Shyam Sundar, an automotive engineer, started providing Covid updates on his social media handles in March 2020 when many inquiries were made about hospital beds and Covid health information. In 2021, during the second wave, it launches an exclusive Covid information portal. Later, during the floods, he shared all helpline numbers and other weather updates through the portal and named it News of Chennai. Now, he has converted his efforts into a web-based application that not only contains these helplines and details, but also all information related to Chennai.
“I often wondered when I found a needy person on the road, what I could do to help them. Also, whenever there are emergencies, it is difficult to look up numbers. Many people are looking for blood, breast milk and other contact numbers. This app will be their one stop solution. I have always been very keen to collect news and information and put it together. I just used my skills and converted them to help the people of Chennai. I also started adding links of relevant city news for people to read,” Shyam said.
Shyam’s father is a retired civil servant and his mother is a housewife. He always wanted to do social service and taught underprivileged children and held Ted talks.
The 29-year-old starts his day by reading four English newspapers and collecting relevant information to update the app. “We don’t need to download it. It is simply a web application that one can save on their mobile or desktop. The link should be clicked and added to the home screen. I don’t know coding, so I used no-code tools such as Glide and also Canva, a design software. I have provided links to all resources, helplines, information and actions,” he said.
There is no advertising and it does not derive any revenue from it. So far, 2,5000 people in the city are using its app and also following updates on social media handles. “Now I have added all the election related details (of the local urban body) such as finding ward number, EPIC number, polling booth, sample code of conduct, knowing your candidates, etc. . Once the municipal elections are over, I will withdraw them. This app will be updated daily and I make sure the latest updated status is available for people to see,” he said.
The app can be registered using the link: https://newsofchennai.app.