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Digital Contact Tracing; How Effective Arogya Setu is?

After the spread of Coronavirus worldwide, many countries resorted to mobile apps for contact tracing. Countries had designed apps in the hope that they would overcome digital contact tracing and prevent diseases in a more effective and faster way than before. However, the concept of preventing the spread of Covid-19 through mobile apps was not tested and tested until early 2020. Apprehensions related to technology, influence, working methods, and most importantly the ethics of these apps were not attended to.


It has become clear that the work is not easy. According to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s Corona Warne app had 1.62 million downloads as of July 24. On the same day, tabloid newspaper Bild revealed that the app has not been working on the phone of millions of users for 5 weeks. Some Android operating systems prevented the app from running in the background for power saving. This means that the most important task of sending an alert to the user may be that it has stopped. However, the German Health Ministry has said that the problem has been fixed.


How to know if the app is successful? It is not clear how to measure success in the COVID 19 app business and it may never happen. This is a measure of how many downloads were made based on population, but it will be reduced if the app does not work properly or does not give reliable results.


Many contact tracing experts say that it is not easy to decide what the app’s role will be in preventing infection rates. Even if an app that is working properly and seeing increasing cases in the population. For example, such apps can work very well which does not store data in a centralized location, but there will be no central authority with data to give accurate information about how many people have been successfully warned about the risk of infection.


India’s Aurogya Setu App is at the forefront of downloads in terms of download count. It was made mandatory for the Government Employees to down the app. In April it was among the top 10 most downloaded apps. Only the big tech apps Zoom, TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger were ahead of it.


As of mid-July, Arogya Setu had 12.7 million downloads, according to data from Sensor Tower. 40 days after the app became available, it crossed the 100 million download mark, but the population of India is more than 130 crore. The probability of contact between two people who downloaded the app with less than 10 percent take-up is only 1 percent.


The two stars that Arogya Setu received in the ratings are the Technology Review of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology publishing a “COVID Tracing Tracker”. In this, COVID 19 tracker apps from all over the world will be reviewed. Under this review, apps are rated on a matrix of 5 and each matrix is ​​being given a star. In this, Arogya Setu has got two stars. Critics criticized the app for not having the same amount of revenue for millions of users, not restricting data collection, and collecting excessive data.

India is better than China and America, yet Arogya Setu has not been proved effective when compared to China and American apps. China’s health code system running on Alipay and WeChat platforms is also not transparent about the way they work and the data.

In the US, Apple and Google together have developed an exposure notification API, which is being used by many countries around the world. Health authorities in the US can also make apps according to the state. There is not a single national app here yet. Despite this, only a few states have promised to make an app using Apple-Google technology.

Small countries’ big success, More than 40% of people on the island with less than 4 lakh population have downloaded the COVID 19 app ranking C-19 within a month of launch. Ireland with a population of 5 million has also shown early success. The COVID Tracker app has been downloaded by 1.3 million people within 8 days of its launch in July.


The UK is struggling in terms of apps, while many countries around the world have achieved success in making apps, many countries, especially in Europe, have not been able to launch an app. The UK government faced considerable criticism for its response against the epidemic. There have been more than 45 thousand deaths here. Britain is one of the countries with the highest death rate. This country is struggling with the app and is facing a lot of criticism.


The UK has been considering preparing the NHS COVID 19 app since March and is yet to launch. Its original plan was changed in June and it was decided to use Apple-Google technology instead of its version, but it fell victim to technical problems.

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Parul Sharma
I am a media person with with an analytical writing approach. I write on Politics, Gender Issues and Economic Issues.

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