Blood donation on demand : “Uber” for blood donation app launched

Green Shakti foundation, a New Delhi based NGO has launched Donor On Call, an Uber style app for real-time blood donor requests & fulfillment.

Donor on Call (DoC) mobile app is a technology based humanitarian service where matching blood group donors are located nearby the recipient on a real-time basis.

On raising a blood request, it locates donors physically present nearby at that time (last spotted) and notifies them. The donor can then accept and coordinate or in an SOS situation, the requester may call donor by touching a call button.

The objective is to minimize response time, reduce blood storage and refrigeration needs. As a result, saving precious blood from being wasted post expiry date. It illustrates a carbon friendly process of environment-health linkage- the donor being nearest can simply walk or reach within minutes.

Each donor is hence like a mobile blood bank.

Dr. Dharma Choudhary, a globally known hematologist and stem cell physician an alumnus of AIIMS, CMC Vellore and British Columbia General Hospital, Canada and heads a Marrow Transplant Center, provided assistance and mentoring with respect to blood donations for the app.

Pratap Chandani leads Green Shakthi Foundation, an alumni from IIT Bombay.

He collaborated together with IT professionals from India, Silicon Valley together and with medical professionals to build and launch this app.

Download DonorOnCall at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gslab.donor.

For more info, watch on YouTube Donor on Call Case Narration” –

To volunteer for DonorOnCall, contact 0120 4332409, 9810253052. Or write an email to  donoroncall@gmail.com.

Leadership during the time of crisis

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Many leaders are judged on the basis of how well they succeeded. But most leaders don’t know what to do in crisis because they don’t expect or plan for a crisis. There’s always a plan A and plan B, to succeed. There’s none to fail.

In my view handling crisis well and failing gracefully is itself an important trait of leadership.

When crisis hits, there are important things that leaders must do

Communicate

Are you able to effectively communicate to your team, organization or your unit as to what is happening truthfully? This is an important question that leaders need to ask when a crisis has hit the organization.

Be Transparent

Have you provided absolute transparency to the teams who report to you? Do they know what is actually going on? This will make a lot of difference if the leadership expects to continue the fight.

Deal with trust deficit

Does the team continue to believe in your leadership and willing to back you despite sailing into troubled waters?

During the time of crisis, there will be trust deficit with your team. How do you deal with such a problem? What would you do to retain the trust? These key questions will define whether you will succeed or you will fail beyond the time of crisis.

Respect those who have fought your battles with you

This cannot be articulated better than the quote below:

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Build a plan & communicate

It is very important that a leadership team has a clear plan of record for the rest of the stakeholders, investors and employees to be able to be convinced to reset and work together in the long term. And it is

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Fail Gracefully

A crisis represents a great opportunity to renew goals, focus and the vision of a team. It also represents a perfect opportunity to fail, safely. When you’re failing, it is perfectly fine to admit fault. If you’re a leader—It is also a great time to let someone else steer your vision and allow a change of guard if necessary. A graceful exit, change or roles or strategy is sometimes necessary for the organization to remain focused on its path ahead.

Remember that your leadership is not just judged by your outcomes, but also by your actions.

“In the midst of chaos, there’s also opportunity”Sun Tzu , The Art of War

Every lost battle presents an opportunity to realign and reboot. A good leader takes advantage of this opportunity to clearly identify mistakes in strategy, takes corrective action and moves forward with renewed focus. In the midst of chaos, there’s always an opportunity that could help propel your organization forward, because as they say the spoils of war are much bigger than the worries of the lost battles.

[Image credit /added by NextBigWhat team]

The premature death of Transportation as a Service in India

And why we may not skip car ownership just yet.

After I moved back to India, I almost bought a car. But after looking at Gurgaon’s roads, the cost of ownership and the traffic I might have to deal with, I decided against it.

More so because Ola (an India specific Uber competitor backed by Softbank) and Uber were raining discounts and incentives drivers and customers, and there were plenty of cars to be found at the tap of a button.

