CHENNAI: You always walk by unique buildings or come across peculiar street names but the history is unknown. So, what do you do? Enter ‘past forward’, a mobile application that gives you a brief about heritage locations, old buildings and unique spots in the city. Put together by writer and historian V Sriram, this app was launched in 2015. “It all started with a high court judgement in 2010. The court listed 417 odd buildings worthy of preservation and asked the government to form a committee that takes care of these buildings. When the report was published I thought it was a good idea to start an app,” he recollects.
Sriram who also heads a software firm in the city decided to venture into the world of mobile applications in 2013. “In foreign countries, free maps are avalable that help in spotting locations. I wanted to do something similar and decided to develop an app to mark the 417 locations. My belief is that there are 2,000 to 3,000 locations in the city which are worthy to be listed on the maps,” he shares.
From names of streets, sign boards to vintage memories, the application puts together locations within a radius of two kilometres. “We put up the name of the Bashiyam Basheer Ahmed street and a person living in the street called me up and said that he was thrilled to read about the history! This is the kind of awareness we are looking to promote,” he smiles. Though the High Court filtered the buildings depending upon their religious and architectural significance, Sriram shares that he has begun to include iconic statues as well. “Every street has a statue. But I want to add iconic statues and share the details of who sculpted it and so on. I am putting memories, locations and would even add locations of former cinema theaters,” he says.
With 251 locations updated in the app till date, Sriram says that it’ll reach 400 by the end of this year. “Our goal is to upload one location a day. We also encourage the public to share locations with us through the inbuilt facility in the app that enables users to upload the location with pictures and a write up of it,” he explains. The app also features image recognition software and enables the user to search for similar buildings. “Along with image recognition we also have a fun postcard feature. It’s something that would rekindle the memory of people living away from the city,” he says.
“Awareness among people to protect and preserve our local heritage has grown rapidly in the past 25 to 30 years,” he goes on ”I believe that the young generation are the ones who have the energy and passion to preserve our heritage and it’s our duty to provide them with a platform for authentic information,” he adds.
(For details, visit: http://www.india-pastforward.com/)