Tech edge to the rescue of social aid

Jan 13 2014, 01:43 IST
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SummaryAn increasing number of tech-savvy NGOs are relying on big data, data analytics and interactive voice response systems to address issues around health, water and sanitation in the country. The trend has the potential to revitalise the manner in which social change agents can make a mark here.

For the pre-school children at the anganwadi in Kadugondanahalli (KG Halli), a thickly populated lower-middle class neighbourhood in east Bangalore, the new year brought a reason to celebrate. The anganwadi, which was often referred to as a pigeon hole lacking basic amenities like sanitation, today boasts of a larger and cleaner classroom, proper toilet and a kitchen, thanks to the Karnataka learning partnership (KLP), a public platform for education which relies on new-age technologies to generate data.

Till recently, the dilapidated condition of the anganwadi remained ignored until the local MLA had access to research reports and precise data on the status of education and the severe-shortage of infrastructure in government schools and anganwadis in his constituency. The data in these reports, which triggered a social change, was compiled and analysed by KLP, a platform incubated at Bangalore-based not-for-profit Akshara Foundation that is among a crop of social impact organisations which are relying on big data analytics and multiple technologies including web based data analysis, visualisation platforms, mobile applications and interactive voice response systems.

Besides Akshara, that works in the education space, there are a host of not-for-profit institutions leveraging technologies in areas like civic issues, health, water and sanitation in the country. The India Water Portal, a website managed by Rohini Nilekani’s Arghyam, a charitable trust, provides information and builds communities around water-related issues in the country. The portal serves as an archive of resources, working papers, reports, data, news and events on water. Nilekani currently runs Arghyam, which she has endowed with a R150 crore to fund initiatives in water and sanitation. Similarly, Janaagraha’s IchangeMyCity is a locational online social-networking platform, that works for civic engagement in Bangalore. The online social networking site provides a platform for people to connect with their elected representatives and civic agencies.

The KLP framework is using big data analytics for its research reports that has impacted 250,000 children in Bangalore and covers close to 700,000 children in Karnataka. Over the next three years the platform aims to touch over 1 million children and reach out to over 2,000 elected representatives at multiple levels in the government and nearly 2,000 educators supporting public schools and pre-schools across the country.

“Our goal is to create simple, intuitive and useful interfaces to data collection and data insight for the education ecosystem. All of our work is built on open-source technologies by a seven-person in-house technology team. We do, from

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