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How a telecom start-up is helping in tracking, tracing and geo-fencing COVID-19 patients

Tracing and tracking of persons become all the more important as more people start moving out now. It should be quite important for the next two years, till such time a vaccine is developed and deployed across the world

Anup Jayaram | May 28, 2020 | Updated 02:15 IST
How a telecom start-up is helping in tracking, tracing and geo-fencing COVID-19 patients

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • As the lockdown gets over, it will be difficult to keep track of infected people
  • Technology will keep track to alert others who could be impacted
  • Helps ensure that quarantine is maintained
As India eases the stringent lockdown provisions and opens up for business after two months of lockdown, the big challenge is to control the spread of COVID-19. The need is to use technology to track, trace, geo-fence and address the COVID-affected people and those whom they came in contact with.

This is based on the standard operating procedure that Department of Telecommunications (DoT) shared with telcos on the COVID-19 Quarantine Alert System (CQAS). It is here that the connected experience platform built by telecom start-up Mozark - a platform that has apps, telcos and enterprises as its customers - comes into play. It has built this platform for DoT to track, trace and geo-fence COVID-19 patients.

The moment a hospital or municipality provides the mobile number of a COVID-affected person, these people are tagged. It tracks all devices that were near that person over the past few days. That helps it trace people who have been near these people and advises them to test themselves. Based on the data, it is now possible to track such individuals and check whether they are also tested positive. "More importantly, it is possible to geo-fence such patients and ensure that they do not violate the quarantine," says Kartik Raja, Co-Founder, Mozark.

The challenge is to provide information real-time. Also, as the spread increases, it is important to track at a smaller level to ensure that the person doesn't get out of the quarantine. That did not matter so long as the lockdown was in place. Now, in the slums of Mumbai it has to be a 25x25 metre or 50x50 metre area. Mozark started the work in the congested areas of Vijayawada and covered Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Now Delhi is talking about using it.

This platform works on all phones - be it smart or plain feature phones. Kartik adds, "Today when most states look at a quarantine, they use our platform which takes telco data and triangulates the location. So the connectivity platform is now like a Google map of people movement. When you want to do something sophisticated like what Korea or Japan is doing, you need something like this. The telco provides the data, we provide the platform."

Tracing and tracking of persons become all the more important as more people start moving out now. It should be quite important for the next two years, till such time a vaccine is developed and deployed across the world. As we open up, it is not possible to quarantine an entire block. That is where tighter geo-fencing comes into play. It has to be much smaller. "One wing of a building can be quarantined or a floor below and above can be quarantined. We need to get down to that level of accuracy. The boundaries have to be made smaller and smaller. There has to be location analytics," says Kartik.

The geo-fence in future will be based on the map of the area. If a COVID-affected person were to travel from one location to another, it is not possible to geo-fence the entire route. If you spent 10 minutes a location or if the population density in an area is very high, only then would it be geo-fenced. Talking about the intensity of the problem, Kartik says that it is not possible to follow the standard 80:20 formula. Even 1 per cent could become a problem.

It has a global customer base and a fourth of its revenues come from India. It has customers in Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia-Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

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