Thiruvananthapuram: His parents’ inability to get slots in Kochi due to the high traffic on the CoWIN portal, triggered a Bharian-based Malayali IT engineer, Limnesh Augustine to develop a Windows desktop application titled ‘CowinSearchHelper’ for searching and finding the slots easily.
The complete free source code can be downloaded from the GitHub repository or Google Drive link. “It was really tough for my parents to get appointments for their second dose vaccination. Since they are old and not used to these booking systems, it was very difficult for them to search for the appointments. My wife Jincy Babu and I tried to help them out in getting the appointments but, unfortunately, whenever we searched on the website, there were no slots available,” he was quoted as saying by The New Indian Express (TNIE).
“There were too many limitations on the portal and our specific request for the second dose of Covishield for the 45-plus parents near our location was not possible. Instead, we had to search for general options and then go through each one to check if there was a slot of second dose available. There was also a limit of 20 maximum searches and the slot would be cached. It would be refreshed only every five minutes. By the time we found a slot, it might be already booked and closed,” Limnesh added.
He found that the government has published the web APIs (Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other). There were two sets of APIs, one public and the second protected.
“The public APIs will enable us to query with detailed parameters and there were no session limits and the query was dynamic and real time. So, the moment the slot is uploaded in the system by any hospital or vaccination centre, it can be queried through the API. I then developed the application in Dotnet/C# on June 10 to use these APIs for vaccination slot search,” he was quoted as saying.
How it works
A desktop application, it has been designed in such a way that it will run throughout and alert the people via SMS whenever an appointment is available in any of the centres within five kilometres from their houses for getting Covishield and Covaxin doses.
As expected, it worked and Limnesh was able to get the appointments for his parents. He also found out that many of his friends had also faced the same problem in India. So, he decided to publish this application for public use. But since the SMS option uses his account, he disabled that feature.
Multiple record holders
Limnesh and Jincy are international 3D artists and have multiple Guinness World Records in their names. Limnesh is an electronics and communication engineer by profession, and is working as a project manager in GBM Bahrain, while Jincy is an art educator, TNIE reported.