Bengaluru's war room uses technology to contain covid-19

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 24, 2020, 04.28 PM(IST) Written By: Nischita Verrendra

The BBMP's newly set-up integrated war room. Photograph:( WION )

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The war room was built by the BBMP in just 24 hours and will bring all relevant departments under one roof to tackle the virus problem in a more streamlined manner.  

The IT city of Bengaluru got its first integrated war room to combat the Covid-19 outbreak. The state of Karnataka has so far detected 38 cases, most of which are in the capital city Bengaluru. The war room was built by the BBMP in just 24 hours and will bring all relevant departments under one roof to tackle the virus problem in a more streamlined manner.  

'This war room is a tool to track the location of the Covid-19 positive patients, monitor those home quarantined and those who have returned from various foreign countries. The war room will also monitor the primary and secondary contacts of all the positive cases' said Anil Kumar, BBMP Commissioner.  

The war room will run 24/7 and will serve as a virtual training centre for health professionals and government officials. The technologies in the war room will enable the integration of the health department with police, hospitals, surveillance teams, Asha workers and Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board. Interactive screens in the war room allow for mapping of each Covid-19 case, positive and suspected, using Geographical Information System. Bengaluru-based pro-digital labs that have set up the war room might also set up one nationally.

'Till today we have been tracking patients manually through excel sheets. But going forward if the data builds up we need to be equipped with the right technologies and infrastructure to tackle the situation. At the command centre, we also have GPS tracking system to track the movement of our health workers and service vehicles. We have plans of purchasing disinfection vehicles to spray disinfectants across the city. The movement of each of these vehicles will be monitored from our command centre. This allows transparency in the administration.' said Upendra Kumar, Director, Pro Digital Labs 

The system can also draw up containment plans using Heat Mapping Technologies. The home quarantined cases are tracked using GPS and if they are found to be leaving their homes. 'All the zones are mapped. From Jt Commissioners to Asha workers, everyone will be given the information. Those who are home quarantined and attempt to violate it, we can track it when their phones leave the house. We inform the local police and the local health department. That is how we are managing it.' said Upendra Kumar. 

Apart from using the GPS mechanism to restrict home quarantined persons, officials are also employing the physical method where neighbours and RWAs are asked to keep a watch on the person(s). The home quarantined patients are stamped and notice is served to ask them to follow the home quarantine rules prescribed by the GOI. The primary and secondary contacts of confirmed cases are also being stamped to ensure they stay in-home quarantine. 

'Once the stamping has been done, as a follow-up measure, every 2-3 days there will be a phone call which will go from the war room to ascertain whether the person has started developing symptoms like cough, cold, fever, sneezing etc. If he/she has developed symptoms we immediately take them for testing. Secondly, we check if any of their family members are showing symptoms and the same protocol is followed. We will do this 3-4 times over 14 days to keep a track if the suspected cases are turning into positive cases. This monitoring is happening from the war room.' said Anil Kumar.  

The war room also provides facilities where doctors and healthcare professionals can be apprised of Covid-19 protocols using video conferencing. Most importantly, the war room will be handling the growingly cumbersome data of contact tracing. 'So if a person has been identified as a positive case, the person is shifted to the isolation hospital. Then a 3km radius around the patient's home will be identified as the containment zone. Another 5km radius beyond that is the buffer zone. All houses in this 8km radius will be visited by our teams from the BBMP and Health dept and awareness given to them about coronavirus and what precautionary measures they have to take. These activities are tracked and initiated from the war room' said the BBMP Commissioner. 

A team of 40-50 professionals have been working round the clock to build the war room and develop software applications on a war footing. The war room will soon be used for self-reporting and an application is being developed for the same. 27 cases in BBMP limits, 22,600 persons with a travel history and 3000 persons in the primary and secondary contact list are currently being tracked through the war room.