Making Blood Donations Time Efficient with Raktadaan

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Mitesh Pandey, Bibek Timsina and Anish Dulal are electronics and communication engineering students with a flair for developing tech solutions. Amidst their examinations, they took the time to tell us about their mobile phone and web-based application “Raktadaan” which was designed to make communication between blood donors and the patients or hospitals more efficient. They recognized a prevalent issue and formulated a simple solution. As a team of engineers, they try to develop the simplest solutions that create the greatest impact. Their concept has received much positive feedback from experts and potential users alike. We spoke to Mr. Pandey, and his team about Raktadaan.

raktadaan 1. Could you give us a general introduction to your idea and team?
The application we developed is called “Raktadaan.” In the present scenario, when people urgently need blood donations they use facebook and other websites if the particular blood type isn’t available at a blood bank. It’s an important issue that no one thinks about it until they face the situation themselves. If the circumstances arise where you need an immediate blood donation and the blood bank doesn’t have the right group, you try these social media groups. However, that isn’t very effective so we are trying to bridge that gap between the patients and blood donors. 

We have a team of five people who are all studying Electronics and Communication  Engineering at the Pulchowk campus. We have a really diverse and vibrant team, one person specializes in AI, another in hardware, another in web development so having that diversity within this field is a big asset for us. 

2. Why do you think there is a need for such an application?
The current database at the blood bank is created by listing the information of the blood donor on the website. This availability of people’s private information can be inconvenient as donors receive repeated phone calls. Additionally, there is information that needs to be updated and that is difficult to do on a static database. When someone donates blood, they aren’t allowed to donate again for another 3 months and if the donor is sick they aren’t allowed to donate blood for a certain time period. There aren’t any mechanisms that allow the blood bank to track that information.

Often, the location of the donor isn’t updated either, that’s useful information when seeking donations. We are trying to make a database that is updated in real-time, the donor’s location, their blood group, their health, and willingness to donate at a given time are all available on the app. We plan on designing the app in a way that incentivizes the donors using a credit point system. The more they donate, the more credits they get and hopefully if we are able to partner with medical institutions, they can give our clients certain benefits when they visit those institutions. We are trying to bridge the communication gap between the donor and the receiver as efficiently as possible because we understand the value of time in these situations.

3. Could you give us a few more details about the application?
To start using the application, the donor has to sign up for an account and submit their personal details from their citizenship. There is a verification process and once the user is approved s/he becomes registered as a donor. However, the receivers aren’t required to register so anyone is free to use the app when they need a blood donation. The donor has an account where they are able to accrue credit points that we are calling “respect.” This acts as a rating system. If an individual is trying to find someone with a certain blood group, they would be able to see the person’s blood group, the number of times they have donated in the past, their location and their “respect.” As the receiver, you can select the person you want to talk to and ask if they are able to donate.

The entire idea is simply to make the process of corresponding with each other easily. We spoke to several relevant professionals who told us the application should be extended to hospitals as well, so if there’s a local blood bank perhaps we could link the app to their API. Right now, we are more focused on contributing to the issue at the individual level. Later down the line, we hope to add ambulance services that allow people to find out what the closest and most efficient ambulance will be. 

The application is going to be able to map people’s current locations automatically. It also has the added benefit of hiding people’s contact information. When people contact each other it will be a private hidden number so your information stays secure. 

As engineers, we’re not interested in making fancy, complicated and ultimately useless products. We’re studying engineering economics right now where we learn how to obtain the maximum benefit from the minimum amount of work. So, even if we make something seemingly simple the main goal is to positively benefit people.

4. What is your vision for the coming future?
We plan on registering a company soon and launching Raktadaan as our first product. We won the Rising Student Award at the ICT awards which is a National Technological Award. We spoke to professionals there and people from hospitals as well as the red cross, all of them were very interested in our idea. 

Currently, we are in the middle of our final exams and are also processing the loan we received from winning the ICT award. We were able to receive a collateral-free loan to further develop our application. Once the application is underway, our main source of revenue is going to be through ads. As the donor base increases the mobile users will increase. We plan on focusing on health-related and medical ads.
The app is ready but we’re trying to get everything in place. We have to partner with hospitals and incorporate the donor credit system into our partnership too. 

5. How did you start this project?
We participated in an annual technological festival called “Locus” at the Pulchowk Campus. It’s a national technological festival and there’s a thematic software competition. Raktadaan was initially developed for this festival and it ended up winning the competition. We received a great deal of positive feedback on the idea. Later we moved on to the Smart Urban Tech Challenge and presented our idea there too. That’s where we began. 

6. Are there any other ideas that you are working on?
Yes, we have been working on other ideas too but not all of them are feasible. One idea was for a smart library. The main concept was to develop technology that reduced the wait in line at libraries when people were trying to check-out or return books. The librarians use a barcode scanner that is required to scan every single book in the library, one at a time. We wanted to replace this system using RFID which allows you to scan several books at once and save time. Another issue is, if someone at the library takes a book to a different room, finding that book can be difficult for the librarians. For those cases we made an IoT device that allows you to detect the book that doesn’t belong in that particular room. This greatly reduces the amount of time spent looking for each book and organizing it. The feasibility issue there was that we needed hardware for it that was too costly. Schools were interested in our idea but we didn’t have enough time to do research, nor could we handle the expense. So, there is certainly potential in the idea but we haven’t been able to implement it yet. 

7. Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?
If our app gets launched, I’d like to request a lot of people to use it. The current methods used to find blood donors are inconvenient. We plan on adding many more features as time progresses and we receive more feedback from our users.

For more information about this company, connect with Mitesh Pandey at 073bex417.mitesh@pcampus.edu.np.

Interviewed and article by Jyotika Shah.