Cracking The Code

Forbes India|June 19, 2020

Cracking The Code
Government makes Aarogya Setu app—used to gather information and tackle the spread of coronavirus—open source, but experts say that’s not enough to quell privacy fear
NAINI THAKER

At a time when the coronavirus compelled countries to bring life to a standstill, Niti Aayog and the ministry of electronics and information technology in mid-March roped in 50+ volunteers to develop an application that would help control the spread of the virus in India. Named Aarogya Setu, the contact tracing application was launched on April 2 and is now available in 12 languages across platforms.

“It was built in a record 15 days and is being used by 110 million users in the country,” claims Abhishek Singh, CEO, MyGov, a citizen engagement platform founded by the government of India.

Using Bluetooth, Aarogya Setu captures information from other devices that has the app installed. For instance, if any of your contacts— people you have interacted within the last 14 days—has tested positive for the coronavirus, the app calculates your risk and recommends appropriate action. “Information about the same is also sent to health authorities to proactively administer necessary medical intervention,” says Singh.

The app is equipped with a selfassessment test, based on Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines. By integrating with the ICMR database through APIs, Aarogya Setu gets real-time testing alerts on Covid-19 positive cases. “Aarogya Setu has alerted more than 140,000 people so far of the potential risk of infection, through Bluetooth contacts traced from approximately 26,000 users who have tested positive,” says Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog.

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June 19, 2020