Rohan Rajpal who just passed his B Tech (computer science engineering) from the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi, and his friend, Paras Mehan, a final year student of the same course and college, have developed a Telegram bot called ‘CoWIN Alerts’ to ease the registration process for Covid-19 vaccination on the CoWIN portal. The bot (http://telegram.me/ cowinalertsbot) has a userfriendly interface. To book a slot, provide your district name/ pin code and age group (18-44 or 44+). The bot notifies you once the slot is made available on the CoWIN portal.
The message has information on which centre has available slots, the number of slots, and the date. Launched early this month, the bot already has over 60,000 users. India opened its vaccination program for the 18 to 44 age group on April 28. However, the CoWIN portal had many tech glitches. The slots often opened without intimation and one had to keep refreshing the website for updates.
Rajpal, 22, also experienced this. “When the government opened the vaccination for 18+ people, I wanted to register too, but for three days at stretch I wasn’t able to, and refreshing the website again and again was quite cumbersome. So, I decided to develop this bot,” says Rajpal, adding, “The bot currently serves 6,000 pincodes and 600 districts, but since it is open and free, anyone can use it.
Several users have already gotten vaccinated with the help of the bot and have left positive reviews on Twitter and Telegram,” he says, adding that since getting vaccinated is an important safeguard against Covid-19, the duo has tried to make the process easy “to encourage more people to get vaccinated and hopefully help us tighten the leash on the spread of Covid-19”.
“We are taking the user feedback into consideration and improving the bot every single day. It is overwhelming to see people feel safe and happy because of our work,” adds Paras Mehan. While the initiative is philanthropic work, the bot has started to incur costs and is getting difficult to sustain. “We are sending notifications to almost 50,000 users every day and are paying for the costs from our pockets right now. So, we have launched a crowd-funding campaign at https://www.buymeacoffee. com/rohanrajpal, and people have started contributing,” says Rajpal.
In a nutshell
Telegram bot CoWIN Alerts notifies when which centre has available slots on CoWIN portal, the number of slots, with the date