India To Create An Open Source CoWIN Version, Give It Free Of Cost As Over 50 Countries Show Interest
Vaccinating 1.4 billion people is no trivial task, and the development of a platform like CoWIN shows that India has the capability to develop such great scalable systems
India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccination registration platform COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network or “CoWIN” has attracted interest of over 50 countries.
It is a comprehensive cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of COVID-19 vaccination in India.
The platform was developed by the Indian government, and was launched in January this year to handle the world’s largest vaccination drive. The government carried out several dry runs to test the application, and then trained thousands of personnel to use it. In late December 2020, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had announced a grand challenge for strengthening the CoWIN.
The simple yet effective design of the platform makes it easier even for those digitally challenged to get COVID-19 vaccination.
Currently, around 49,000 vaccination centres, including 2,000 private ones, are providing services through the platform. Till date, the platform has handled around 346 million registrations. On 28 June itself, the platform saw 4.6 million new registrations.
How CoWIN works?
A person has to first register using mobile number, Aadhaar number or any other identity documents. They can then select a nearby centre for vaccination. The platform shows availability of slots at a particular centre and a person can book them accordingly. One can search for the centre and the slots using their pin code, district, or on the map.
One needs to log into the CoWIN portal to schedule vaccination. Alternatively, one can also register for vaccination through the Aarogya Setu app and Umang app. The CoWIN app available on Play Store is only meant for the administrators.
Up to four people can be registered for vaccination using the same mobile number. There is also option of rescheduling the appointment.
The process is available for free for all the citizens. For the private vaccination centres, the system shows the price of the vaccine at the time of scheduling an appointment.
The platform also shows the name of the vaccine that will be administered, so that the citizens can make their own choices.
Once an appointment is scheduled, one receives the details of the vaccination centre, date and time slot chosen for appointment in an SMS (12 languages) sent to the registered mobile number. One can download the appointment slip and keep it on your smart phone to show at the centre.
The platform also issues 4-digit secret code that the beneficiary shares at the vaccination centre. This is to ensure that the rightful beneficiary receives the vaccine dosage and there is no misuse.
The CoWIN platform also generates a QR code-based vaccination certificate with built in security features to guarantee genuineness which can be digitally verified using approved utilities which are provided in the portal. One can download the vaccination certificate also from the Aarogya Setu app or through Digi-Locker by using the same mobile number used for CoWIN registration.
CoWIN is an end to end solution with utilities for the entire public health system, from national up to the vaccinator level. The system allows for creation of users (admins, supervisors, vaccinators), registration of beneficiaries (bulk upload and individual registration), facilities/planning unit and session sites followed by planning and scheduling sessions and implementation of vaccination process.
On a real time basis, it tracks not only the beneficiaries (age, sex, etc.) but also the vaccines, at national, state and district level. This allows the system to monitor the utilization, wastage, coverage etc. of COVID-19 vaccination down to the sub-district level.
According to RS Sharma, the chairman for empowered group for COVID-19 vaccine administration, CoWIN is designed to handle heavy load. He said that it can bear the load even if daily vaccination numbers reach 10 million or 20 million. The platform hit nearly 8.6 million vaccinations a day on 21 June, a record of sorts.
He also said that the platform is created open APIs, and is, therefore, a future-proof application. “Say tomorrow the hospitals decide to have their own vaccine appointment system, and (it is felt that there) is no need for a centralised appointment system, then that will be possible. The hospitals can then create their own systems and just plug into CoWIN,” he said.
Sharma is a former TRAI chief was also part of the leadership team that built and launched Aadhaar.
The online platform of CoWIN not only provides a hassle-free vaccination experience to 1.4 billion Indian citizens, but also helps in a more equitable service.
Since face to face contact is minimised, there are lesser chances of corruption and harassment. The platform also ensures transparency and accountability. Disadvantaged groups which can often be sidelined, or face harassment at hands of the officials, find the online service more comfortable, even if it requires a trip to the nearby common service centre or internet cafe.
According to reports, countries like Canada, Mexico, Panama Peru, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Nigeria, Uganda are interested in the platform. Others like Iraq, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have also shown interest in knowing about the CoWIN platform to run their COVID-19 vaccination programmes.
RS Sharma informed yesterday that over 50 countries from across central Asia, Latin America and Africa are interested in the CoWIN technology.
He said that Prime Minister’s Office has directed to create an open-source version of CoWIN to be provided free of cost to any other country. In an event, Sharma had said, “We are telling this world how this system can work and how we are ready to share an open source software with any country free of cost.”
“A citizen-centric platform," said Sharma, adding that the CoWIN “provides a single source of trust till the district level. From the beginning, we ensured that the platform can be used to easily schedule, reschedule or cancel appointments," stressing that vaccinating 1.3 billion people is no "trivial task."
The development of such a platform, Sharma said, shows that India has the capability to develop such "great scalable systems."
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