Commuting to work is a crucial phase in the life of every individual, be it a commoner or the elite. With the ever increasing traffic jams on the road, the rising decibels of noise pollution and the as of late visible road-blocks due the never ending constructions, many travellers, in the quest for alternative routes, resort to the good old ferry boats. For many others, it is the chief mode of connect between the island they live/work on and the mainland. However, keeping a tab of the timings of the ferry can often be tedious. Not anymore! What with the newly launched Android app titled ‘Goychim Ferry’. Developed by 24 year old Suraj Sakhardande, a Panjim based software engineer, the app shows great potential of paving simple solutions to the unreliable ferry time tables.
Suraj struck upon the idea of Goychim Ferry while listening to the travel woes of his friend Velington Afonso, who very often travels via the ferry and sometimes missed it due to incorrect timings. It took the youngster two months of sleepless nights to complete this app while simultaneously juggling his work life. By March 2015, the app was ready to be launched at the initial cost of $ 25 that he required to register himself with Google as a developer.
“Andriod is my passion and coding is my hobby,” says Suraj, who is drawn towards striving for societal betterment rather than only building up an ambitious career. “As a developer, I believe in doing something which will help me learn and at the same time, be useful to the community. After all, technological innovations are about improving people’s lives and this was one project that was completely doable. I wanted it be a non-commercial app, because initially, when you aim at earning money, you tend to lose users”.
While Velington planted the seed of the concept, another friends referred to Suraj the already existing River Navigation Department website which had ready available data on ferry timings across various routes. It was only a matter of meticulously compiling and appropriately adding the official timings from the website into a simpler basic version of an app that anyone could download and use as per their convenience. “My friends are my best critics. Every time I come up with something new, I ensure that I first get them to test it out, take their feedback and then work on refining it. In this way, the product gets filtered and what reaches the people is something more adept,” Suraj says. Talking about the trials and tribulations that went into making Goychim Ferry, he says that his main challenge was that the app only provided timings. Hence, over time, he added more features to it. The first was an update on the next ferry timing so that travellers save time instead of having to hunt through multiple schedules.This was followed by weather updates and maps. Eventually, to make it more appealing, a little write up in the ‘About Us’ was added, with pictures of the ferry – then and now. “My friends encouraged me to keep improvising and slowly, keeping up with social media, a feature called ‘Ferry Moments’ was added. As times change and bridges come up, the use of ferries will slowly reduce. In such a scenario, the ferry could be used as a tourist attraction. I am now working on linking the Ferry Moments to the user’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, so that it serves as a memory keeper of all the beautiful times that a traveller has experienced on his journey via the ferry” he further adds. The Goychim Ferry app has bagged the second place at the Prime Minister’s Digital India Week celebrations hosted in the state. Currently, it showcases a list of schedules across 18 ferry points. The details available include the names of the locations, the routes, the registration number of the ferry and even the year that it was built in. Ask him about the response to the app and Suraj says that initially there was not much publicity and most of the downloads happened via word-of-mouth recommendations. Today, however, the app boasts of over 300 users, with the number increasing on a daily basis. When asked about the user feedback, Suraj recollects one story about a traveller who lives in Volvoi and works in Vasco. His daily commute included a 50 kms road journey simply because he was unaware of the ferry route from Madkaim to Cortalim that would in fact, reduce his travelling distance by almost 20 kms. “It is indeed motivating to know that a small initiative on my behalf has helped somebody far off, in not just saving travel time, but also fuel. Based on this feedback, I reasoned that the app should be smart enough to indicate a ferry point to the user while travelling,” Suraj says. Talking about his future plans Suraj states that he primarily wishes to acquire knowledge and learn as much as he can. “Once you build up a name for yourself, people look forward to working with you, you get more projects and you need to strengthen your capacity to take risks. I want to learn and be equipped to tackle critical situations before I venture out into something vast,” he says.
Suraj is inspired by his mentor Prajyot Mainkar, under whose guidance he successfully completed his B.E final year project. “I would like to request the students to create Google accounts and start building basic applications. I wish to get this culture cultivated at the college level itself where one can get all the time and support from the faculty to improve upon themselves as individuals as well as their own skill. Thus, when they graduate, the students are a better finished product,” Suraj concludes.
Article by: businessgoa.in