With Indian citizens turning to social media platforms and reaching out to family, friends, and doctors for COVID-related assistance, the information shared through these mediums is not always verified or structured in an easy-to-discover manner.
Looking to address this issue is covidcitizens.org, a singular platform for verified, comprehensive, local, citizen-sourced COVID-19 resources.
It is a citizen-driven community initiative to facilitate convenient access to current and comprehensive information and support. Its 300+ volunteers verify and crowd-source pan-India information on critical COVID resources such as medicines, oxygen cylinders, beds, blood tests, meal services, plasma, ambulances, and more.
Launched less than a week ago, it is a not-for-profit collective, is not affiliated with the government, and is free to use.
How it works?
The website is an evolving and verified database of beds, oxygen cylinders, plasma, and other valuable resources. Users can either search by location directly on the website or find information through its WhatsApp helpline and Fireside COVID helpline.
Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Co-founder at Wakefit and one of the members responsible for driving the Covid Citizens initiative, says:
“We are building India’s largest real-time, updated database of resources. Updated leads are critical because a supplier of oxygen, while restocking his/her supply, is not a valuable resource for a certain timeframe and feels overwhelmed by the large number of incoming calls.”
He adds, “The recommendation engine driving Covid Citizens performs load balancing. This means a bot performs real-time verification of resources and shows potential leads to users only a certain number of times before they are exhausted and moved down the order.”
In the past week, Covid Citizens claims to have responded to over 3.5 lakh COVID-related medical requests and helped save over 20,000 lives through its pan-India WhatsApp bot Introbot, chat platform Fireside, and a real-time, trusted database of over 18,000 medical suppliers.
The founders claim over 5,000 users found a useful lead within the first three choices provided by the Covid Citizens service.
Utkarsh Roy, co-founder of Introbot and a proponent of Covid Citizens, says, “We are building one of the largest supply pool databases in the country and moving from community-driven aggregation to crowdsources aggregation, which can help us scale 10x.”