Himachal Pradesh develops COVID-19 combat applications in no time

The state’s department of IT under the leadership of Rohan Chand Thakur, Director - IT, Dept of Information Technology, Govt of Himachal Pradesh partnered with the local developers to design applications, which has received high usage from various authorities

Express Computer has been doing comprehensive coverage of how state Governments are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic by using digital tools and other technologies. In today’s edition, we have covered Kerala’s anti fake news division.

The state of Himachal Pradesh has also taken major steps under the leadership of Rohan Chand Thakur, Director – IT, Dept of Information Technology, Govt of Himachal Pradesh. He partnered with the local developers and raised a consolidated covid portal consisting of multiple applications, developed in the range of 48 to 72 hours, considering the urgency and immediacy of availability since after the lockdown was announced.

Rohan Chand Thakur, Director – IT, Himachal Pradesh

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.
(E-pass app:
Development began: March 27
Deployment on Live server – March 29. The teams worked on this app nonstop for about 36 hours)

App designed by: 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.
(Quarantine app:
Development began: March 25
Deployment on Live server – March 29)

App designed by: Development Logics

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: 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.
App designed by: Individual developer based in Shimla
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.
Portal designed and developed by: Development Logics

As on April 13 – 362 media bulletins have been uploaded:
– People quarantined – Approx. 4000 (all are being tracked by the mobile app)
– Epass applications – 124760 / Approved – 27000.

Apps developed by roping in local entrepreneurs
The startup community in Himachal Pradesh is vibrant. The IT department partnered with Development Logics. A Dharamshala based startup has designed the majority of the apps. The company is already empanelled with the state Government. “A major reason for working with local developers is they are very responsive to the requests, because the change requirements from the respective departments are pouring in and the startups are swift to act and fix the issues and fulfill the upgrades,” says Thakur. There were over four teams working from different companies simultaneously on various applications.

corona virusCovid-19Development logicsepassfake newsHimachal PradeshRohan Chand Thakur
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