Globally, the number of positive cases stand at 336,000, with death toll at 14,641. In India, cases have surged to 390, including six deaths. Karnataka had 26 cases, with one death.
One such solution called ‘Q-app’ or quarantine app, expected to go live this week, aims to live-track those in home quarantine as well as provide colour-coded information to identify areas with large number of positive cases.
“This is to enable people to self declare their home quarantine and then use that to build a zoning strategy which the government could use," said Mekin Maheshwari, founder, Udhyam Learning Foundation.
There is an urgent need for such solutions as people have been violating home quarantine conditions posing a threat to India's already strained public healthcare system.
“The value addition that we are bringing on board is the technology that startups are good at," says Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founder Vokal, a peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform.
Borrowing a leaf out of south Asian countries that have effectively tried such a system, the entrepreneurs have been ideating and testing solutions that help enforce imposed social distancing with the use of technology, while validating Bengaluru’s credentials as India’s innovation capital.
The core group, that was formed last Monday, includes Abhiraj Singh Bhal, co-founder of services startup, Urban Company, Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO and co-founder of app-based two-wheeler rental startup, Bounce, entrepreneur and angel investor Alok Mittal and Sanjay Vijaykumar of Startup Village.
The group is not only building the “Q-App" but also looking at creating content and dissemination of information in vernacular languages as well as solutions for medical supplies.
There are at least four versions of solutions that include mobile and web-based apps that would be handed over to the Karnataka government.
“This is a tool and becomes effective with the amount of input," Radhakrishna said.
He added that mapping the movements of an infected person would be among the several applications of the app.
Radhakrishna explained that that the app would send push notifications through the day, expecting those in home quarantine to respond. The live tracker would match it with the home location to ensure the person is at home.
The mismanagement and lapses in earlier cases aside, the Karnataka health department has been scrambling to find ways to trace contacts and contain the spread of the disease.
The department has deployed at least 500 teams of two (one beat constable and one health worker) in Bengaluru to find and stamp around 35,000 people who returned from overseas destinations and place them in home quarantine. About 3,390 people in Karnataka are under home quarantine.
Dr Ashwath Narayan, deputy chief minister, who also handles information technology, biotechnology, science and technology portfolios, has expressed interest in the solutions and apps in the works.
The team, that has grown to over 300 members (in multiple groups) and includes researchers, developers and even government representatives, continues to ideate on other possible solutions to the crisis on hand.
One such solution is to create and manage a Telegram group of doctors from various parts of the globe who can share their learnings with each other that would help combat the spread of the virus.