Aarogya setu code gets open sourced : On 27 May 2020 @ 12 am, digital contact tracing app Aarogya Setu will release the Android source code on open-source site Github.
But what does this mean for the app?
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A Big Hit
Since Aarogya Setu launched in April of 2020, it has rapidly gained a following in India. Developed for the Government of India, with the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY) and National Informatics Centre (NIC), the app was created to detect risk of infection of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The app uses location and Bluetooth services to collect and store users’ data, and alert them should they come in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. The app also sends information and updates on the status of COVID-19 in India.
Releasing the app as open-source allows experts to go in and improve errors in the current programming. This opportunity comes at a time after user privacy and protection through the app was questioned, even reportedly hacked.
According to NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, open-sourcing of a government-run product has not occurred on such a scale in the world of Indian app development.
Of 114 million Aarogya Setu users, over 90 percent are Android users, so Aarogya Setu code gets open sourced code for Android as of now. Codes for iOS (Apple) and KaiOS (Jio system) will be released at a later date.
Some citizens have been in favor of ultimate privacy. Many had fought for the open-sourcing of the app since its launch. Still, the company did not yield. Instead, they strategically extended this opportunity, so those same users might feel the fate of their privacy was within their reach.
A statement issued via the official Aarogya Setu Twitter account introduced a Bug Bounty Programme, calling developers to participate for a chance to redeem cash rewards for their services.
A supposed prize of Rs. 1 lakh will be granted to a handful of skilled developers who can detect issues in the app’s programming.
The invitation for developers is celebrated as an opportunity for collaboration between the “Government, Industry, Academia, and citizens.” It will forever be an example of a private-public partnership enhanced through community involvement.
How to Get It
Like with other apps, a strong Internet signal is required to download Aarogya Setu. Once you have Internet,
-Open the App Store or Google Play Store on your device
-Search for “Aarogya Setu” and Install.
-After the app has been installed successfully, open the app and enable or “Allow” Location settings for the app. Bluetooth and GPS settings must also be enabled. Aarogya Setu is available in 11 Indian languages, including English.
-Select a preferred language.
-Users must enter their phone number, and verify their user ID with a one-time password
-The app then prompts for personal information, such as full name, age, and travel history (30 days). The app will then send advice, either to self-isolate or seek medical attention accordingly.
Is it Important?
In mid-May 2020, the Government of India mandated all flight passengers wishing to travel post-lockdown download the Aarogya Setu app for the country’s safety.
Government officials were the first group required to download Aarogya Setu to track their location. However, no country-wide mandate has been issued.
Private sector employees eventually had to get on board as well. Private sector companies were then held responsible for their employees who failed to comply with the order.
Then, those living in COVID-19 containment zones had to download the app. They were shortly followed by a statement issued by the Indian Railways, enforcing all passengers travelling on its 15 trains get Aarogya Setu as well.
The app also must be used by all employees performing delivery services. Individual organizations have implemented different policies around the app in their groups, some even so strict that they require a registration certificate for the app.
The ministry has reported that two-thirds of users have taken the self-assessment on Aarogya Setu to determine their risk. Of those two thirds, more than half a million have been alerted they may be at risk due to close contact with the disease.
A Perfect Technology
Well, it isn’t. Not yet.
As far as a technology designed for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19, Aarogya Setu has a long way to go. The technology retains user data for use if they are at risk of contracting the virus.
However, part of providing for public welfare is making sure the service is safe, and makes the public feel safe. Aarogya Setu declaring the open-sourcing of the Android client surely offers at least a chance for Indian skilled citizens to bring personal improvements to government-issued technology. As we learn more about the coronavirus and how it affects us as a community, applications like Aarogya Setu will evolve to suit our needs.
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