Dubai: Rooting for sustainability, going green, reducing carbon footprint and also providing a welcome cutback on the fossil fuel bills of parents, Aadit Palicha, a 17-year-old student in Dubai, has devised a unique carpooling app for the student community that will help parents get their kids to share car rides keeping school roads free of extra cars during peak times.
The GoPool App which got a grant of Dh53,550 from Emirates NBD to be developed professionally, is proving to be a hit ever since initial rides began a month ago when schools reopened.
Palicha, the deputy head boy of Gems Modern Academy (GMA), conceived the idea of GoPool at the age 15 while dropping his younger brother to school. “A couple of years ago, while on my way to drop my kid brother Ishaan to school, we were in a terrible traffic situation when he remarked: ‘If only parents could share cars, we could have less cars on the road,’ and that set me thinking.”
Palicha did some research and discovered that over 88 per cent of Dubai parents preferred using their own transport in many schools, instead of using school buses. “While most parents in Indian schools opt for schools buses, I found out that in international curricula schools, parents preferred picking and dropping their kids to school. Besides many schools like GMA have pre-school or dawn sports coaching for football, for which school buses aren’t available.”
Palicha computed data on the number of cars moving from one location to the school and how a simple app could help parents come together and work out a sustainable and workable solution.
“In terms of keeping cars off road and saving fuel, my research indicated that each parent traversed an average distance of 29.39 km each day for picking and dropping kids and doing those four trips to and from school. Using Go Pool regularly would save them on an average Dh2,635 annually besides all the headache and bother and wear and tear of the automobile and also providing a sustainable community solution to the issue.”
All that research was poured into creating the app which is compatible with iOS and Android platform. Palicha pitched it to his school and so effective was the pitch that he found takers in six other schools too.
With the support and encouragement he got, Palicha was able to go to banks to raise funds and was fortunate to have Emirates NBD agree to finance it. Empowered by the funds, Palicha was able to hire a software team in India to create a user-friendly, yet reliable, interface for the community and also integrate google maps and a calendar with the app.
How GoPool works
Since the direction and destination is the same, parents living in the same area subscribing to the app are able to work out a pooling system where they take turns in giving rides to the students of those subscribed to the app. Once they sign up, they are able to see the students scheduled to go to school at a particular time permitting them to form car pool groups. A calendar is set up and once a group is formed, reminders go out to the families about their impending ride and location well in advance.
The app was launched first at GMA after the opening of the new academic year and instantly became a hit with subscribers. GoPool provided a viable alternative to parents and also brought the community closer with better social interaction among families using it.
Commending Palicha for his ingenuity, Nergish Khambatta, principal of GMA, said: “It’s always heartening when a student thinks about solving a problem and Aadit has impressed us with his sensitivity and perseverance - two qualities that will stand him in good stead in life. His GoPool was just a germ of an idea which he nurtured and agonised over it until he set it up, got funding from Emirates NBD and made it operational. Sir Christopher Stone gave him a 3-minute window to make an elevator pitch to the GEMS Principals at the ‘All Principals meeting’ and Aadit received a resounding applause with a couple of requests to follow up on actual usage for their parent communities. GoPool may just be a student-driven, affordable solution to the traffic problem. Aadit truly embodies the newly crafted Vision Statement of GEMS Modern Academy - inspiring students to be positive change-makers.”
What are users saying?
GoPool user Hayden Dsouza of GMA told Gulf News: “So far I have had the chance to use the app twice since school reopened to reach my pre-school lessons’ practice and my younger brother is also using it. Frankly speaking, we both find it very easily navigable, convenient, user friendly and safe. It gives respite to my mother who is able to sleep in late on the days when she had to drop us for sports practice to school. Her turn comes only once and she knows that her boys are with schoolmates’ parents and is reassured. It has also given us an opportunity to make new friends and be more socialble.”
A parent Ritu Mohapatra whose son Agastya goes to GMA said: “My son was using the pooling app once a week to go for his sports practice early morning and I felt more than just saving fuel, it saved so much time which is so precious for most parents. Now it was possible for me to relax and have other chores lined up, especially since I knew my son was being driven to school with another parent who was taking his own child to school.”
Numbers speak for themselves
GoPool is being actively used from September 11. A one-week computation of statistics yielded the following results:
• 167 active users (Source: Google Analytics)
• Average of 53 rides per week (Source: Internal and Google analytics)
• 265 litres of fuel saved in total every week (Sources: the national, Google analytics etc.)
• Dh583 saved by parents every week by carpooling with GoPool so far (Source: Gulf News Fuel Prices)
• 633.88 (634) kilograms of CO2 emissions prevented every week by parents (Source: Ecoscore)
• 634 kg of CO2 saved is equivalent to 11 tree seedlings planted by parents every week (Source: UN website)
Schools subscribing to GoPool
• Gems Modern Academy
• Emirates International School
• Wellington School
• Gems World Academy
• Gems International School
• Dubai International Academy
• Gems New Millennium School