COVID-19 continues to put pressure on the normal aspects of a working society. Surely, a whole lot of business has been affected due to the fear of coronavirus spread. Ironically, the nation-wide lockdown has done more harm to the economy than the fear itself. While it is easy to lose hope in these dire situations, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
In this specific situation, the lockdown has actively promoted the digitalization of various services like online shopping, cashless transactions, among others. While things might not be perfect, it is definitely going in the right direction.
Staying on the topic, SmartPalika is on the news for taking digitalization a step further.
SmartPalika is an integrated system visioned to build benchmark technologies for local government bodies like Nagarpalika, Gaupalika, etc. Moreover, it is made up of enterprise, research, and planning which deals with various frameworks like governance automation, smart communication, digital information dissemination, and several other smart practices.
SmartPalika has recently launched a Disaster Response Management System for tracking and monitoring for the current COVID-19 situation. Furthermore, it is available as an add-on for the SmartPalika system, as well as, a separate standalone system.
Developing a System from Past Experiences
According to Mr. Manoj Bhattarai, CEO at SmartPalika said that the new management platform was developed after learning through past experiences.
“We have had about 11 years’ worth of experience in developing such a platform. During that time, we had volunteered to develop similar systems for past disasters like the Koshi Barrage Flood, 2015 Nepal Earthquake, Terai Flood, the hurricanes (Irma, Maria) of the United States, and the floods of Kerala. That system was used by volunteers, police, official worker or anyone deployed on the frontlines. So, it’s not our first time in creating such a system, rather we are just continuing our legacy.”, he adds.
Talking about developing the system, Mr. Bhattarai says, “We wanted to do our best to help with the ongoing situation. So, we had 16 members from our team working tirelessly for about 11 days to develop the new feature, just to get it moving. We are still working on it to further improve the overall user experience.”
COVID-19 Disaster Response System
The new platform acts as a management system befitting for the current situation. It is used for quarantine management, isolation management, and self-assessment. Moreover, it includes features like Live Tracking, Monitoring, and Contact Tracing.
#1. Quarantine Management
Local Governments have designated respective quarantine zones with respective people in quarantine. So, the system keeps track of day-to-day health reports, the total number of people in quarantine, the total number of people who left quarantine among others.
#2. Isolation/Self Isolation Management
Isolation/Self Isolation Management shares similarities with the Quarantine Management feature. So, the system keeps track of people currently in isolation at different places.
#3. Live Tracking
Live Tracking keeps track of the total number of individuals, currently on quarantine and isolation, in different places.
#4. Contact Tracing
Contact tracing is the process of identification of persons who may have come into contact with an infected person. So, the system can collect different information from either user or government admin to perform tracing operations.
Hence, the system collects the data for Crisis Assessment, Self-Assessment for Information and Data Management. Additionally, the data are available as reports for further analysis.
Moreover, the system is divided into three categories: Mobile Application, Web Application, and Open Data Portal.
The mobile application is made available to the public by individual local government bodies. Likewise, the web application acts as a management system used by that government body. Then, the collective data is showcased as a statistical representation accessible to the public.
Depending on the situation, the system will go on to integrate more complex features like Bloodbank Database and Real-time Logistics. However, it will only be integrated if the situation turns worse.
Deploying System to Local Governments
According to Mr. Manoj Bhattarai, the new monitoring system was officially launched after presenting the platform to the Bharatpur Municipality on April 9, 2020.
“After that, we have already prepared and deployed the system to more than 27 Local Governments including Birgunj Metro City, Dhulikhel MUN, Raskot MUN, among others. As of April 16, I’m happy to report that more than 70 local-level institutes have already subscribed to our system. Moreover, we do plan to provide the system to all the 753 Local Governments for FREE.”, he adds.
SmartPalika envisions creating benchmark technologies for local governments. The new tracking management system is a volunteering project which has created an impact while matching with their company vision.
Talking about challenges, Mr. Bhattarai says, “It is difficult to pursuit everyone to go digital, especially to those who don’t have any IT background. However, people are getting more tech aware. So, it gets easier with time as more things are done over the internet.”
Data Sensitivity and Data Protection
Lately, there has been a sharp rise in cyber-attacks and data breaches in Nepal. Moreover, privacy and data protection continues to be a hot debate for a nation lacking proper protective infrastructures.
“Doctors, health officers, volunteers… practically everyone with access to the system can enter data. But data entry is filtered and moderated. Moreover, we know that the data is sensitive so we don’t collect nor handle that data. It is handled by individual local government in their respective servers.”, he adds.
Talking about data protection, Mr. Bhattarai says, “We’ve been working with Government data for almost three years. In terms of data security, data protection, and data encryption, we have taken every bit of safety measures, even going beyond Nepal’s cybersecurity standards.”
SmartPalika’s new Disaster Response Management System comes at a time when it is needed the most. Likewise, there have been other platforms from different individuals or organizations joining the fight against COVID-19.
“It is great to see everyone, especially youngsters, initiating different ideas with different technologies. I think it could be greater if we could combine those ideas into a single platform, working together to create a one-for-all kind of system. So, I appeal to everyone to come together.”, says Mr. Bhattarai.
For further details on SmartPalika’s COVID-19 Disasters Response System, click here.