With India's coronavirus cases soaring past 700 this week, the National e-Governance Division of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has developed a location-based COVID-19-tracking app.
Called the Corona Kavach, the app geo-traces users' location and lets them know if they've come in contact with a coronavirus-infected person. Its beta version on Google Play Store has notched up more than 10,000 downloads in two days.
MeitY wrote in the app listing, "This app is being developed in public interest to give information and capture the outbreak of coronavirus. The data will be used to conduct analysis and provide information about the active COVID-19 cases in India."
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Corona Kavach comes with additional features that can track your breathing capacity, and a survey form which lets you check symptoms, and guides you to see a doctor if need be.
It also includes government advisories and safety recommendations related to the novel coronavirus, and provides auto-updates.
The app asks for location access, after which you have to create an account through a simple mobile number verification.
The government believes that this app will help it monitor the status of the community spread of COVID-19, and keep citizens away from infected users. "Your location data stays offline and is shared only when there is a potential health risk," it states.
Interestingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also offered to share the virus-tracking software with other SAARC nations (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Bangladesh).
"This is a beta version of the mobile application, which is still undergoing final testing before its official release," MeitY added.
Prior to this, the government had also rolled out a WhatsApp chatbot - MyGov Corona Helpdesk - to spread awareness on the coronavirus in real-time.
When the chatbot receives a message, it uses machine learning (ML) to understand and address the query. Users can text on 93213-98773 to get all the required information. The government roped in conversational AI startup Haptik to build the tool.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)
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