How tech startups help state governments in fighting Covid 19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been too overwhelming for states to huddle their resources and devise solutions. They have partnered with startups, who have the twin advantage of being nimble to demand and also provide quick and innovative solutions. The state of Jharkhand has even gone to the extent of organising a hackathon just on COVID-19 related solutions – in collaboration with Skillenza and Startup India. The hackathon was host to 20 teams across India. Overall, more than 50 entries were filed with final developed solutions.

Below is a lowdown on how various states are partnering with startups to contain the coronavirus crises.

Kerala
Kerala was the first state in India to get a COVID-19 infected patient. The initial case graph was alarming but the situation has been handled with tough measures. The Startup community anchored under the Kerala Startup Mission and the Kerala IT mission has contributed immensely and has raised to the occasion.

Qkopy: GoK Direct
This startup has developed an app called ‘GoK Direct’ for the Government of Kerala. It provides real-time information and alerts on COVID-19 as released by the Department of Information & Public Relations.

QuikDr: A complete telemedicine solution
QuikDr Healthcare Private Limited is providing a comprehensive telemedicine solution for free to the state government. Through this app, patients will be able to have virtual consultations with top doctors in Kerala. Currently, this app is being used by the Directorate of Health Services, Government of Kerala.

Thought ripples: GoK QR
A third KSUM incubated startup has provided an app for managing state-wide data of patients with primary and secondary contact with passengers and people under surveillance. Currently, this app is being used internally by the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, Directorate of Health Services, and Kerala State IT Mission, Government of Kerala.

iBoson: GoK QR
iBoson, a KSUM incubated startup has developed a software to manage essential services of the state government. With this app, authorities can manage the designated staff’s access to the workplace. This will ensure ease of continuity of essential services and is currently being used by Kerala State IT Mission.

Asimov Robotics
Asimov Robotics has built cost effective robots for autonomous delivery of food, medicine, and other consumables inside isolation wards for the Department of Health, Government of Kerala. The robots also disinfect the used items and allow patients to communicate with physicians and relatives outside. Through this the number of visits of healthcare staff inside the quarantine zone are minimized. The startup also launched The robot named ‘KARMI-Bot’ will be used to assist patients at the medical college’s COVID-19 isolation ward. Dispensing food, medicine, collecting the trash used by the patients, performing disinfection, enabling video calls between the doctor and the patient etc are the main responsibilities of the robot.

Madhya Pradesh
The state under the BNeST, a social enterprise incubator, under the smart city Bhopal undertaking has empanelled a number of startups already working with the Government. They have pitched in towards contributing towards the efforts to fight the pandemic.

SNA Sistech
A home automation startup has developed a chamber having a touchless sanitisation dispenser. It consists of a sensor embedded closed chamber open from the front and back, kind of an enclosure. The people are supposed to pass from inside the chamber, which will trigger the sprinkler to sanitise the passer by. The chamber can be put up at open spaces, duly monitored by the police.

Vizbee
A drone startup has been able to manage to make the drone do sanitisation, across large areas of land, or public spaces, vehicles etc. The same drone is also being used for surveillance.

Wassup Bhopal and FinchFly
A content marketing startup has generated COVID-19 related videos and useful text content. They have been able to create impactful awareness about the disease by promoting the content, personally and also roping in influencers.

Healthquick
A healthcare startup has developed an app to identify the location of a COVID-19 suspect, on the map of Bhopal. It basically gives an overview of the positive cases and the hotspots in Bhopal. To an extent, it also describes the travel history of the positive cases.

The Niramaya app
This healthcare app is targeted for the positive cases to manage their testing lifecycle – end to end from doing the testing to getting the reports. The same app can be used for food supplies. The users can download the app and it will be delivered to them. The app based process avoids providing food kits to the same citizens more than once in under a specific time period, which results in food going to the needy and also prevents wastage. The user will not be able to apply for the food kit on the app for a specific number of days after he has already requested for it once.

The Kabadiwala
A startup, which was into GPS based waste management collection, is now delivering food supplies based on all the requests posted. There are 200 vehicles who are delivering supplies, which can be tracked by the phone GPS of co-ordinates.

Healthcrum
Has done webinars for solving the COVID-19 related queries. A panel of doctors did the webinar using Facebook Live, youtube Live and Zoom calls with the citizens. In under half an hour, almost 1200 people viewed the first webinar. This is done on a daily basis. The startup has enabled telemedicine too

Himachal Pradesh
The himalyan state has a not so recognised but vibrant startup community in Dharamshala. These startups responded swiftly and developed effective platforms in a matter of days.

Development Logics
As soon as the lockdown was announced, the immediate step was to keep the essential services moving across the state without any hindrance and thus the IT department rolled out the epass application. This includes both the citizen related personal and heavy goods related vehicular movement. “An online application was designed. The applicant can ask for a pass on the application hosted on a portal. An SMS link is then sent to avail of the epass if the application is approved. This was a big hit. The state has already received one lakh applications for epass,” explains Rohan Chand Thakur, Director – IT, Dept of Information Technology, Govt of Himachal Pradesh. This initiative fundamentally serves the purpose of social distancing. After integrating the ideas and suggestions invited from the district administration, the application was stabilised for usage.

Development Logics
Based on the recommendations of the ministry of health, another app (Corona mukt himachal app) was developed for tracking of the people under quarantine. The app has to be downloaded by the quarantined people and an alert is triggered whenever they move 15 meters away from their location. Around their circumference. The state came up with a novel way of identifying the location of the quarantined people at the time when they were most likely to violate and breach the quarantine. It was found that most of the breaches were happening either early morning or in the evening around 6pm. A questionnaire was sent around these times, about their health – whether they have fever, cough or a running nose ? the people would answer and that would give their location coordinates. The state found this to be a better idea than asking the people to send their pictures, which in one or the other way amounts to privacy intrusion.

App designed by individual developer based in Shimla
Two information dissemination applications were also launched. The first app was for the centralised repository of all Government Orders (GOs), bulletins and advisories. Both at the district and state level.

The fourth app was to bust the fake news menace, for which a unit was setup. The citizens can post the relevant web link on the fake news portal, to check for the veracity of the content. The privacy of the applicant is also protected. The mobile number and email of the applicant is entered but its not reflected to the fake news monitoring unit. The result is sent to the user as an SMS.

App designed by an individual developer based in Shimla
The fifth, was a reporting app for the police authorities. This served the management of the challans, fines, violations related data being registered at the SHO level. The data was pooled at the district level and then monitored by the state.

Development Logics
Lastly, an inventory management app organised the information related to the healthcare services related inventory management. The availability of hospital beds, quarantine facilities, ventilators, masks, COVID hospitals. These six applications were all hosted on covidportal.hp.gov.in

The turnaround time for all the app development cycle – from request made to deployment on live environment was between 48 to 72 hours.

The portal is updated daily with video bulletins, apps launched by the Government of India like Aarogya Setu app. It also has a single sign-on dashboard for the chief secretary and the chief minister. “All of this has been tested and deployed in 15 days. The usage has been phenomenal alongwith upgrades being done regularly.

(The original article was first published in Expresscomputer.in)


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