Aarogya Setu Becomes India’s Crucial Weapon in the Fight Against COVID-19
The COVID-19 outbreak has upended life all across the world. With no cure in sight, people are struggling to keep their heads above water. Until there’s a breakthrough, wearing masks, washing our hands, and following social distancing norms is the way forward.
According to the World Health Organization, contact tracing is another important step to break the chain of transmission. Once an infected person’s contacts are identified, they are informed of their contact status, monitored for early symptoms, given prevention information, and connected to essential health providers for follow-ups. This slows the undetected spread of the virus.
In India, Aarogya Setu, the contact-tracing mobile app, plays a pivotal role in the battle against Covid-19. The Government of India has made its installation mandatory at certain places and for public and private sector employees returning to work. Reportedly, the app might even come preinstalled on new phones.
Here’s a guide on the app’s functions, and two important updates.
How Does Aarogya Setu Work?
Developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), Aarogya Setu aims to inform its users about infection risks, best practices, and critical advisories that will help contain COVID-19 in India.
On downloading the app, users are asked a few important questions that must be answered as accurately as possible. This calculates the risk factor, after which they can see the number of active COVID-19 cases in their area within a radius of 500 metres, 1 kilometre, 2 kilometres, 5 kilometres, and 10 kilometres. The app allows users to perform a self-assessment to determine if they have symptoms and provides an alert if users come in close contact with virus-positive patients.
Aarogya Setu tracks infected people and known cases through Bluetooth and GPS location data. After downloading the app, users must switch on their location and Bluetooth options, and keep them on. The Bluetooth range is used as a proximity sensor.
In case a user comes across a virus-positive patient who is within this range, there is a possibility of contracting infection. If one of them is an infected patient, the other user receives an alert and the government receives a notification about a potential new case.
In terms of privacy, a user’s location and contact history are stored on the app and the user’s device. This information is uploaded to the cloud if there is a risk of the user infecting others. All the data is deleted on a 30-day rolling cycle.
Aarogya Setu is one of the fastest-growing apps in the world, with more than 10 crore registered users. It hit this milestone within 41 days of release. The app is available on the Google Play Store, Apple’s App Store, and the Jio Store.
Aarogya Setu Released for Jio Phones
Aarogya Setu was earlier available only on Android and iOS devices, and not on feature phones that run on basic software. This raised questions about its effectiveness, as low-income groups and senior citizens still use feature phones, and could get excluded from contact tracing. Reports estimate that there are 550 million feature phone users as compared to 450 million smartphone users.
In May 2020, the government made the app available for 50 lakh Jio Phones—a low-cost model that comes with 4G connectivity and VoLTE and runs on the KaiOS operating system.
Jio Phone user can download Aarogya Setu from the Jio Store. They must then create an account and switch on the location and Bluetooth services to access the app’s features.
Aarogya Setu Requires At Least iOS 10.3
The Aarogya Setu app is compatible with iPhones, iPads, and the iPod Touch. However, it will not work on models that don’t support iOS 10.3 or later versions. Users with older Apple devices must check whether their iOS versions can be updated to use the app. If you are facing problems with installing Aarogya Setu on your iPhone, contact us for quick iPhone repair services!
Meanwhile, to make things easier, the government could roll out updates that provide app access to people with old Android and iOS models, as well as those using feature phones. Several countries have their own contact tracing apps, and India can take inspiration from them to solve problem areas in privacy, outreach, and further development.