Taking cognizance of the fake news and misinformation circling around coupled with a dearth of fact-checking avenues, two professors from the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Delhi, joined hands and developed the WashKaro app. One is Dr Tavpritesh Sethi, a Clinical Data Scientist and an Assistant Professor of Computational Biology and the other is Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, Professor of Computer Science and Dean of Students Affairs.
WashKaro provides right information in the right format at the right time. It is targeted at the layman and the daily updated content is delivered in Hindi as bite-sized audios for those who may not be able to read.
It also delivers government advisories from official pages and contains a Symptom Tracker (based upon WHO) for people to know if they are safe. With abundant information about the pandemic, it serves as a conduit of verified information compared to other social media sources.
“Wrong information about COVID spreads faster than the disease itself. So, we focused on stopping this with AI and medical expertise working together. WashKaro is the first AI-powered Infodemic
Management App that provides a suite of tools to keep users safe by providing authentic audios in Hindi, Bluetooth-based physical distancing, and self-tracking,” said Dr Sethi. “It doesn’t need internet or location services and no data is stored anywhere on any server,” he adds.
“The current Covid-19 situation demanded a multi-disciplinary approach, and WashKaro is a satisfying collaboration of medicine and computing,” said Prof Kumaraguru, who has been working on fake news and misinformation for a while now under his research theme of ‘saving lives’.
Among the many features that WashKaro has is CovidTracer and onAir. CovidTracer tells people if they are around any COVID-19 positive person, while onAIr uses Artificial Intelligence technology to cross-reference news with WHO documents.This ensures that people are shielded from misinformation and hoaxes.
Available for Android users, the app functions as an Infodemic Management Suite. Its iOS version is currently under development.