Kisumu: New app for Covid-19 contact tracing

Written By: KNA

Two Kisumu based computer engineers have developed an application to assist the county government trace people who come into contact with infected persons in public service vehicles (PSVs).

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Through the application dubbed ‘Covid 19 Passenger Manifest’, all passengers who board Public Service Vehicles in the area will use an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code to key in their details.

The passengers shall use their mobile phones to key in their pick-up point, drop-off point and the registration number of the vehicle they are travelling in.

The innovation, a brainchild of Tirus Ooyi and Martin Oloo of Fab Lab Winam, targets to capture data real time and relay the same to the authorities for tracing in the event of a reported case.

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“This data shall also be recorded by mobile telephone service providers and can be availed to the relevant authorities for use anytime,” he said.

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Tirus Ooyi, said the back-end-data base to be domiciled at the County Government ICT offices shall capture the details and location of all passengers and make it easy for the Ministry of Health to track any suspected cases.

“If for example a case is reported in particular vehicle, we are able to access the back-end data-base and produce a list of all the passengers on board and even track their current location real time to stop further spread of the virus,” he added.

Ooyi disclosed that the application which is currently undergoing tests was part of Fab Lab Winam’s corporate social responsibility and would go a long way in stopping the spread of the virus.

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“Currently, contact tracing is the biggest challenge in stopping the spread of the virus and we are hoping that this innovation will help the relevant authorities to crack it,” he said.

He said through support from the County Government, the USSD Code shall be toll free so that no passenger is locked out due to lack of airtime.

“We have made the process very simple. What all PSV vehicles shall do is to display the USSD Code and Vehicle registration number and ensure that all passengers book their journey,” he said.

For the elderly, those who don’t have mobile phones or those whose phones run out of power, he said the application has an option, where another phone can be used to register them.

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On his part, Martin Oloo, said the platform has the capacity to be rolled nationally to enhance contact tracing.

“This system has the capacity to be used across the country but we are rolling it out here in Kisumu first if we get the full backing of the county government and other stakeholders,” he said.

Kisumu County Government Spokesman, Aloyce Ager, said the innovation was timely and would help maintain a credible passenger manifest to control spread of the Covid-19 disease.

The County Government, he said shall issue a directive to the matatu industry leaders in the area to ensure that all passengers register.

He added that the County ICT Department shall work closely with the Fab Lab team to ensure that the application is rolled out immediately.


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