HAILAKANDI, June 11 - The district administration of Hailakandi in Barak valley is using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) �Awaz De� to reach out to people kept under home quarantine.
Instead of wasting human labour on making numerous manual calls, automated calls through IVR is being placed to those under home quarantine, official sources in the district administration said. The administration in association with Piramal Foundation has opened a control cell where daily phone calls to those under quarantine are placed.
�People put under isolation at home after completing a certain period in institutional quarantine centres are being urged through phone calls to religiously observe quarantine rules,� said Sadasiva Reddy, programme leader of Piramal Foundation.
With more returnees coming from outside the state and being sent home after their swab samples tested negative in institutional quarantine facilities, the administration is facing a staff crunch. In just a couple of days, the number of people under home quarantine rose exponentially, from 50 to nearly 800.
It was at this juncture that the district authorities led by Deputy Commissioner Megh Nidhi Dahal began pondering about exploring technology to optimise the surveillance data and thus reach the people under quarantine, which is increasing with each passing day. That was how the administration tied up with Piramal Foundation, a Mumbai-based philanthropic arm of the Piramal Group, which in turn, devised the programme with the help of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.
�Both the administration and Piramal Foundation got in touch and after a few days of hectic deliberations on how to go about, we came up with a solution to reach people in home quarantine,� said Reddy.
Explaining the finer nuances of the IVR system, Reddy said, �The technology is simple and hassle-free. Instead of wasting human labour on making manual calls, automated calls through IVR are being placed to those under home quarantine. The call, lasting for one and a half minutes, addressed by the Deputy Commissioner would inform them about the guidelines they have to strictly adhere to while staying indoors to safeguard them and their families from the COVID-19.�
There were initial problems though. The biggest one was that since the calls were automated, many people weren�t picking up. �So we identified those who weren�t picking up and pushed repeated calls in a space of 2-3 hours,� said Reddy. And that worked. It has been more than a week since Hailakandi has been using the IVR technology and it certainly seems to have paid off. Out of 349 calls made since June 1, 170 have been connected with 81 per cent listening to the voice message of the Deputy Commissioner urging people to maintain physical distancing norms, personal hygiene, use separate toilets and not to step out of their homes to contain novel coronavirus.
�A system like the IVR can unveil its true potential to health officials,� said Deputy Commissioner Dahal, who is also a software engineer.