‘Coded’ solutions to COVID-19 problems

File photo of a hackathon used for representational purpose only  

Though the COVID-19 pandemic is not discriminatory in itself, socio-economic and other factors can determine how it affects different sections.

Anuranjita Kumar, founder and chairperson, Women in Technology (WiT) draws attention to why gender should be also counted as a factor. One of the sub-scripts of the lockdown has been gender violence.

Women in Technology (WiT) — India forum, in association with IBM, is organising a virtual hackathon from June 3 to June 6 on the theme ‘Tech Solutions to Accelerate the New Normal’, which will see women technology professionals coming together to address issues posed by COVID-19, and issues affecting women exclusively are expected to be among them.

More than 400 teams from over 100 corporates, including SAP, Wipro, Optum, Dell, Credit Suisse, Volvo, Infosys, KPMG, UI Path and OLX have signed up for the hackathon so far. Registrations are open till June 3.

A special focus

Traditionally hackathons are dominated by men, and this event has been made women-only so that they could ideate better to find solutions to problems arising from the COVID-19 situation, explains Anuranjita.

On what to expect from the hackathon, she points out that a majority of the tech solutions are expected to be broad-based in their appeal, covering issues such as day-to-day household irritants; and then, obviously, industry-related issues. There is bound to a special focus on segments most paralysed by the pandemic.

One of the special expectations from the hackathon is that the participants would present solutions to take the edge off certain challenges women may be facing on the home and the work fronts as a result of the pandemic, and hopefully these solutions would serves as an eye-opener for many, and bring about empathy, details Anuranjita.

“Hackathons are generally judged by the level of coding but as many women who have good ideas but are not particularly adept at coding, we have relaxed the rules quite a bit,” she says.

Having seen first-hand the challenges faced by senior citizens while using mobile apps, a group of women techies from Crimson Services in Gurugram will be working on bringing some of the most-used applications to one platform.

A team from OLX (National Capital Region) is working on a solution for the food and beverage industry, to make business safe for the workforce, and the dining experience for the customers.

Mentoring support

During the hackathon, the participants would receive mentoring support through a group of experts selected for the purpose. The event goes through three levels. Each team can sport four or five members. The first round will be judged by a 30-member jury, consisting of chief technology officers and chief innovation officers from various companies.

Anuranjita says the average experience of the participants is between five and 12 years. The projects of three teams, finishing on top of the table, will be implemented.

Anandamoy Roychowdhary, Director — Technology, Sequoia Capital India LLP and one of the partners for the event, says hackathons are the purest expression of the builder/maker spirit.

“Some of the greatest products were conceived in a hackathon first. So what excites us is not only the event itself, but the opportunity to engage with the participants beyond the initial phase. We want to give these women engineers the option to integrate into a larger community of engineers and leaders we partner with. In the past, Sequoia India has also invested in companies started by engineers and product leads who participated in our Sequoia::Hack events. And we would be excited to explore similar opportunities through our partnership with WiT,” says Roychowdhary.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 12:56:18 AM |

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