As the collaboration between Apple and Google towards developing a contact tracing app
makes headlines, India has been one step ahead in the technology forum to tackle the
pandemic and alert citizens. The Niti Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant had tweeted earlier that,
“privacy-first by design, secure, robust and scalable to billion users. Glad to see Apple and Google joining hands to develop contact tracing on the lines of Aarogya Setu.”
“Aarogya Setu App”
While states such as Punjab and Tamil Nadu have come up with their own apps to track the spread and alert citizens, the government of India launched the Aarogya Setu App on a national level which has had thousands of downloads till now and the data being collected is being tracked by a member panel committee to maintain privacy and analyze the relevant information.
The app uses location data from the people’s smartphones to alert users if they have recently come into contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Legal experts have aided the engineers in building three features into the app to protect and address the privacy concerns of the citizens.
‘South Economic Focus Report”
In light of the various technological initiatives being undertaken by several firms and the path being lead by the Indian Government, the World Bank released a report titled ‘South Economic Focus’ on Sunday, 12 April mentioning the efforts and praising the efforts of the Indian Government is leading the way for innovations.
The report highlighted the emergence and importance of technology in preventing the spread of the virus and collecting data on the pandemic to closely monitor the situation. The report spoke of how technological initiatives have been purely voluntary and successful in East Asia. It stated the example of the Indian app Aarogya Setu which is one of the first of its kind, inspiring many others such as Apple and Google to follow their footsteps in developing similar apps. The report stated that India has paved the way for such innovations. To address the privacy concerns regarding information entered into the apps, the report stated that these can be dealt with by legislating ‘sunset’ clauses on the tracking systems.
The report stated that these kinds of apps can be used to track the progress of the pandemic in larger countries as even the poorer sections have access to technology and maybe tech-savvy.
“Global Praise for India”
India has been seen as a leader in saving humanity, as stated by Trump as he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for lifting the export ban on the medical supply of Hydroxychloroquine.
Since then, several countries’ leaders have lauded India for their efforts in managing the
pandemic at an international level. With apps such as the Aarogya Setu App, India has once again stepped up to the task of leading the world in times of a global crisis. The efforts of the government and privacy tactics are being used as a model for large companies such as Apple and Google. The app has seen been pushed by all government agencies to ensure that the public downloads this app so that more efficient data can be collected and thus ensure better monitoring of activities. Further, this app sends the data to officials to ensure swift testing and vigilance to prevent further spread and contamination by the infected individuals.