How states and state agencies are using technology to contain COVID-19

As the country moves to lockdown 4.0, the states are leaving no stone unturned to spread as much web as they can around the coronavirus pandemic. For all states, efficient usage of information technology is a weapon for not only containment but also maintaining the business as usual (BAU) mode

Express Computer has been doing comprehensive coverage of how state Governments and smart cities are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic by using digital tools and other technologies. In today’s edition, we cover three states and a state agency  – Goa, Odisha, Bihar and NIC

The Smart City Control room is the hub for the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP) and is used for follow up on symptomatic cases, contract tracing etc.

The state has created a portal ( registration helpline (104) for all foreign returnees and ensured that they stay under 14-day home quarantine. 4472 foreign returnees registered on the system.

As a measure to prevent the spread of deadly coronavirus (COVID-19), the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has used drones to spray disinfectants.

The State is developing an application – COVID ODISHA, which is a risk-management mobile application to coordinate preventive measures against COVID-19 pandemic. “It enables identified individuals to register themselves for self-quarantine, report health status and symptoms and compliance to quarantine guidelines. It will further help citizens understand the geospatial location of COVID cases (vis-à-vis their location) and help them connect with facilities and services,” says Asit Kumar Tripathy, Chief Secretary, Odisha speaking exclusively to Express Computer.

Citizens would also be able to access authenticated information from the Govt, cutting down spread of misinformation and helps people to report incidences of mass gatherings, violation of social distancing norms.

1200 VPNs have been issued to Govt. officers to enable State Administration to be operational on Odisha State Workplace Administration System (OSWAS) during lockdown.

The testing kits approved by ICMR are used for testing of COVID-19 cases. More than 1 lakh RTPCR kits have been ordered for rapid testing.

The state is using the call data records (CDRs) for contact tracing. “As soon as a person is found positive, his call history of the last 15-20 days is checked and he is also asked about the people he interacted with and met personally,” says Sanjay Kumar, Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Bihar speaking exclusively to Express Computer.

Scenario mapping is also being done, as the situation is changing by the day. A planning app is being used to project the need for the resources to be required in the short, medium and long term – in terms of number of beds, PPEs.

Goa has the distinction of having zero active positive cases. It is a designated Green zone. Although the coastal state’s strategy to tackle the pandemic wasn’t centered around the use of technology, it was an “important element”, says a Senior Health official of the Ministry of health and Family Welfare.

Goa undertook a massive house to house survey of all the 4.5 lakh houses in Goa. “This exercise was all done using an app. The questions in the survey were answered over the app and aggregated for taking further action. The state has also built a COVID dashboard. It has updates on  quarantine facilities, patient details, etc,” says the official.

Moreover the telemedicine and chatbot facility is being used extensively by the citizens. “This was one of the first chatbots to be implemented in the country. It facilitates citizens to do a self-assessment to check for symptoms, or also if in case they have any queries, then the contact details of the nearest relevant healthcare facility were pushed to them. Goa is also encouraging the citizens to download the Aarogya Setu app.

NIC is closely working with various state agencies. “There are separate NIC units working with ICMR, Ministry of Health, National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) and Ministry of Home Affairs. The NIC’s state units are working with the respective state Governments on mobile apps like epass management, online money transfer to migrant labourers, etc,” says a senior NIC official.

NIC at the central level has designed a COVID-19 warriors portal. It has listed the details of people who have volunteered to serve in the functions related to the fight with COVID-19. The listings can also be viewed statewise.

There are positions listed for doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, lab volunteers, ex-servicemen, NSS, NCC, ASHA and Anganwadi workers, etc. The Government has plans to do rapid testing. NIC has also created an app to support rapid testing. Video conferencing is also being used at a massive scale. “Over 400-500 VC sessions are being conducted daily on a daily basis. E-office application, although seems very conventional, is coming in handy now, when there are limitations on the movement, which applies to Government officials too to a certain extent,” says the official.

Asit Kumar TripathyBiharGoaIASNICOdishaSanjay Kumar
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