Indian government, so far, has shown an appreciable agility and swift action in containing Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread an on handling its aftermath. GOI taken some major actions starting January and so far, has remained ahead of curve in comparison to many countries, given the huge expanse of its geography and population.
Now its time to go a step ahead and bring the real high impact method into this madness occurring because of increasing graph of suspects and patients.
A central coordination and action of GOI along with Google and using the existing Google Apps and Google Maps app to be specific for execution, can be a real game-changer.
Google with its flagship android OS rules the 94.66% market share in India. Presumably, every Indian smartphone user has a strong chance of carrying a phone with Google Apps in it. If Google is roped in by GOI, there is no necessity of running all-new, multisource, often too verbose and unconcentrated awareness and contingency campaigns by GOI. Also, Google has been a part of many GOI initiatives like RailWire Wifi, Delhi Bus App etc. Needless to mention, Google is a tech giant (turnaround will be least possible) and a name in trust for a substantial part of the population.
With Google and GOI joining hands,
- Information will be highly accurate and real-time
- Will be disseminated in flash of seconds
- Android and apps can point out the exact number of people who read or used the information flashed
- Requires no new awareness campaign and exercise of having a new app or website to be referred/installed
Why Google Maps?
Google Maps is an essential app of android system and is a must for many other apps for food ordering and cab booking. The best part about Google map is that it is already used extensively for handling emergency/disaster situations worldwide and is optimised for information flow in real-time. Google maps triangulates people anonymously and creates what we often see as traffic mapping in the app.
It can help in the following ways
- GOI can check large assembly of people and can direct /advise accordingly
- GOI can fetch and feed real-time data of disaster management centres and hospitals. Google Maps can easily extend their conference API in the map app and officials can also see and talk in real-time
- GOI can feed the travel paths of suspected or actual patients and everyone with Google Maps app can check whether he crossed those paths with given distance in given time frame.
- People can see the nearest centres and hospitals earmarked for quick tests and also get a token or appointment if need be
- Important info like quarantine areas or alarms can be put in real-time
- GOI can ask other apps of other institutions or agencies working to feed data through Google APIs, which can be verified and updated in real-time
- Modules can be created with important info on the virus and any other vital information and be flashed in-app on text, graphics and videos
- App can send alerts to every mobile connected with internet and Google can send SMS by taking an SMSC link from all or one telecom operator. Google can also track and deliver the stats back on how many read the alert or acted on it. GOI can also use Google’s recent voice-based Google Assistant launched with companies like Vodafone Idea.
- GOI can also track the people who have fled after Corona suspicion and are not cooperating with agencies. The technology along with API provided by telecom operators can pinpoint the exact location of suspects on the run.
- In future, Google Maps can be used to provide info on supplies and other vital things if need be.
The usual cabal of people who want this disaster to rock the proverbial boat of India and its government will raise the unsubstantiated points on privacy breach.
Any privacy issue raised here will be misplaced. I explain below
- Google will be operating within the scope of its terms and conditions on which every user agrees. Google already uses anonymised data for providing various information and relevant advertisements. As an additional measure, Google & GOI can flash the use of location and any other specific condition before a person chooses to use it.
- Indian law has provisions to obtain information in case of an investigation by a competent authority. All telecom operators and tech companies operate under that. GOI can have a ‘competent’ officer as a part of this GOI-Google central panel.
Last but not the least, it is best practice for all future disasters and will set the right example of GOI’s tech and enabling bent of mind.
The author has declared that he has no connections or obligations to Google as a company.
Written by Vinay Mangal. The author is a product marketing professional and blogger. He writes on politics, philosophy, and current affairs.