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50 million downloads in 13 days – what does the Aarogya Setu app do?

Developed by the National Informatics Centre, under the Ministry of Electronics and IT, and launched by the Union Health Ministry, the Aarogya Setu app currently holds the record for being the ‘world’s fastest downloaded app’ with 50 million downloads in just 13 days of its launch, said NITI Aayog CEO, Amitabh Kant.

With India still trying to ‘flatten the curve’, the biggest difficulty in fighting the virus, apart from containing it, is tracking it. The solution? Everybody does a quick COVID-19 test. That’s precisely the purpose of the Aarogya Setu app. Here’s a quick summary of what we learnt after spending a day on the app.

How does it work?

It works in two parts. First, it understands your medical and travel history to determine if you could be at risk of infection; second, it keeps track of your location and notifies you of the proximity of a potentially infected individual. The data is encrypted, and you start with a quick mobile number verification and then standard profile questions — full name, age, gender, profession. After which, you’ll be led to a self check-up page. It includes really simple questions regarding recent travel history, medical history, COVID-19 symptoms, profession, interest to volunteer, etc.

Next up, submit your GPS and location information. Apart from the aforementioned purpose, the GPS also comes in use to access facilities provided by the e-pass, which is yet to come. The Aarogya Setu app also serves as a handbook of COVID-19 information and lifestyle instructions to stay safe. It’s quite literally a bulletin of information that’s accessible to the common man. The interface supports 11 languages.

Image: Courtesy Getty

What we think

The Aarogya Setu app works with three simple motives — identify, assist, and inform. Amidst all the paranoia and chaos, it’s great to have an app that gives us direct and legitimate information, especially at a time when fake news could lead to turmoil. Though the self check-up process is way too simple to determine a threat, you can keep track of your symptoms on a daily basis and understand if and when you need medical attention.

We’d advise taking the test every week or 10 days, simply because the app determines whether you’re at risk or not based on the inputs presented at that moment — it can’t make predictions. The Aarogya Setu app does ask for a lot of personal information, but that points to the priority at hand; the information isn’t shared with third-party companies or apps. All information is purged after a 30-day cycle unless you’ve been infected by the virus. Upon which, they investigate further. If not, your data is safe.

The Aarogya Setu app is available on iOS and Android.

All images: Courtesy app/website

Mikhail Gomes
Features Editor, Lifestyle Asia India & Contributor - Augustman
A watch aficionado, Mikhail also enjoys learning about fine whiskies, and one day hopes to establish his own menswear label. At Lifestyle Asia India, he writes on watches, menswear, auto and tech.