Friday, 5 May 2017

Smart India Hackathon 2017 – World’s Biggest Hackathon!


29 Indian ministries participated giving 598 problem statements to work on, 40,000 students from 2200 participating colleges submitted their 7531 ideas, 1266 selected ideas for the finale, 402 evaluators across the globe shortlisted these ideas, 10,000 students participated in the final hackathon, 26 nodal centers/cities in India where the hackathon happened simultaneously for 36 hours, 50+ IT organizations provided their mentors across India, 1700 mentors from academics/IT organizations worked with these students to solve the problem statements given by ministries, 300+ ministry judges/mentors were present at these 26 locations, thousands of staff/student volunteers worked day/night to make this mammoth task a reality…WOOF…what a great team-work and the world’s biggest digital movement it was! We named it Smart India Hackathon 2017.


The Smart India Hackathon 2017 was envisioned for promoting innovation, out-of-the-box thinking in young minds, especially engineering students of India. It was focused on the problems of social importance as identified by 29 Ministries/Departments of Government of India. The ideation and execution was mainly driven by i4c (http://www.i4c.co.in/) and Persistent System Ltd. (https://www.persistent.com/). Orientation and awareness programmes were conducted by AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education - http://www.aicte-india.org/) and i4C in 26 different cities to motivate students to participate in this event. Ministry of HRD led the initiative through AICTE as the main anchor. The Minister for HRD Shri Prakash Javadekar was the Chief Patron of the campaign.

What an experience it was for whoever participated – be it students/staff, be it mentors/judges, be it evaluators or be it organizers. Everyone got immensely benefitted through such a massive and enriching experience. I still remember the day when I got involved with this worldly initiative. It was scary to achieve something like this being part of the organization committee. Initially, the response from the students/colleges was not so encouraging but soon we could get the traction as we started conducting the LIVE sessions for them. Initially we planned a few sessions only but end up conducting close to 20 live sessions. I myself have conducted four out of them. The response that we got from students through these Facebook LIVE sessions was so much heartening. We heard the beats of the young minds of India…

We were in no doubts that the technology students from India are ready to make that big leap. Just in few weeks we received 7531 ideas to solve the 598 problems given by the ministries. Apart from this, students were so much more active on the social media, be it Facebook, Twitter or blog posts and so on. We just had to be on our toes to respond to this overwhelming student response.  Evaluating these 7531 ideas was a mammoth task as well. We involved many IT experts across the globe including the ministry domain experts to evaluate these ideas. It was difficult to get everybody on the same page as far as the evaluation process is concerned, them being distributed across multiple locations / time zones in the world. Hats off to these 402 evaluators including my own team at Persistent LABS that we could get at least 9 opinions about each idea that was submitted. Thanks to all the hard work and efforts put in by these evaluators that we could give justice to every single idea and could select 1266 ideas in the stipulated short time.

After idea shortlisting, it was a challenge to decide different locations for the final hackathon, organization of the event at all these locations, set the process and educate different centers to achieve the same experience throughout. Multiple chat sessions were required to put everyone into the same context. It was a big challenge, right from identifying the center coordinators to actual seamless execution till the end. It was god’s grace that we could find the mindful people who helped us make this happen. There were multiple rounds that took us to decide the programme schedule, final evaluation process, identifying and finalizing judges etc. So much detailing went into planning from what should happen at what time including the food for students, yoga/Zumba sessions to mentoring at the venue. Dr. Abhay Jere, Persistent LABS head, is the pivotal person for everything related to this initiative. He made everyone sail through this whole movement.


The grand finale begun at 7 am on 1st April 2017 and closure happened on 2nd April around 9 pm. Though it was too exhaustive for the participants as well as organizers to hold for these non-stop 36 hours, the energy in the air was so enthralling. No one really could sleep for a minute during these 36 hours. Each one was so involved being part of this nation building initiative. The energy got amplified by n-folds when our honorable Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi motivated the aspiring innovators through video conference at 10 pm on the 1st day. His LIVE interaction with students for about 44 minutes at night gave a Midas touch to the whole effort. His tweets about the event made us really proud and we could work effortlessly till the end sailing over the newly gained dosage of fresh energy.

The best solutions that got developed during the final hackathon were awarded @ INR 1 lakh, INR 75,000 and INR 50,000 for the top three teams respectively. Two more prizes have been given by Persistent Systems Ltd. and Deloitte India. There are about 135 prizes comprising of about INR 70 lakhs were handed over to the winning student teams.

This is not the end. Ministries are ready to further fund the selective projects and convert them into finished products. The effort will soon begin in the month of June this year and the handover of these products and their actual use by the ministries is expected to start by the year end. Smart India Hackathon 2017, not only tried harnessing the creativity and expertise of the students, but also built the funnel for 'Startup India, Standup India'. These crowd sourced solutions will help improving governance and quality of life, and provide young citizens of our country an opportunity to co-create and present innovative solutions to India's daunting problems for sure…


Author:
Vivek Kulkarni
Chief Architect, Persistent System Ltd.

1 comment:

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