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Techies aim to solve Kumbh Mela safety woes

A group of technology innovators has launched a digital information platform for the six-week Kumbh Mela that they say will help to maintain order and calm among those camping near the river.

The digital platform, accessible by a free Android cellphone app, allows authorities and festival-goers in Nashik to collect, view and share data about festival food carts, traffic jams and the location of porta-potties or medical tents, giving users an up-to-date record of what’s happening and where.

The information is also available online at www.kumbha.org .

Compiling data taken at medical tents, the app tells festival-goers about any outbreaks of dengue, jaundice or other diseases.

Using cellphone power data to estimate crowd sizes, the digital platform also gives officials information that helps them decide when to put up blockades or disperse crowds.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab has been leading scientists, charity workers and officials from around India in a two-year effort dubbed “KumbhaThon” to develop technology solutions to better manage population-dense events.

“If the density of the crowd is increasing at some location, we will control the crowd using a hold-and-release method,” district official Raghunath Gawade said. “We have created many holding areas.” — AP



An Android app allows festival-goers to share data about facilities available