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BMC app to check Covid-19 bed availability yet to go live

Developer claims app is ready for download; approval for live data pending with civic chief
By Mehul R Thakkar, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUL 17, 2020 01:08 AM IST

A month after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) launched a mobile application that would allow citizens to check the availability of Covid-19 beds in private, state- and civic-run hospitals in real time, the application is yet go live.

The software developer says the app is ready but BMC is yet to give access to its data from hospitals. According to BMC, the project is awaiting a final go-ahead from the civic commissioner.

Last month on June 17, mayor of Mumbai Kishori Pednekar had launched an application named Air Venti, which was expected to go live within a week with data on bed availability at all private, government and BMC-run hospitals.

BMC had said the app would initially provide information related to available beds in intensive care units and ventilators. Later, it would have information related to quarantine facilities in several Covid-19 care centres.

Eventually, the app would also have information on beds available in hospitals for the treatment of non-Covid diseases like dengue and malaria. At a later stage, information about rainfall, waterlogging and other alerts would be sent to citizens via this app.

However, the app is yet to go live.

Shantanu Kulkarni, the software developer whose firm Probity Soft developed Air Venti, said, “We are ready with the application, and one can also download it from Google Play store. We have approached the Mumbai mayor to ask BMC to either link their dashboard data with the mobile application developed by us or ask hospitals to report the data to us.”

He added, “We are told the mayor has also asked BMC’s administration to do the same, considering this application will be beneficial for citizens by helping them find beds easily.”

According to senior BMC officials, the decision to make the data live on Air Venti is awaiting approval from BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal.

A BMC official said, “Once we get the final go-ahead from the commissioner’s office, the data will go live.” Chahal was not available for comment.

Mumbai-based activist Anil Galgali said, “I have written twice to the authorities that all details of bed availability, expenditure and available or proposed infrastructure should be made available online, but the same has not happened. In this case, we have a mobile application ready for citizens to use and get information, but details have not been uploaded. This is not transparency.”

BMC has faced criticism for limiting citizens’ access to information regarding the availability of beds, which has made the process of finding beds in hospitals complicated for many patients.

On June 10, BMC launched 24 helpline numbers from which citizens could get information on the availability of beds.

Later, it was decided that information regarding bed availability would be put up online by connecting the civic body’s disaster management control room to a mobile application, which could be accessed by citizens.

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