Chennai: Named after the giant bell that Manu Needhi Chozhalan, a just king of the Chola Dynasty, hung in front of his courtroom for his citizens to make their complaints heard for redressal, Araichimani.com, a free web and mobile app, is launched for residents to crowdsource public support against specific social and civic problems in their locations and spur government officials into action.
Araichimani, developed by Balakumar K, a Chennai-based software engineer, is a not-for-profit venture. It can be accessed via web or OS and Android-based mobile devices, without downloading the app. Residents can publish their problems in text and attach relevant photos or videos, if preferred, anonymously. They can also use online maps to pinpoint locations. Other users can browse the problems related to different cities, towns and villages, and upvote them and share the problems in their social media channels. They can also add their own comments. The problems are listed according to the votes they get with the most-voted problems pushed to the top.
The officials from government departments and NGOs, and activists can login to Araichimani to know the social and civic problems pertaining to their locations. In the future, the platform will have options to notify government departments of relevant grievances as soon as they are made.
Commenting about the product, Balakumar, said, “Though we all experience many social and civic problems related to infrastructure, education, equality, pollution, and so on in our day-to-day life, most of us feel that we neither have the time to unite people to raise our concerns nor petition the concerns to the relevant government officials. By not doing anything about the problems we experience, we are setting the stage for a dark future and an unfriendly environment for our kids and future generations.”
Araichimani.com as a digital platform aims to help people raise concerns quite effortlessly and let the system do the rest – crowdsourcing, and notifying officials. With a smartphone, anybody can initiate a topic with pictures/videos, and others who are experiencing the same problem can add their vote to the issue. As the topics get more votes, the topic will surface to the top of the list and get attention from others.
Araichimani intends to serve as an authentic, transparent and democratic platform to engage the public in highlighting social and civic problems and get the attention and actions these issues deserve. Though there are similar apps for consumers to raise their complaints, and whistle-blowers to bring a corporate issue to open, there are no such equivalent platforms for social and civic problems.
Araichimani can be technically used by citizens from anywhere in the country. But it expects users mostly from Tamil Nadu and south Indian states to begin with. The app uses data analytics heavily. It is developed based on progressive web technologies so that users do not have to download the app on their mobile devices to use it. It is enough if they could create a shortcut to the app on their devices for one-click access.