Bringing Data-for-Good to Bangalore
September 30, 2014

Post by Gaurav Godhwani, DataKind Bangalore Chapter Leader

As one of DataKind's five new chapters worldwide, DataKind Bangalore was founded with an aim to extend DataKind's amazing network of data do-gooders and social trailblazers in India.  We recently held our first kick-off event and were pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response, turning a lazy Saturday afternoon into an exciting session exploring what the Data-for-Good movement might look like in Bangalore.

Bangalore is known as the city of technologists, social innovators and people with a drive to bring change in society. As a DataKind Chapter, our goal is to create a space where data scientists, non-governmental organizations and data-driven social entrepreneurs can come together to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. 

And come together they did!  More than 50 data scientists and 10 social sector experts attended our first Meetup to explore DataKind methodologies, learn from case studies and discuss how data can be used for the betterment of the city. First, we dived into understanding DataKind’s approach of helping organizations and data scientists collaborate through Meetups, DataJams and DataDives.

The most interesting part was the discussion around past DataKind projects like the DC KIDS COUNT Data Tools 2.0 that visualizes critical indicators of child well-being, the NYC Parks Department tree pruning algorithm that improved block pruning to prevent potential tree hazards and, finally, the GiveDirectly project that used image processing techniques to identify villages in need in Uganda and Kenya. These case studies stirred up discussions on how similar approaches could be applied in our city, including how data science can help improve local water shortage problems. 

The crowd of data do-gooders became even more inspired after hearing representatives from several social organizations explain their work and the data-related problems they face. For example, Mr. Bisujaksha, General Manager of IT at Child Rights and You, explained how they are willing to share data related to the programmes they run in order to protect child rights in India. Sunil Nair and Rajith Shaji from Janaagraha described their work enabling citizen participation in public governance and their approach to accelerate actions on complaints logged in their online community complaint system. Rohit Revi and Abhilash Kumar from No Country for Women explained their research on gender-based violence while Rahul Thota from EnAble India talked about their efforts to empower differently abled persons through technology and related development programs.

We also heard from local business leaders. Mr. Kumar Anurag Pratap, CSR Leader from Capgemini rallied everyone to work consistently toward providing open data analysis and visualizations to help address the critical issues our society faces. Moreover, Anu Sridharan from NextDrop gave insights about water utility services and pipeline management, illustrating how data science can be used to inform water delivery cycles to residents.

The enthusiasm and discussion continued over tea, where people indulged in garma-garam samosas and interesting conversations on topics like open data and privacy, real-time data mapping, predictive modelling, web crawling and more. By the end of the night, you could feel the excitement in the air with everyone eager to discuss how data can be used to bring about change.

And this is only the beginning!  We hope to harness this momentum as we work together to build the Data-for-Good movement in Bangalore and hope you'll join us! Sign up for our mailing list and Meetup group to learn about our upcoming events. 

For more detail on our launch event, check out the slide deck and Facebook photos - leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

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