Aarogya Setu App:- As the world battles with the COVID-19 Pandemic; quarantine, social distancing, and regular handwashing have become the new norm.
India has gone a step ahead in this trajectory and launched the Aarogya Setu app earlier this month. The mobile application developed by the National Informatics Center which comes under the ambit of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology tracks COVID-19 cases and helps keep the users wary of any risk of exposure to an infected individual in their vicinity.
The application which is available in 11 languages including English can be downloaded from Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
Why Should You Download the Aarogya Setu App?
Earlier in an address to the nation, Prime Minister Modi pushed the citizens to download the application to stay abreast of information during the current coronavirus outbreak.
Soon thereafter a tweet by the NITI Aayog CEO, Amitabh Kant highlighted that Aarogya Setu has notched up more than 50 million downloads becoming the fastest ever application to reach this number globally in just 13 days. As India currently practices mass quarantine and social distancing by going under the second phase of lockdown; awareness of the situation is of primordial importance. This is where the recently launched Aarogya Setu application comes into play by tracking users on various parameters.
Aarogya Setu is being touted as a critical tool in the healthcare infrastructure to help monitor and manage the COVID-19 health crisis by measuring the risk of infection among individuals.
The application evaluates this by using algorithms, GPS systems of the device, Bluetooth Low Energy technology, and artificial intelligence. The location and Bluetooth generated social graph of the user then determines the risk of infection as high or low based on your interaction with a COVID positive patient.
The application is an initiative by the Government of India to break the chain of transmission of the virus. It works by proactively reaching out to the general public by educating them about relevant guidelines, risks, and advisories, all aimed at limiting the spread of the infection. The application allows:
Self-Testing and Risk Evaluation
- Once the app is installed, you need to register with a valid mobile number. It then asks you to switch the GPS and Bluetooth on to ensure tracking your proximity to other devices to help provide accurate safety updates to the user.
- The application has a feature that helps users to perform a self-assessment test wherein it seeks answers to some relevant questions regarding symptoms, any underlying health diseases, your travel history in the last 14 days, and interactions with any COVID positive patients or suspected individuals. It then evaluates your health status and provides you with the necessary suggestions and recommendations. It also sends a message on your phone if you need to be tested or alerts you if you have crossed paths with a COVID-19 positive patient.
Note: The self-assessment test is not a substitute for a medical diagnosis. It is rather designed to prevent panic hospital visits by evaluating the risk of infection. However, people suffering from severe symptoms must take this test and seek professional advice immediately.
The application is designed to serve registered individuals who have come in contact with a COVID positive patient to be notified, traced and supported with suitable medical intervention.
- As the application collects valuable data about the location of the users, it will enable the government to take timely steps to isolate an undiagnosed infected individual and quarantine suspected individuals.
- In the event of a detected confirmed case or a high risk of infection due to contact, the Government of India will reach out to those who have come in contact with you for the past 30 days.
The application also has a string of posters and videos that educate the users on the do’s and dont’s, safety measures and other valuable information regarding the pandemic. This will effectively help prevent the spread of fake news circulating in social media.
It also recommends ways to practice the primary preventive strategy of social distancing by:
- Avoiding handshakes
- Embracing Namaste’s
- Refraining from attending social gatherings
Aside from serving as an alert system, the Aarogya Setu app also provides credible information about the current situation update regarding the Pandemic in the country.
The COVID Updates section provides an overview of the total number of confirmed cases, those recovered and the ones dead across the country.
Additionally, it also breaks down the data to states and union territories.
The Aarogya Setu application was previously condemned for its flawed privacy policies, which allowed the collection of personally identifiable information that could be used beyond the said purpose. The new updated version of the application has addressed those legitimate security and privacy concerns. The key changes made included keeping tabs on data sharing, data management, data usage, and retention.
- Data collected is hashed with unique digital Id (DiD’s) is saved in the government’s secure servers.
- The data is encrypted in rest as well as in transit. Only DiD’s will be shared on proximity. No other user will have access to your personal information.
- All the data available for the individual that test negative shall remain available for 30 days while for confirmed cases, the data will be purged 60 days after their recovery.
The application has made the e-pass facility available on the application to smoothen the movement of only permitted individuals during the lockdown. If you are an essential service worker and have a pass issued in your name, it will automatically show up in the application in the e-pass section. The e-pass has an e-pass number that is a 6-digit alphanumeric ID, valid for your location issued by the state government.
The updated version of the application has an added feature wherein users can make donations to the PM Cares Fund, a dedicated national fund to deal with emergency disasters.
The novel nature of the coronavirus caused COVID-19, has taken the world by a storm ever since it gathered pace in January. Meanwhile, the confirmed number of cases in India breached the mark of 13295 and as many as 519 deaths have been reported as on 19 April 2020, 17:00.
With the rampant surge in the number of cases, it is essential to stay aware of how far do we stand in our fight against the coronavirus. The Aarogya Setu app may come off as a helping hand in this direction as it helps provide mindful insights about the recent developments, necessary recommendations by the Health Ministry and situational awareness of our near vicinity to help the country manage the COVID-19 Pandemic.