Bhubaneswar’s ‘Sachetak’ approach to protect the elderly from COVID-19
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation has launched ‘Sachetak’ (one who creates awareness) app to comprehensively cater to the requirements of the elderly, who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Prem Chandra Chaudhary, Municipal Commissioner, BMC and CEO, Bhubaneswar Smart City, speaks with EC's Abhishek Raval
How did the idea come up for designing the app?
There are a number of applications developed for managing COVID – 19 nationally as well as internationally. The applications are a collection of positive and quarantined cases. Real Time tracking of the users is the core vision of the other applications. BMC and Bhubaneswar Smart City Ltd (BSCL) studied the other applications available in the market and realized that the other applications are doing real time tracking of the already existing cases and are not very successful owing to the rigid tracking of the citizen’s movement which is not completely enforceable. BMC with its deep local and contextual understanding, realized that the application to be developed has to be preemptive and proactive in its approach and should target exclusively the senior citizens and co-morbid sections of the society who are at the most risk. The application success can be ensured only when the citizens own the application and start using it.
Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, using the extensive data analysis based on data collected of the COVID – 19 cases along with taking cue from the international standard best practices and with series of discussion and brainstorming sessions with city and health specialists launched “ Sachetak” Application. An application specifically designed keeping in view the vulnerabilities of the elderly and co-morbid sections of the society. Bhubaneswar realized early on, that the fight with COVID – 19 is long and it can only be contained by protecting the elderly and the co-morbid section as they are at the highest risk.
It was understood that the major needs of the elderly are broadly – essential services, banking services and medical consultation. The application has been developed keeping this in the core. The application also acts as a single stop for all information pertaining to COVID -19, with a strong emphasis on voluntary data sharing by the citizens to help the authorities to better understand the situation and plan the risk mitigation. The application also provides real time updates on the current COVID situations at ward level to ensure the citizens are well informed and cautioned.
How has the app helped the senior citizens?
The application has efficiently provided the senior citizens with a safe window to interact with the city authorities for all their basic needs, such as medical consultation through the application. The feature of caregiver further strengthens the approach of community participation in managing COVID – 19. There are many elderly couples in Bhubaneswar living alone. The access to essentials, banking needs was an uphill task due to the risks of exposure to the virus. To ease out their effort in accessing the basic services, caregivers are tagged to each of the couples who assists them in their day to day essentials.
The application also keeps track of elderly and co-morbid and based on the requirement necessary messages and cautionary notices are issued to the elderly. The data helps BMC maintain a strong vigil on the number of cases and accordingly provide preventive assistance to elderly living in locations where there is a constant surge in the number of cases. This application has not only come as a relief to the senior citizens but also their families who are living out of Bhubaneswar as they are assured that BMC is with their parents in these challenging times.
Please elaborate on the app for senior citizens
Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, using the extensive data analysis of the COVID – 19 cases and taking cue from the global best practices supported by series of discussions, brainstorming sessions with city administration and health experts; have launched a mobile app ‘Sachetak’ – meaning one who creates awareness in Odia. An application specifically designed keeping in view the risks involved with the elderly and co-morbid sections of the society. Bhubaneswar realized early on, that the fight with COVID – 19 is long and it can only be contained by protecting the elderly and the co-morbid section as they are at the highest risk.
It was understood that the major needs of the elderly are broadly – essential services, banking services and virtual medical consultation. The application has been designed keeping this at the core. It also acts as a single stop for all information pertaining to COVID -19, with a strong emphasis on cloud sourcing (voluntary data-sharing by the citizens) to help the authorities to better understand the situation and plan the risk mitigation. The app also provides real time updates on the current COVID situations at ward level to ensure the citizens are well informed and cautioned.
The key purpose of this application is:
- Health is Wealth: Citizens can help BMC protect themselves better by sharing basic information about current health status to help BMC identify any probable risks related to COVID -19 and provide best possible medical assistance.
- Protect Elderly and Comorbid: It is widely known that the persons above the age of 50 and with comorbidity functions are the most vulnerable to COVID – 19. The application shall help in identifying and shielding them.
- Provide the medical assistance at safety of home: The application provisions for citizens to share their medical backgrounds securely with the registered doctors and seek medical consultation from the safety of homes.
- Real-time information and updates: Recent updates on COVID – 19, guidelines issued by BMC, Govt of Odisha, Govt of India and videos on general health tips.
The application is simple and light and extremely user friendly, the broad features of the application are:
- Registration – The registration is extremely easy and is done through OTP to ensure security. Need of passwords is removed to make it even simpler.
- Profile Update – The citizens registering can update their information through a simple form, where they submit all their personal details, COVID symptoms and a brief medical history to help the authorities identify the elderly and co-morbid.
- Consult a Doctor – Real time consultation with registered doctors at the fingertips.
- COVID – 19 Dashboard: Real time update of COVID – 19 situation with details of each ward to inform and caution the citizens.
- Guidelines and Health Tips: Citizens can access a plethora of information on COVID – 19, relevant guidelines issued by the authority, health tips and messages by eminent public figures, officials.
- Reporting Returnee: Citizens also have a provision to report returnees, the data shall be verified by BMC authorities. This feature is helpful and instills confidence in public reporting mechanism.
- Refer a Friend: This feature allows the citizens to share the application with their friends and families. A download request is shared with their friends and families on providing the number of their friends/ families.
- Feedback: Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation strongly believes in participatory decision making. The application allows the citizens to provide feedbacks on enhancing the application and reporting any glitches.
The entire application is supported by a strong content based management system for updating information from the authorities seamlessly. The admin dashboard has in built analytics to help authorities take informed and data backed decisions.
The fight with COVID -19 is going to be long, it can only be won with everyone being responsible and accountable. The application provides the citizens with an opportunity to directly help BMC meticulously manage COVID – 19. It is a conduit between the citizens and authorities in a very safe and secure way and allows two way communication, evolving into a community based participative mode.
What kind of statistics can you provide in terms of the total downloads, transaction, interactions conducted on the app ?
The application has a real time dashboard, which helps the BMC authorities get real time update on the data being generated by the application.
- Total No of Downloads: 4147
- Total Consultation Requests: 65
- Total Doctors Registered: 81
- Age Wise Breakup of the registered users:
|Number of registered users
|15 -25 years
|50 -65 years
|65 -80 years
|80 + years
(as of 7am 6th July 2020)
Population Demographics: Male – 73.75%; Female – 36.25%
Users with Co-morbidity: 3783
Has the app been designed and developed by the IT dept / Startup or a private IT company?The application has been designed by BMC authorities keeping in view the contextual need of Bhubaneswar. The technological aspects including the User Interface and dashboards have been designed by BSCL in close co-ordination with BMC. The coding of the application has been done by a local startup firm.