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Tapping technology for helping Kerala flood victims

The techies in the district have risen to the occasion, creating help centres, applications and 
websites for rescue coordination and relief activities 

Published: 23rd August 2018 04:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd August 2018 04:30 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “The Navy team has arrived. Thank you. I will never forget this.” Abhilash K P shows this gem of a message he had received from somewhere in Kerala. When disaster struck Kerala, like other techies, Abhilash had also buried himself in coordinating the rescue and relief operations. And, it was while trying to coordinate such distress messages that he pondered about starting a platform which can act as a bridge between supply and demand. Within 16 hrs, keralaneeds.com was born.

The website acts as a platform that offers an avenue for the people in need to get in touch with suppliers. The website now remains one of the key contributions by the techie milieu to co-ordinate relief measures. Soon after the devastating floods started gorging many parts of the state, the IT hub in the district turned into a control room of sorts. A flurry of SOS messages and requirements of relief materials poured in from all quarters. The techie crowd in Technopark started sifting through the messages, verifying them and easing the operations by coordinating the requirements. And that was how the IT Help Desk started functioning in the IT hub.

“It was when queries started pouring in and while coordinating the requirements that it struck me. If we have a dedicated website, it will help ease the process. People can add their requirements and we can connect them to those who have the resources,” says Abhilash. Soon a team of five techies from LabGlo Technologies LLP sat through the night and by evening, a website was readied.

To tide over the crisis, the group of techies has done what they are best at- using their technical prowess to address the issue. The recent one is an inventory management application developed by the techies after the Collector approached them. Within hours, the team was ready with the application and by Monday morning, the application has been implemented across the various collection centres in the city.

It all started as a collection drive and soon snowballed into a colossal activity which roped in a significant percentage of the techie crowd. When the collection centre opened at the Technopark Club House, only a small portion of the area was set aside for this. But relief materials started pouring in and the whole of the lower floor of the building now stands swathed with piles of carton boxes, all readied to be ferried to various relief camps in the state. The steady inflow of relief materials has made Prathidhwani, the socio-cultural forum of the employees in Technopark which is spearheading the initiative, keep the collection centre open for one more day.

“Every time a requirement arises, it is posted in the many Whatsapp groups we have created for this and they are addressed,” says Vineeth Chandran, president of Prathidhwani. As of now, 57 vehicles have transported the relief materials to various part of the state. All the vehicles have been accompanied by techies. “Two volunteers accompany the vehicles and we have ensured that the supplies reach the interiors which are drastically hit,” says Johnson K Joshi who had accompanied one of the vehicles.

Although the collection centre will be closed by Thursday evening, collection boxes will be kept in each building where employees may drop off their contribution. The next phase is on, the techies tell you. Many techies have volunteered themselves to join in the cleaning drive which will be initiated at the houses in the flood-hit areas. “The State Disaster Management Authority has approached us and they will provide the required training and resources to cleanse the houses. Most of us will be spending the weekend cleaning the houses in flood-hit areas,” Vineeth adds.

Web platforms that helped relief work
Keralaneeds.com acts as a platform that offers an avenue for the people in need to get in touch with suppliers. The website now remains one of the key contributions by the techie milieu to co-ordinate relief measures. Another was the inventory management application developed by the techies after the Collector approached them. Within hours, the team was ready with the application and by Monday morning, the application has been implemented across the various collection centres in the city.

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