Affirming the role of digital technology
On June 3, 2020, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed Decision No. 749 approving the "National Digital Transformation Programme by 2025, with a vision to 2030", its target being to turn Vietnam into a digital country by 2030, with stable and prosperous development and pioneering the testing of new technologies and models. Of which, the scheme plans to fundamentally and comprehensively renovate the management and administration of the Government, as well as the production and business activities of enterprises and the living and working of the people, while developing a large-scale, safe and humane digital environment. The national digital conversion programme also aims to both develop digital the government, the digital economy and digital society, and help Vietnamese digital enterprises be more capable of integrating further into the international arena with a number of basic specific indicators set by 2025 and 2030. According to experts, digital and tech enterprises are the core, responsible for building the foundation as well as leading the national digital transformation process. Currently, domestic tech giants and ICT corporations like VNPT, Viettel, FPT, CMC and VNG are actively participating in the process of building platforms and digital conversion ecosystems in Vietnam. Amid the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic since the beginning of 2020, the role of Vietnamese tech enterprises has been further promoted, especially in the programme on tech enterprises and Make-in-Vietnam products launched by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC).
MIC Minister Nguyen Manh Hung said Vietnam has witnessed significant progress in the development of tech businesses since the Make-in-Vietnam strategy was implemented. After a year, more than 13,000 digital tech enterprises have been established, up 28%. Vietnam's digital tech business community currently has over 58,000 companies – a record number, as at first, the project was expected to see only 6,000 enterprises a year at its peak. With the current implementation speed, the set target of 100,000 digital businesses by 2030 can be achieved by 2025. According to Minister Hung, Make-in-Vietnam is an action slogan, as instead of outsourcing or assembling, let us make the products ourselves: “From Ncovi, Bluezone and CoMeet, to online learning platforms, remote medical consulting, remote accounting and management platforms for small and medium-sized enterprises as well as micro-businesses, Vietnam has been perhaps the world leader in creating digital platforms during the COVID-19 era. If we did not master the technologies and didn’t have Make-in-Vietnam, we wouldn't be so. Rapid response is a vital factor in this very unpredictable era.” The minister especially emphasised the importance of technology in the fight against COVID-19, saying the country’s strategy in the future is to build a digital Vietnam. Therefore, Make-in-Vietnam needs a long-term vision and appropriate strategies for each stage. 2021 is expected to be a year of strong development of Vietnamese technologies. Make-in-Vietnam will solve Vietnam's technological issues, thus helping our country to successfully implement the digital transformation process as well as continuing to develop strongly and sustainably.
The interface of the Bluezone app.
On April 18, 2020, the Bluezone mobile app, designed to protect the community against COVID-19 and developed by Bkav Corporation, was officially launched by the MIC and the Ministry of Health in the presence of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Bluezone was considered a breakthrough in the use of technology to prevent and fight the epidemic at that time. The app is a solution that applies Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) positioning technology. Smartphones with Bluezone installed can communicate with each other up to a distance of two metres, recording close contact with other users. This is the ultimate technology for controlling contact tracing. When detecting a positive case (F0) for COVID-19, instead of quarantining thousands of people, we only need to isolate a few dozen people. This idea in Vietnam was formed early, almost at the same time as many other countries around the world. The result was the introduction of Bluezone. Although Vietnam was not the first country to introduce this solution, the Vietnamese software basically solved omissions or issues related to optimal operation which some similar software previously encountered.
The Bluezone app gathers intelligence from many groups of developers from various Vietnamese digital tech enterprises, including Memozone, VNPT, MobiFone and Bkav, of which Bkav was the unit in charge of operating the system. According to Nguyen Tu Quang, Bkav CEO, Bluezone is a non-profit project of Bkav. “It's our pleasure to be part of this project. With Bluezone, from the beginning we set up a team in our research institute of about 10 people. We continue to gather statistics and create new research methods in the hope of participating in useful projects to prevent and fight the epidemic. One day I received a call from the Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung about organising tech groups to work on the issue of using Bluetooth. I was very happy and immediately gathered a team of nearly 100 people to take part in the fight against COVID-19.”
According to Quang, once Bluezone is installed, during daily activity, when users interact with each other, the app on their phones "talk" with one another. If a close contact is detected (within a distance of two metres), the device will record in its log. If a COVID-19 infection case (F0) is detected, the infected person's data will be imported onto the system and then transferred to all devices in use. The Bluezone mobile app will then compare the F0 data with the previously recorded exposure history. If it detects that the device has been exposed to an F0 for a sufficient time, the system will notify the user (F1) of a possible risk of infection. Bluezone can even provide specifics on when and for how long you were exposed to the F0. The application will also provide the contact of the competent health authority and recommend the user make contact for guidance and assistance. When the authorities receive F1 data, they will continue to enter such data on the system to warn the next F in a rapid and accurate manner. By mid-December 2020, over 23 million Vietnamese users had installed and used Bluezone, and during the process of review and inspection, more than 100 cases of F1 and F2 out of the known list were detected using the app. According to an assessment from leaders from the MIC and Ministry of Health, Bluezone is considered a breakthrough in the use of technology to prevent and control epidemics.