Chennai

Citizen volunteers behind GCC’s vaccination portal

A person gets vaccinated at Puratchi Thalaivar Dr. M.G. Ramachandran Central Railway Station Photo : Jothi Ramalingam .B  

In May, when vaccination was made available for the 18-45 age group, lengthy queues became the order of the day. Booking a slot in Cowin was proving a handful.

Having experienced these problems first-hand, two Chennai techies — Shyam Sundar Nagarajan and Vikram Ravi Ramanathan — jumped at an invitation by Greater Chennai Corporation to create a vaccination portal.

Launched in July, GCC’s vaccination booking portal https://gccvaccine.in/ is the work of these two citizen volunteers who leveraged the low-code technology offered by Zoho Creator to launch it.

As per data from the Corporation, the portal receives 80,000 visitors every day and has helped lakhs of residents get the jab.

Shyam and Vikram say the brief given to them was straightforward. GCC was on a massive drive to get people vaccinated and did not want crowding at centres. It was also particular that the portal remove the barriers that people who did not know English faced.

“Responding to an early feedback we received, we tried to figure out how to make the process of booking easy even for someone not quite conversant with technology,” says Vikram, founding team, Unmetrics.

Simple and nimble

“Most booking platforms are not particular that people register and we skipped that stage,” says Shyam, founder and CEO of GoFloaters. The app is equipped with a single-step login that redirects the user to zone selection and the available slots, thus shortening the booking process.

Vikram Ravi

Vikram Ravi  

The duo agree that many such features like a notification alert about vaccine availability and access through WhatsApp were made possible through Zoho Creator.

Another major addition in the platform, Vikram says, was changing the dashboard so that it gives information zone by zone.

“When we first launched it, we only had an overall Chennai dashboard, but based on our feedback we made it easy for health professionals and zonal officers to find out how many people in a region were vaccinated,” he says. Zone-specific information, locations of camps, bookings and validation were added.

Shyam Sundar, CEO, GoFloaters

Shyam Sundar, CEO, GoFloaters  

“I do not know how to write code and the best part of using the software is that even after you go live you can still make changes rapidly,” says Vikram.

As the two had their day job, new developments pertaining to vaccines that required changes in the portal made the exercise more challenging. Sputnik-V vaccines were launched in the Chennai market, new locations were being added on a regular basis and Corporation even opened vaccination 24x7.

“For a couple of months, every day there was something that had to be updated,” says Vikram.

The two recall a development that gave them a steep asking rate. GCC planned a big launch of the portal inviting top officials and the team coordinating with them gave them 5000 vaccine doses as target as against the three-digit figure they were first given.

Shyam acknowledges the help they got from Zoho’s team of architects. “They were with us online offering us support and that boosted our confidence,” says Shyam.

How did the two bag this assignment from GCC? At the height of the second wave, a bunch of volunteers including Vikram and Shyam were involved in designing a hospital management help desk, which enabled people to find out about the availability of hospital beds and other information.

“We started as a WhatsApp group of entrepreneurs and quickly scaled up. GCC had seen the impact it created, and when the invitation came we jumped at it,” says Shyam.

Trusting us to solve something for the city was heart-warming, they add.


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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 8:17:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/citizen-volunteers-behind-gccs-vaccination-portal/article37031475.ece

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