On April 02, 2020, Aarogya Setu, a mobile application was launched by the government of India in order to spread awareness of ongoing pandemic COVID-19 and to connect essential COVID-19 related health services to the people of India. The Union Health Ministry has requested the citizens to download this mobile application so that they can assess the risk of catching the novel coronavirus infection.
This application is developed by the National Informatics Centre that comes under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology. Aarogya Setu app was in the news as it crossed 100 million downloads just after 40 days of launch i.e. on May 13, 2020, made the app, one of the fastest-growing apps globally, and also ranked 7th on the global chart of most downloaded apps in the non-gaming category.
What is Aarogya Setu App?
Aarogya Setu mobile app is an Indian open-source cross-platform “Contact tracing, Syndromic mapping, and Self-assessment” digital service. This tracking app uses the smartphone’s GPS and Bluetooth to track the coronavirus infection. You can download this app on your Android or iOS mobile. It is available for both the operating systems. Through this app, you can determine the risk of being near of a COVID-19 – the infected person (within six feet) by scanning through a database of known cases across India. To curb the deadly virus, the earlier app released by the Government of India was called Corona Kavach. It is now discontinued and updated to Aarogya Setu.
Features of the App.
Let’s talk about the features of the Aarogya Setu app which has four sections namely
- User Status. It tells the risk of getting COVID-19 for the user. If you are safe you will get a green color signal in your profile.
- Self-Assess. It helps the users identify COVID-19 symptoms by asking a few personal questions related to current health and health history.
- COVID-19 Updates.
- E-pass integration. It also enables users to have E-pass for any interstate, inter-district movements.
- It also provides information about how many COVID-19 positive cases are likely in a radius of 500 m, 1 km, 2 km, 5 km, and 10 km from the user.
The app is built on a platform that can provide an Application Programming Interface (API) so that other computer programs, mobile applications, and web services can make use of the features and data available in Aarogya Setu.
What this App requires you to contribute?
- Device Location: Since it is a tracking app, it is recommended to always share your location so that true information about the active COVID-19 cases can be provided to you.
- Bluetooth: It also monitors your device’s proximity to another mobile device. The app recommends you to keep you Bluetooth ON at all times.
- Data Sharing: To make the app work to the best of its ability, it also asks you to give permission to share your personal data such as name, location, Mobile Number can be share. It is written on the app that the data will be shared with the government of India and not disclose in public at any time.
Where it is important to keep the app on your smartphone?
Aarogya Setu App is now made mandatory for all the employees to download the app and use it on a daily basis. On April 29, 2020, the central government made this compulsory so that one can monetize and be safe from the virus. The Government also announced that the application is mandatory for all living in the COVID-19 containment zone.
The Airport Authority of India on May 21, 2020, issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) stating that all departing passengers must be registered with the Aarogya Setu app. The Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri clarified that the app would be mandatory for any passenger boarding the flight.
Safety concerns on the app:
A French ethical hacker Robert Baptiste or Elliot Alderson (Twitter name) on May 05, 2020, claimed that there were security issues with the app in response to this the Indian government as well as the app developers thanked the hacker for his attention but dismissed his concerns over the security of the app. The app developers stared that no personal information of any user has been proven to be at risk.
Former Supreme Court Judge Justice B.N. Srikrishna also termed the government mandating the use of the Aarogya Setu app illegal.
Following the MIT Technology’s review to the Aarogya Setu app which gave 2 out of 5 stars to the app after analyzing the COVID contact tracing apps launched in 25 countries, on May 26, 2020, the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology made the source code of the Android app public. The Government of India has also launched a “bug bounty program” to promote transparency and ensure the security and integrity of the app.
This App is a great initiative by the government of India but the government should take all the precautionary measures to secure the public data.