Coronavirus: 7 contact tracing and patient monitoring apps being used by India
The hottest trend in tech right now is COVID-19 contact tracing and patient monitoring.
Since it was established that the coronavirus is transmitted through close proximity to affected individuals, public health officials have identified technology as a key element that can contain the spread.
Technology is helping government and health officials monitor active cases, recoveries, and quarantined citizens. Not only this, coronavirus apps are also helping citizens stay connected with essential services like groceries and medical supplies.
Conversations around contact tracing and COVID-19 tech got a boost last week when tech titans Apple and Google joined hands to develop a new technology around it. The companies said the tool would be native to iOS and Android smartphones, and would involve the use of Bluetooth.
The solution will “include APIs and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy,” they said in a joint statement.
Reports suggest that the first version of Apple-Google’s contact tracing API would be available to developers next week. It is likely to be a decentralised system that will not capture geographical data.
But before that rolls out, here are some India-centric tools and applications already in use — locally or nationally. These are government-backed services for public good.
Aarogya Setu became the world’s fastest app to cross 50 million downloads when it achieved the feat in a fortnight. The contact tracing app has been developed by the National Informatics Centre under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), and is available in 11 languages.
Aarogya Setu uses a smartphone’s Bluetooth and GPS systems to alert users when they come within six feet of COVID-19 patients.
The alerts are generated by scanning through government-owned, location-specific databases. They are accompanied by instructions from the Ministry of Health on how to self-isolate, and the course of action required when citizens develop symptoms of coronavirus.
Several startups like Zomato, Urban Company, and others have mandated their workers to use the app. Aarogya Setu has been India’s top-ranking app since launch.
Quarantine Monitor, built by the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency, monitors people who are quarantined as per the state’s official database.
It assists the Department of Health and the Tamil Nadu Police for effective tracking and information management of COVID-19 cases and people with foreign travel history over the last two months.
The app enables live location tracking once installed, and generates alerts and information, which are sent to state government authorities.
Quarantine Monitor has notched up 100,000+ downloads in a month.
MahaKavach is the brainchild of the Maharashtra State Innovation Society and the National Health Authority. It tracks suspected COVID-19 cases or those who are quarantined in facilities across Maharashtra.
It is essentially a geo-fencing app that tracks the user’s location to determine if they came in close contact with infected people. MahaKavach urges citizens to contribute to the state’s contact tracing process by sharing location history and contacts of people they may have met or travelled with.
It is being used by government officials to identify people who defy quarantine instructions. So, for instance, if a COVID-19 suspect goes beyond a pre-defined radius, the app automatically alerts local health authorities, who take disciplinary action.
Users can update their quarantine status, testing dates, and other relevant health information on the app. MahaKavach has crossed 10,000 downloads in a month.
Built by the Revenue Department of the Government of Karnataka, Quarantine Watch helps state authorities keep a track of people under watch by asking them to ‘self report’ while in quarantine.
The government is urging users to upload a selfie every hour while they are in the 14-day isolation period. If the GPS coordinates change, they will be sent to a government-run mass quarantine centre.
Users have to register themselves on the app by entering personal details like name, phone number, residential address, district, symptoms, and travel history. Quarantine Watch also provides health helpline numbers.
The app has crossed 10,000 downloads on Google Play Store.
COVA Punjab is a multipurpose app developed by the Government of Punjab. The app allows citizens to check distance from their nearest COVID-19 patient.
It lets users alert the district administration if a quarantined patient or coronavirus suspect moves beyond 100 meters of their location. To ease the lives of locals during lockdown, the government recently launched on-demand delivery of essential goods through the app.
It also provides a real-time dashboard of COVID-19 cases and recoveries, district-wise hospital information, helpline numbers, symptom trackers, preventive measures, updates from the health ministry, and more.
COVA Punjab has crossed half a million downloads, and ranks among the Top 10 ‘health and fitness’ apps on Google Play Store. It is available in English, Hindi, and Punjabi.
San Francisco-based healthtech startup Innovaccer has built the Test Yourself app, which is being used by the governments of Goa and Puducherry. The app sends users self-evaluation tests whenever they book appointments at healthcare units.
Potential patients are urged to screen themselves by taking a survey related to coronavirus symptoms. The app also provides guidelines on quarantine, use of face masks, advisories on social distancing, list of nearby health centres, and transportation to isolation wards.
Test Yourself Goa has recorded 50,000+ downloads, while Test Yourself Puducherry has hit 10,000+ installs on Google Play Store.
The app is available in English, Hindi, Konkani, and Tamil.
GoK Direct - Kerala
The Government of Kerala, which has been hailed for being very proactive in its management of the health crisis, has launched the GoK Direct Kerala app in partnership with Qkopy (a local social communication platform).
The multilingual app is focussed on spreading awareness and disseminating credible information and announcements related to the coronavirus.
Users can also enable WHO alerts in the app settings. They can also get quarantine protocols, travel guidelines, and general safety tips.
The app is available in English, Hindi, Malayalam, and Bengali, and has racked up 100,000+ downloads in less than two months.
Edited by Megha Reddy