Paperless Pass-Code based Quarantine Passes to fight COVID-19 and protect the environment

It was yesterday morning when I posted on Facebook about using paperless passcode based quarantine passes instead of the paper-based passes currently being rolled out in many cities and provinces around the country in light of the endemic community quarantines imposed by both the local and national governments.

Although, the idea nonetheless easy. As you all need is just a list of people and generate a random number for each a control number and then later have them mass-printed and distributed to each household. Done. However, no matter how easy this may seem with many used to appreciating things that produced tangible outcomes or material (the physical ID itself). Hence, we sometimes overlook the logistical challenges, the environmental impacts of printing that much ID’s and of course the red-tape involved in distributing and then lastly, how much time do we have until the virus seeps through our defenses and countermeasures.

So simply put, we need an easy, convenient and timely release of ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) passes in the shortest period of time. But how will we do that? Especially, in highly populated and urbanized areas where many people could be living in a single household and or especially in the slums where houses were standing inches to each other. Thus, having our health workers or government skeletal staff scour these areas would have been super dangerous for them in light with this corona-virus pandemic.

Here’s how it should have been done. No Internet required.

First and foremost, let me put them step-by-step.

STEP 1 – The city will have to prepare the citizens master-list in a CSV file or surely they would have access to this data.

STEP 2 – Import this CSV file to a central-database and then generate a random code for each citizen. It can be first-letter of their first name and then last name and then their random number.

STEP 3 – The central database would then be connected to a software which authenticates checkpoint queries based on the pass-code provided.

So how does it work?

Basically, the policemen or soldiers patrolling the streets or doing checkpoints will then approach the civilian and ask for their pass-code. The civilian will then provide the pass-code and then policeman or soldier will send an SMS message to the central server querying the exact pass-code.

The server will respond ”ACTIVE

Also, since the first letter of their name and last name is in the code itself. The policeman or soldier will then ask for a supplemental ID card from the civilian to support  the authentication process as well.

If all matched up perfectly, the policeman can then ask the civilian to go where he is intended to go.

Why use SMS? Pretty simple. According to the a survey in 2013. That Filipinos roughly sends and receive 400 Million Text Messages every single day since then. If you imagine the total number of SMS capable handsets that would allow any policeman or Brgy patrolman to swiftly authenticate passcode? There’s a lot of them.

Also, it’s easy to procure SMS capable handsets than smartphones. The cheapest would cost only about 300 pesos. Especially old Nokia phones that actually still works.

And then lastly, cellular signal coverage is actually good according to the International Telecommunication Union with the Philippines attaining the  94.01% of the global telecommunication signal average when compared to over 138 countries.

Why is is this a great idea in the first place? Again, here’s the PRO’s

  1. Paperless meaning it doesn’t have any environmental impacts. Why is this the case? You should know that the paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy in the world. This over-use of paper has a significant impact on a company’s carbon footprint – not just from the chopping down of trees to make the paper. So let’s keep it nice and simple. No paper and no ink needed.
  2. Contactless distribution – Meaning, that health-workers and the remaining skeletal employees of each brgy or city don’t need to intermingle with possibly infected population. All they have to do is just announcing the list of people and their passwords or distribute the list to a designated representative of a particular area.
  3. Convenient and time-conscious – No need to do the mass – printing. Just generate the numbers and distribute. That is all there is. Of course, an app can easily be built with the SMS querying protocol. Telcos would actually be tapped to allow the unlimited authentication, SMS messages from their respective networks.

These are my ideas on how the government would tackle the distribution of the quarantine passes without having to print them. Good for the environment, easy and accessible for all.

Why aren’t they listening to this idea? Well, because physical and some tangible piece of government document — whether it be an Brgy clearance, permit, etc. Bearing the name of the current mayor or Brgy captain can surely be the most effective way of passive electioneering.

A propaganda boost of the incumbent administration to solidify its popularity among its constituents. Oh, it’s an age-old strategy. And this is how it works since the days of Caesar.

I hope the government would heed and follow this idea rather than indiscriminately printing out ID’s to each citizen. Just imagine how many cardboard or paper or even ink will be used in this endeavor?

The ultimate goal is speed up the distribution of quarantine passes, limit the exposure of government health workers and then lastly protect the environment by minimizing our carbon footprint in this tiny space-rock will live in today.


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