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J&K police personnel display Aarogya setu aap after installing on their mobile phones, in Reasi
J&K police personnel display Aarogya setu aap after installing on their mobile phones, in Reasi

Aarogya Setu App: How Bluetooth helps in identifying Covid-19 suspects

  • The government-owned application is being posed as the primary contact tracing tool in India
  • Many organisations are planning to include the app in their daily operations to identify potential cases

Many food-delivery services have mandated the use of Aarogya Setu app for their delivery personnel. The government-owned application is being posed as the primary contact tracing tool in India. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation, while announcing the second phase of the lockdown, he requested citizens of India to download and use the Aarogya Setu application to combat coronavirus.

The app is available on Google Play Store and has already registered over 50 million downloads and accumulated around 3 lakh reviews. The application acts as a one-stop solution for spreading awareness about Covid-19, helping self diagnose users, provide latest updates and even to store and display e-pass. However, the biggest function is to trace contacts and create a reliable network for the government to identify potential Covid-19 victims.

Once a user sets up their account on the application, the app asks for continuous Bluetooth access and even location data. The app then asks for some basic info that will help build data about the users. The information includes age, gender, name, health status and also asks for the countries that the user has been to in the past few weeks. The application also asks if the user belongs to any one of the exempted category of professionals. Then it asks if the user will be willing to help in times of need.

In the next step, a self-assessment test is put forward where the user is asked about their current health and whether they are showing any of the symptoms of Covid-19. The user will also have to declare their travel history. In case you're a doctor, the app will ask if you were exposed to Covid-19 patients. Depending on the answers, the app will suggest a way forward.

How does contact tracing work?

Access to Bluetooth is key for the app to establish close range proximity between two people. When two smartphones with Aarogya Setu installed come in each other's Bluetooth range the app will collect information. If one of the two people have already tested positive, the app will alert the other person and in the process allow the government to trace potential cases.

The alerts are accompanied by instructions to help self isolate and even provide support if you develop symptoms.

Many organisations are planning to include the app in their daily operations to identify potential cases. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is planning to include the app in their standard operating procedure (SOP). The issuance of e-pass could act as the main identification to let people access important public infrastructure like metro services.

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