How Chennai volunteers developed free digital apps to fight Covid

One of the biggest threats during this pandemic, aside from the virus, of course, is misinformation. With the rapid explosion of fake news on social media, the need for a reliable source of citizen-focused information has become necessary.

With this goal in mind, a team of citizen volunteers in Chennai have created free apps containing useful information for the people of the city.

Led by Shyam Sundar, an engineer working in a car company, the social initiative started as “Covid19Chennai” in March 2020 and has now been rebranded as “Chennai News‘ (NoC).

“The core principle of this service has remained the same: posting verified and cross-checked information useful to anyone in Chennai when needed via social media,” Sundar said.

Share various information

How does the team compile the information?

“Updated information in ‘NoC’ app and social media is sourced from trusted sources such as Government of Tamil Nadu, Greater Chennai Corporation, Greater Chennai Police and journalists from reputable media outlets,” says Sundar . “I also include crowdsourced information and verify it before sharing it.”

Screenshots of the NoC app created by the Chennai-based volunteers

Screenshots of the NoC app created by the Chennai-based volunteers

Sundar started out on his own keeping this data for the early days of the pandemic and then started building the app.

“I’m a no-code enthusiast. I use several no-code tools for NoC’s web apps. It’s a progressive web app, which means there’s no need to download it It can be directly saved as an app on the mobile home screen directly from the browser,” he says. “The app updates automatically without any intervention. It is also 100% privacy-focused and does not collect any data.”

Food Directory for Quarantined Residents

As his initiative began to grow, Sundar quickly found help from his friends. Murshitha Sheereen, photographer and entrepreneur, had previously compiled a list of catering service providers during the second wave of Covid.

Sundar joined her, along with IT professionals Jayalakshmi Krishnan and Ferdina Innocent, and writer Aprajitha Suryanarayanan, to create ‘Food Aid Chennai‘ – a directory to find home cooked meals from verified home chefs and catering services for those affected by Covid who cannot cook at home

Food Help Chennai is a directory for finding home cooked meals from verified chefs and catering services.

Food Help Chennai is a directory for finding home cooked meals from verified chefs and catering services.

“Our teammate, Jayalakshmi, created the app, while Shyam, Murshitha, Aparajitha and I checked all the information that would be available on the app,” Innocent explains. “Verifying the information was crucial because the list contained meal service providers who were operating during the second wave and we needed to be sure if they were still doing so. Many of them were also home kitchens and kitchens in cloud.”

She goes on to add that the team “also wanted to provide detailed restaurant, kitchen or catering information like their areas and days of service, provide all three meals and whether they have vegetarian or non-vegetarian food options.” .

“Another useful field is delivery method because in the event of a lockdown and Dunzo, Porter, Genie not operating, you can find catering service providers who have their own delivery partners,” Innocent says, and signs: “We called all the numbers from our old list, added some more we found on Twitter and checked them out.”

Published on

January 26, 2022

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