Arogya Setu- the Mobile Application
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the second phase of lockdown till May 3. The government of India is encouraging every citizen to download this location-based mobile application namely Aarogya Setu. Going forward, the plan is to use it as an e-pass for people to move around the city freely if the users’ app shows green color with a “you are safe” message on the screen.
The government is roping in industry leaders such as Mahindra & Mahindra Chairman Anand Mahindra and Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran to be part of a panel tasked with developing a technology platform to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak. The panel will also help to improve the Arogya Setu app, keeping privacy issues in mind, within three months.
The China government used a color-coded smartphone app to check the movement of people. This new feature is under development and will soon be introduced.
Arogya Setu is a COVID-19 contact tracing app developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. It detects and tracks the user’s movement with the help of GPS and Bluetooth sensors and sends a notification if they come in contact with infected people by using its database and algorithms.
“Aarogya Setu” Mobile App is an important weapon in the fight against COVID-19. It is critical because if someone is tested positive, people who came in contact with them can be identified,” Prof. K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India had told India Today TV in an interview. He highlighted that in times to come the government is mulling using this app as an e-pass to facilitate travel from one place to another.
How the ‘Arogya Setu app works?
The Aarogya Setu app can be downloaded from the “Google Play Store” and “Apple App Store”. On opening the app, it needs permission to access the Bluetooth and the location of the mobile phone. The app works only when registered with a mobile number and verified via an OTP. An optional form is also shown which asks for personal details such as name, age, occupation, and foreign travel history in the last 30 days.
There is a ‘Self-Assessment Test’ feature on the Arogya Setu App. In this, some questions related to the health and symptoms of the user are also asked. Based on the answers, the app shows the risk level in the green and yellow color codes.
If it is a green color code and the text says ‘you are safe’ then there is no risk. If it shows a yellow color code displayed with the text, ‘You are at high risk’ then you should contact the helpline. The app also suggests action items for stopping the spread of the coronavirus, such as social distancing, hygiene, and staying-at-home precautions.
While right now, the app really doesn’t seem to be of much use, it is only when its use is made mandatory and everyone is using it is when the BlueTooth and location features of the app will kick into action. As more and more people use it and enter their details, the app can warn users if they are coming near a COVID-infected person or even someone who has come in contact with a COVID patient.
Once lockdown restrictions go and movement is allowed, it can also warn citizens if one is entering a high-risk zone. This app becomes the No.1 free app in the Indian mobile application market.
Chinese Government step:
The Chinese government had joined hands with tech giants Alibaba and Tencent for the color-coded health rating system to track millions of people daily. The system assigned three colors to people — green, yellow, or red — based on their travel and medical histories. Whether a person should be quarantined or allowed in public spaces was decided based on the color code.
Citizens had to log in to the app using pay wallet services like Alibaba’s Alipay, Ant’s wallet, etc. Only those people who were assigned a green color code after they entered their details and health updates, were allowed in metro stations, offices, and other public places after using the designated QR code.
Further, checkpoints at most public places kept a stringent watch on the codes and body temperatures of people.
What about data privacy concerns?
While that is a legitimate concern, however, countries across the world including Singapore, the UK, and many European countries are using extensive mobile phone surveillance of citizens to track their movement. The app is available in 11 languages including English, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, and Odiya. So why are you waiting for me? Go ahead and download it and check.
“STAY HOME STAY SAFE”
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