On Monday, December 3, winners of the Indian leg of the Sanitation Hackathon 2012 were announced in Pune. The event, organized by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program in collaboration with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and Infosys, brought together experts and innovators seeking to use IT solutions to improve public health in the developing world.Over 100 software developers from across India met on December 1 and 2 to develop solutions to India’s sanitation problems. This year’s winner was Bangalore based TernUp, which designed a mobile application for tracking toilet usage and detecting clogged pipes. Runner-ups were Team Three Sensitizers, from Pune, in second place, followed by EcoLogic, IAAP, Mobility Warrios, and One Erics.
Pune was just one of the 14 cities around the world chosen to host Sanitation Hackathon 2012. The other locations for Sanitation Hackathon 2012 include: Manila, Philippines; Jakarta, Indonesia; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Lahore, Pakistan; London; Helsinki, Finland; Cape Town, South Africa; Dakar, Senegal; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Lima, Peru; Washington D.C., New York City, and San Francisco.
Over the weekend, professionals from leading IT companies were divided into 23 teams and, working closely with sanitation experts, brainstormed and designed applications aimed at improving the quality and outreach of sanitation services.
Over 18 partner organizations, including incubators such as The Hatch, Startup Villlage, and 91 Spring Board, came together for Sanitation Hackathon 2012 to guarantee deployment support to the top two winning teams as well as two Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). 18 applications were created over the weekend. Most of these apps were targeted at Sanitation Grievance Redressal, Sanitation Awareness Creation, Toilet Finder, Tracking Toilet Usage, and Sanitation Reporting System.Samuel Rajkumar, a representative of the winning team TernUp said in response to the event, “We had a great time as we got to meet a lot of interesting people and we thank the team of Sanitation Hackathon for such a well-organized event. We did two hacks – one to track toilet usage based on sensors that detect door operation and the other one to detect clogged pipes. These were simple hacks and we hope that they inspire people to find simple solutions to the problems that we have around us.”
Onno Ruhl, Country Director, World Bank, India, also commented: “One in every 10 deaths in India is due to poor sanitation. That means 768,000 deaths in India every year. I hope that the Sanitation Hackathon brings sanitation challenges from experts to the fore, and will yield the solutions from India’s vibrant tech community. It would be especially good if these solutions would improve accountability and give a voice to poor people. We stand ready to support the Government at all levels in meeting the enormous sanitation challenge in India.”
Mritunjay Kumar Singh, Associate Vice President & Development Center Head, Infosys Pune, added: “More than 2.5 billion people around the world lack access to proper sanitation facilities – and most of these people are in Asia and Africa. Sanitation Hackathon is an important event that brought together bright minds in the field of Information Technology to develop innovative solutions to this grave issue. We are delighted to see the response that this event has received and are hopeful that a significant number of the solutions will be implemented towards tackling sanitation challenges.”Commenting on the role of mobile technology in addressing issues of public health, Aromar Revi, Director, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, noted: “Over 60 million urban Indians defecate in the open; over 0.5 million in Mumbai alone. Many will not only have access to a cellphone, but will own one. Unlike the choice to use a mobile phone, open defecation for most is not a choice, but a daily humiliation and exposure to risk especially for women and children. We need to end this, in less than a decade – along with the scourge of manual scavenging of other people’ faeces by the most vulnerable communities in the country. The transformational opportunity is to use the mobile phone and community networks to help educate, organise and challenge this status quo. The Sanitation Hackathon should provide a number of new steps in that direction.”
The Infosys Foundation has offered to do an independent review for some of the ideas that emerged from the event, and work with teams to help them refine their solutions using feedback from experts in the field. In addition, a virtual two-month long Sanitation Hackathon is currently underway, and is set to conclude with a workshop in Delhi for the three winning teams some time in the following months.
For more information please visit: http://www.sanitationhackathon.org/Pune