When the Government of India emphasized on making a Digital India, it meant its statement in every essence. The latest reason that re-established its claim was when the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology or MeitY launched an open application program interface or API service for the famed Aarogya Setu app. The new service that was launched by the Ministry recently will allow corporates to keep a tab on the spread of the COVID-19 infection amongst its employees, all in real time, by simply integrating the app within its own systems and internal programs. As per rules, this service can be availed only by those companies which are registered in India and have an employee count which is more than 50.
In simple terms, an API is a software which links two separate applications thereby enabling these applications to communicate with one another essentially to share as well as exchange information. Once the Aarogya Setu API comes in place, these companies can avail of its various features by registering themselves. Once registered, they will be provided with a specific code which they can then integrate into the various programs that these companies run or operate.
Earlier there were lot of concerns with regard to the Aarogya Setu App, especially pertaining to data security and issues related to privacy of an user. So as to soothe and ease the privacy concerns, the Central Government announced recently its intentions to make this mobile application open source. It clearly stated that it will allow researchers, developers as well as experts to be able to understand the technicalities behind the way the app works and how user personal data is processed through it.
The Aarogya Setu App has been downloaded by more than 15 crore customers ever since it was launched in the month of April. As per information given by MeitY, this app is meant to track the interaction of a user with others, and notify the authorities if it detects that the user has been in contact with any individual who has been contaminated by the Covid-19 virus. Once the app is installed in the phone, it automatically detects other devices which have the app installed in it and are located within close proximity of the particular phone. Once done, it will check whether the contacts are tested positive with the virus and then using established parameters, it will calculate the extent of infection.
By making the source code easily available to the developer community, the government has clearly established its commitment to adhere to the principles of collaboration and complete transparency with the citizens of the country. The availability of the code in the public domain will allow experts from all over the country to come together to build a technology solution that is powerful, viable and secure, and will help the health workers to battle the global pandemic effectively.
As per data revealed, the percentage of people using the Android version of the Aarogya Setu App is approximately 98 per cent. it added. Therefore, at present, only the Android version of the source code has been released on Github and can be reviewed and collaborated upon. Government officials stated that the release of the iOS version of the application is expected to happen shortly post which it will release the server code.
This step taken by the Government of India goes to show that the it intends to stick to the pillars of privacy, transparency and security on which the Aarogya Setu rests, while following the country’s policy on Open Source Software. It is definitely a great example of a progressive India.