The Optimist Citizen

This IITian left his job in U.S to build a ‘NearGroup’ App which connects Neighbours to bring Social Change

It is well known that social media is a great tool that works wonders to connect people across geographies. It helps us to stay connected with the world and voice our opinions on the web. But do we know each and every person living in our immediate neighborhoods? How well are we connected to our near-by residents?
These were the few question which kept bothering Prashant Pitti, an IIT Madras graduate who was working in the U.S. He then called it quits and came back to India to develop an app which helps residents of a particular area to connect and know one another leading to the fabrication of a cooperative community of neighbors.

Called the NearGroup App this app also helps in finding domestic servants, plumbers,doctors or just someone who could walk your dog and numerous other everyday hassles.
The idea struck him when he was practicing for a marathon but could not maintain his regularity because he didn’t have a running companion. It occurred to him that there was no way of reaching out to one’s neighbours ,though we stay connected to the world through various social networking websites and apps. “I realised that it would’ve been great if there was a system by which I could shout out to people living nearby to know if they too are interested in what I am. In the realm of Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, we have actually forgotten our real social network which we aren’t using right now.” says Prashant. And thus NearGroup was born, India’s first social networking app, for neighbourhood. It has been launched for three months now and has already gathered 18,000 users predominantly in the Delhi- NCR region.

Users of NearGroup App gather together to celebrate festivals with slums children in the nearby slum
Users of NearGroup App gather together to celebrate festivals with slums children in the nearby slum

Providing technological benefits to the people with willingness and a positive outlook, Prashant has in fact brought us to square one of social networking, our neighbourhood. The app also aids in breaking the ice between residents by providing a digital ground for interaction and also has an ‘urgent alert’ button by which the messages are delivered to all the neighbours at once through SMS. Bridging the digital world and the real world, 130 users of ‘NearGroup; app of a particular neighbourhood in Noida, gathered together and celebrated Christmas with street children, distributed clothes and played games with them.
Such is the positive impact generated when technology is used for creating a difference in the lives of others. NearGroup is indeed a great venture that brings together like-minded neighbours thereby initiating and encouraging social change. As American author Clay Shirky has said, “When we change the way we communicate, we change society.”

Aparna Shastri | TOC

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