Friends2Support.org has grown to become one of the largest online blood banks in the country and with the introduction of smartphone applications, its services have been made far more accessible to the tech-savvy generation.
Elegant, simple and direct, the mobile applications of the website have been recognised on a global platform as it won the United Nations Millennium Development Goals World Summit Youth Award in Colombo in November last year.
Started by a group of five friends in Hyderabad, Friends2Support has been operational for eight years. The idea to exploit the smartphone possibilities came from an outsider who read about the organisation in a newspaper over a year ago.
Jayanth Justin, an employee at Infosys here, had taken a year off after graduating and was mulling over projects as part of an Android course he was taking when the services of Friends2Support caught his attention.
“Rather than executing a project just for the sake of it, I thought it made sense to popularise its work considering most young people own smartphones and are more likely to donate,” he said.
He sent S.K. Shareef, its founder in Hyderabad, an email suggesting the idea and got an immediate positive response. Through trial and error, the user interface came to life and the data in its database were shared to complete the Android application.
It has been a year since the application was introduced containing information about over a lakh registered blood donors across the country.
For those facing nightmarish situations of tracking down the blood group donor that matches their requirement, the app significantly eases the process. The page only asks for the group that is sought (even having the rarest of rare ‘Bombay Blood Group’) and the location of the recipient - including State, district, and town.
It then provides a list of people in that area and matches the blood group, along with their phone number and whether they are available or not. Jayanth, himself having the relatively rare blood type of A-ve, knows the importance of putting on a public forum the presence of a volunteer ready to help.
He developed the Android app, which was followed suit by Windows, iOS and Java by developers in Bangalore, New Delhi, and Hyderabad.
Friends2Support mobile app won the award under the WSYA’s ‘Fight Poverty, Hunger and Disease’ category.
“An issue that came up was that volunteers often fail to update their status and mobile phone. The app will soon have a blood request feature as well, similar to the website,” said Jayanth.