technology

Koo to make it easier to find hospital beds, plasma donors amid Covid crisis


Twitter rival Koo is undertaking a slew of initiatives, including making it easier for people to find leads for hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and other resources, amid the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The social media platform will allow potential plasma donors to sport ‘badges’ on their profile pictures for increased visibility, and a new feature is also in the offing that would notify users about vaccine availability.

Koo co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna said with increasing intensity of the second wave, the platform saw people across languages contributing to information regarding availability of beds and oxygen.

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“…we put all the people who were talking and giving information about COVID-related resources in one place…we got some of those profiles and put in under a section called COVID warriors,” he said.

Koo has about 60 lakh users on its platform.

Radhakrishna said that putting all the data in one place makes it easier for others to search and access the information, particularly in the backdrop of the ongoing crisis.

The homegrown microblogging platform is also adding a new automated tab, which takes any mention of COVID, vaccination, beds and other resources and puts it into one place for people to be able to sift through.

“We are also trying to automate information around vaccine availability…We are also enabling some badges to put on users’ profile pictures saying they want to donate blood or plasma along with their blood group, so that people in the network are easily able to find them,” Radhakrishna said.

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These efforts are being done to ensure that Koo as a platform can facilitate information and contribute to the community, he added.

The massive rise in infections during the second wave of the pandemic has led to hospitals in several states reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have emerged as a lifeline, connecting those looking for oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, plasma donors, and ventilators with possible donors.

Facebook has also announced that it is partnering with the Indian government to roll out a vaccine finder tool on its mobile app in India, which will help people identify places nearby to get inoculated.

Twitter too has set up a COVID-19 SOS page that helps surface information from those offering or seeking immediate help during this crisis. It is also expanding its efforts to surface credible COVID-19 information with home Timeline prompts featuring the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines in English and Hindi.

Koo’s Radhakrishna said information around vaccine availability is already being shared on Telegram groups through technology linkages with CoWIN.

“…we are talking to some of those engineers (working on such solutions) and seeing whether they can push it to Koo as well…so whenever a vaccine slot is available, it will inform users,” he added.

Koo, founded by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka, was launched last year to allow users to express themselves and engage on the platform in Indian languages.

It supports multiple languages, including Hindi, Telugu and Bengali, among others.

Earlier this year, Koo had raised $4.1 million in series A funding from Accel, Kalaari Capital, Blume Ventures and Dream Incubator, and 3one4 Capital.

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