Governments across the globe are trying their best to trace the Covid-19 infected citizens. In India, the government has been in touch with its citizens through its MyGov portal, with supportive communications on apps such as Whatsapp, Telegram and on social platforms. While these are for information sharing and to ensure citizens get the correct information as communicated by the Prime Minister’s Office, the apps and social platforms do not offer a comprehensive traceability of the infected persons. At this point, various state governments and the central governments have expressed interest in working with the tech community in the country to come up with solutions to manage the situation.
In the last two weeks, as soon as some of the major Indian cities went on high alert, a number of startups came up with solutions to detect and track Covid-19 patients. The proposed consortium called ‘Founders against Covid-19’ ideated an app called Quarantine or Q-app that would help map the infected and quarantined people, at the same time maintain privacy related to the identities of the infected people. Founders of Urban Company, Udhyam.org, Vokal and Bounce, along with angel investors from Startup Village, are at the core of this initiative.
This is also aimed at creating and disseminating information related to the pandemic to the users. The work in progress app, as reported by the group in the week of March 23, is awaiting confirmation from the government to launch soon.
MacApp Studio, a Chennai based tech startup, says it has built and tested an end-to-end solution to track, enable quarantine and manage the crisis, all this in less than three weeks. Called TraceCovid-19, this free offering to the government enables tracing the location and complete travel history of the infected persons, irrespective of whether they are Indians or foreign tourists.
According to Suresh Kumar G, co-founder and CEO, MacApp Studio, the location services offered by Android and iOS devices, although they track the location history of users, provide a very scattered view of the movements of citizens which becomes difficult for health organisations and governments to track. “We made both, an app for users and analytics dashboard for organisations in record time. Anyone who gets on the app will be able to see in one place, the Covid-19 cases around them, which makes it convenient for them to plan their movement and convenient for the organisations to mark red zones,” he explains.
The startup is also in talks with the South African government, to modify the offering to also track users who do not use smartphones. “By partnering with telecom service providers and using the telecom infrastructure, we would enable the South African government to track mobile phone users just using their phone numbers. We will still be able to preserve privacy and the identity of the infected people,” he says. The app is also designed to aggregate news from trustworthy sources and provide it for users in one place.
Another self reporting based offering, StrandedHere.org, from Singapore, is meant for communities to look out for people who maybe stranded during the lockdown in various parts of the world. “You create an account, fill in your details—name, current location, nationality and health status— and we collate this information into an easily accessible directory that allows you to look up anyone by nationality or current location or even name, once you’re registered,” says Lara D’Souza, who has co-created the portal.
When it comes to citizen monitoring, Staqu, a Gurugram based AI startup has launched a thermal camera earlier this week that can detect heat signatures and report to the backend. The temperature criterion for Covid-19 detection is said to be at 37-degree Celsius and as reported by the company, its cameras can detect this from a range of 100 meters which would help medical workers in crowded public places like malls, airports and bus stands.