Will India skip Car ownership entirely and move to transportation as a service?

The more I used Ola and Uber, the more I was convinced that the value and utility that they provide are here to stay. And it made me wonder whether India is perhaps ready to skip car ownership entirely (given that only a small percentage of the population owns cars).

One would think that transportation as a service (and perhaps driverless cars) will quickly become a reality in India, skipping even car ownership much like the mobile adoption happened where a generation of folks skipped the PC entirely.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that this will happen anytime soon.

This despite the fact that car ownership is still really small compared to global numbers and is predicted to be 1.1% less in 2016.

 Ola and Uber is still very expensive for a large part of the Indian population, even after discounts.

And with the incentives and discounts fading, both customers and transportation providers are up in arms, especially because public transportation is far more competitively priced (and subsidized by the government).

Let us not also forget unorganized solutions exist in large cities and are able to ferry most passengers point to point for Rs 10–20 at the most.

Passengers waiting for disorganized and owned transportation services such as private cabs & 3 wheeler “autos” 
Passengers waiting for disorganized and owned transportation services such as private cabs & 3 wheeler “autos” 

The consistency of experience is an issue. Uber tries hard to be consistent and Ola tries to be different all the time (much to my dismay introducing many different varieties of the same service). But the accessibility of services on demand, and on time, is a serious problem in India. 

The problem of consistency is even more acute with Ola who seems to have new services every single time I log in and driver experiences that are vastly different (for the worse) when compared to Uber.

Old habits die hard. It amazes me how many folks are willing to keep windows open and the dust in, in a city like Gurgaon rather than close it up and switch on the aircon for example, for the sake of saving fuel. Some either go too fast, some are just too slow.

Winter pollution in Gurgaon
Winter pollution in Gurgaon

Given the traffic in Indian cities, having a schedule planned, almost certainly never works. Commute times are already notorious and are expected to double within the next 4–5 years.

Drivers cannot find you on their own, and it takes 2–3 phone calls for Ola drivers (to a lesser extent for Uber) to get to find your pickup location and arrive.

The professionalism of drivers is another issue. Many tend to cancel requests that are slightly far out or ask you to cancel if they don’t want to service your location. There’s always a risk of bad behavior by drivers against women, when they travel alone.

The quality of cars is also an issue. In many countries, private car owners ride Uber (or an alternative) to make extra money and the outcome of that is better and well-maintained cars on road.

Ola and Uber drivers are taxi owners who have recently bought cars or work for someone else who owns taxis. Cars are not always well maintained, are may not be the safest on road.

Unionized taxis are a big problem as well because they can bring the entire economy to a halt when they feel that the fares are not enough. This is actually happening as we speak for the same reasons and both Ola and Uber are being held to a ransom due to a strike leaving customers high and dry.

Payments are a pain (no I don’t want to transfer to a wallet from a bank wallet) and it is absurd to enter a secondary pin just because the backend systems are not secure enough to handle fraud.

Somehow India is unhealthily obsessed with mobile wallets which don’t seem to provide any real value except for removing the two-factor authentication.

Lastly, the pride of ownership is huge in India. It will be a while before cars are treated as a commodity.

Image credit: Team-bhp.com

What will it take to skip car ownership?

IMO, skipping car ownership will require transportation platforms to provide enough value, at extremely competitive costs together with a fair amount of personalization that replaces the experience of owning a car.

Autonomous vehicles may be able to remove the human (and inconsistent) aspect of transportation services but in an economy where there’s plenty of labor available and voter appeasing governments, I don’t really see that taking off in India at scale within the next decade.

As a matter of fact, I have been exploring buying a car to avoid the uncertainty and delays caused due to the dependency on these transportation providers.

In Conclusion, I think that Ola and Uber might continue to exist and might become much larger players. But I do not see them making a very significant dent or creating a habit that makes people skip thinking about car ownership entirely within the next couple of years.

As with most of my blogs, I will keep correcting content if I find errors.