Live Blog: Civic Tech Demos

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Today’s Civic Tech Demos will see 8 different organizations demonstrate how they function and thus give us a glimpse into how they aim to change our polity. These demos will show us how these vibrant entrepreneurs have leveraged technology to come up with innovative solutions that are solving some of the real issues that plague our cities today.

The companies that will pitch their demos include:

1. LocalCircles.com – Yatish Rajawat

2. OnTrackMedia – Gracia

3. Paydash – Ravi Suhag

4. Busbuff – Harish Tiwari and team

5. Parque – Vipin Goyal

6. SafetiPin – Ashish Basu

7. Socialcops – Richa

8. Meriawaaz – Aditya Nayak

The session will be moderated by Priyanka Ahuja, Communications Manager at the Vihara Innovation Network.

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13:55 – As the audience returns to the Demo Deck after lunch, Priyanka welcomes them, thanks the Design Public event partners, and introduces the 8 startups that are to showcase their demos.

 

14:00 – Yatish from LocalCircles is the first to go on stage.

Yatish begins by talking about how we are all connected in today’s digital world and are yet disconnected from the people who are better equipped to help us.  He says that there is still a disconnect at the local and neighbourhood levels and this is the problem that LocalCircles is addressing.

LocalCircles aims to improve the life of a connected Indian citizen. It is structured around 3 different citizen communities: The first is centered on one’s location. The second level works around one’s needs and issues and the third is for issues that can not be addressed at the community level.

He then talks about how LocalCirlces has worked with the Government of India to foster the Swachh Bharat Citizen Community, where citizens are connected at the city level for the cause of a cleaner India. LocalCircles has been giving vital feedback to the government and providing them with valuable data points to improve the program.

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14:10 – Gracia goes on stage to talk about OnTrackMedia Indonesia.

OnTrackMedia is an organization that works on public health issues. Gracia talks about one of their campaigns named “Let’s talk about it”. Through the campaign, Gracia’s team learnt that most school goers lacked knowledge regarding sexual issues. They then delved deeper into the subject and learnt that most students gain their knowledge from the internet using their handphones and this leads to a situation where the information that they get is mostly incorrect.

With the help of other organizations, the OnTrackMedia team created an interactive app named 12+ which is aimed at getting rid of the sex taboo and opening up about sexual issues.

 

14:20 – Ravi from Paydash gets ready to deliver his demonstration.

Ravi talks about how he is creating an application in collaboration with Harvard University to help BPL citizens living in rural areas. He talks about the MGNREGA scheme that helps low income workers and says that the issue with the scheme is delayed salaries. To avoid such delays, Ravi has built a dashboard for block level officers that gives information regarding the delays in payments. This dashboard can also be used to track performances or various Panchayats in a particular block.

To counter the problem of poor internet connectivity in rural areas, the dashboard has been created to work in low bandwidth and can work offline 80% of the time. Ravi goes on to say that the biggest challenge is to make these people understand that how the tool has been created to help them and not monitor their work.

He goes on to show the working prototype of his model and demonstrates it to the audience.

 

14:30 – Harish talks about Busbuff.

Harish begins his presentation telling us that there is an urgent need to develop a platform to track, book, and inquire about public buses.

The problem in today’s cities today is that there is a loss of man hours when it comes to travelling by bus. Most people do not know where to get down, most buses are overcrowded and there are issues related to payments. To avoid such issues, people today prefer using on-demand cabs, which only compounds the air pollution problem plaguing the country today.

By collaborating with the Government of India, they aim to create a platform which will make travelling by bus faster and safer.

 

14:40 – Vipin from Parque takes the stage.

Vipin says that the root cause for parking related problems isn’t lack of parking space but that the uneven demand and supply in a particular location. He aims to solve this problem by adopting a model that can be expressed as a “Uber for valets” system.

He goes on to show his different revenue streams and says that it is Parque’s biggest USP is its customer-centric focus.

 

14:50 – Ashish talks about SafetiPin.

Our cities are not safe and inclusive, especially at night, says Ashish. He explains that SafetiPin is an organization that collects data and provides them to stakeholders to make our cities safer. They also provide tools to individuals to make safer decisions in their everyday lives. His is a 3 layered model that focuses on city planning, safety decisions and personal safety. SafetiPin also claims that they are the only company known to collect data at night.

They have partnered with companies like UN Habitat and Uber and are growing rapidly with their presence in various Indian cities.

 

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15:00 – Richa goes on stage to talk about Socialcops.

Socialcops aims to power the world’s decisions using data. With 40% of the growing Indian population set to migrate to cities by 2030, we can expect an increase in problems related to the management of e-governance, mobility, energy, waste, water, telemedicine, etc. Despite these issues, Socialcops aims to ensure an improvement in our standards of living.

Socialcops works by collecting data from citizens and the government and publishes their findings on a platform which can be used by the government. They then close this loop using citizen feedback.

 

15:10 – Aditya talks about his startup, Meriawaaz.

Aditya begins by saying that striving to have a governance-based government is a problem that he believes is worth solving. He strives to come up with this solution through his platform Meriawaaz. Meriawaaz is an application where citizens can connect with local politicians, report issues, discuss them and receive access to public spending information.

 

15:20 – Over to the respondents.

Hendrik reviews the demos and says that there is a need to develop the civic innovation in our both India and the Silicon Valley. There is a lot of money involved in this space but the need is to ensure that there is an ecosystem tailor made for today’s civictech startups. This domain also relies heavily on partnerships with the government.

Rajat explains how apps are built for everything these days except for the things that actually matter. He also says that our work needs to be focused on helping everybody rather than just than people at the top of the pyramid.

Shruti express her delight in listening to all the ideas and talks about the impact of civictech. She says that there is a tendency in India to create an app for almost everything but this needn’t always be the solution to a problem. She then explains that the civictech market isn’t well-defined yet and that this is what makes it more difficult, but also more rewarding.

 

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