Science is her favourite subject. She loves to read. And she wants to become an astronomer. Meet Chinmayi Ramasubramanian, a 10-year-old girl who has developed an app to help people in flood-affected areas of Tamil Nadu, and to assist those who want to donate flood relief items.
“We were having a discussion in school about how so much food and other relief items are getting wasted in Chennai. Everybody wants to help but there is a lot of stuff being donated that people might not actually need. That’s why I created this app, so that people can choose what they want and donations can become easier,” says Chinmayi Ramasubramanian, a 10-year-old girl from Bangalore, whose interest in technology led her to develop an app that can be very useful for the ongoing relief operations in Tamil Nadu.
Launched in the first week of December, the app is called CalamityRelief. It is meant to streamline the process of giving and receiving relief materials in flood-affected areas of the state.
The recent rains, followed by devastating floods, hit several parts of Tamil Nadu, bringing life to a standstill. Many residents lost their houses and belongings. But now is the time to help the state revive itself, and that’s something that many people across the country are trying to do by sending in donations in the form of money, relief materials, food, water, medicines, and more.
But the extent of damage and the need for assistance are so huge that the entire process has to be well organised to be effective.
Chinmayi is trying to do exactly this with her app. On opening CalamityRelief, a user enters the home page that asks for his/her role – an individual, a collector or a distributor. Depending on the one that is picked, there are the following options:
• An individual can see the list of collection centres and choose the nearest one to go to and donate. There is also the option of going through lists of things that people should or should not donate.
• Collectors, who have been gathering items from different sources, have two options. They can fill in the details of collection centres for people to come and drop whatever they want to donate.
Other than this, they can also document the details of all the items they have, so that those in need can contact them accordingly.
• Distributors or social workers, who have taken on the responsibility of delivering relief supplies, can find out what is available on what date, so they can contact the donors and arrange for transfer, packaging, etc.
Chinmayi used a program called MIT App Inventor for creating CalamityRelief. App Inventor is basically a beginner’s guide to app development. It uses graphic programming tools. It transforms the text-based coding required for making apps into a drag-and-drop building blocks mechanism. In this way, beginners can simply use specific blocks according to their app’s requirements and finalise the program. Chinmayi tested the app on her father’s Android phone first, and then uploaded it on Play Store for people to use.
“At home, we were having a lot of discussion about the floods,” says her mother, Nithya Ramasubramanian. “My grandfather, uncle and aunt live in Chennai. We were very worried throughout that time and Chinmayi was listening to our conversations. It was then that she thought of doing something to help in her own way,” she adds.
Chinmayi has been interested in programming and technology for a long time. Prior to developing this app, she was programming using the Scratch language to develop some small games. She was introduced to App Inventor about a month ago and was trying to use it to develop a program to locate misplaced objects like books, keys, etc. “She was already familiar with the idea of apps. And suddenly the floods hit, so she came up with CalamityRelief,” says Nithya.
A student of Class 4 in Sri Kumaran Children’s Home in Bangalore, Chinmayi loves to read and her favourite subject is science.
Ask her what she wants to be when she grows up and she replies confidently: “an astronomer.” She also wants to keep developing apps in the future.
“I want to develop more social apps – like for recycling garbage. Many people don’t know where recycling units are located. So they simply throw all their garbage wherever they want and it goes into landfills. I want to develop an app to help people find where these recycling units are located,” she adds.
But how does a 10-year-old think about technology driven solutions for such social problems? “They just click into my mind,” she quips.
In fact, she developed the CalamityRelief app in just one day –
“I had a stomach ache so I couldn’t go to school. But after some time, when I started feeling a bit better, I thought of using that time to work on an app. This was when I developed the first version.”
After that, she worked on improving the app, based on testing results and feedback received from her relatives and friends.
Chinmayi does not want CalamityRelief to be restricted for use in Tamil Nadu alone. Though she got the idea from the recent foods, the app is meant to help in any place that has been hit by a natural disaster. Chinmayi’s parents are working professionals and she has always been encouraged to take her passion forward.