Phani Raj Kuchibhotla

Curious Curator

Pandemic Contact Tracing

Difference between Singapore’s Contact tracers and India’s Arogya Setu

Working & Behind the scenes workflow:

Singapore :

  • It’s crystal clear as to how it works and how the data is stored, how it syncs and how it helps.

Ref :

India:

I am yet to find a source that clearly explains it, the way Singapore’s video does.

The official website, doesn’t say anything about the workings https://www.mygov.in/aarogya-setu-app/

But India’s leading news paper says this

The app, which is a coronavirus tracker of sorts works on the basis of contact tracing and can help a user identify possible coronavirus ‘hotspot’ around his or her area

It says it alerts if you are in a Corona virus hotspot, means it prevents you from going into that area. Which means it’s not a contact tracers, All it needs is a location of the user and their movement .

It also adds

By the basis of geotagging, it can also alert a specific user about their proximity to a nearby infection case or hotspot.

This is where there are a lot of questions

  • How is the government going to tag a users mobile phone as infected users’ phone?
  • In India families share phones, means a healthy person might be carrying the phone of an infected person into public and create a panic to nearby users.
  • Also, if the objective is to track the location and alerts when a user goes into hotspot, then why is bluetooth required?
  • Why does they need to collect all the demographic details just for contact tracing, assuming, it works exactly as the Singapore’s app works.
  • I am not an expert on privacy, so I don’t want to dwell more on the privacy and data usage part. But here a few items to worry about.

Other publication says

the Aarogya Setu app uses your smartphone’s location data and Bluetooth to check if you have been near, or in contact with, a Covid-19 patient. The app also uses a database to keep a tab on known cases across the country.

begs for the same question, how will the government mark a phone as an infected phone?

Are they going to physically collect the phone of the infected user and change the status? or are they going to remotely send a signal to phone that it is infected and in turn send notification to all other phones that came in contact with this user’s phone.

There are way too many open question.

We have to wait and see if this App comes to of any help and see the cases where it pointed out a possible spread and contained it. Till then it may just act as a data collection app.

Approach

Singapore’s approach is clearly reactive approach which in then turns into a proactive approach. Once every one installs the app, it works in the bakground and logs(do to the devices) which came in contact with the user. When a user is found to be positive, with the user’s permission, government will decrypt the ids of other devices and then contact them so that all others quarantine themselves and prevent the spread.

India’s approach though it looks like proactive one, but it doesn’t help much if the infected users are moving on the streets or the users themselves are walking into infected zones, instead of staying home.

peace!