Hack On, Pune!

Sanitation Hackathon is well underway in Pune where about 20 teams and more than 100 participants are hacking away at the 2.5 billion people who lack access to sanitation. 

Early this morning designers, architects, business executives and college students, began reading the sanitation problem statements to begin their blueprints for potential solutions.

This Saturday more than 60 coders crossed the employee-to-entrepreneur/innovator bridge -- thinking big, and finding like-minded passionate people. Creating a team was like making a good soup, said one participant. Every ingredient brings its unique qualities and characteristics to the pot. It didn’t take long for teams to form and create a group identity –- Ecologic, IT’Sanitation, Chak De Fatte, The Primitives, and Encryptors among others.

Megha Goyal from Infosys moved out of her office cubicle with officemates Manju Wadhwa, Priyank Maheshwari, Reeti Nageshri and Reshma Kumari to create Cyberpunk. “I am here to explore simple solutions for complex sanitation challenges. We are working on something to allow citizens to make complaints about overflowing septage tanks, stinking sewers or even get information on building new toilets, says Megha.

For 21-year-old Sachin Kumbhojkar from Symbiosis Infotech Campus, it was his second experiment to resolve a problem in the development sector. “I love coding. I’ve never been to a hackathon before but I did design an e-school project that aimed to help parents keep track of what their children were doing in school, their attendance and also access previous examination papers.”

Innovation requires very careful targeting. Why? Because there are so many possibilities that you have to make sure you’re going after the right ones. Many of the teams opted for customer complaint and grievance redressal. Popular hackable problems also included rating sanitary conditions in railway stations trains, daily monitoring of toilet usage and developing a game to influence sanitation behaviour.

The hackers have a ferocious, relentless, even irrational dedication to see it through to execution. Saurabh and Ankkit, both barely out of college, came lugging pipes and a water bucket. Saurabh is driven by “playing around with technology for a purpose.” 

Tomorrow the innovators will share their ideas, and show how their ideas can impact the 2.5 billion. 

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