The Towns Mirror Special: The Ripple effect

By Tanushree Sen

Alistair D’Souza, a resident of Cooke Town, came up with a phone app that would be a welcome change from the ubiquitous WhatsApp group and help people in the community connect while being socially distant

The idea of making an app to help people access essential items and groceries and stay up to date with the latest news from the safety of their homes came to Alistair D’Souza when the lockdown was suddenly announced last year.

“People were huddled up at home, and everyone was joining these innumerable WhatsApp groups to order basic items,” says the software professional.

What I realised was that not only did these groups become too cluttered with continuous chatter, they also became pointless for someone who needed the items or services only on specific days of the week, for example.”

That’s when D’Souza and his wife began to think of ways to keep the community connected from the safety of their homes and without giving away personal details like the phone number. “Ripple is a lot like Twitter, where you see posts about different services and items, but it is locality-based. The person can set a range of the kilometres he/she chooses and see posts on a vast range of topics from that locality. The best part is that you do not have to really stay connected to a person or have their phone number to see posts related to grocery items from him/her,” explains D’Souza.

D’Souza’s prior knowledge of making apps and creating software on Android helped him immensely. He knew he had to come up with something that would be a solution to the many ubiquitous WhatsApp groups that have sprung up thanks to the pandemic. “These WhatsApp groups are meant for limited users,” he says simply. “At the end of the day, 10 groups get created for one item, food, for example, and you ultimately end up seeing none of

the posts. Once I knew what to avoid, it was clear what I needed to make.

In Ripple, we keep the groups and personal chats to a minimum by revolving the app around posts by people within a specified locality. You can choose the radius based on a trust and comfort factor.”

Alistair D’Souza wanted an app that would connect the community

How the app works is simple: Users first choose a locality or area range. Based on that, they see posts from people, interests, or trends they choose to follow. The topics are classified as ‘tags’, and they could be anything from ordering food, repair services, house help, social initiatives, or even an SOS call. So, you could follow a food tag only when you have those sudden cravings. Posts have a life of 12 hours, after which they are automatically deleted.

“I wanted the app to have social as well as commercial aspects for people to connect, he says.” For these days of the pandemic, such features are handy, especially with so many vaccine and covid-related events being organised, says the software professional.

If all this sounds too tech for you, the app has not done away with chat groups completely. D’Souza added features recently to make it more user-friendly. “There are options where you can interact personally with a person or form a group. For those who may be technologically handicapped, like senior citizens, for example, the app allows users to post on their behalf as well.”

Currently, the app has close to a 100 users. D’Souza hopes that Ripple will reach more, in this pandemic.

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