PickMe’s SOS feature breaks new ground


Whilst the last few days of flooding in the city of Colombo brought in a huge amount of public empathy and relief measures where the ordinary citizen plus the corporate sector threw the full might of their resources to bring relief to the destitute, some startup companies were experimenting with unique ways to support relief measures. Amongst them was the mobile app based taxi hailing service, PickMe.

PickMe initially teamed up with a television station to pick up dry rations from those who wanted to contribute. This was done through a special icon on their mobile app, which customers could click on, and the company would send a taxi for the pick up. The collections were brought to a pick up point and delivered to the TV station, to be distributed among the needy.

But what was unique was PickMe’s SOS app, which the company came up with, to identify and rescue flood victims who were marooned. All those who had the PickMe app on their phone could click on it and PickMe could identify the exact location of the stranded people, using GPS tracking.

‘We had a large number of people who responded and some of this information we passed onto to those doing rescue operations. Whilst we too operated some boats to rescue people.’ said Zulfer Jiffry, CEO of PickMe.

Whilst the PickMe app was useful in supporting surface rescue, their collaboration with the Defense Ministry to airlift marooned flood victims was even more crucial. PickMe had a specially appointed team to pass on distress signals no sooner they were received to the Defence Ministry helicopter rescue crew who acted on them deploying their craft to the locations provided by the company. The helicopter crew didn't delay in flying to the locations beeped in by PickMe and through their timely partnership, over 200 families including children, pregnant mothers and the elderly who were abandoned in unreachable areas were brought to safety.

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