Report by India Education bureau, Pune: Sanitation Hackathon 2012, an innovative collaboration of experts aimed at improving public health in the developing world, today announced the winners of the Indian leg of its 14-city global event.
More than 100 software developers from Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi converged on the Pune campus of Infosys over December 1 and 2, 2012, to develop solutions to some of India's most pressing sanitation problems. Team TernUp from Bangalore emerged as the winner of this year's Hackathon for their innovative applications on tracking toilet usage and detecting clogged pipes. Team Three Sensitizers from Pune was declared as the runner-up, followed by four other winning teams – EcoLogic, IAAP, Mobility Warriors and One Erics.
Sanitation Hackathon is an initiative of the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program in collaboration with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and Infosys. The India event was one of 14 locations around the globe at which Information Technology experts found solutions to sanitation problems facing developing countries. Besides the Infosys campus in Pune, experts gathered in Manila, Philippines; Jakarta, Indonesia; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Lahore, Pakistan; London, Helsinki, Cape Town, South Africa; Dakar, Senegal; Dar es Salaam, Tazania; Lima, Peru; Washington, New York, and San Francisco.
The programmers, who were divided into 23 teams, worked closely with sanitation experts over the two-day event to develop innovative solutions aimed at improving the quality of public health in India. The participants, professionals from leading IT companies, brainstormed to design applications aimed at helping the reach and quality of sanitation services by using Information Technology.
A total of 18 applications were created through the Sanitation Hackathon 2012 with most of them targeted towards addressing Sanitation Grievance Redressal, Sanitation Awareness Creation, Toilet Finder, Tracking Toilet Usage and Sanitation Reporting System. The event was supported by more than 18 partners mainly including incubators such as The Hatch, Startup Village and 91 Spring Board, who have guaranteed deployment support to the top 2 winning teams and two Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to develop the prototypes.
Samuel Rajkumar, a representative of the winning team TernUp said, "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."
Commenting on the event, Onno Ruhl, Country Director, World Bank, India said: "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, said: "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."
Aromar Revi, Director, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, said: "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."
Following this event, the Infosys Foundation has offered to do an independent review for some of the ideas developed during the event, including getting feedback from experts in the field of Sanitation to help the teams improve their solutions. Additionally, a virtual two-month Sanitation Hackathon is currently underway with experts supporting teams online.