Several times during the day, I pinch myself to make sure that what we’re living through is real and not just a nightmare I’m having. The world as we’ve known it seems to have come to a standstill. Coronavirus cases are rising despite severe lockdowns. This has become a key concern and has pushed the government into adopting unique and innovative measure to track infected individuals and the disease hotspots.
In addition to the lockdowns and emergency helpline the authorities are also using the Indian Telegraph Act to get information from telecom companies to track COVID-19 cases across the country. Many startups have also come together to build apps and dashboards that track how close you’ve come to infected individuals or disease hotspots. All these apps use geo-fencing to track infected individuals.
Government of India has even launched its own official tracking app, ‘Aarogya Setu’. The app has been developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) in partnership with the technology industry. The app uses location data from smartphones to track who has come in contact with infected individuals and to also monitor the movement of COVID-19 cases. In addition to this the app also provides helpline numbers and authorized information on the pandemic in the nation.
State governments have also been taking initiative and developing their own apps. Government of Punjab has come up with COVA Punjab. The app is a one window platform for curfew passes for emergencies, reporting of mass gatherings, information on home quarantined patients and their travel histories. The app will also soon provide facility to request for groceries and other essentials as stated by the Government of Punjab.
COVID-19 Quarantine monitoring app – Tamil Nadu
The Tamil Nadu Government has also come up with a Quarantine monitoring app. This app ensures that quarantined citizens do not violate home quarantine by registering quarantined individuals through their phones.
Noida Authority Apurti Suvidha App
Noida Authority has also launched its own app. However, this is quite different from the other apps. The recently launched app is called Noida Authority Apurti Suvidha and it delivers all essential goods at your doorstep. The app also uses location data to highlight vegetable and fruit vendors in the neighborhood with their contact details.
Apps are one way for companies and governments to use location data to handle the health crisis, but many have also used location data to create informative maps about the current situation.
For example Locale.ai, a Bangalore based start-up that has created a real-time operational analytics platform using location data. They have recently built a Covid-19 tracking console for Karnataka using the data launched by the Karnataka Government. The map illustrates the numbers and density of quarantined individuals in an area, helping citizens, relief workers and authorities to plan their activities.
We were able to catch up with their FrontEnd UI/UX Engineer, Musthaq Ahamad for more insight on how advancements in location technologies and analytics and artificial intelligence can help in the current situation.
“Investing more on location intelligence and analytics technologies can yield great results in the health care sector. Strategic planning of containing the disease, prevention of the spread between regions, planning and expansion of medical facilities and supplies, these are to name a few. As mentioned, if we can predict the spread of the disease through the human movement data, it can help a lot to predict and track down epidemic cases. We have had a situation (COVID19) which opened our eyes on how much we need to plan to contain a disease, hopefully further advancement in location intelligence and movement analytics can help take better decisions in preventing such pandemics in the future.”
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) GIS Map
Another is a map made available by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). They’ve gone public with a map of 249 containment zones in Mumbai. These zones show up as a green dot on the map and are areas that have been sealed off by the Mumbai Police. Those living in these zones are identified COVID-19 patients or their close relatives and they are not allowed to leave these areas and other people are not allowed to enter them keeping the risk ok community transmission at a minimum.
Esri’s India Dashboard
Esri India’s dashboard is another great example of how GIS, location intelligence and predictive analytics can give us significant advantage in the fight against COVID-19. Esri is closely working with the Indian government to leverage GIS technology to make decisions and plan various measures to control the spread of the pandemic.
MapmyIndia – Covid-19 guide
MapmyIndia has also come up with its own dashboard that serves as a real-time coronavirus guide displaying data on active cases as well as nearest testing labs and government approved treatment facilities. The platform also highlights food and shelter homes as well as hunger relief camps.
The Indian Government has also come out with a containment plan based on cluster containment strategy where they will contain the disease through geographic quarantine. Here too, location information would play a crucial role as the government identified cluster areas, their buffer zones and defines the area of operation and active surveillance. Information and analysis from the above maps and dashboards will help the authorities and citizens in reallocating resources and people effectively as we try to contain the current outbreak and reduce the mortality from this disease as much as we can.