The Coronavirus Pandemic has caused a string of lockdown impositions by Governments across the world. The concept of Social Distancing has also gained much traction due to the pandemic. The reason for these stringent measures is to reduce the possibility of transmission of the virus.
The coronavirus finds itself being transmitted merely by human contact. Even a person who is himself immune to the virus may unknowingly act as a carrier of the virus to others who are not as immune to it.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has spread amongst people with lightning speed and as on date, it has infected over 10 Million people globally and lead to over ½ Million deaths worldwide.
In India, the number of Coronavirus cases has crossed ½ Million, with Maharashtra emerging as the biggest hot-spot in the country. This rapid spread of the virus has led to efforts to curb and detect the virus transmission.
The Pandemic Curve?
When dealing with a Pandemic like the Coronavirus, the economists recommend that policymakers attempt to flatten the Pandemic Curve. The pandemic curve shows the rate at which number of cases increases on a periodic basis (e.g. Daily). A key number that economists look-out for is the "doubling rate" which points out the number of days it would take for the number of virus cases in a country to double from a particular point.
Lockdowns initiated by the Government were a part of their efforts to flatten the Pandemic Curve. However, the ease of restrictions has now brought them back to a situation where the curve is growing steeper daily.
What is Contact Tracing?
When talking about a situation like the current Coronavirus Pandemic, Contact Tracing is a process implemented by policymakers in the interest of Public Health.
Contact Tracing refers to the process, of identifying people who may have come in contact with an infected person and then gathering more information about these contacts.
Contact Tracing has been a focus area all throughout the lockdown periods and is gaining more importance as countries look to unlock their economies.
The Indian Government has launched their own app for Contact Tracing, called Aarogya Setu.
Aarogya Setu is the official app for Contact Tracing during the Covid-19 Pandemic in India. It has been launched by the Indian Government who have made its use mandatory for every person residing in the country along with any expats travelling back to India.
The app has been under pressure for a long time with regards to concerns over privacy and data protection.
However, that hasn't stopped the Government from making it a mandatory application.
Aarogya Setu makes use of information such as Location, Bluetooth Access and more in order to do its job i.e. to let you know if you've come in contact with any infected person.
Competition to Aarogya Setu
Apple and Google have developed their own Contact Tracing application called Exposure Notification API.
The Apple-Google Contact Tracing app makes use of Bluetooth to determine whether a person has come into contact with an infected person. It does not utilise Location Data for such information.
Reports show that the two Contact Tracing apps are incompatible. Let's discuss why!
Here's Why the Aarogya Setu App will not work with the Exposure Notification API developed by Apple & Google
As mentioned above, a key differentiating factor between the two applications is the usage policy with regards to Location Data. The Aarogya Setu App utilises Location data along with Bluetooth access in order to identify when a person comes in contact with an infected person. There has been much criticism of the app's usage of location and other data as being a violation of privacy of users. However, with no alternate available and Government mandates, over 13 crore people have downloaded the app.
The Exposure Notification API developed by Google & Apple does not require Location Data in order to conduct Contact Tracing. The companies have said that their focus during the app's development was to ensure that the user's data remained private and did not fall into the hands of the Government for any possible misuse. The app uses Bluetooth data to determine whether a person has come into contact with an infected person. If they have, then a list will be compiled of all the people that they have come in contact with and those people will be informed. The two companies said that any location data collected by them would be stored for a short period of time and would be shared with the Governments only if a person tested Covid-19 positive.
This refusal to share all data with the Government might be the reason why the Exposure Notification API is not available in India yet.