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Aarogya Setu becomes open source: What does it mean?

The Government has decided to make the Aarogya Setu app an open source to show its commitment towards the core design principles of Araogya Setu- which are transparency, privacy and security.

May 27, 2020 11:22 IST
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India’s Aarogya Setu app, which is used for COVID-19 contact tracing, has now become an open source. The announcement was made by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on May 26, 2020. 

The Aarogya Setu app was launched to enable Covid-19 contact tracing, syndromic mapping and enable the user to conduct self-assessments of their health. The app also uses Bluetooth and location data to find out if the user has come in contact with a COVID-19 positive person or not.

Several questions were, however raised on the Aarogya Setu application’s data privacy and security and handling of user data.

Objective

The Government has decided to make the Aarogya Setu app an open-source to show its commitment towards the core design principles of Araogya Setu- which are transparency, privacy and security. No other government product has been open-sourced at this scale anywhere in the world

What does Open Source mean?

Making the Aarogya Setu app open source means that the government will publish it on a public code repository and release the source code in the public domain. This move will allow developers to inspect the source code of the app and modify it for changes. The source code for the Android version of the app has already been made available for review and collaboration. The iOS version of Aarogya Setu will be made open source within the next two weeks and its server code will also be released subsequently.

Significance

The Government, with the release of the source code in the public domain, is looking to expand collaboration and leverage the expertise of top technical brains to collectively build a secure technology solution to support the health care workers in their fight against coronavirus pandemic.

Aarogya Setu App

The Aarogya Setu mobile App was launched by the government on April 2, 2020 to boost efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. The app, using Bluetooth technology, can trace, map the likely hotspot areas and disseminate the relevant information. 

The Aarogya Setu app has helped the government identify around 5 lakh contacts of COVID-19 positive cases. The contacts are classified as needing assistance based on their self-assessment and then subsequently they are contacted by the National Health Authority. So far, the platform has reached out to more than 9 lakh users and helped advise them for quarantine, caution or testing.

The application is available currently in 12 languages. It is suited to be downloaded in every smartphone, including iOS and Android. However, nearly 98 percent users of the Aarogya Setu app use an Android phone. 

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