Indian govt to soon launch COVID-19 path tracing app

The Indian government is planning to launch a Coronavirus tracker app to help citizens fight against the pandemic. The app will help users check if they crossed path with patients that tested positive. The app will be available in English and all major Indian languages.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Niti Aayog are working on the development of the app. One app is being developed by MeitY while the second app is by Niti Aayog. Both the apps are being beta tested and examined in details by a separate committee. The committee will pick the best components from both apps and integrate them into one unified app. MeitY official said, “It was ultimately decided that both teams should take the best of both apps.”

MeitY’s app is called ‘Corona Kavach’, which will help users check if they have crossed paths with the patients who tested positive for coronavirus. The department has circulated the apk (Android application package) fo the app with beta testers.

The app tracks the location data of the smartphone using the phone number of the user. It matches the movements of the user with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data not eh backend. The data already has the movement software of patients who have tested positive for the virus. Kavach uses the Bluetooth technology for nearby tracking, which works similar to the open source TraceTogether app launched by the Singapore government.

Niti Aayog confirms that the beta is tested by at least 10,000 users on both Android and iOS. The app may give some issues around privacy and scalability. Considering the massive number of users that it will attract, scalability is going to be a big challenge. It might work well in lockdown since the location doesn’t change but MeitY and Niti Aayog have to consider scenarios post lockdown phase.