Tracking Covid-19: Govt must add more features to drive Aarogya Setu adoption

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Published: May 29, 2020 2:45 AM

Making Aarogya Setu open-source great for building trust, but the govt must add more features to drive adoption

On Tuesday, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant tweeted that the Aarogya Setu library will be put on GitHub, and the app will be made open source. NITI Aayog also announced a bug bounty programme guaranteeing Rs 1 lakh to anyone who reports a flaw in the app.

On Tuesday, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant tweeted that the Aarogya Setu library will be put on GitHub, and the app will be made open source. NITI Aayog also announced a bug bounty programme guaranteeing Rs 1 lakh to anyone who reports a flaw in the app. Against the backdrop of Aarogya Setu facing criticism for opacity on data gathering and repurposing, this will undoubtedly help build trust in the app.

But, it will also help other economies that do not have native contact tracing systems. Singapore, for instance, released its Blue Trace protocol for the public—this prevents man-in-the-middle attack by assigning a random Bluetooth ID to each phone—and this has been used by Australia and New Zealand. Moreover, this will also help people report problems with the Aarogya Setu app, and may even drive experts to suggest changes.

However, such improvements only address the privacy and security part of the problem. Aarogya Setu has to evolve in terms of user interaction if the government is to drive up adoption. Although it is no small feat that the app has been downloaded 120 million times, this is still much less than the 300 million smartphone users that India has.

The government still does not provide a map facility to depict high-risk areas. It also does not give information on emerging hotspots. Once these services are available, the app will draw more people. As the economy opens gradually, there is a need for Aarogya Setu to have many more features, such as booking an instant test, or teleconsultation.

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