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Home / Tech / Police departments might use phone location to enforce coronavirus quarantine

Police departments might use phone location to enforce coronavirus quarantine

Innefu Labs has created an app called Unmaze that will be used by authorities to keep people indoors. The app will be released on Monday

tech Updated: Mar 26, 2020 21:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Patna-March.25,2020-Police personnel watching the situation at Dak Bungalow crossing in Patna during nationwide lockdown in wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Bihar India on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.
Patna-March.25,2020-Police personnel watching the situation at Dak Bungalow crossing in Patna during nationwide lockdown in wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Bihar India on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.(Photo Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times)

With the government enforcing a 21-day lockdown in the country, authorities across most states have been facing a tough time keeping people in. Now, at least three police departments in India are planning on leveraging people’s phones to make them stay at home through the coronavirus pandemic.

Innefu Labs, the same people who made the Delhi Police’s Automated Facial Recognition Software that was used to monitor crowds during the recent riots and protests in the city, has created a platform called Unmaze.

“We are mapping phones’ GPS locations and device IDs,” Tarun Wig, founder of Innefu Labs, told Mint. Currently, three police departments that are existing customers of Innefu Labs might use the platform.

Innefu is not charging any money for the app right now and will be releasing it on Monday. Wig told Mint that the police departments want to “start using it immediately, but the company is going to finish testing it over the weekend and the app will come into play from Monday or Tuesday next week”.

Wig added that the apps will come via the police departments, possibly under various names and consumers will have to download the app while authorities will update records of infected patients on the backend.

With both sets of data in place, the app will map GPS locations of phones and let users know if they have come within five to 10 metres of a coronavirus-positive patient.

Users will have to sign up using their phone numbers and the app will use the unique ID of their phone and its GPS location to get to work. The app checks the user’s location constantly and if someone is found to be at risk, it asks the user to quarantine themselves.

Also, the app will create a geofence to ensure that the patient does not break quarantine and wander out.

So, what is a geofence and how will this work?

A geofence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area. It can be dynamically generated. In this case, the app will use your phone location to set up a geofence for you, if you have been asked to self quarantine.

The geofence can only check whether a person is moving beyond a set perimeter.

For this particular case, if a user is found to be breaking quarantine, the app will alert both the user and the authorities.

As Wig explained, the app is not going to tell people anything about steps they must take after they have been quarantined or call them to check up. The focus is on trying to keep patients home and thus the solution has been kept as simple as possible.