By Prince Osuagwu
Nigerian-based software engineering firm Decagon Institute has developed a mobile application to facilitate communication of COVID-19 information.
The state of Kaduna is already said to be taking advantage of the app to spread its COVID-19 messages effectively to its 3.9 million citizens.
The Decagon app serves as a communication outreach tool for the government or institutions that are empowered to broadcast it to citizens and the general public.
The founder of the firm, Mr. Chika Nwobi, said: “Beyond COVID-19, we have seen that there is a need for an inclusive digital communication plan that will blur the dividing lines between the digitally excluded in our society. That is why the idea of the application was silenced, “he added.
The way the app works is that you can record a voice message and broadcast it via an SMS blast to target recipients.
The selected people will receive a notification by SMS, when they open it and following an indication to dial a short code, they begin to listen to the voice message.
With the app, the Kaduna state government can record and broadcast multiple COVID-19 related updates, such as the spread of the virus; tests; curfew; symptoms and self-help measures, in Hausa language because everyone in the state understands it. The platform has also become a lifeline for the government by pushing guidelines to ease the blockade.
According to Nwobi, the state governor had directly expressed the first message citizens received from the app shortly after launching it in April 2020.
Decagon collaborated with US-based voice infrastructure providers. USA, Kirusa, Airtel Nigeria and NCC to make the service available.
The app also seems to address the barriers around digital inclusion because not only smartphone users can access the app, but those who own feature phones can also take advantage of it.
Decagon said he is also working with Kirusa to develop another app to help the healthcare industry accumulate data on COVID-19 patients for collaborative research in the medical community, spanning the United States, Nigeria and India.