The government has released the source code of its Covid-19 contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu, on software development platform GitHub, in line with India’s policy on Open Source Software.
The government hopes to leverage the expertise of top technical brains in the country to improve the platform by releasing the source code, which has been a key demand of privacy experts. The platform has been aiding frontline workers in the fight against the pandemic.
Principal Scientific Adviser Prof. K VijayRaghavan said that contact tracing historically has been done manually during times of contagion, but this usually takes weeks. “…This allows us to effectively battle the disease,” he said.
The government has also launched a Bug Bounty Programme so that security researchers and the Indian developer community can test the effectiveness of Aargoya Setu and improve or enhance its security as well as build user trust.
“Transparency, privacy, and security have been the core design principles of Aarogya Setu since its inception, and opening the Source Code to the developer community signifies the government’s continued commitment to these principles,” said Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog.
The source code for the Android version of the application is available for review and collaboration, while the iOS version will be released as the open-source within the next two weeks.
Almost 98% of Aarogya Setu users are on the Android platform.
The App has been downloaded by over 114 million users as on May 26, more than any other contact tracing app in the world, the government said in a statement.
“Even though the Personal Data Protection Bill is still before Parliament, we have implemented the principles of data privacy in designing this app,” said Ajay Sawhney, secretary in the Ministry of Electronics and IT.
So far, the platform has reached out to more than 900,000 users and helped advise them on quarantine, caution or testing.
Among those recommended for testing, almost 24% have been found positive for the infection compared to the overall Covid-19 positive rate of around 4.65% as on May 26.
“India is keen to share learnings from our approach to technology to fight Covid-19 and make the benefits of the solution available to the rest of the world and any government can use it for fighting the pandemic,” it said.
The Aarogya Setu team has identified more than 3,500 hotspots across the country at sub-post office level, it added.
(With inputs from economictimes)