Prelims level : Science & Technology Mains level : GS-III Science and Technology - developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; indigenization of technology and developing New Technology
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  • Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked people to share technology-driven solutions for coronavirus. MyGov, the nation’s citizen engagement platform, invited innovative solutions, Bioinformatics, datasets and Apps for diagnosis that can be leveraged for strengthening the fight against covid-19.

Digital Solutions for combating COVID-19:

  • Various nations are prodding the industries and academic institutions to look into digital space for solutions to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The European Commission has called for startups and SMEs with innovative solutions to tackle Coronavirus outbreak
  • Software experts and individuals are contributing their ideas through social media spaces like twitter and facebook.
  • On its way for crowdsourcing of ideas, has invited innovative solutions from the citizens.

Technologies used in tacking COVID-19:

  • Using Data Visualization:
    • Throughout the world, datasets from various sources are used for data visualization.
    • This includes open source datasets.
    • Helps in tracking, surveillance and monitoring of the progress.
  • Using GPS:
    • GPS aided locationing is used for finding the nearest medical facilities
    • The data can also be used for tracing the travel route of affected persons.
  • Telemedicine:
    • Using internet and the available Artificial Intelligence, the governments and the private players can provide online diagnosis
    • This can reduce the pressure on existing healthcare facilities
    • It can also avoid human interference and thereby reducing the spread.
  • Teleconferencing:
    • Recently, PM Narendra Modi used Teleconferencing to interact with SAARC leaders on combating the COVID-19.
    • Such methods shall be used by leaders and professionals to reduce human to human contacts.
  • Smartphones and Apps:
    • Apps can be used to track patients post-treatment – it can be used to track their future travels, and their contacts.
    • This helps in monitoring of patients for re-emergence of the infection.
    • Smart Devices like smart watches, which can monitor body temperature can be used for monitoring patients.
  • Internet and Social media:
    • Internet has made way for the workers from certain sectors to work from home
    • Internet and social media giving real-time information about the global happenings, reduce the fear among the people and also help in spreading awareness about the infection.
  • E- Commerce platform:
    • This helps to reduce social interaction without affecting the daily life of the people.
    • With options like no contact delivery, online platforms provide essentials like masks, sanitizers to the people at their doorsteps.
  • Digital transactions:
    • Recently, RBI governor Shaktikanta Das, asked the customers to use digital banking facilities as far as possible.
    • According to a research by Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), an average Indian currency note roughly has Eukaryotic species such as fungi (70%), bacterial populations (9%) and viruses (<1%).

Measures taken by Governments:

  • The Singapore government has used digital datasets to identify the infected persons and persons who are prone to potential risk.
  • Taiwan being  technology positive has effectively controlled the spread using the technology.
  • China uses Online diagnosis services, digital maps of qualified clinics, social media awareness programmes and e-commerce platforms to control the outbreak.
  • India harnessed the power of the telecom sector, by using the Caller tunes as medium to spread awareness about COVID-19.

Technology and Concerns for India:

  • Unlike Singapore and Taiwan, India’s population is much larger and is spread over a wide area
  • India doesn’t have uniform data collection in place
  • Digital illiteracy is much larger in India, particularly among the COVID vulnerable old age populations.
  • The internet infrastructure though robust may have difficulties due to increased traffic in case of large numbers of self-quarantines.
  • Indian government has to largely depend on private players for digital technologies like testing kits.
  • There is a fear among the citizens that the disease surveillance datasets used by the government can be used for other political motives like NPR and CAA as well.
    • Disease surveillance is dependent on real-time, good quality data that can be shared to support analysis, modelling and forecasting.
    • India needs a decentralised mode of data collection and surveillance to tackle COVID-19 efficiently. Data used for surveillance purposes should respect the privacy of the individuals concerned. It requires a mutual Government – citizen trust, to tackle the pandemics effectively.
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