By Prince Osuagwu

Nigerian-based software engineering firm, Decagon Institute has developed a mobile application for easy communication of COVID-19 information.

Already, Kaduna state is said to be leveraging on the application to disseminate its COVID-19 messages effectively to its 3.9 million citizens.

The Decagon app serves as a communication dissemination tool to the government or institutions that are authorised to transmit to citizens and the general public.

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 app was muted” he added.

The way the application work is that a voice message can be recorded onto it and disseminated through an SMS blast to the target recipients.

The people targeted will get an SMS notification, upon opening it and following a prompt to dial in a short code, they begin to listen to the voice message.

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Using the app, the Kaduna state government is able to record and disseminate multiple updates regarding COVID-19 such as the spread of the virus; testing; curfew; symptoms and self-help measures, in Hausa language because everyone in the state understands it. The platform has also become a lifesaver for the government in pushing out guidelines for easing of the lockdown.

According to Nwobi, the state governor had directly voiced the first message the citizens received from the app soon after launching it in April, 2020.

Decagon collaborated with US-based voice infrastructure providers, Kirusa, Airtel Nigeria and NCC to make the service available.

The app appears to also address barriers around digital inclusion because not only smartphone users can access the app, those who own feature phones can also benefit from the it.

Decagon said it is also working with Kirusa to develop another app to help the healthcare sector build up data on COVID-19 patients for collaborative research in the medical community, spanning the US, Nigeria and India.


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