By Ishfaq Majid & Shazia Kouser
While the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus, many web developers have come forward to provide reliable information to stop the spread of misinformation through various Social Media Platforms. These web developers have developed COVID-19 web portals for their respective states. In some states, even the government has come up with such web portals.
Like their counterparts in other states and regions, the web developers in Kashmir have started a web portal (https://covidkashmir.org). The web portal has been developed by Mudasir Ali, Haider Ali Punjabi and Syed Vikas Bukhari. Mudasir, a freelance web developer since 2012, recently completed MCA from the University of Kashmir. He is known for KashmirGetOnline, a campaign to encourage professionals to own a digital space (online portfolios) and to get small scale businesses in Kashmir online for a very low cost. The second developer in the group, Haider, is currently pursuing IMCA from the Government College for Women, M.A. Road, Srinagar. Haider has developed multiple Android and Web Applications, and is an avid contributor to the Open Source Community. The third developer Vikas is pursuing B.Tech. in Computer Science and Engineering at Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Rajouri. He represented J&K at India Skills North 2018 in Web Design and Development.
The initiative to develop the website came up on 24 March, when the three developers were interacting with each other on the popular social media platform Twitter to start the web portal. On 25 March, the developers sought suggestions with regard to the various features of the website. The website is completely non-profit and independent. The developers do not collect any donations and all the technological costs are covered by the contributing developers.
The main interface of the website is quite simple which comes with various interesting features. The Statistics feature on the portal shows the total number of cases, along with number of recovered, active and deaths. The Sample Statistics feature is updated based on the data from the official Media Bulletin. The Sample Statistics feature shows the total number of collected samples, along with the percentage of positive and negative samples. The web portal has Active Cases Heat Map where district-wise data is available. Selecting a particular district on the Heat Map shows the number of active, recovered and deaths. In addition to these features, the interface of the portal is equipped with Twitter feed which display Tweets from the government sources, media houses and journalists.
The portal has a well-maintained Home Delivery Store list which currently covers the areas of Srinagar city. The list covers 24 Home Delivery Stores along with 06 medical shops. Regarding the other districts, Mudasir says that the list contains the stores of Srinagar District only because they don’t have any input yet about other districts.
The portal has a dedicated tab of important numbers and On-call GMC Consultants. Under the important numbers, the developers have maintained some emergency numbers like the J&K COVID-19 Helpline (UT), J&K COVID-19 Helpline (Jammu and Srinagar), SMHS Hospital, CD Hospital and many others as well. The On-call GMC Consultants is updated as per the On-call Duty Roster provided by the GMC Srinagar.
The website has a dedicated tab for Government Statistics where the surveillance statistics have been shown. The tab shows the Persons Enlisted for Observation, Quarantine, Hospital Isolation, and Hospital Quarantine. It also shows the total number of individuals on which the surveillance has been completed, persons under home surveillance, samples collected, samples negative, samples positive, reports awaited, active positive, cases recovered, and the number of deaths.
On 14 April, the developers launched the Poor Persons In Need (PPIN) tracker initiative. They believe that it will connect persons in need with organisations. The developers have invited organisations to join their PPIN initiative. One of the web developers, Mudasir says that through this initiative they will make sure that the aid from the NGOs reaches each and every one and no one is left out. He also claims that if there is a surge in the cases, they will use the data science technique to predict vulnerability of some places.
On 9 April, Netlify, a San Francisco-based Cloud Computing Company and the world’s leading host for JAMStack based websites, has selected the COVID-19 Kashmir tracker website and has upgraded their account with a Covid-19 Support plan for free. Only a few websites from around the world have been selected till now. The plan includes all of their premium features without any hard limits. This will help the developers in improving the website and adding some more features if required.
The developers are doing a noble work for entire J&K. Their work has been recognized by various media agencies and FM stations but, at the same time, the government has not recognized their work. At a time when there are chances of spread of misinformation, these developers are trying their best to provide authentic information on their website. The website is about to cross two lakh views. As a result, the developers would have to start paying for bandwidth, says Mudasir. Hence, it becomes the duty of the administration to come forward and recognise their work that will inspire other individuals to serve their society as well.
Ishfaq Majid & Shazia Kouser are Jammu and Kashmir-based Research Scholars at the School of Education, Central University of Gujarat. The authors are exploring the area of Information and Communication Technology in Education. Their writings had earlier appeared in The Diplomat, Economic and Political Weekly, The Rising Kashmir, Medium, Qatar Tribune, Mainstream Weekly, South Asia Journal and Café Dissensus.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City and India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
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