File photo of an Indian market

Feature Story

A Socially Distant Solution

A TCS start-up’s idea is keeping the essential items supply chain alive amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

 

The global COVID-19 outbreak has brought with it several logistical challenges, not the least of which is – how do you track and enable the flow of essential services in cities that are meant to be under complete lockdown? Struggling to reconcile this fact with the mandate of the local and central government to enforce a full shutdown for 21 days, Raigad Police in the Indian state of Maharashtra reached out to their solutions provider Adivid Technologies for help.

One of several success stories emerging from the Digital Impact Square program run by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in Nashik, Maharashtra, Adivid Technologies has in the past provided digitization and end-to-end data analytics support to police administrations in five Indian districts through its solution Third-I. This time, founders Kovid Sawla and Adesh Chopade knew they had their task cut out for them.

Keep Safe Distance

The challenge that the police administration was facing was to distinguish vehicles being used for essential services (free to ply during the lockdown) from civilian vehicles (barred from use during the lockdown period). In one instance, the driver of a vehicle that was returning after making a delivery was not able to justify why he was on the road.

There was a pass system in place to regulate transport, but it required the applicant to go to their local police station, fill up forms and submit documents in person. All of which goes against the social distancing mandate in place to prevent further spread of the Novel Coronavirus. Besides, this paper-based process differed from district to district and station to station.

Touch Me Not

During a single-day pilot, Adivid Technologies formalized, centralized and digitized this ‘pass’ system into a URL-based online application portal. People who work to provide essential services (medical supplies, journalism, food supply chain, etc.) can submit their details (name, vehicle no., contact details, dates for which pass is required, details of service provided, company ID, medical certificates, etc.) at the link and receive a token, which, if their application is approved, generates their e-pass (with a scannable QR code).

A simple dashboard is provided to senior police personnel to monitor and approve/reject applications. Initially piloted in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, the e-pass solution has now been implemented across 30 districts in the state. The whole rollout process took less than five days thanks to the agile development methods followed by Adivid. The team is now trying to ramp up capacity and upgrade the system to keep up with rising demand.