IISc’s app alerts secondary contacts of COVID-19

IISc’s app alerts secondary contacts when someone tests positive for COVID-19

INFO AT THE FINGERTIP

Screenshots of the app.

An app created by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) alerts the secondary- and third-level contacts of a Covid-19 infected person and assists in contact tracing.

The app, GoCoronaGo, is being used by 350 residents of the institute for the past three weeks. 

While most apps help check the people closest to the infected person, GoCoronaGo goes a step further to trace the secondary- and third-level contacts.

For latest updates on coronavirus outbreak, click here

How it works

Two smartphones in proximity exchange unique IDs through the Bluetooth devices. Using the feature, the app has built a behind-the-scene network on the server to gather information on people in closer proximity.

If, for instance, a positive person first interacts with five people and later with 20 others, the app warns all the 25 people about the positive status of the person.

“The app not only looks at the first-level interaction, but also the second- and the third-level interactions,” said Yogesh Simmhan, assistant professor, Department of Computational and Data Sciences, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

“So, rather than waiting for the primary contacts to test positive, the app gives preemptive warnings, saying you were two or three steps away from an infected person. Accordingly, a risk score is calculated. The closer a person gets, the higher the risk score.”

The person testing positive is asked to share his device ID with the campus’ control centre. Following this, an alert message is sent to all devices from the backend, saying ‘you were in contact with a Covid-19 positive patient’ or ‘you are two hops away from a Covid-19 patient. Please contact the control centre for more information’.

The app does it non-intrusively, excluding personal information like name, phone number, email ID, smoking preference, and mandatory GPS location — something the central government’s Aarogya Setu gathers.

While using GoCoronaGo, a person can voluntarily provide phone numbers or GPS location details, but it is not mandatory.

The device IDs are uploaded to a backend server, where graphs are made. Only the IDs can be tracked without personal identity.

About the app

The app gives a social distancing score based on the number of people an individual met

Developers, however, are unable to host the app on Google Play Store for wider use since the tech giant has banned any Covid-19-related app unless it is from a government agency

Researchers are in talks with the Government of Karnataka and are hopeful of rolling it out for the public soon