At 6 in the evening, on Independence Day, the office is nearly deserted. The Kerala IT Mission office in Thiruvananthapuram looks dark and gloomy, like the rest of the state, shocked and hurt by the havoc caused by the rain.
The security guard, who talks about the floods reaching his neighbourhood in Neyyar,
Sambasiva and his team have been collaborating with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to put up a website to reach out to the victims with help in kind –KeralaRescue.in.
The site was put up on Tuesday morning and by Wednesday evening, at the time we talk, there were 8,030 volunteers who registered; 402 others expressing willingness to contribute and there were requests coming from 402 people in distress.
It is all in kind, not money. So, it is not just the materials required that are provided but also services, like that of a doctor or a plumber or a mechanic; and cooking and cleaning as well.
“It is an open collaboration platform. We had to bring up a portal in a short time. People from IEEE have come forward to collaborate with us,” says Sambasiva.
“Basically, it is a communication platform between victims, volunteers and contributors, and administration. We have the admin system. There are project managers in every district working with their teams on the requests that come on the site. We have student volunteers of IEEE. Anyone can join as a volunteer. The admins have put up the requirements. People – the victims – could also add their requirements. Information will be given by admins to volunteers, who go and collect the materials from contributors and give to a common collection centre,” he explains.
Muraleedharan, head of the state e-governance mission team, says: “It is to connect people, to get requests from various locations, get a list of volunteers, and to supply the requirements. The requirements keep changing continuously. We have our points of contact in every district. “
Sahil, the state coordinator of IEEE, says that the idea is to consolidate all the requirements at one place and also to encourage contributions to come directly from the public.
“There are district project managers and their teams managing the requests coming on the website. But now the situation is so bad there are so many requests coming. These requests are available on the website for anyone to see. So the public could directly reach out to the people in distress.”
Sambasiva hopes to develop the platform in the coming days to facilitate contributions to provide shelters to those returning homes from relief camps.
“In Kerala, I have observed there is a culture of neighbours providing shelters at times of distress,” he says. The platform could have a section for people willing to provide them when it is time for the victims to leave relief camps.