“There are no dreams too large, no innovation unimaginable and no frontiers beyond our reach.” ―John S. Herrington
Innovation is crucial for evolution and when it is coupled with technology in the social sector it becomes a powerful catalyst for change and development by providing social entrepreneurs, not-for-profits, individuals and even government bodies to foster social betterment and good of the society.
NASSOCM Social Innovation Forum recognized 11 organizations this year of which three Tamana, iGest and SkillTrain received the Catalytic Grant. Of the 11 companies selected, the social enterprise and not-for-profit will receive grants and mentoring.
The winners will attend the NASSCOM India Leadership and have the opportunity to present their innovations in a panel discussion.
Given the magnitude of problems we are struggling to address in the social sector be it women safety, health especially in rural areas, sanitization, waste management, education, rural economy, our efforts may appear miniscule. Limited as they may seem these efforts are commendable and not only is there a need to encourage and recognize these efforts but also to speak about them as it helps in diffusion of these efforts and ideas to a larger community that can draw upon it and disperse it and build upon it. Here are 11 organizations being recognized:
image credit: Shutterstock
SimplEye from Kriyate, a social enterprise set up in October 2012 by Sumit Dagar is an accessibility app for the visually impaired. With a minimalist approach, the phone interface shows only relevant elements on screen. Simple and touch-anywhere gestures allow citizens to use the interface without the need for finding buttons. It includes features such as Braille typing and GPS navigation.
Vidiyal is a non-for profit working in Theni District of Tamil Nadu. Led by K. Kamraj, Vidiyal supported by COL (The Commonwealth of Learning, Canada) which focuses on strengthening learning helped VIDIYAL establish a cooperative network amongst various agricultural and veterinary universities in India to provide women with the knowledge and business skills necessary for goat rearing and cow rearing microenterprises. Using multimedia materials in local languages, VIDIYAL trained 300 women to conduct value chain analysis and trained to develop business proposals for their goat rearing and cow rearing enterprises.
SOS Device for Personal Safety developed by students from IIT, Delhi. Led by Piyush Aggarwal the students have developed a Smart Gadget which sends out an SOS message to family and concerned authorities with the GPS location by just a tap. So the receiver is notified by as SMS, and the SMSes continue to be sent at short intervals to facilitate ease of tracking.
V 101 Housekeeping and F&B, Lemon Tree Hotels, is an initiative led by R. Hari and Aradhana Lal to solve the problems that speech and hearing impared face. Out of the 90 per cent employee almost 13 per cent have disabilities. These visual aids cover technical aspects of Housekeeping and F&B Service. They have also created their own dictionary, visual aids that carries picture and parallel demonstration by a sign language expert a picture and a video in the same frame.
iGest- Working closely with IIT Chennai Assistive Technologies Lab Enability Technologies has developed iGest, a kinematic sensor based system designed to learn a child’s existing motor capacity through a gesture recognition algorithm. The sensor is installed in a wearable device which records gestures and the system then learns gesture models natural to the child. These are then associated with a dictionary of sentences or actions and this data can be transmitted to a phone and this data can be used to assist the child in using a certain device or even to reinforce motor skills by encouraging arm movement to play video games.
SkillTrain –There is a large number of school dropouts in rural areas, the number is in millions. SkillTrain delivers vocational training to the kids who drop out of school and uses the mobile phone as an enabler. SkillTrain has developed videos which they deliver free to school dropouts. This is content that is playable on cheap mobile phones in rural areas. This allows the kids to cheap and easy access to vocational training. Once the vocational content is made available, the interest levels rise and dropouts come forward to learn skills and thereby become employable.
Tamana has for the last 30 years been closely associated with individuals suffering from ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Tamana has designed two applications in association with IBM to enhance the motor coordination, joint attention and cognition skills of children with autism and intellectual impairment. Though the applications are new and in the pilot stage, they have already shown 88% improvement in joint attention and social communication skills.
Biocon Foundation was launched in 2006. For the rural and urban sectors of India, it brings effective primary healthcare services to the doorstep. The foundation aims to empower under-served communities by establishing primary healthcare centres, actively creating awareness about disease prevention, public health and sanitation, building civic infrastructure and initiating education programs. They use a mobile phone based management platform for cancer screening and surveillance with technologies like Poi mapper for data capturing and open MRS for data storage enables the creation of electronic health records and facilitates targeted screening.
EasyGas an e-solution for LPG monitoring was launched by District administration Kanpur. It enables allocation of cylinders to the waiting list in an automatic and free manner. Currently, such an allotment is done manually by the gas agencies and is heavily prone to discretion, hoarding and black marketing especially in rural areas.
Peace Mapping (to prevent violence) was conceived in 2008 by Sabrang Trust led by Teesta Setalvad and Chaitanya Muppala. In order to avoid violence perpetrated through rumor mongering, there is an urgent need for a people driven, inclusive mechanism that works with technology to actively register signs of the build-up to violence and effectively sets of a chain of interventions to prevent its escalation. It logs in warning signals that work as preventives. Once logged, these, then set off a whole initiative (Helpline) to help prevent the spiral of rumour mongering and its breakout into violence. Response systems that are in place will set to work when and if violence breaks out.
The Solar Prahari as the name suggests is a system status monitoring and theft protection device. The system is designed to detect faults in operation of solar products like lights, and inverters to reduce chances of theft, especially in the rural areas. This is monitored online through a remote server so service can be provided as a response. Ajaita Shah is the Founder and CEO of Frontier Markets founded in 2010. Frontier Markets focuses on last mile distribution of products by different manufacturers. The products are essentially clean energy products.
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