This is Yotam Ottolenghi's method for cooking chickpeas, which he learned from his friend Sami Tamimi's grandmother. Some people like to use this method to cook chickpeas for hummus, because it makes the skins very soft, and this results in a smoother hummus. The chickpeas are sautéed with baking soda for a few minutes, before dumping in the water to simmer the chickpeas. The baking soda makes the water more alkaline, which softens the chickpeas more quickly by weakening their pectic bonds.
Also, sautéing the chickpeas with the baking soda before adding water adds a friction which helps break down the skins and gets the baking soda to penetrate the skin better. This allows them to cook much faster and puree smoother. NOTE - "preparation time" includes soaking time.
This method also loosens and removes the skins on the chickpeas, so if your goal is to have whole, intact chickpeas for a recipe, this is not a good method to use.