How location-based apps that connect communities on a single platform can reap long term benefits

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By Lakshna Jha, CEO and Founder, SRide and SNeighbour

During 1983’s International Design Conference in Aspen, Steve Jobs foresaw a future in which each person would have an incredibly great computer in a book that one can carry around. Thanks to the development of apps for smartphones. Mobile devices have radically changed how we communicate and manage our lives. In the late 1990s, the invention and access to technologies of mobile internet, global positioning and advanced graphic interfaces resulted in a combined feature of location-based technology for mobile applications. Today, we see that the number of such location-based applications and thus the mobile users accessing these technologies has steadily increased. While India is facing the burden of the COVID pandemic, various startups are coming up with innovations to fight the pandemic and spread the thought of helping communities come together to overcome the distress caused. While we all stay away from our friends and family in different cities for work, the first ones to go to for help are our neighbors. This is where the latest location-based technology comes into play to help us make great use of the location-based tracking feature, to find people living in close-proximity – in our neighbourhood, who are in need of help.

Since olden times, Indians have traditionally considered neighbourhoods as part of their extended family. It has been ingrained in our hearts for us to be a part of the social communities. This community and its relationships become even more vibrant during the time of celebrations – be it a gully cricket match or a birthday party. With all of us going through multiple situations of lockdown, observing social distancing has become mandatory as a safe practice. Considering the tradition of social communities, it becomes difficult to accept that the pandemic has taken away from us the beauty of nurturing these community relationships. This is resulting in additional mental health challenges for people.

As a solution, today one can make use of micro location-based, real-time applications and peer-to-peer networking channels that show verified user information to help connect a user to the nearest resources around while in need of help. Hence, while it may be difficult to physically be together, today there are various means to stay connected with the people around us virtually – simply through our mobile phones, even though the person is right next door.

Whether it be exchanging a few books, taking care of our neighbours’ garden, pets in their absence or needing a ride to the hospital, neighbourhood communities are always there to Save Our Soul. It is when one is in need of help that they establish a relationship and get in touch with their neighbours. If we have a plumbing failure, or want to order some gadgets from an online store, it is always preferred to use the same service that our neighbour has earlier used because they already had a good experience with it. Location-based community apps can be used to help share resources and information and influence each other. Several users have known to be benefitted through peer-to-peer community networking location apps during the COVID times and have received assistance in just a few minutes. Such help has contributed to saving many lives in COVID situations.

In these trying times, people like work-from-home parents, and others are in dire need of help with needing groceries, medicines, help with driving one to vaccination centres, etc. While there have been location-based applications/ technology which have been designed to cater to the immediate needs, the benefits of services which let us make a connection with the people close to us, extend beyond the obvious. Like-minded people can share similar interests and also get the opportunity to connect with each other – be it for a game of tennis in the evening or networking for work. Hence, the one unique opportunity that such a service gives is the one to reap long-term benefits of a myriad kind of relationships with people who are living with us in close proximity not just distance wise, but also relationship wise, which can be nurtured for many years to come.

We can further look at leveraging such platforms in terms of possibilities where users utilise help for usual every-day doubts than one has in life, like seeking career guidance, getting community help for babysitting your baby, etc. The key is to make connections using technology, and it is us who shall make the best use of this.