What India Can Learn From UK On Contract Tracing Applications
Can you believe it that technology was used efficiently in the United Kingdom to save lives at the time when Covid-19 was peaking there?
IT conglomerates like Apple and Google had joined hands with the UK to develop the Exposure Notifications System. That helped to contact trace and alert users about possible Covid-19exposure.
The tech giants introduced this Application programming Interface (API) in June of 2020. Since then, this contact tracing app has done wonders in the United Kingdom. According to a recent report has claimed that the contact tracing tech has saved lives of between 4,200 and 8,700 users in the UK.
While India had started the Aarogya Setu application, it didn’t have many takers due to non reliability of the platform and data safety issues involved with it.
The API used in the UK was compatible with the NHS app and could help the health service to warn and help those who had shown signs of having contracted the virus. In its blog, the tech giant Google has explained, “Traditional methods of contact tracing are critical to containing the spread of infection. Technology can support and augment these efforts by allowing public health authorities to quickly notify people who may have been exposed to a person who has contracted Covid-19, including those the person might not know directly. This starts with Exposure Notifications on your smartphone. These will help your public health authority alert you if you’ve been exposed to Covid-19.”
Smartly, android and I-phones had already got the option to alter settings to facilitate the Exposure notification option. In India, this isn’t possible as the phone then tells you that the public health authorities have not made this possible.
Sadly, the Aarogya Setu app is only being used to book vaccination slots. It has not been integrated with the Google-Apple API for contact tracing. One reason for this maybe that the Centre has not agreed to certain terms and conditions put down by Apple and Google. Governments have to agree to primarily, privacy-centric terms and conditions, before their apps can be allowed to use the Exposure Notifications.
The fact that the Indian app uses demographic information to trace people is something that Google and Apple have been against. Instead, the other technology uses Bluetooth to collect data. With the way numbers are surging in India, this might be the need of the hour. The Centre will be doing everyone a hugefavour if they could align their technology to that of more user friendly technology and learn from other countries.