A smartphone app to keep women safe, a virtual call to track implementation of mid-day meals — this year’s Nasscom awards demonstrate that technology can be used to tackle social and environmental issues
“I would be travelling for work in the evening hours and my mother would constantly call me, asking where have I reached, and if I was doing fine,” says Richa Yadav, 25, who works with Microsoft in Hyderabad. What she points out is the predicament of millions of young working women across India. But none would have thought the way she did. “It set me thinking that there should be some mechanism wherein my parents are automatically informed of my location, and in case of an emergency, they should get an alarm too,” Yadav says. This thought became the basis for Stipator, a smartphone app that she, along with three of her colleagues, have come up with.
“The free-to-download smartphone app posts the user’s location details regularly on social networks, visible to only those whom she wants. The app also has an SOS feature, allowing a call, an SMS and an email with a single click, to a preconfigured phone number and email address,” adds Ratnesh Desai, her partner in the project. Aptly so, “stipator” means “bodyguard” in Latin.
In an announcement made on Tuesday, Nasscom Foundation has declared Stipator as the winner for Nasscom Social Innovation Honours (NSIH) 2013, in the “Social Innovation by Individual/ Group” category.
Across the board, the list of winners illustrates that not only individuals and organisations, even government agencies have now woken up to the use of technology in keeping up with various social development schemes. One of the biggest such schemes in India is the mid-day meal scheme, feeding millions of children everyday. In Uttar Pradesh alone, the mid-day meal scheme serves no less than 1.3 crore children on a daily basis. And ensuring that all these children get their meals would be a mega project in itself. This year’s UNICEF Special Recognition awardee at NSIH is none other than the Mid-Day Meal Authority (MMA) of the UP government.
Sudhanshu Tripathi, Finance Controller, MMA, UP, puts it thus: “For such programmes, the implementation is done by the gram panchayats. If we were collecting data manually, for it to reach from the grassroots level (school) to the apex level of authority (MMA) would take a month. What’s the point of ascertaining whether