Aarogya Setu App praised by WHO: What is it, its benefits, how to download, privacy issues and more

Aarogya Setu App is a Bluetooth-based COVID-19 tracker and is launched by the Government of India.
Aarogya Setu App
Aarogya Setu App

WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his latest media briefing praised India's COVID-19 tracker, Aarogya Setu and laid emphasis on the need to implement such health tools to break the chain of the transmission of the deadly virus. He stated that the app has helped the city public departments to identify areas where clusters could be anticipated and increased COVID-19 testing in a targeted way. 

Earlier, Prime Minister Modi addressed the members of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) on its 40th Anniversary. Among several other requests, Prime Minister made a request about Aarogya Setu App.  He requested the members that they must persuade at least 40 people to install Aarogya Setu App. In addition to this, they must also tell those people about the Aarogya Setu App. As of now, the app has over 150 million-plus downloads.

What is Aarogya Setu App?

Aarogya Setu App is developed by the National Informatics Centre which is a part of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India. It is a Bluetooth-based COVID-19 tracker launched by the Government of India. The aim of the Aarogya Setu App is to augment the initiatives of the Government of India, particularly the Department of Health, in proactively reaching out to and informing the users of the app regarding the risks, best practices and relevant advisories pertaining to the containment of COVID-19. 

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions

Benefits of using Arogya Setu App

Aarogya Setu App is available on both the platforms- Android and iOS. The app is available in 11 languages - English, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Gujarati, and Marathi. The app is expected to be available in more Indian languages soon. The benefits of using Aarogya Setu App are mentioned below: 

1- The Aarogya Setu App works on Bluetooth-based technology and tries to determine risk based on the user's location.

2- The risk factor is also based on the data available for that particular location. 

3- It keeps the user informed in case he/she has crossed paths with the positive COVID-19 case within 6-feet proximity. 

4- The app recommends several measures to the user such as Self Assessment Test, Social distancing, do's and don'ts, amid COVID-19.

5- The Aarogya Setu App also informs the user about the precautionary measures, and how to maintain social distancing in the times of global pandemic. 

6- As per the statement by PMO, the app could also be an e-pass facilitating travel from one place to another. 

7- In case, a user is at high risk, the app will advise him/her to go for a test at a nearby testing centre and call the toll-free number 1075 immediately.

8- The app is also equipped with a chatbot that answers all the basic questions on coronavirus disease or COVID-19.

9- The users can also find the helpline numbers for each state in India.

How to find out if you have COVID-19 symptoms using Aarogya Setu App?

1- Open the app. 

2- Now look for Self Assessment button on the bottom of your screen. 

3- After clicking the button, you will be enquired about your gender and age.

4- You will be now be enquired about whether you are experiencing any kind of symptoms- Cough, Fever or Difficulty in Breathing.

 5- You will be further asked whether you have ever heard about- Diabetes, Hypertension, Lung Disease or Heart Disease. 

6- Now the test will enquire you about your travel history in the last 14 days.  

7- Further you will be asked whether you have lived with a COVID-19 hit patient or if you are a health worker and examined a positive COVID-19 case without protective gear. 

8- Answer these questions honestly. 

9- Once you answer the questions, the app will tell you about the infection risk. 

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How to use Aarogya Setu App?

1- Download the Aarogya Setu App from Google Play Store(for Android users) or App Store (for iOS users).

2- Select a language.

3- Switch on Bluetooth and Location from settings of your phone.

4- Set location sharing to "Always" from your phone's settings.

5- You will now be asked to register. Click on the 'Register'

6- Click on 'I Agree' button.

7- You will now be asked for your mobile number.

8- Enter the mobile number and the OTP received.

9- Now you can access the app.  Take self-assessment test, read the guidelines, determine the risk factor and more.

Previously, Aarogya Setu released a statement over the rising privacy concerns in the app. French hacker Robert Baptiste warned the Indian government about the vulnerability of the App but has not disclosed any information regarding the same. After this, the government issued a response against the warnings of the hacker and stated that the team assures everyone that no data or security breach has been identified so far.

Aarogya Setu: Issues and Responses

1. The App fetches user location on a few occasions. 

Response: It is clearly detailed in the privacy policy. Reproducing the same for everyone’s benefit. A user’s location is fetched and stored on the server in a secure, encrypted and anonymised manner. The user location is fetched-- at the time of registration, self-assessment or when the user submits his contact tracing data voluntary through the App or when a user has turned COVID-19 positive. 

2. User can get the COVID—19 stats displayed on Home Screen by changing the radius and latitude-longitude using a script

Response: The radius parameters are fixed and can only take one of the five values: 500 metres, 1km, 2km. 5km and 10km. These values are standard parameters, posted with HTTP headers. Any other value as part of the “distance” HTTP header gets defaulted to 1km.
The user can change the latitude/longitude to get the data for multiple locations. The API call though is behind a Web Application Firewall. and hence bulk calls are not possible. Getting data for multiple latitude longitude this way is no different than asking several people of their location's COVID—log statistics. All this information is already public for all locations and hence does not compromise on any personal or sensitive data.

Government of India is taking all the necessary steps to combat the global pandemic. The most important factor in preventing the spread of the virus locally is by taking precautions as per the advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and visiting the nearest testing centre in case you develop COVID-19 related symptoms. Previously, Prime Minister Modi announced a 21-day countrywide lockdown to combat and to contain the spread of the highly contagious virus. Today, while addressing the nation Prime minister Modi has further extended the countrywide lockdown for 19 days- till May 3. 

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