Modi govt solicits smart solutions by organising a mega Hackathon

We had recently reported about how the Rajasthan Government became the first state government to organise a Hackathon. 500 coders had participated in a two day event on 20th and 21st March to implement their ideas on three digital interfaces used by the state govt.

To refresh things a bit, Hackathon is generally a 2-3 day intense event where coders and tech guys congregate at a venue to find a solution to a technical problem or create a running software prototype from scratch in that small period. The platform on which the prototype is to be based is generally provided by the organizers of the event.

Now the Central Government has taken this idea of Hackathon to the next level by organising what they call as the World’s Biggest Hackathon:

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The event named as Smart India Hackathon 2017, is scheduled for this weekend on 1st and 2nd April. Over 10,000 programmers in 1266 teams in 26 cities are participating in this event making it the World’s biggest Hackathon.

This Hackathon will also be addressed by PM Modi at 10 PM tonight. The PM has also been enthusiastic about this event and he sent out a series of tweets on Friday:

For this Hackathon, 29 ministries had identified 598 problems which needed digital solutions. The wiling participants were asked to submit their solution ideas from 9th Nov 2016 to 20th Feb 2017. The response was overwhelming with the government receiving over 7532 submissions in the last few days.

The final 1266 teams were shortlisted based on their ideas. One of the software solutions pertained to the Railways, where the ministry wanted a software which could track the condition of railway lines and allied infrastructure, and generate auto warning messages about the need for urgent maintenance.

As this Smart India Hackathon is a collective term for Hackathons organized by 29 ministries, the participants had to travel to the city where their ministry in question had setup a center.

The coding session in the Hackathon began at 8:30 AM this morning with everything from snacks to meals having been arranged at the venue. There would also be inputs by experts, lasting for about 7-10 min for each team. The first round of evaluation by three judges at a panel would be done at 7:00 PM today. As the Hackathon involves working a lot in a short amount of time, one is expected to put sleep on the backseat. To aid that, the participants would be provided energy drinks.

The 2nd day of the Hackathon will begin with a Yoga session at 6:00 AM and the coding would stop at 5:00 PM, after which the judging would begin. The shortlisted 6-8 teams at each center would give a PowerPoint presentation and a final pitch to the judges after which 4 winning teams at each center would be announced in the evening.

The winners at each of the 29 centers, which amounts to 116 teams would receive cash prizes of Rs 1 lakh for 1st place, 75 thousands for the 2nd, 50 thousands for the 3rd, and 10 thousand for the 4th place. The winners would also be invited to a Gala event in Delhi in the 2nd week of April.

As expected this Hackathon in its maiden year is generating a lot of  interest. The solutions if found suitable would be inculcated in the digital platforms of various ministries. This would not just strengthen the government’s digital backbone but it would also provide a good learning experience for all the participants. Below are a few pictures and reactions from various centers of the Hackathon:

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