din nang mabilis ang mga sitwasyong kailangan ng agarang aksiyon, gaya ng positibong kaso ng COVID-19 sa mga pasahero,” he said.

(MRT3 Trace was developed for the management to have quick access to information, to swiftly address situations where immediate response is needed, such as cases of COVID-19 among passengers.)

Capati said the MRT3 “can make more improvements in the coming days” since the site is just on its soft launch.

In July 2020, the MRT3 recorded 202 train and depot personnel who tested positive for the coronavirus. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.