Braving the sweltering Dilli heat of June, around a hundred odd developers gathered at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on June 16-17, 2012 – to code and contribute more effectively towards a social cause. These were a wide variety of people over the age of 15 to about 25. Developers were free to discuss, code and participate using whatever technology they were proficient in, with one condition – it ought to serve one critical aspect of society – education, health, information access, women security and disaster management.
Uttam Tripathi, Program Manager, Developer Relations, Google India said during his opening note, there are various Google Developer Group chapters opening across the world. He said, “There were almost 95 countries where such groups were active and almost 755 events conducted around the world. India is the second most active country after USA in conducting these events, with more than 80 events already conducted this year.”
Also present at the event were Rajiv Khurana and Shabnam Agarwal along with a long list of panelists including Dr. C.S. Arora, Prof. Amit Goyal, Mr. Jeroninio Almeda and Prof. Sumit Chaudhari. The panelists called upon developers and ideators to build apps that could be useful to social causes while yet being economically fruitful. Neil Patrick Harris from Megha IT consulting spoke on Google tools such as App Engine. He specifically focused on developing with the Google apps script technology and also showed a demo app that he had developed in order to demonstrate features of the Cloud IDE offered by Google.
Some of the interesting ideas presented on the first day included one proposed by a group of school students who created an app that uses QR codes to maintain a patient's medical history and maintains a record of the prescriptions. There were also ideas about apps for AIDS awareness, reporting corruption, managing donations for NGOs and by far the most popular topic – women security. Participants from one team were even allowed to help out others if need be.
On the second day, teams were busy giving final touches and running around for whatever help they needed. As the deadline approached, Van Riper, Global GTUG community manager, Google, passed his wishes via video:
Rajeet Nabha, who was earlier Head of Industry Marketing and Sales Execution for Google's technology and retail verticals, and currently leading a startup called BookingDiva.com; spoke about his personal experiences in developing a good career and leading startups. According to Nabha, “Earlier people in India were not willing to pay for most content online. Today they are willing to pay and are ready to get more and more engaged with technology. This is the perfect place for all of us to be in and probably a Mark Zuckerberg will come out of a group like this.”
There were around 16 teams who presented their apps along with the demos before the audience and judges, followed by questions. There were a variety of apps, primarily for Android based around social issues such as donations to Health and medical welfare, NGOs, emergency services, QR codes, HIV AIDS awareness, education and holistic learning, information access, tourist information system.
The third prize was won by a team of students from BITS, Pilani who called themselves the “Bazinga” team. They made an app that could click pictures of signboards in a foreign language and translate them into English. The developers also provided an option for Text-to-Speech so that the blind could could perceive such signboards from the app itself.
The “Gujju Droids” team won the second place. They built “Be Secure”, an app that categorized and displayed a database of drugs according to the class and diseases that they cure. The best part about this team was they they had already collected the drug database before they came to the event and the app was almost ready to use. One cool feature that we found interesting was an augmented reality function that showed you the hospitals nearest to your location by overlaying their direction and distance information over the camera input. You could actually point your phone's camera in a particular direction and see which hospital was nearest!
The winners of the event, were “Code Junkies” who won a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 for their effort. They had built an app called YANA (Yet Another NGO App) which won brownie points for its beautiful and simple UI made with technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery Mobile. This app was built to connect people directly to NGOs who could receive donations by letting both, donors and NGOs, register within the app. The app Y-AN-A (pronounced as Why-An-A) stands for Yet-Another-NGO-App. This app is currently in alpha stage and is an early prototype. It is used to bridge the gap between users and NGOs.
Uttam Tripathi with the winning team
The current release is freely available here. The purpose of the app is to find the nearest NGO depending upon user’s current geographical location. You could calculate the distance and schedule a meeting. This can be approved/updated with constant communication with the NGO. The user can also view his/her last donation and see where these donations were spent by the NGO.
Yana lets you search for an NGO near you
According to Vikash Agrawal of the winning team, “Internally we discussed a mere of Rs 50 for every meeting from both end (user and NGO) individually might serve as a good business model to the final appliations. We can also have various visualisations and offers for top donators. We have also planned for more projects, apps and would participate in more competitions in future. We may also take this oppurtunity to take this is our venture. We are certainly looking for some help and seed money so that we can port it over various OSs.”