Who: Karuna App by Milan Roy, Swapnil Sharma and Pranit Ganvir
What: To bring authentic and real time information about Covid-19 essentials like ventilators, medicines, oxygen canisters, hospital beds, plasma etc. on one app – Karuna.
Why: Karuna app centralised authentic and real time information on one platform.
After the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, just when the administration and people thought that the worst was behind them, the second wave hit India with an unforgiving ferocity. The sharp surge in the daily COVID-19 positivity rate, increased from 1.62% on 1 March 2021 to 20% on 13 May 2021. On 16th May 2021, the total confirmed infections reached 25 lakhs. The administration and healthcare system was overwhelmed. SOS messages for Covid-19 essentials like ventilators, medicines, oxygen canisters, hospital beds, plasma etc. from those in need and those with leads started circulating on social media and through WhatsApp messages. Imagine how much data on social media applications, WhatsApp chats and weblinks, a panic stricken family with a serious COVID-19 patient would have to go through, to find what they need. And that too at a time when they should be taking care of the patient. To make matters worse more than 95% information available was unverified.
Technology To The Rescue
Milan Roy, Swapnil Sharma and Pranit Ganvir, three friends and batchmates at IIT Delhi were grappling with the deluge of SOS messages from their friends for Covid-19 essentials. They realised the enormity of the task for people under stress searching for authentic information. Without giving it a second thought the three decided to put their IT technical knowledge to use and develop a user-friendly mobile app, which compiled verified data for various cities.
The initiative posed many challenges, like paucity of time, gathering large amounts of information, authenticity of the information, real time update of the app, automation etc. The IITians found simple solutions to these challenges, by building an easy to use app overnight, on a platform which required no coding, a tedious and time consuming process. They used government websites to source large amounts of authentic and verified information. Within a day the trio developed ‘CovRelief’ (which later became Karuna app). They shared information about the app on LinkedIn and WhatsApp.
Help From Unexpected Quarters
When they logged in the next day, to their surprise, they found out that the app had gained massive traction due to authentic information and easy to use interface and was also shared by politicians, celebrities, journalists etc. on social media. They started getting requests from people to add more cities. Encouraged by the help the app provided to COVID-19 patients and the response they scaled the app and increased the number of cities to 40 from 6. It was a painstaking task as data for every city required to be updated every 15 minutes.
Within a week their work caught the attention of tech giant Google. Google put together a team of 50 volunteers to help CovRelief monitor real-time data and offered its Cloud Platform to host the app. They also collaborated with Covid Survivor Force India (CFSI) to connect people in need of CFSI’s volunteers.
Milan was approached by PathCheck Foundation founded by Ramesh Raskar, an award winning professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. PathCheck is a nonprofit tech organisation with a large volunteer community. PathCheck offered its big team and funds and their collaboration started work on developing CovRelief as a disaster management app. Covirelief was rechristened Karuna. The app has been handed over to Pathcheck and they are working towards launching the app in different countries. By the end of the second wave Karuna demo app was launched in Indonesia.
Success Of App – The Thank You Messages
The app and work done by Milan, Swapnil and Pranit which helped people in need to easily find authentic information as per their requirement and geography, garnered high praise from the Ministry of Education, politicians, Director of IIT Delhi, actors, journalists and above all, the people who benefited by getting valuable and timely help from the app. The app has got more than 25 million views.
If Karuna App and the work done by Milan Roy, Swapnil Sharma and Pranit Ganvir during this pandemic has inspired or moved you, do cast your vote for them. Here is how you can vote for your favorite nominee for Jagran New Media & OnlyMyHealth’s HealthCare Heroes Awards 2021.