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Drones, video calls, GPS tracking app and even personal visits: Pune admin out on a limb to track those home quarantined

The Pune police along with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and district administration have come up with various ways to keep a check on those home quarantined to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus).

The new methods of keeping a check on residents include drones, video calls, facial recognition techniques and a GPS (global positioning system) tracking app in the person's phone to ensure that they do not leave their houses. While technology is at the centre of ensuring implementation of the home quarantine order, PMC staff is also visiting residences of those advised isolation and putting up posters at door with the message - "Please do not visit. This home is under quarantine".

The move to use drones, video calls or putting up posters has come after it came to the administration's notice that many under home quarantine are not adhering to instructions and stepping out of their homes. According to the district administration, there are at least 3,500 people who have been ordered to be home quarantined and the list is growing amid fresh Covid-19 positive cases being detected.

Besides posters, the PMC's disaster management cell has dedicated its staff to call those at home at least once in a day to ensure that they do not leave their house. The PMC has also stamped the hands of those who have been asked to be home quarantined, so that it is visible for the social policing groups and neighbours.

Rahul Jagtap, PMC IT department head, said, "The disaster management cell makes at least 2,000-2,500 calls every day and the list keeps growing. We have also put up posters at homes of those asked to stay isolated so that there is a societal pressure on the family members to stay inside from the neighbours and social policing groups. We have asked them to download an app 'Saiyam' which has GPS tracking so that whenever they leave their homes, we are alerted and we can inform the local ward or the local police station, who then visit the family."

To ensure, people under home quarantine are being provided essential commodities, the housing society members have been instructed to proivde the same to the family.

On their part, police are making video calls everyday to ensure people under isolation are not stepping out. Through the video calls, police check if the person under mandatory home stay is at his residence. One of the new measures also includes use of drones to check if people are not stepping out home, especially when the centre has announced a 21-day lockdown.

In addition to the PMC, the Pune police is also keeping a watch so that no one violates the home isolation norms. The Pune police has developed a facial recognition software system for surveillance of home quarantined persons in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad areas. It will help all police personnel to avoid direct contact with these persons. DCP Mitesh Ghatte (Special Branch) said, "The major features are the selfie-app based face recognition and location tracking system that enables a passenger/person to register themselves with their details like name, phone number, selfie and other relevant information. The passenger uploads his/her registration details using the app, following which a verification is made against the existing master list of passengers. Once the registration is approved, the selfie app enables a passenger to upload their attendance in the form of a selfie with location tagging in realtime." He further added that this information is then sent to a private cloud based server which runs a realtime Artificial Intelligence based face recognition and location tracking algorithm and compares against the registered information. When the face data and location data match against the database, a positive attendance / update is made into a dashboard."

The district administration too has come up with a website and an app to keep track of those recommended home isolation and for the doctors who might get such patients. Both doctors and patients can register themselves on idsp.mkcl.org to update the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme which is under the central ministry, said district collector Naval Kishore Ram. With regards to doctors, they can notify the IDSP about any suspected patient with a travel history and they would be guided accordingly, added Ram. As of now, there are 4,591 passengers out of 7,746 passengers still under home quarantine in Pune division, including Pune, Solapur, Kolhapur, Satara and Sangli.

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