Five students have developed an app which can connect users to blood donors within half an hour of placing their request.

What would you do if someone you knew was in dire need of blood for a surgery? Call up friends, post on social media, call blood banks? The process can be slow and frustrating. Now, thanks to the efforts of a group of engineering college and architecture students, there is an app which can improve the efficacy of this process many times over. The app – Bloodline – developed by Ashwin Krishnamoorthy, Vasant Sridhar and S. Siddharth of IIT Madras; Priyanka Gopalan from MEASI (Muslim Educational Institution of Southern India) Academy of Architecture and R. Sheeba of Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering provides a quick and efficient way of entering your request and getting results within 30 minutes.

The app is currently made for use on Android phones and the Web, with plans to extend it to phones with iOS and MS Windows. You just log on to the website (bloodlinelabs.com) or use the Android application Bloodline to place your request — where you are located, the blood group needed and number of units needed. The app then pings the donors in its database with these details, and they just have to say “accept” or “reject” to get connected or passed over.

The database also has information on whether the donor is actually available, for example, whether they have donated blood recently and hence are not in a position to donate, or whether they are located too far from the origin of the request and hence cannot practically donate, etc. Those donors, not in a position to donate, are not disturbed. The app also respects privacy settings, which you can activate if you do not want to be disturbed, say, when travelling, and so on.

How it was developed

“It all originated in August 2012 when we were hunting for an idea for a business plan competition (Transform Urban India) hosted by Indian Institute of Human Settlements, Bangalore,” says Ashwin.

Winning the competition was a big deal, for they even defeated some prime business schools in the process. After that, they thought it would be good to stick together and actually develop the app and this year in August, they were ready to launch Bloodline. Now it is two months since the launch and they have 1100 people in their network, both Web and Android, and have saved 31 lives!

“It is a completely free service and meant to be kept that way,” says Ashwin, “The kicks for us were in being able to bring together people, address a real-life problem and find a solution that would help people.”

The costs of developing the app were borne by the five students, who pooled in money they had earned from internships and the like, with the main overheads being the cost for hiring the server and the publicity. Whenever there is a blood donation event or some such get together, they go and put up a stall and promote Bloodline. And they are in talks with blood banks to adopt the technology.

The work has not gone unnoticed — In January 2013, Nasscom, for their Social Innovation Honour, identified Bloodline as one of the top three socially relevant ideas. In December 2012, the app was projected at the Stanford Innovation Expo. “The expo really helped us fine tune the idea and find out where we were lacking and to trim the app. It encouraged us to launch the app,” says Ashwin. Soon after the launch, on August 2, they were featured on Wired U.K. for being an innovative startup, and much more.

Now they are a team of eight people, with Junaid, Abdeali and Arun from IIT-Madras who have joined them.

Ashwin attributes their success to the IIT-Madras’s schooling method — “IIT is not just about classrooms, they are into making global leaders,” he says.