With India fighting the second wave of Covid-19, India Today takes a deep dive into the Aarogya Setu app, created for contract tracing. The mobile application launched last year by the government with a lot of fanfare as India's prime arsenal in the battle against COVID has lost its sheen, but not perhaps not its entire utility. The common man and experts differ on their opinion on the app. So we hit the ground to find out how the app was faring.
The app is amongst dozens of apps sitting in your mobile phone but it is energy-consuming as the Bluetooth needs to be on for the app to work. The App which would tell you whether you are safe or in the red zone. A year down the line, there are mixed reactions.
Two women Saritha and Sangeeta are on a shopping trip to Janpath. Sairtha says I have not downloaded the application. Sangeeta says I have downloaded it but it is in the other phone. I have not brought it to the market. But yes it has utility.
The app which was made mandatory to be downloaded on smartphones for air travel now hardly figures in the scheme of things-
A working woman Kriti says I have the app. But I doubt its utility now. Not everyone has an android phone. So what's the point. Earlier it was used for air travel and metro, but no one seems to be asking. " Further she says " My office initially made it compulsory. but no longer."
Tony Chawla, Janpath market association secretary says " I find the application useful. It gives me daily feedback on what is going on." Unfortunately, we don't have much utility now as shop's are near empty even after a year of covid.
In an interesting move the Delhi Court grants bail to Umar Khalid in Delhi Riots cases concerning the Khajuri Khas FIR. As a bail condition, Judge Vinod Yadav directs Khalid to install the Aarogya Setu App in his phone.
So how many users are there on the App. As per information available on the app, there are 17,50,00,000 downloads 26,20,03,415 total samples tested. With 13,84,549 samples tested till April 14th."
They are occasionally updated on the app but hardly anything substantial to counter the fresh spike in covid cases. But doctors and cyber experts have different opinions.
DG CSIR Shekhar Mande says it is a fantastic app and you need to keep Bluetooth on for contract tracing. In my office, we could do contract tracing. So it works. I counter him. I was positive with my aadhar and other details but the app never showed me positive. So it may have worked in some ways and not showing exact results. But the made in India system is India's response mechanism while several have doubted the privacy issues.
Another Doctor Mohsin Wali says " There are people who tried to defame it but the utility of the app is there. It needs to be updated.
But there are others who are critical of the application. Doctor Sanjeev Bagai says It is a good application but we need to have it recalibrated and enhanced with artificial intelligence. It should have comorbidities, and other details like digital track records. one seamless collective avenue. The name wellness or keeping a good healthy lifestyle should be the theme. The Aarogya Setu should be renamed as Covid wellness or a wellness app.
Cyber expert Pawan Duggal says " we are in the second wave, the aarogya is with all of us. It performs statutory functions but it collects a lot of data. Where is the data used. who will access it. It is not clear whether it does not violate your privacy. How Aarogya Setu is in sync with cyber law.
With covid spike staring Indians in the face this is a defence mechanism you may opt to have as an additional safety . But the choice is yours.