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Sanitation Hackathon 2012 uses IT to tackle public health issues

Sanitation Hackathon 2012 uses IT to tackle public health issuesPune, Nov 29 : The Indian Institute for Human Settlements, along with Infosys, a global leader in consulting and technology, today announced their collaboration with the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program to host a Sanitation Hackathon. The event will take place at the Pune campus of Infosys on December 1 and 2, 2012.

The two-day Hackathon gets its name from the fact that it joins experts from two different fields: Sanitation and Information Technology. The IT experts will develop software solutions to sanitation problems facing developing countries. Besides the Pune Hackathon, versions of the event will take place at 13 other locations across the globe: Manila, Jakarta, Dhaka, Lahore, London, Helsinki, Cape Town, Dakar, Dar es salaam, Lima, Washington, New York and San Francisco.

Issues like solid and liquid waste management, the proper disposal of waste, the construction and use of toilets, and wastewater management have emerged as major challenges to the sustainable development of India.

The Sanitation Hackathon will see teams of programmers working closely with sanitation experts during the weekend-long sessions to create applications that enable social and environmental improvements. The event will address issues ranging from the lack of proper sanitation infrastructure and services to the lack of user-friendly feedback mechanisms.

The Sanitation Hackathon brings together a host of distinguished enterprises. The World Bank's program is part of the far-reaching Sustainable Development Network of that organization. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also a contributor to the Hackathon. The Indian event at the Infosys campus in Pune includes the IIHS, a group committed to the equitable, sustainable, and efficient transformation of communities across the nation.

Aromar Revi, Director at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, said: "At IIHS, we are committed to creating sustainable solutions to India's settlement challenges by connecting to and engaging with key stakeholders."

Revi added: "Even 65 years after Independence, India's development progress has been blighted by the fact that basic sanitation is inaccessible to the majority of our citizens. India has more cell phone connections than toilets, so there is a huge opportunity to harness the power of mobile technology to address this critical human and developmental challenge. As part of IIHS' Transform Urban India initiative, the Sanitation Hackathon will provide a platform for IT professionals to contribute to resolving some of these wicked problems of the sanitation sector. We look forward to the next big mobile innovations and creative apps coming out of Pune.''

Key objectives of the Sanitation Hackathon include:

 Identifying country-specific sanitation challenges for which Information Technology can provide positive impact

 Creating a network of atypical partners engaged in finding solutions to sanitation-related challenges

 Developing new applications and code designed to address sanitation challenges

 Extending reach and quality of sanitation services by adopting innovative uses of IT

Mritunjay Kumar Singh, Associate Vice President & Development Center Head, Infosys Pune, said: "Sanitation, water, and food security are global issues that require immediate attention. In developing countries, poor sanitation poses a serious health risk because it contaminates a limited water supply and attracts disease-carrying insects."

Singh added: "Technology has the potential to address these issues by providing innovative, cost effective, and scalable solutions relevant to developing economies like India. The private sector needs to take leadership on this front and develop sustainable, long-term solutions. Infosys is delighted to partner with the World Bank and IIHS and we are confident that the Sanitation Hackathon will create affordable solutions to these critical problems."

The Hackathon is currently in its second year. In 2011, the Water Hackathon was a gathering of software developers who worked to create applications to monitor and tackle water issues. Jugaad Sensors, one of the winners of that event, is scaling its idea for developing cost effective sensors that determine water quality. Following the successful momentum created by the Water Hackathon, the Sanitation version is attracting local and global partners to support the cause. (ANI)