Aarogya Setu, the contact-tracing app built by the Centre, has achieved some remarkable feat in the country’s fight against the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Data generated by it is helping identify and predict the hotspots early, somehow accurately identifying the people who need to undergo tests.
This comes at a time when several security experts and opposition parties have raised concerns over the privacy and safety features in the app.
According to an official note, the Aarogya Setu team has predicted more than 650 hotspots across the country at the sub-post office level, in addition to more than 300 emerging hotspots which could have been missed otherwise. This has been achieved by mapping the syndrome and trace history of Covid-19 positive people combined with their movement patterns and exposure to different regions. Just in Maharashtra, for example, the data generated by the app’s users has helped in identifying over 60 hotspots across 18 districts.
“Predictions made since April 13 have shown that every forecast hotspot has since been declared a real hotspot by the health ministry, 3 to 17 days after it was detected.
This ability to accurately forecast a hotspot is a much needed breakthrough, first of its kind in the world, which India will deploy as a powerful tool to contagion and help the world do the same,” a note issued by the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) and NITI Aayog said.
Aarogya Setu was developed with the goal of combining technology and data science to gain an information edge against Covid-19. Since its launch on April 2, the app has seen more than 96 million registrations, being the fastest mobile app to reach 50 million users globally.
Aarogya Setu has taken a comprehensive approach to Bluetooth-based contact tracing. By integrating with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) database, Aarogya Setu gets realtime testing alerts on Covid-19 positive cases across India. Using the Bluetooth-based interaction data from 12,500 people, who have tested Covid-19 positive so far and are using the app, more than 60,000 people are being assessed and alerted for self-isolation, quarantine or testing, depending on the degrees of risks.
“Out of the 8,500 people who have been tested from the set of people assessed as high-risk, more than 23 per cent have tested Covid-19 positive so far – an extraordinary testing accuracy,” said Ajay Prakash Sawhney, secretary, MeitY.
“The efficacy of testing recommended by Aarogya Setu thus is much higher than any testing protocol anywhere globally and manifolds higher than the current overall efficacy of testing in India, which stands at around 5 per cent.”