Sunday, August 07
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Habsi & Co

14 Apr 2020

Three sisters have come together to develop an app to help beat the coronavirus in a competition conducted by The Research Council. ‘Asahah’, which translates to ‘doing well’ in Arabic, is currently in prototype phase and will help in the epidemiological investigation of COVID-19.

The Research Council’s Smart City Platform, a collaboration between TRC, the Supreme Council of Planning, Muscat Municipality, and Information Technology Aut-hority, held the competition for the best application to monitor people infected with COVID-19.

The competition aimed to combat the pandemic at the national level with an app to help contain the spread of the virus in the Omani society. App developers have the support of all concerned institutions in determining mechanisms to contain the virus, according to the TRC.

Rahma al Habsi learnt about the competition through Smart City Platform’s Twitter account on April 1 and enlisted her younger sisters Mazoon and Muzna to develop the app. Currently working in the Ministry of Manpower, Rahma is a former faculty member of the Higher College of Technology’s IT department and has experience in developing mobile apps. “But this is the first time I’m working with my sisters,” she said. Besides the punishing deadline – five days after seeing the ad – what added to the challenge was the fact that Rahma is currently also taking care of a six month baby.

Two-thirds of a triplet, Mazoon and Muzna, had returned to the country on March 16 and March 17, respectively, and just come out of quarantine and found their bearings when they were roped in for the project. Mazoon is studying ICT and cyber security at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, while Muzna is a student of graphic design in Nottingham Trent University UK.  The latter of the 19 year olds worked on the aesthetics of the app including logo, icon and backdrop screens.

The cross-platform app will be made available to all and is programmed to deal with the two main challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including epidemiological investigation. The app uses satellites to track quarantined persons or sick and isolated patients. The app, however, has a privacy setting and will not share the data unless the user permits it. Asahah will generate data to make epidemiological analysis faster and easier.

The app follows who have been quarantined – counting 14 days, recording symptoms and temperature. “On the other hand, for those who tested positive, the app tracks their health,” Muzna informed. It also has COVID-19 updates from the Ministry of Health. “Asahah will help in getting information from trusted sources, checking the corona test result and getting in touch with the concerned authorities easily.”

The sisters intend to use the RO1,300 prize money to further develop the app to help battle the pandemic. “Every citizen should be working to stop the virus from spreading,” Muzna said.     

 The second place in the competition was won by an app called ‘Oman faces Corona’ by Muath Yousuf al Balushi, while an app developed by Louay al Habsi and Sulaiman al Rawhi came third.

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