M‘app’ing safe routes

Battling COVID-19, With One Download

Nalin Jayaswal, XI C & Suhani Malik, XII B, AIS Pushp Vihar

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Students educating citizens download Aarogya Setu app and follow it

As you read this, the entire world is fighting a battle against COVID-19. Waging their own small, albeit significant war is a group of teenagers in India. High school students of Amity International School, Pushp Vihar, a premium school in the country’s capital are encouraging the local populace to download ‘Aarogya setu’, an app by the Government of India that helps one keep track of COVID 19 positive users in their vicinity.

Meet 17 year old Charvi Mendiratta, Harshaa Kawatra & Isha Agarwal - the three students who kick started the journey to uploading safety by one simple download. “We realised that the app was extremely useful and a lot of risk could be mitigated at the individual level simply by using the same,” shares Charvi.

The app notifies users if they cross paths with someone who has tested positive for the virus and guides the user on the necessary steps for self-isolation. It also helps oneself analyse their symptoms and suggests the need to visit a doctor based on the analysis.

The goal was simple and clear. The journey too began with simple steps.

“We approached our neighbours, the security guards, relatives, to download the app. Also, we engaged in personal conversation through calls and texts, explaining people the significance of the app. Sometimes, for senior citizens or support staff like the society guards, we had to download the app on their phones and teach them how to use it,” says Isha Agarwal, one of the team members.

But reaching those in the immediate vicinity isn’t enough, when the entire world struggles to fight the pandemic.

The battle had to be taken further, “We used platforms like Instagram and Facebook to reach out to people. We also developed a volunteer system, asking our friends to spread awareness about the app in their immediate circles,” Isha continued.

The journey had begun, but came with its share of roadblocks.

“One of the major challenges we encountered was working with the 50-60 year olds. Since they are not very technology savvy, teaching them how to use the app was a challenge. But since they are also the most vulnerable, this section could not be ignored either,” says Charvi Mendiratta, another member from the same group.

While there was the tech challenged group on one hand, there was tech savvy on the other, bringing its own share of challenges.

Harshaa, a team member, adds, “The youngsters and middle aged who were aware about the app, had their own apprehensions. Since the app requires you to switch on your Bluetooth and location settings at all times, there was a lot of scepticism about one’s privacy.”

So how did the team steer clear of the scepticism?

“We tried to point out how hard it is to overcome the current situation. So, if it is about choosing between privacy and safety, the latter should be an obvious pick. Bluetooth and location settings only helps to determine the person’s location, and helps the app to notify an individual about the active COVID-19 cases in his/her area. So, it’s better to have corona in the phone on the palm than on the palm itself,” she says.

At present, the team has helped over a 1000 people download the app and is still counting.

But as a wise man once said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, in this case a single download.

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Suhani Malik is a high school senior and a writer for her school newspaper. Discovering her love of writing at the age of 12, she wishes to never look backwards. She has an inclination towards quirky and whimsical stories, but loves to dabble in any story which will create an impact.

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Nalin Jayaswal is a high school student and member of his local youth action hub. He has a passion for social work and loves to use his fervour for writing for the same. He pursues writing as a prayer for the soul and considers Emily Dickinson as an idol.

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The World Teenage Reporting Project >COVID 19 is a global collaboration of teenage reporters in newsrooms around the world who produce stories about what their peers are doing to help during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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India’s first registered youth Newspaper

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