The Indian government is reportedly looking to procure thousands of smart wristbands pre-loaded with its ‘Aarogya Setu’ app to track COVID-19 patients in the country. According to ET, the wristbands will help authorities keep track of patients in hospitals and at their homes under self-quarantine. It will also help healthcare professionals record patients’ temperatures and symptoms via remote monitoring.
The report further states that the State-owned Broadcast Engineering Consultants India (BECIL) is working with Bengaluru and Gurgaon-based startups on designing the new smart bands. Technical bids for the wristbands reportedly closed on Monday, and the PSU is now said to be reviewing the designs along with senior government officials. Online meetings have already been set up with representatives of some of the companies who sent in bids to supply the wristbands. The devices could be priced at Rs. 2,200 a pop, but prices can go down if there’s a lack of demand going forward.
According to an unnamed official quoted by the report, “The wristbands will ensure that people quarantined with suspected infections stay at a designated place. If they take it off, the hospitals will be informed. Once integrated with Aarogya Setu app, there will be many more parameters which will be available for the health officials’ supervision”.
In a move that is raising serious questions about privacy and civil liberties, the technical document also states that the band would monitor “everyday behavior of the person, including where s/he orders food from and the places s/he regularly visits, the multiple routes s/he could take”. It will also “detect, prevent and investigate threats to national security using CDR, IPDR, Tower, Mobile Phone Forensics Data, and Open Street Maps, Google Maps and Offline Maps without internet”.