Written by Nanki Vacher, a grade 6 student
Aarogya Setu is a mobile app developed by the Indian ministry of electronics and IT to help citizens identify their risk of contracting Covid-19. The app keeps the user informed if she/he has crossed paths with someone who has tested positive for COVID19. The tracking is done through Bluetooth and location-generated social graph, which can show your interaction with anyone who has tested positive.
The stated purpose of this app is to spread awareness of covid19 and to connect essential covid19- related health services to the people of India.
The app augments initiatives of the Department of Health to contain covid19 and shares best practices and advisories. It is a tracking app that uses the smartphone’s GPS and Bluetooth features to trace the coronavirus infection. By scanning through a database of known cases in India, the app tries to determine if a person has been near (within six feet of) a covid19 infected person. Using location information, it determines whether the location an individual is in belongs to one of the infected areas based on the data available.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tweeted in support of the app, urging everyone to download it. It has been made mandatory for citizens living in containment zones and for all government and private sector employees. Noida, a suburb of the capital, Delhi, has made it compulsory for all residents to have the app, saying they can be jailed for six months for not complying. Food delivery start-ups such as Zomato and Swiggy have also made it mandatory for all staff.
The main concern about the app is that it stores location data and requires constant access to the phone’s Bluetooth, which makes it invasive from a security and privacy viewpoint. The app allows the authorities to upload the collected information to a government-owned and operated server, which will provide data to the people carrying out medical and administrative interventions necessary in relation to COVID19. The app builders, however, insist that at no point does it reveal the user’s identity.
This is what the Aarogya Setu app is about and you should go ahead and download it too.
Written by Nanki Vacher