Which Indian Founder will Solve the COVID Information Problem

Hitanshu Gandhi    Updated
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“Infantry wins battles, logistics wins wars.”

John J. Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front, World War I

NEEDED: A courageous succesful Indian platform business founder to assemble a Dream Team from their tech to setup a national crowd sourced Covid Resource Database that helps Indians find resources faster, reducing the nationwide panic & saving lives NOW!

Why do we need such a solution:

  1. Making crowdsourced+verified COVID information available can save critical time and reduce the panic.
  2. Indian Founders are best placed to solve this:
    • College kids have a lot of time, but limited experience
    • Our IT companies are big but few nimble enough to instantly choose an internal “Dream Team” to drop all tasks and work on this for a week! Only founders can take such a call NOW!
    • The solution needs classic platform thinking (see below) plus experience in building scalable end to end secure systems for the aam aadmi which the average enthusiast lacks. Think SAE Baja project cars vs the bulletproof Toyota Hilux.
    • As Biden administration showed, eventually everyone is caring for themselves. We need a solution for Bharat in all its glorious idiosyncracies and traps, made by Indians!
  3. Current systems are terrible:
    • There is no END TO END system – you either have whatsapp groups of enthusiastic people with no tech, or lovely tech platforms that do not have a volunteer engine behind it
      • Every group of tech savvy friends is setting up a Whatsapp Group / Discord group with volunteers
      • Individual techies have written code, like my friend, Vibhu Rishi’s lovely CovidHelp page but I only see him updating links. No one else is supporting him.
    • Numbers are being shared across Twitter Whatsapp and Instagram with minimal verification leading to exhaustion for actual care givers
    • Often, the same vendor is being called non-stop by the patient’s family, friends, and even volunteers – many of them simply switch off their phones or take no calls!
    • Information gets out of date super fast and there is no way to mark information as out of date
    • Governments nationwide are at their capacity limits. They do not have information systems – their planning & control systems are designed for fair slow disbursal of resources, not real time.
  4. This is a classic platform problem which needs a SYSTEM approach to aggregate data, assert authority and pull users:
    • The only way this problem will resolve if there is a more authoritative platform to which the others can defer to, and join forces with
    • How might that work?
      • First it needs to CRAWL all accessible sources – we have everything from google sheets to sprinklr dashboards to simple posts on Twitter
      • Then it makes it easy for volunteers across cohorts:
        • Enthu volunteers, to act as admins / ensure data sanity
        • Occasional volunteers – your typical neighborhood who logs in for 5 min in a day via OTP, and verifies two vendors and goes on with their life
        • Users that dialed numbers from the platform give their feedback
    • If someone like her could update the resource availability post call, that would be ideal!
    • Ideally it becomes self-serve for vendors such as Google Maps – where they can log in and update their availability
    • Stale data can be managed just like coupons – users can flag unresponsive / out of stock vendors for admins to review
  • My ideal system would have be creating tickets non stop for any logged in user to execute / close (like Google gives information to Local Guides to verify):
    • Anyone can submit links
    • Hierarchy of Users that verify the data with strong cross-verification by an admin / mod team
    • Information is assumed to go stale and must be re-verified every few hours
    • Exotel Number masking + Truecaller priority call integration (like NoBrokerHood) to ensure that privacy is maintained plus the vendor / hospital can see that the call is coming from an authoritative source and choose to receive it.

Who will be that Indian tech founder who will ACT & deploy a dream team to lead this collaborative effort? If you know someone, share this with them so they can act – everyone is so overwhelmed with the ceaseless tragedies in our personal circles that no one is yet taking a systemic view (or has launched such a website as of EOD 24th April – Apologies if that is the case)