Now that it has taken over our lives, humanity needs to find a way around it.
We desperately need quick fixes that can track, identify, monitor, and contain the spread of the deadly virus. We also need to be more aware, informed, and updated.
But, are there enough tools and services to tackle a crisis that has assumed gigantic proportions? Can technology come to the rescue and expedite action?
As popular science author Yuval Noah Harari described eloquently in his viral essay titled The World After Coronavirus, “Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes.
Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours. Immature and even dangerous technologies are pressed into service, because the risks of doing nothing are bigger.”
In the last few weeks, Indian entrepreneurs have started countrywide hackathons to develop utility solutions to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Some have even partnered with local governments and agencies to launch apps, real-time trackers, information guides, and so on to keep citizens abreast of all that is happening.
On Thursday, the government announced Aarogya Setu, a coronavirus tracking and self-assessment app that connects Indian citizens with essential health services.
YourStory draws up a list of some other tools and platforms that can come in handy.
Corona Kavach has been developed by the National e-Governance Division of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
It is a location-based app, which traces your geographical coordinates and informs you whenever you come in contact with a coronavirus-infected person.
The data collected is used by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to conduct analysis and provide information about active COVID-19 cases in India. The location data stays offline and “is shared only when there is a potential health risk.”
Corona Kavach also lets you check symptoms for coronavirus, and guides you to doctors and nearby facilities if required. You can download the app from Google Play Store, and log in through an OTP-based verification. The iOS app is still in the works.
Covid Visualiser has been developed by Carnegie Mellon University professors Navid Mamoon and Gabriel Rasskin. It offers a simple, dual-coloured, interactive world map visualising the impact of coronavirus across territories.
You can click on any country to track the number of active coronavirus cases, deaths, and recoveries in the region.
The map sources from Worldometer, a platform that provides real-time data and statistics on the coronavirus from credible advisories issued by public health authorities and local governments.
“We wanted people to be able to see this as something that brings us all together. It’s not one country, or another country; it’s one planet, and this is what our planet looks like today,” wrote the creators of Covid Visualiser.
This is India’s crowdsourced COVID-19 tracker that displays a state-wise breakdown of coronavirus cases under four categories: active, confirmed, recovered, deceased.
You can further click on States/Union Territory to access the micro-data from a dropdown menu.
It tracks the district-wide spread of COVID-19 in each state, displays interactive maps and daily progression through line graphs.
COVID19India.org also houses a crowdsourced patient database, and the source of transmission (imported/local/community). Identities are hidden. The data is updated every hour. You can also join its Telegram channel if you wish to collaborate.
MapMyIndia COVID-19 Guide
Homegrown navigation platform MapMyIndia has developed a real-time coronavirus guide that displays location-specific data on active cases, nearest sample collection and testing labs and government-approved isolation and treatment facilities.
Besides obtaining state-specific health advisories, updates on lockdowns and other information, the dynamic dashboard also lets individual users add photos and post reviews of testing centres, available amenities, hygiene levels, and more.
MapMyIndia has also released its APIs for developers to integrate the dashboard in their respective platforms.
DROR Social Distancing Tracker
How do we ensure that we’re adequately distanced from another person so as to ‘flatten the curve’ and break the chain of coronavirus transmission?
Personal safety network DROR has rolled out an in-app feature that lets users check their social distancing score of the last 14 days (the coronavirus incubation period) by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals with phones in close proximity.
The DROR app uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to process the information and alerts its users if they are close to a “high volume of human contact”. This technology helps improve ‘contact tracing’ which is a critical element in the detection of coronavirus.
Earlier, that process was entirely dependent on the patient’s recollection, but that was limiting because people weren’t always aware of every human contact they had made, especially in cases like group events, long-distance travel, etc.
Prior to this, fitness startup GOQii had also launched a Contact Tracking feature on its app that collected users’ location, date/time of travel and transportation details.
Phrazor.ai has been developed by Bharat Innovation Fund and Falcon Edge Capital-backed startup vPhrase.
It is an AI-enabled platform, which tracks regional outbreaks and shares real-time insights on COVID-19 cases. The data is available in English, and a few regional languages: Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, and Telugu, making it more accessible for average Indians.
The platform uses advanced NLG (natural language generation) technology to do a live analysis of data collected from reliable sources, and converts it into quick, snack-sized, and easy-to-understand findings and insights.
MyGov Corona Helpdesk
The MyGov Corona Helpdesk is a WhatsApp chatbot developed by the central government in association with conversational AI startup Haptik.
It was launched in February to curb the spread of rampant coronavirus-related fake news and misinformation on WhatsApp (which has 400 million users in India). You can simply text +91 90131 51515 to get all your queries answered in real-time.
The chatbot offers a wide range of information related to the COVID-19 pandemic in an easily digestible format – short texts, emojis, etc.
It includes symptom checks, preventive measures, myth busters, health and travel advisories, official government helplines, links to public health resources, and more.
You can also access regular updates on the MyGov Corona website.
Health tech startup DocOnline has launched an automated chatbot to help people evaluate symptoms, and classify them based on risk levels: low, medium, or high.
Users can book free consultations on the DocOnline app and website or by calling 88221 26126. Doctors are available to speak, chat, or do a video call with patients.
“Experts are urging patients not to visit healthcare facilities unless it is an emergency. In this situation, our doctors will help manage health conditions in the safety and comfort of the patient’s home,” DocOnline said in a statement.