Mumbai :Two young professionals have come together to create a web app that acts as an umbrella for COVID-19 relief information such as helplines, donation drives, therapy and places serving free food. Naasha Mehta, 36 is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Delhi.
Very early into the lockdown Mehta saw that there were many people looking to donate and many donations drives and volunteering too, but no one place where one could get a quick idea of their options to donate to or find help. “There were migrants starving and unprecedented displacement due to the sudden lockdown. The system was in disarray.
I knew that we as citizens had to do something,” Mehta says. Their web app which is presently only mobile friendly provides state-wise contacts of hunger-relief centres, community kitchens and home deliveries among NGOs and citizen initiatives. Being a designer, she initially created a website with some relief information and made it go live.
“I got a lot of responses from people and that is how I met Chirag Mediratta,” she says. Chirag, 32, a researcher also based in Delhi and into design thinking and documentaries, was already preparing a spreadsheet with consolidated relief information. The two joined hands and decided to create the web app using a paid application by Google which helps puts data together.
Their web app called Covid-Relief has now evolved into an umbrella portal for pan-India information of help available during the lockdown. It is evolving – in the past two weeks, the app has had three versions. Most of the information is crowdsourced from around 25 people across cities who were mostly consolidating such information on excel sheets and sharing it on the internet.
They got contact numbers of volunteers working on the ground from different sources and consolidated it in their app. Mehta says that of the 2,000 to 3,000 people who are visiting the app at any point of time, the maximum traffic is for the section on therapists and ground volunteers.
The app provides contact information of therapists providing services in 17 languages, including those in dialects such as Magahi and Nyshi. “The information was available, but people did not know how to market it, push it. So, there was no centralized way to access it,” Mehta said.
“Most apps available today are for tracking the spread of the virus. We are filling that gap,” she added. They plan to have the app in multiple languages so that it reaches many people across states. Currently, the challenge they are facing is finding senior level developers who know how to make the app capable to deal with huge data and traffic.