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By Srinath Srinivasan
Two startups incubated at the Nasscom Centre of Excellence (CoE) IoT & AI, an initiative of the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) and Nasscom, have joined the battle against Covid-19. DronaMaps, based in Haryana, and BlinkIn, based in Bengaluru, are tech startups specialising in drone technology and remote accessibility, respectively.
DronaMaps is working with the department of IT and communications, Haryana, to help map the infected and quarantined citizens, using drone tech and analytics. “We had first started working with Punjab, replicated the model with Haryana and are at varying levels of implementation with four other states. The model is scalable because most states right now are looking for granular tracking of cases and support in deploying the technology that enables the same.
The infrastructure in Haryana was already very mature, with multiple groups of servers handling all Geographic System Information (GIS) requirements,” says Utkarsh Singh, co-founder of DronaMaps, which was incubated at Nasscom CoE, Gurugram. “We immediately published the public dashboards, and began work on the admin dashboard to implement it by end of March.”
On-ground drone teams are small and it becomes easy for the startup to work in dense areas, maintaining social distance. “There are three use cases, delivery, surveillance, and disinfectant spraying. We are ensuring our network is ready for any of these. What we are working on now hinges on our expertise in geospatial analytics while not making them limited to drone based data,” he explains. Data is also sourced from VLR (call records), social media and government portals to ensure authenticity.
Meanwhile, BlinkIn finds itself in a unique position amidst this outbreak. The startup helped service engineers of Huber-Ranner to install air ventilation systems in two Covid-19 hospitals in Wuhan, with remote tech support. “Wuhan was a huge validation of our hypothesis of making knowledge sharable. In times where the entire country is locked up, we can help avoid and minimise exposure of doctors, equipment operators and other personnels in contagious environments. Healthcare equipment operators/ engineers can remotely instruct local staff at the hospital to do the work by themselves,” says Harshwardhan Kumar, co-founder, Blinkin. Furthermore, once a case/support issue has been documented, it makes it available for sharing with other users.
The startup has been approached by medical device makers in India. “We have also been approached by Nasscom CoE IoT Bengaluru, which has connected us with the Karnataka state government. We are exploring the possibilities to work with them. Startup India also reached out to us to try and figure out what we can do in these times,” adds Kumar. The company has presence in over 40 countries and works in more than 19 languages.
For Nasscom CoE, the Covid-19 crisis has not just given a chance to these early stage startups to prove themselves, but has helped it reaffirm its faith in them. Sanjeev Malhotra, CEO, Nasscom Centre of Excellence, says that the flexibility and quick response times of these startups, besides their domain expertise, have played a big role in their success. And there are many more startups waiting in the wings to prove their tech prowess. “We have five or six startups working with us in different areas of diagnostic-assist like assessing lung condition from xrays to detecting remote temperature,” he says. While the power of these startups is yet to be seen, the Covid-19 crisis may just turn out to be the platform where they can prove their capabilities.