Water Hackathon in Bengaluru

A bunch of software developers are going to work through the weekend to find solutions to some of the water woes. How many of them will be implementable?

The Water Hackathon Bangalore will kick off with a dinner and reception event on today, 21st October at the Ista Hotel off MG Road Bangalore. The event will include presentations by experts in the water sector and the IT sector. Teams of hackers will identify the problems in the water sector they want to address using the mobile technology of their choice. The coding will then begin on the morning of Saturday, 22 October at the Electronic City Campus of the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIIT-B).

 

Pic Courtesy: IIHS

The teams will hack through the night of Saturday and present their solutions to an eminent jury from the private and public sectors on the afternoon of Sunday, 23 October 2011.

The Hackathon will also be held simultaneously in Washington, Cairo, Lima, Kampala, Lagos, Nairobi, Tel Aviv, Toronto and London, besides Bangalore. The event will bring together software developers, designers and water experts to solve or  "hack" real world water problems.

A Hackathon is defined as "an intensive marathon of brainstorming and programming, where software developers and designers collaborate to create new tools for solving a set of problems." A Water Hackathon, therefore is a "hackathon dedicated to solving water problems facing developing countries, such as:

  • Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation
  • Flooding and drought (i.e., climate change issues)
  • Irrigation and watershed management
  • Environmental pollution

In June 2011, the World Bank contacted the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) to help organise the ‘Water Hackathon’ in Bangalore.

Representation from the water sector was organised through the Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP) of the World Bank, Delhi and the India Water Portal (IWP), Bangalore. A launch meeting was held in the IWP office in August, with members from technology communities in Bangalore like Mobile Monday, Hasgeek and Nasscom. Hewlett Packard is one of the main sponsors of the event. The meeting resulted in the planning of a three-phased outlay of the event:

Phase I Workshops and Brainstorming through September to identify problems in the water sector in India.  Over 40 full-fledged problem statements were received. Due to overlapping, it was decided to focus on 14 problems, which were edited and recompiled to create diversity in terms of scope and applicability. This document will be handed out to the hackers at the event.

Phase II The hacking event over three days – one day for the reception and briefing on identified problems; two days of hacking and solution finding.

The jury consists of Juan Costain, Regional Team Leader-South Asia, WSP, J S Mathur, Jt. Secy., Ministry of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation, Mohan Sundaram, IT mentor from IIM-B, S Vishwanath, water sector expert from IWP and Amirthavelraj Rajappa Nadar – Senior Technical Architect from HP.

Phase III Real-world implementation of chosen solutions.

IWP will help develop some of the ideas into real-world applications. They are ready to provide funding and mentoring. IIHS will provide entrepreneurship guidance and access to sector-specific resources. The World Bank will select one of the hackers to be their Water Ambassador, as part of an internship programme.

They have identified 14 problem areas to be worked on during the Hackathon. The 14 were chosen from this list.

The report is based on the information provided by Swastik Harish from IIHS.

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