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Nepal Government has launched a new mobile app called COVID NP for contact tracing purposes. As known, the CCMC operation team has developed the app and had put it to testing. It is believed that this kind of tracing app helps the government in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and making a timely exit from lockdown.
DPM Ishwor Pokharel launched it by installing the app on his mobile on Saturday, May 9, 2020. Prime Minister in his address to the nation had hinted of this tracing app to launch soon. As there are multiple apps and dispersed information here and there, they integrated all those functionalities & more in the COVID np app.
Mr. Asgar Ali, IT expert to Prime Minister first revealed the information about the app in a video conference meeting. The meeting discussed ways to combat COVID-19 through the use of Information technology. They suggested contact tracing, self-assessment, and AI-based data analytics as the most effective ones.
The COVID NP mobile app is an integrated application for the official Coronavirus information, self-assessment, contact tracing & more. As known, the app helps to identify probable virus infections through proximity information using the Bluetooth-based tracing.
Apart from Bluetooth, the app can also get the GPS location and mobile number information which are also necessary for the analysis of data from multiple sources. The user needs to provide permission to let the app get the Bluetooth data, mobile number, and GPS location. The Bluetooth data itself cannot guarantee the accuracy of the location and the contacts. So the integration of multiple data origins shall aid the analytics to yield better results.
You can also contribute to the Coronavirus infection control and treatment fund from the CovidNP app. Moreover, they also claim to have integrated online shopping for household needs. The eCommerce is most probably the Government’s own food delivery platform launched earlier.
Now the app is already available in the Google Play store, but it will take a few more time for iOS. Though we can download the COVID NP app, it got stuck on the permissions page in our case. This means the app is not still full proof while there are already 500+ downloads.
Then the app also includes a self-assessment test by answering simple Yes/No questions, which seems the same as that provided by Ntc and Ncell’s quick survey. This survey shall assure the government to find the proper health status of the user.
The app also blends the epass portal link within the app for the people who request to get permission to travel during the lockdown period.
As required, the COVIDNP app with the help of central analytics can also alert and provide some announcements to the user. We can expect them to include the emergency call feature to seek urgent support and Call doctors for consultations.
The data collected will be stored in the Government’s own data center called GIDC (Government integrated data center). They will classify the users into green, yellow and red with the analytics of the user’s data and the survey/filled forms.
Some of the features of this app were already available in the mobile apps and portals launched earlier, like Hamro Swasthya App, MOHA COVID-19 portal, COVID-19 response app, KMC, and Nepal Police app. You can read more on some of the COVID-19 mobile apps in Nepal.
The most useful feature of the app is the tracing feature which shall provide the government in identify and locating the COVID-19 infected personnel in an efficient way. While the integration of all the scattered data makes it easy for people to prefer a single platform rather than seeking multiple ones.
One more issue that needs to be addressed with the app is people’s concern for privacy. This sort of mobile app is proven to bolster the government to control the virus spread. But they also need to assure people of the provisions made for the prevention of unauthorized use of private data.
Recently, there have been numerous cases of misuse of data and authority, which made people distrust such data sharing. Since one of the government’s wings developed the mobile app, the distrust abates for some. While there are still some people out there who doubt the misuse of the data. The misuse can be always there from the individuals or third parties involved in the development and the operation.
So, they should further include features to anonymize the location data in the server end for the privacy concern and misuse of data.
Tell us what is your impression of the COVID NP app for the integrated information and contact tracing purpose.
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