The Kerala way: Use of geofencing, drones, telemed app to tackle Covid-19
Kerala Police’s Cyberdome, which is a cyber cell, was the first to develop a platform for the surveillance of the movement of high-risk people placed under quarantine to tackle the spread of the Covid-19. The software tracks the people’s movements in quarantine using geofencing, only the high-risk contacts, like those who have had close association with the positive Covid-19 cases and those whom officials think may break protocol, are monitored.
Kerala’s experiments with cutting technology to simplify citizen services have always been much appreciated across the country, irrespective of the natural calamities it has seen in the past or the current global pandemic of the coronavirus that has taken the world into its grip.
When the entire country is going through a tough time and complete government machinery is pressed into serviceto contain the dreaded coronavirus or Covid-19, Kerala Police is extensively using ICT to track people violating the 21 day lockdown and taking help of ultra modern gadgets to keep citizens inside their homes.
From using drones to geofence-based home quarantine solution app to tele medicine platform, the Kerala government is not leaving any stone unturned to use technology optimally.
Kerala Police has already hogged the limelight by making innovative videos on social media like the four ‘corona virus awareness videos’ made by the Kerala police. All are innovative in-house creations of Kerala Police, where all the actors, directors and producers are police officers.
Kerala Police’s “Hand washing dance” went viral and gained international attention recently. The hand-washing practice to stem the virus one step further – with a fun dance, left fans of social networking sites in splits. Since being shared online, it has garnered over 2.5 million views on Facebook, along with 70,000 ‘shares’ and over 20,000 comments praising the initiative. The video of the police dance, which was again developed in-house by State Police Media Centre Kerala, shows cops performing various dance moves to illustrate the right way to wash hands. It features six policemen, all wearing face masks, shaking a leg to the hit song Kalakkatha from the film ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’.
Kerala Police’s cyberdome which is a cyber cell was the first to develop a platform for the surveillance of the movement of high-risk people placed under quarantine to tackle the spread of the Covid-19 in the state. Keeping people in quarantine was a huge challenge and this platform or app was used as the digital solution for the same. The software tracks the people’s movements in quarantine using geofencing, only the high-risk contacts, like those who have had close association with the positive Covid-19 cases and those whom officials think may break protocol, are monitored.
Kottayam district police was the first to adopt this platform and then it was emulated by other districts in the state.
Geofence is a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location. The technology uses Global Positioning System (GPS), RFID tags, Wi-Fi or a person’s mobile phone to track their location. Mobile service providers are providing the GPS and mobile tower locations of such a person and the police authorities are alerted immediately when the person steps outside the geofence.
Kerala Police has also pressed drones to track the public’s movement. For over many weeks, Kerala’s skies have been dotted with unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, watching out for social-distancing violations from gatherings to games of beach football.
Officials say that the police did not aim to identify and prosecute the offenders but only wanted to scare them into rushing back home and it helped. Unlike the stealth UAVs of the US military, these small drones have been fitted out with sirens and flashing lights so the people below can’t miss them even after sunset.Police also make announcement through such drones, using speakers.
It had all begun with the Kerala Police deploying their three high-performance quad copters — drones with four rotors — on lockdown watch. The move worked so well that the police have drafted in private players to build a network of 300 drones that now scan every corner of the state.
Similarly, Kerala Police in association with the Indian Medical Association has launched a telemedicine mobile appthat facilitates free video consultation with doctors. The mobile application called ‘blueTeleMed’ can be downloaded for free from Google Playstore. While the original idea behind the app was to help out police personnel in the state involved in lockdown duty, its service has now been extended to the general public.
Doctors from general medicine to specialists, along with their districts have been listed. After consulting the patients, the doctors will provide an e-prescription. If necessary, the patients will also be referred to various hospitals. In such cases, patients will also receive e-passes that grant permission to travel to the hospital during the lockdown. This e-pass can be shown to police officials during check ups on the road.
“The police officers who work during the lockdown do not have a provision to reach out to a hospital. So when a proposal of telemedicine came, we started it in collaboration with IMA and a startup company—blueEHR. It will be very useful for police officers as basic consultation with a doctor can be done very quickly through this,” says Manoj Abraham, Additional Director General of Police and Head of Kerala Police Cyberdome.
Kerala Police launched the shopsapp, a mobile app for essential commodities. Customers can order essentials from nearby shops using this app. Kudumbashree units can also take part in supplying provisions to customers. The services will be free till corona-related restrictions get removed, according to an official. Shops App was developed by Kerala Police Cyberdome in association with Invent Labs Innovations, a startup.
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