The second wave of COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire across India. Though the situation seemed under control and the country had finally relaxed by the beginning of 2021, this sense of victory against the virus after a year-long battle soon turned out to be a mirage. Soon after the assembly elections ended in different states of India, the second wave of COVID-19 gripped the country with a pace beyond imagination. At present, this second wave has assumed a much severe form than the first wave.
Even until a few months ago, while India was standing firm against the virus and was in a situation to provide free vaccine to several countries in need; today, the country is facing a completely opposite situation where it is in desperate need of help from others. Though countries like the US, Germany, UAE, China, and Pakistan have promised to extend help, India is still facing an acute shortage of Oxygen and the entire health sector is falling apart.
Looking at the acute shortage of hospital beds, oxygen supply, and the constant threat of catching the virus, a group of students from India’s premier engineering school the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) has developed a mobile application to help find solutions in times of crisis. The app will primarily help trace individuals who come in close contact with COVID-19 positive cases.
The team that developed the application comprises five students from IIT-Delhi named Vikas Upadhyay (PhD student from the computer science department), Gulsan Jahagid, Pankaj Singh (undergrad students from the computer science department), Anchal Sharma, and Arshad Nasser (PhD students, design department).
Reportedly, the five students came together to develop the application just over a week ago after the number of COVID-19 positive cases rose significantly in the ongoing second wave in India.
Apparently, the mobile application can identify people who have been near (within two metres) an infected person. The application uses Bluetooth technology and tracks the population who have been in close contact with any infected coronavirus positive patient.
As informed by the team, the application uses detailed, secure, and reliable tracking techniques. Besides proving information, the application will also help in spreading self-awareness among patients and encourage more people to get tested for the infection.
This application is a voluntary effort from the team of students. It is an open-source project not related to or supported by any mainstream activity of IIT Delhi’s Assistech Lab or Government of India.
Vikas Upadhyay who leads the team said that they have already piloted the application with 50 users from their friends and families. The application can be downloaded from http://www.cse.iitd.ernet.in/~vikas/covid-19/ .
Speaking with YourStory, Vikas said, “We are looking forward to collaborating with government bodies and agencies to work with us and deploy the application as soon as possible. We have not spent any money in developing the application, but if the government wants, they would require to host in a separate server, as the scale of usage will increase.”
“We are ready to work with the government and are open to taking their suggestions on developing or implementing something new on the application. It should quickly go to the field so that people can start using it,” he added.
How does the Application Work?
The application has three major verticles through which it works,
1. The primary function of the application is to spread awareness. The application spreads verified statistics through valid sources like that provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
2.Using Bluetooth technology, the application will detect and alert all those who have been in close proximity to any COVID positive person in the past days. The date and region of interaction within the radius of Bluetooth are also provided through the application.
The moment an individual does come in close contact with a COVID-19 positive patient, the app will automatically connect the user with the nearest healthcare facility. It will also provide additional guidelines for self-quarantine and supportive care guidelines.
3. User need to complete the one-time registration using their name, phone number, and age. The application requires Bluetooth permission and does not involve GPS tracking or sharing of personal data and information. Once the registration is complete, the app records the encrypted information of individuals interacting with each other or within two metres of distance. This information is then uploaded to a secured server.
What Updates does it Provide?
- Statistics of the person’s social distancing.
- Regular updates and notifications about the COVID-19 situation.
- Information on how many people (known and unknown) the user was in close contact with.
- In case of any contact with a suspected or confirmed COVID positive case, a preventive advisory from healthcare service providers.
- Self-quarantining guidelines to be followed and action to be taken.
- Alarm about maintaining social distancing.
Benefit for Healthcare Workers and Governments
- Easy and hassle-free backtracking of COVID-19 positive individuals.
- Rapid reach and alarming to all suspected and infected population to take preventive measures.
- Monitoring the global social distancing protocols and issues advisory.
- East classification and reaching out to the vulnerable part of the society to prevent any possible damage.