When the nationwide lockdown was announced, one of the first questions to pop into my head was—will the shops that I am familiar with be open? I was counting on the doctor’s clinic, the petrol pump, the pharmacy and the ATM that I visit regularly. And if they were shut, where would I go?
To provide an answer to such queries, Bengaluru based Reap Benefit has built Solve Ninja, a neighbourhood dashboard that helps one navigate shops, relief resources, medical services and more.
In the three weeks’ time that it has been active, Solve Ninja has been a one-stop platform for 1.2 lakh people in 100 cities, including Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Nagpur, Hyderabad etc.
The Need For a Common Resource Platform in Bengaluru
Reap Benefit is an initiative headquartered in Bengaluru that works towards environmental, social and civic issues, with their army of 15,000 “ninjas” spread across the country.
Kuldeep Dantewadia, the co-founder of the initiative, tells Deccan Herald, “Reap Benefit solves mostly local issues. The way we go about it is simple – we collect data about a particular problem, understand the issue and develop solutions.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a nationwide lockdown, the team developed a platform for citizens to navigate essential services at the click of a button.
Menaka Raman, who works with the initiative, tells The Better India, “Technology is the other key component to our work. We have developed a digital platform that enables citizens to add, view and share hyperlocal data that can inform their civic participation. This Neighborhood Dashboard is a city-wise open-source geographical information system that:
- Provides insightful and transparent crowdsourced hyperlocal data
- Enables citizens, local organisations and governments to make better
- Helps hold local governments accountable.”
The basic version was launched in 48 hours by Gautam Prakash, the co-founder and Rizwan Pasha, a Project Manager with Reap Benefit.
“In three short weeks, we’ve been able to increase the scope of the dashboard to eleven geographies across India, identify 40 local schemes citizens can avail of and have been able to mobilise assistance to over 1 lakh people in need with partner organisations. You can see some of the success stories from the dashboard here and here. However, there are still 1.5 lakh people in need of help and with the lockdown extended till 3 May, that number will only increase,” Menaka adds.
How to use the neighbourhood dashboard:
Reap Benefit’s dashboard is perfect for those trying to navigate the nearest medical store, a grocery shop open during the lockdown and availing relief resources. You can also refer it to a needy person in your city or volunteer to help out those seeking help.
- Click on this link to go to the dashboard.
- Select your neighbourhood or city on the top panel and click on “show map” in the top right corner.
- You will be directed to a map of the area connected by black lines. The icons on the map represent COVID-19 testing centres, hospitals, first responders etc. Click on an icon, and it will give you details like the name of the centre, it’s address and contact details.
- You can choose from the services you require by selecting them from the yellow box on your left.
- On the right is the number of resources available in your area.
What’s more, you can also contribute to this dashboard by informing Reap Benefit about the open shops, medical centres etc. in your area.
“The dashboard crowdsources information on social distancing, migrant worker communities, food requests made on ground and more. Users can contribute by mapping such information on the dashboard by filling up some simple forms available under the ‘contribute’ section of the dashboard here. You can also join hands with the organisation as a volunteer and help with tech support here.”
Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi and such other metropolitan cities now have a handy dashboard that maps all essentials during the COVID-19 lockdown. Help out the team to crowdsource vital information. After all, the more you share, the more you will know!
Grassroots impact created by the Bengaluru initiative:
The best thing about this platform is that it doesn’t just show you which shop you can walk to this evening. It has also mobilised over one lakh people to get the help they need during these tough times. These beneficiaries include daily wage and migrant labourers.
“We have set up a virtual control room where team members and volunteers are working collaboratively with NGOs to map the location of people in need. These are predominantly daily wage and migrant workers. Once we get the details of where those in need of support are located, we map it to the dashboard. This information is then passed on to organisations working on the ground to mobilise rations, medicines and other supplies, who then ensure those who need assistance receive it,” Menaka shares.
She shares the story of Kaumudi Nagaraju, a resident of Hyderabad and an on-ground supporter of the initiative, who began a crowdfunding campaign to help labourers in the city. With the amount that was raised (Rs 4.5 lakh), she was able to help 50 underprivileged individuals in Bengaluru as well.
Similarly, Aparajita Sinha Rana of Bengaluru partnered with Reap Benefit’s employee Archana and provided ration to 72 families of daily wage workers. All because they were mapped on the neighbourhood dashboard.
In these testing times, technology is undoubtedly bringing people closer together, mobilising efforts to reach the disadvantaged.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)