CHENNAI: Chennai, its history and the umpteen hangout spots are not new to 22-year-old Prashanth Gurunath. All was well till his family decided to move their residence from Kotturpuram to Neelankarai four years ago. It was then that he realised how big an advantage he’d had, geographically, with a house placed so conveniently in the heart of the city. From the quiet stretch of the East Coast Road, every place — every haunt, every movie theatre, every hole-in-the-wall eatery, every friend’s house — was so far away. This, coupled with people’s general reluctance to venture out to the suburbs, meant that he was spending far more time and money on getting to where the fun was than on actual fun. That was until he fixed it with an app.
City Square is Prashanth’s answer to find the best place for any set of people to meet, making sure no party is having to travel much farther than the other. It shows the restaurants available in locations that are equidistant to all parties checking in. Having debuted in May, the app has already attracted more than 1,000 users. “Plans are often made in the centre of the city. When I was living in Kotturpuram, I never realised this. But, after shifting to Neelankarai, having to travel at least 20 km each time (to meet someone) was tiring and time-consuming. When I spoke to a few Chennaiites, I realised this is the problem that a lot of them are facing.
City Square shows you the central location between your and your friend’s place, ensuring nobody travels a long way. It saves fuel, money and time,” explains the 22-year-old. A software developer, Prashanth took three years to develop this application. “It was one of my most ambitious projects. Balancing studies and work, and troubleshooting issues while developing the app, it took me three years. Also, four of my friends — S Sowbhagya and Rohitth Prakash, who helped with user interface and user experience prototyping, and M Deepthi and M Yazir, who helped with content creating and testing — were a major help,” he says. The app can be used universally and not just for meeting friends in your city, says Prashanth. “This app comes handy for travellers.
When you travel to a new city, depending on the places you want to visit, you can book a hotel in an equidistant location. All you need to do is add all the venues in the app to find the best place to stay. Similarly, if you want to meet somebody, but still have only limited time in that city, this app helps.”
Prashanth believes that City Square can be useful for distribution industries too as they usually try to find a common place between their venues for their work. “For example, logistical firms position their headquarters in an equidistant location depending on their client base. Even in import and export industries where people have to distribute the goods, this app can be helpful. Godowns and storage places can be located midway,” he says.
The app is also particularly helpful during the pandemic when everyone is being advised to restrict their travel time. “I work as a volunteer to provide relief materials to sub-volunteers in different zones. With the help of this app, I am able to call all the volunteers to assemble in an equidistant location to distribute the materials,” says Divya Manoharan, one of the users. He plans to add other features to the app including taxi service integration, salons, hotels and markets among other things. The app is currently available only on PlayStore for free and he is working on making it iOS-compatible.