Updated: April 9, 2020 8:11:51 pm
The Coronavirus epidemic has put the world on the edge. And adding to genuine fears around the outbreak is a barrage of false information related to COVID-19, from fake cures to bloated fatality figures. And this is exactly where a bunch of five college students from Goa think their app Minimalist Coronavirus tracker will help.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, 19-year-old Shrey Keny, who created the app along with Salil Naik, Niket Kamat Satoskar, Hrishikesh Bhandari and Sanket Marathe, said he wanted to safeguard his community in Goa with “timely information on the spread about Coronavirus”.
Keny, an IT engineering student at PCCE in Goa, said the app has a mobile-first approach because 90 per cent of our users are mobile-based. They opted for a minimalist design so that relevant information reaches the masses, he said, adding how for a reliable dataset they have zeroed in on processed data from Johns Hopkins.
The app also includes a “light mode” feature for users who prefer a lighter theme. By default, it is in Dark mode which makes the heat map clearly visible. Keny said “the first iteration of the app was built in less than 24 hours”.
“We are now on the eighth iteration. We are working towards further product enhancements.”
Despite sourcing data from a trusted source like Johns Hopkins University, the inputting of data is still manual and resource intensive. Keny hopes to make this process dynamic soon.
Interestingly, the team hasn’t invested any money in building the app. “We have used open source libraries to code this app along with free tools and cloud hosting services (with bandwidth limitations),” Keny explained.
The team wants to add India-specific features but that “would require cooperation from health officials, authorities and relevant NGOs in India”.
With several reports suggesting that the virus is more likely to affect older demographics and people with weaker immune systems, “we want to create awareness about the same and might also add mortality data”.
“In future, we want to divide the platform into two main sections. One with the map, news, tips and the other with statistics and graphs. We will build features that allow people to locate clinics where they can get tested. We will also look into adding Coronavirus-related news, tips and precautionary measures and also look at localisation, especially making information available in Devanagari script,” he added.
How does the app work?
On opening the URL (https://corona-virus.netlify.com/) on Android smartphones, users will receive a prompt to install the Progressive Web App (PWA) on the homescreen of their phones. iOS the user can navigate to browser options and click on “add to home screen” option for the same. It also shows when the app was last updated.
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The web app comes with a simple UI — an interactive heat map that shows the confirmed Coronavirus cases worldwide. One can tap on the dots shown on the map to reveal more data about the location. The app displays a number of confirmed cases, deaths and recovered cases worldwide. It also shows the date in the form of graphs making it easy for the user to understand the scenario better.
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