New Delhi, June 2021: During the first quarter of 2021, the team at LocalBol had been busy building a platform for locals to reach out for sharing content, skills, thoughts, business propositions within their community (microcosms) in vernacular, video, voice and visual format, a space to build up and support your neighbours/ community and create a kinder, trusting and trustworthy world on the whole.
While we were developing and refining the app, the second wave of the pandemic hit India and we watched people running helter-skelter in both urban and rural spaces, online and offline, looking for the required resources to fight the disease knocking at almost all doors. We realised that LocalBol with probably tweaks can focus and help our communities in combating the situation. LocalBol, being a micro location-based or a hyperlocal social network is the perfect organized, real-time, and verified information source for connecting a person to the local/nearest resources at the time of one’s need.
“We believed we could put out our micro location-based app, LocalBol for the greater common good; if instead of opening the platform now as we envisage it but also armed with some additional features and a band of volunteers we can respond responsibly to the Pandemic. We look forward to allowing our users to turn LocalBol into a tool to fight the current situation if required. LocalBol had anyway been envisioned to make every place more connected and helpful for its habitants. Therefore, in the continued logical flow, we asked ourselves why not make the life of people across different locations easier so they don’t have to sift through information (be it doctors, hospital beds, or O2 Filling stations) from Kashmir to Kanyakumari when they only need to find out about a small or big location radius around them in the least amount of time.” Said Rajesh Hota and Ashok Mahapatra, founders of LocalBol.
The LocalBol app was modified to respond to the following gaps seen by its founders while looking for information and resources across urban and rural areas in India.
- The large scale networking apps which were/are being the hub for asking for help is frustrating to people looking for information and help in their native language for any location where the language may or may not be spoken;
- the frustration of having to navigate feeds overflowing with irrelevant information from other districts and even other states while one is working against time to gather resources, or
- Helplessness while trying to connect with people at a location where your loved one needs urgent help,
- Trying to find the nearest vaccination centers with vaccine availability for yourself or your dear ones staying in other rural or urban areas.
The duo initially focused their efforts on collating all the information available related to Covid 19 and realised the information existed in bits and pieces across various government websites or United Nations sites. They began with using the existing LocalBol app that was already live for android users to upload all this collated, translated, and verified information regarding Covid 19, FAQs about Covid 19, vaccines, and fact-checking available information on social media in Hindi and English. Hailing from Odisha, both the founders found out that the state government and other organizations are putting a lot of effort in creating so many pieces of covid related facts and information for the public use but most of them were in English. So the team translated them to Odia and Sambalpuri languages and distributed them to locations using the app.
The plan had been to mobilise volunteers who will work with LocalBol to provide verified real-time information about the availability of hospital beds, testing labs, doctors, oxygen banks, donations, etc. in all 30 districts of Odisha in local languages. We are hoping that the third wave (if there is one) isn’t as deadly; however if required LocalBol will be able to step up and help our communities with this model.
LocalBol has most recently added the vaccine search option, to help users find vaccine centres and availability of vaccines around their location.
With the pandemic situation calming down, the app is again focusing on bringing together neighbours and communities through various activation events besides the location-based postings by users. The app has initiated the option for users to share their memorial/tribute messages and stories for key people in their friends/family circle or from their locality they have lost in the recent past. Users can take part in multiple local contests with attractive prizes and also find a variety of local content in local languages. The App is presently available in English, Hindi, Sambalpuri, and Odia with plans to expand to more Indian languages at the earliest.
LocalBol is looking for more volunteers, pan India, to support verifying the content being posted by local users in India as part of its preparedness for the third wave (if there is one). To become a volunteer or to get more information please WhatsApp on +919818898010 or visit the website https://getlocalbol.com/
LocalBol is a hyperlocal social network to find and share location based and local content in vernacular, video, voice and visual formats founded by two friends Rajesh Hota and Ashok Mahapatra based out of New Delhi. Rajesh is an advertising professional and is the founder of a Delhi-based advertising agency Yaarlog Films and Ashok is a fundraising and communication strategist in the development sector having worked with the United Nations and some other organizations in India and abroad.