A bot developed by two students of the Indian Institute of Information Technology in Delhi, sends alerts to users about open slots on the CoWin app, thus improving the chances of successfully booking a slot. Launched on May 4, the bot has garnered 60,000 users since. Developed by Rohan Rajpal and Paras Mehan, ‘CoWin Alerts’ is a Telegram bot — therefore, can only be used with Telegram app — that alerts you whenever there is an open vaccine slot for your dose and age group.
When the government opened registrations for vaccination of 18-44 age group on the CoWin app, users faced a lot of technical challenges in booking a slot.
Since the volume of users was so high, slots were getting filled within seconds of opening up leaving users frustrated. The trick was knowing when a centre would open up slots and book it right then. “I decided to develop an alerts bot when I faced problems booking slots on the CoWin app once the vaccination for 18+ started on May 1. I was spending my entire day on the site to book a slot but with no success.
“That’s when I thought why not have a system that will send you an alert every time a slot opens up,” said Rajpal, who has just finished his fourth year B.Tech computer science and will soon join Goldman Sachs.
Rajpal started work on this potential solution, developed the bot in two days, and released it on May 4.
Mehan joined him once the user base started to increase. “This app is a Telegram bot which asks you questions like which district you want, what’s your age, it’s like filling a Google form. It takes in this information and notifies the user when the slots are available,” explained Mehan. TOI tried out the app and started getting periodic alerts about open slots in different centres in a given pin code.
Like CoWin Alerts, there are more Telegram bots that are helping users book their slots by sending alerts.
Rajpal and Mehan said that one of the technical challenges they are facing right now is that the CoWin app is not getting updated in real time. “In Delhi, the government is closing vaccination but the website is taking time to get updated. It’s still showing available slots. So, the bot keeps sending alerts for slots which are not there. Some of our users are booking and getting cancellation notice,” said Rajpal.