Last weekend (9-10th May, 2014), seventy teams from Bangalore and Mountain View joined forces to build applications to solve the biggest problems in India. It was a-first-of-a-kind hackathon where developers were collaborating across continents to build real applications that solved real problems. Wow!
Personally, it was my second visit to Mountain View (first being to the Mozilla Office) and my first time to the Google Campus. It was really a great experience to have kind-of-employee-like benefits – free food, jumping around the Googleplex and playing ThrowMotion. Food was literally all over the place and we were served food from Indian chai to Indian pizza. No complaints regarding food whats0ever.
So, lets get back to the hackathon. The proposed challenges for the event varied from building a rescue system to mobile games to teach school girls. But really, each and every challenge were exciting which challenged every participants. So many projects, so less time..
Eventually, our team decided on solve two major problems faced by Akshaya Patra. They are a non-profit organization that serves food to 1.2 million children across 9 states in India. One of the problems we tried to solve was to automate the whole process of recording details of children who were served each day in each school. The catch here was to build a simple interface where an authorized person could send details to the main server instead of manually writing. The second problem was to predict the amount of food required by kitchen in each school so that food doesn’t go wasted (big problem right now). I will not go so much into detail about the project, all the codes of the project is available here. The end product of the application were a Dashboard to monitor all the school data (admin for Akshaya Patra) and a simple web interface for each school to send the details to our system.
Personally, I felt the project that we presented wasn’t satisfactory at all. We discussed a lot of things but ended up building two simple UIs in a full twenty-four hours. Not challenging enough, not good enough. The actual project was a real challenge and a very difficult problem to solve, but we weren’t even close to solving it. I totally understand our early exit from the competition: fair fair result. Maybe in future, I’ll get an opportunity to work on a similar problem and then, I’ll be part of making something that really helps the community. But we did end up porting their official data (in excel) to ours and building a solid firebase-based dashboard to monitor school trends. Not something that solved the problem, but we had a good infrastructure to process and visualize the data. Special thanks to David for most of the work with AngularJS.
If you want to help in any way or work on any project that would help Akshaya Patra, please don’t hesitate to contact them. They are a bunch of wonderful human being who are making a difference to millions of people in India. Kudos!
Finally, a huge shout-out to the whole Code for India team for making the event happen!