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Friday, July 30, 2021

17-year-old develops bot, makes it easier to book vaccine slots on CoWIN

A resident of Mumbai, Safary, who spends most of his time programming on his computer, came up with the idea to make a bot that makes it easier to book inoculation slots.

Written by Ruchika Goswamy | Pune |
Updated: July 22, 2021 11:22:46 am
Preeyaj Safary, Mumbai boy bot, PunePreeyaj Safary

In April, when 17-year-old Preeyaj Safary saw his grandparents struggling to book vaccine slots on the CoWIN website, he decided to do something about it.

A resident of Mumbai, Safary, who spends most of his time programming on his computer, came up with the idea to make a bot that makes it easier to book inoculation slots.

“I was at my grandparents’ place when the immunisation drive accelerated. They are not very tech savvy and had a tough time maneuvering through the CoWIN website to book a slot. They had to seek help from their neighbours, who are in their 30s. I thought that if my grandparents are struggling to book vaccine slots, others might also be facing difficulties,” said Safary.

“Many elderly people do not require very heavy smartphones…In many instances, slots would no longer be available after only a few moments and to check availability elsewhere, there were only limited chances. In other words, one has to check again and again, which can be taxing for the elderly as well as the differently abled,” he added.

After several trials, Safary developed a bot on UiPath, which uses Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to locate a vaccine slot that is accessible. “Since I was on my vacation, I had the time to develop the bot. After several errors and defects in the code, I was able to come up with the bot in two to three days,” he said.

While the official CoWIN website has an auto bot, the user needs to fill a long form before they can check the vaccine availability in their area. “The bot that I have developed just requires a one time entry of information on an Excel sheet, that is, the contact number, area pin code, age (45+ and 18+) and paid/free vaccine option. One can also add a column for the desired hospital if they wish. Once that is done and we run the UiPath file, all we need to do is login on CoWIN, enter the contact number and OTP and the prerequisites will already be selected. Simply put, one does not need to enter their details again and again and instead just has to press a few buttons,” said Safary.

Although his effort feels small, he wishes to make a big difference, said Safary. “After I made the bot, a few of my relatives who stay in Mumbai gave it a try. My grandparents, too, said the bot can be of help to many in the community who might not be tech savvy. With the Excel sheet alongside the UiPath file, one can not only use this for an individual but also for a group of people like small companies or organisations. I also keep a track of the changes made on the CoWIN website so that I can alter my bot when required,” he said.

The 12th grade science student from Kishinchand Chellaram College, who aims to become a developer, said the overall objective is to reduce human effort. “My father is an IT professional and so, it was but natural that I developed a keen interest in computers and programming. I have taken several mobile development, web development, artificial intelligence and machine learning courses to develop my skills over time and it is just my effort to put my skills to good use for society,” he added.

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