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Smart India Hackathon encourages product innovation and tech development

The Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IIT-H) recently organised the Smart India Hackathon (SIH) 2019 on its campus. The event provided students a platform to use technology to solve problems faced in everyday life, inculcate a culture of product innovation, and develop a problem-solving mindset.

A hackathon is an event that brings together computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, and project managers, that collaborate on digital projects.

The SIH was a non-stop five-day event where participating teams from all over India built prototypes to give solutions to problem statements provided by ministries and companies.

It was a unique open innovation model to identify new and disruptive technology innovations to solve the challenges faced in the country. The SIH nodal centre at IIT Hyderabad includes nine teams from all over India consisting of six team members, each with two mentors.

Industry experts mentored the nine teams on diverse projects in areas such as drought control and ocean cleaning. Mentors guided their teams with design, practicality, and optimisation of the ideas.

Public Sector Undertaking NALCO (National Aluminium Company Limited), IT major Cognizant, Kokuyo Camlin, and ANIK proposed problem statements for the event.

The participants built a working prototype within these five days for the problem statement.

Earlier this year, OpenGov reported on the Smart India Hackathon Software event. The programme was developed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

The AICTE is a national-level apex advisory body designed to conduct surveys on the facilities available for technical education and to promote digital development in the country.

There were seven problem statements related to robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning to be solved for the development of software-based industrial solutions.

Problem statements required the development of invoice processing using RPA, finance receipting using RPA, alternative to traditional credential-based authentication, and a customer support chatbot, among others.

The themes included smart communication, smart vehicles, agriculture and rural development, food technology, and healthcare and biomedical devices. Also, waste management, renewable energy, robotics and drones, and security and surveillance. SIH 2019 even explored the uses of technology in tertiary sectors like hospitality, financial services, entertainment, tourism, and retail.

Another hackathon was organised this year by India’s policy commission. The National Institution for Transforming India, with the vision to further expand the idea of ‘Artificial Intelligence, AI for All’ articulated in the National AI Strategy, organised a hackathon to source sustainable, innovative and technologically-enabled solutions to address various challenges in the development space.

The objective of this hackathon is to promote awareness and subsequently develop solutions that deliver the twin benefit of efficient computing to address the infrastructure challenges, while also not compromising on the privacy of data for training AI algorithms.

The CEO of NITI Aayog stated that the AI for All Hackathon underscores the commitment of NITI Aayog to supporting meaningful social, economic and technological advancements directed at making people’s lives better. He added that it is believed that India is ideally positioned as a thought-leader and regional economic power to help bring the benefits of innovation in AI and distributed computing to communities in developing countries around the world.

The hackathon ran in two stages. Stage Two only included shortlisted participants from Stage One.

The first stage saw ideas for use cases of multi-party computation in areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture, urbanisation, and financial inclusion. The second stage called for these ideas to be matured and developed, with a focus on privacy-preserving AI and distributed computing.

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