A World Bank report said innovative solutions could help educate and track contagion across the populations

India has stolen a march over other global tech giants by launching the Aarogya Setu app which helps significantly in contact tracing and curbing the spread of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic with experts and multilateral agencies terming it as a useful innovation to stop the disease from spreading.

Days after the launch of the app, global tech majors Apple and Google said on Saturday that they were building a software into smartphones that would help in contact tracing and inform users whether they were in touch with Covid-19 infected persons.

“India leads the way in contact tracing for Covid-19: privacy first by design, secure, robust and scalable to billion users. Glad to see Apple and Google joining hands to develop contact tracing on the lines of Aarogya Setu,” NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant said on Twitter tagging Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.


Citing the example of the app, a World Bank report released on Sunday said innovative solutions could greatly help educate and track contagion across the populations at large.

“Digital technologies can also be used to monitor the spread of Covid-19. Such initiatives, largely voluntary, have been successful in helping combat the pandemic in East Asia. Incentives also can be provided to those who report symptoms. India recently launched an app, Aarogya Setu, that uses location data from persons’ smartphones to tell users if they have been near someone who tested positive for Covid-19,” said the South Economic Focus report of the World Bank.

“Privacy concerns can be dealt with by legislating sunset clauses on tracking systems. The region houses many poor and uneducated households that are nevertheless tech-savvy, and the innovative solutions technology could greatly help educate and track contagion across the populations at large,” the report said.

Kant said this was a world-class app aimed at helping curb the spread of the disease.

“The app has been developed with a whole of India approach and has been possible with public-private partnership with the best expertise,” Kant told TOI.

The government has been on a drive to popularise the app and has explained that adequate precautions have been taken with regard to privacy. Legal experts also said there are three features that have been built into Aarogya Setu to preserve privacy.

“First, personal information is de-identified at registration so that thereafter the app only uses a unique device identity to identify you, not your name or any other personal information. Second, the information that the app collects— those you come in contact with and your location information—is kept on the phone by default. It is only sent to the NIC servers when you have either come in contact with an infected person or where your probability of being infected is high,” Rahula Matthan, partner at legal consulting firm Trilegal told TOI.

“Finally, data that is collected by the app, both that which remains on your device and which has been uploaded to the servers are purged on a regular basis,” said Matthan.

Courtesy: The Times of India

The Times of India