Just as the Covid-19 threat started looming, the Government of India announced an indigenous contact tracing app in the form of Aarogya Setu. It is now also available for features phones from Reliance Jio.
In a short span of about a month, Aarogya Setu was downloaded more than 100 million times. It is a basic app that uses your location data and Bluetooth to check if you come in contact with an infected person and warns everyone that might have come in the vicinity via the app. Till now, it was only available for Android and iOS.
While India is one of the world’s biggest smartphone markets with over 400 million users, a big chunk of the population still continues to use feature phones. To cater to them, the app is now also available for download for Jio phone users. This is a slightly modified version of the app that relies on Bluetooth only. There are an estimated five million Jio phone users in India, which is one of the largest sections of users that was yet un-catered to.
Aarogya Setu is already mandatory for public and private sector employees that are already functional and back to work. As India prepares to continue co-existing with the virus in the coming weeks, contact tracing will be one of the crucial ways to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
Airways are also considering mandating all passengers onboard to have Aarogya Setu installed, or else they might not be allowed to travel. How this will be implemented is yet to be seen. Indian Railways has already made it mandatory for all passengers on intercity trains to have the app on their phones.
India enforced a nationwide precautionary lockdown from March 25. As some areas will be allowed to resume work next week onwards, tech is expected to play a big role in facilitating that shift.