New Delhi, May 24 : There have been several incidents when social media has proved itself a boon; be it dealing with a crisis or emergency and sometimes even saving a life. There are various groups and communities formed on different platforms that work as a support system of communities.
'My Pincode' is one such group on Facebook that was launched by the NGO Social Media Matters in April when the entire country was confined in their houses. It is about local groups on Facebook to virtually connect, communicate, collaborate and create a support system for each other in their respective pincode areas. These groups bring together users, community leaders, subject matter experts, resource points and organisations at a very hyper-local level to provide immediate support, relief and share critical information.
Blood donation, ration supply, repair work, daily essential information, government advisories are the highlights of My Pincode as these demands top the charts across posts made by users. Partners like Sarvahitey, Akshay Patra Foundation, Blood Bank were fundamental in their roles to look into all the requests and take immediate action.
Shantanu Garg, who lives in West Delhi, posted on the group requesting for a blood donor on behalf of a friend. Within a few hours, moderators of the group who tagged all volunteers and other admins and started reaching out to other blood donor agencies were able to arrange the required amount of blood. There have also been other instances of such donor requests. Sajal Bhateja's request for urgent requirement of blood on South Delhi Group was also addressed in two hours.
Other topics that are being discussed on the groups are:
Which is the nearest clinic I can visit?
Where can I get emergency help?
What does the situation look like right now on the roads?
What are the queues like at the shops?
How much longer will supplies last?
Are courier services working in the area?
Which are the nearest Government and Private Testing Centres?
Can I visit the police stations?
Are postal services working in the area?
How do I obtain a curfew pass?
What is the situation at the hospitals?
Are there any blood donor requests?
In an attempt to bring together communities from 170 hotspots of India across 17 states (as identified by the Central Government of India in April 15, 2020) and crowdsource help, open groups have been formed and are being managed by moderators and group admins, trained by the NGO. It will be further extended to 32 states and union territories.
Each state has a moderator and several admins who have been moderating the discussions and letting users connect with each other for essential and verified information as to keep fake profiles/information away.
Everyday the lead moderators sift through all the groups to look for any inappropriate content that is posted/approved/queried. As soon as users post on the group, the network of admins gets activated and they look into the prime information or request made by the user. Once that is identified, the request is verified and then the network gets activated to resolve the request.
(Puja Gupta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)