Aarogya Setu’s active users plummet due to pandemic fatigue: MyGov CEO (IANS Interview)

Aakanksha Khajuria
New Delhi, Oct 28 : Due to the pandemic fatigue, the number of people checking the Aarogya Setu App has come down, Abhishek Singh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at MyGov and Digital India Corporation, said on Tuesday and requested people to become more vigilant and use it.

Due to the unlockdown, resumption of offices and the ensuing festive season, pandemic fatigue has taken over people, at a time when the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country are just short of the 80 lakh-mark.

“People have become lethargic, the number of people checking the Aarogya Setu App has come down. We are carrying out campaigns to get people to start using it again,” Singh said in an interview with IANS, but refused to attribute it to lack of trust due to the privacy concerns.

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He added, “We have been asking airlines and cinema halls to use the open API based mechanism and consent based sharing mechanism. This should be used in Metro also, otherwise when the cases increase, we will have a bigger problem. People will have to start becoming vigilant and start using the App.”

Aarogya Setu, a Bluetooth-based application, was launched on April 2 in a bid to limit the spread of the virus, with contact tracing and mapping of likely hotspots.

The App was designed by MyGovIndia, and has over 161 million users, identified over 3,500 hotspots. It has traced millions of people till now.

“Contact tracing and identification of emerging hotspots has been helpful in ensuring that we are able to control the pandemic. Maybe this is one of the reasons due to which our fatality rate is low. The App also optimises the testing capacity in a more targeted manner,” Singh said.

He further said that the application has been successful in terms of health monitoring but there are limitations.

“Not everybody has the App or have given their correct mobile numbers. The App is being used only by less than 20 per cent of the population. To that extent, the App has been able to serve the purpose and give out the data of the potential hotspots.”

“In India, another limitation is that there are only 500 million smartphone users. Those who do not have the app are traced manually by the health authorities. This App thereby shows just a statistical sampling based on which we get some indications,” Singh said.

Speaking on the privacy issue pertaining to the speculation on data-sharing with third party, Singh said that no such case has come forth in the last seven months.

“There are no privacy issues. Data is not shared with anyone. Only if you test positive, the data goes to the servers and only to the health authorities to help the people,” he said.

In May, in a video interview with IANS, Singh had emphatically defended the App and pushed back against the steady hum of privacy concerns from the critics. He had said that it is the safest across all mobile apps that Indians currently use, and a digital public good that Indians should be proud of.

Besides this, he also lauded the platform, saying that the evidence that we could build Aarogya Setu in a short time will lead to building other digital platforms for health services in the future.

“We will see what can be done to the App after the pandemic is over. There are many communicable diseases and we can think of that, but right now the focus is on the pandemic only,” he said.

( can be contacted at aakanksha.k@ians.in)


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