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From providing solutions to water woes in Rajasthan, drainage problems during heavy rains in Mumbai, to safety of women traveling alone at night, the ‘Smart India Hackathon’ organised by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) aims at using technology to solve issues faced by citizens in a digitally connected society.
Part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ project would also speak to the participants via video conferencing, which would be relayed across all centres.
With more than 10,000 participants of the mega event happening all over the country at various designated government centres and offices, it is the biggest such event happening in India. The 36 hour long event was kick-started on Saturday.
“This is being done by MyGov in association with MHRD. The main idea behind this is to get fresh ideas for our smart cities and Digital India initiative. It is Prime Minister’s main focus area,” said a senior government official attached to the event.
For the preparations, the government gave online training to students provided by approximately 2110 mentors appointed to guide them. Students as young as age 10 and colleges as well as IITs and other institutes across the country will complete digital solutions for the problem statements through programming to create computer software or a mobile app.
The software so created would be evaluated by judges drawn from the respective ministry and industry experts and the best solutions would be awarded Rs one lakh, Rs. 75,000 and Rs. 50,000 for the top three teams respectively.
The awarded software would be used by the ministry or departments for improving their governance systems, if necessary, with suitable upgrade.
Minister for Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar is the ‘Chief Patron’ of the campaign. “MHRD spearheaded the campaign through AICTE as the main anchor. The IT industry especially and NASSCOM have led the effort,” the official said. Abhay Jere of the Persistent Systems has coordinated efforts by various Departments and Ministries of the Government of India.
Various departments and Ministries of the Government of India have identified 598 problems to which 7,531 teams of approximately 42,000 students responded.
In this 1266 teams of 10000 participants from 28 States were shortlisted for the finale. Some of the problems identified by the Ministry of Railways are such as the condition of railway track is critical for safety of train operations.
The condition of tracks needs to be monitored proactively. A software solution, which keeps track of the condition of the track and allied infrastructure and generates auto-warning messages about the need of urgent maintenance can help in preventing untoward incidents.
As per statistics of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), India registers 40 patents per million population, so considering the intellectual capability of Indians, there is a lot that can be done in the field of innovation. The Smart India Hackathon is an effort in the direction to improve innovation. This can be done by encouraging students to apply knowledge to the real-life situations, and to find innovative solutions to the day-to-day problems.