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Techies develop apps for urban governance

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The Hindu              16.12.2013

Techies develop apps for urban governance

Karthik Subramanian

A mobile application that enables the gamification of garbage clearance — by providing bounty points to people who identify and later clear garbage — was named the best of 45 entries at the end of a two-day hackathon organised by the Commissionerate of Municipal Administration at Anna University on Sunday.

The event saw the participation of 190 software developers, who formed 45 teams, each envisioning, coding possible applications and later on presenting their code to enhance urban governance.

At the end of the marathon presentations made by the teams to a panel of senior officials of the State’s municipal administration department, the team of Vridachalem Pillay Subramaniam, Sesha Sendhil, Renuka Srinivasan, S. Thirunavukkarasu and Charumathi Govindane wowed the audience and panellists alike by completely re-thinking the aspect of garbage clearance in their app ‘TrashIt’. Such gamification apps are very popular in mobile ecosystems like Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

Senior officials, including Chandrakant Kamble, commissioner of municipal administration, Vikram Kapur, commissioner of Chennai Corporation and Sudeep Jain, chairman and managing director of Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency, said the hackathon was an eye-opener in many ways.

“The problems that the coders are addressing are old. But they are looking at them with a fresh perspective. This helps us too,” said Mr. Kamble. Mr. Kapur said some ideas presented by the coders — including an app that would monitor garbage clearance — were already developed by the civic agency using others developers and were being used at a beta testing stage.

Several municipal commissioners were also present when the coders made their presentations at the end of the hackathon.

Another application that won kudos was developed by a team of coders – Arun Kumar Ramanathan, S. Arun Kumar, Rajeswari Krishnakumar, Ganapathi Subramanian V. and Sudhakar Rayavaram, called ‘Know Your City’ that allowed a user to locate public facilities of their Corporation through a map. This app was named the second-best app of the event.

The ‘Code for Urban Governance’ Hackathon, jointly organised by the Commissionerate for Municipal Administration and ThoughtWorks, was in spirit similar to the hackathon organised by the Centre’s Planning Commission.

All the project descriptions and the codes developed at the hackathon are to be released as open source material. They can later be accessed at the event’s wikipage at Github, the online resource for coders.

Competition was part of hackathon at Anna University; apps on garbage clearance, facilities map, earn accolades.


Coimbatore Corporation to computerise process for water connection

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The Hindu                09.12.2013

Coimbatore Corporation to computerise process for water connection

Karthik Madhavan

There will soon be relief for those who have applied for drinking water connection from the Coimbatore Corporation.

According to sources, the civic body has drawn up proposal for computerising the entire system that will help the applicants move out of the authorised plumbers’ stranglehold.

At present, the city’s residents in need of water connection approach any of the authorised plumbers, who for a hefty fee not only provide the connection but also take care of the paper works that precedes the connection.

The sources say the applicants are left in the lurch as they do not know how much is the charge for the connection work and the fee for the Corporation.

The councillors in one the recent Council meetings alleged that the present system of granting water connection has brought a bad name to the Corporation.

Following the demand, the Corporation has devised a new system wherein those in need of water connection shall submit an application to any of the zonal offices as the entire process will be computerised.

At present, the applicants are supposed to submit the papers only at the respective zonal offices.

Within a day or two of the submission of the application, the Corporation will send short service message to the applicant saying who the plumber will be and what the charge is.

The Corporation will also send a second message to one of the many registered plumbers to complete the work.

The sources say such a method will ensure that the applicants are not at the mercy of the plumbers.

And the latter will get to work anywhere in the city.


Amma canteens can be tracked online

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Deccan Chronicle           06.12.2013

Amma canteens can be tracked online

Chennai: Citizens can now ‘Google’ their nearby Amma canteen that serves tiffin and meals at subsidised rates. The city corporation has tied up with Google Earth and all 200 canteens in every ward can now be tra­cked using the online application.
Preliminary works have already begun. Photo­gra­phs and basic information about each canteen will be uploaded to the Google Earth application, expl­ained a senior corpo­ration official.
The project will have all the Amma unavagams photographed with their interiors, providing a thr­ee dimensional view. Pho­tographs taken in 360 de­grees of kitchen area, dining area and counters will be added to the server. Many  restaurants and eat-outs in Chennai are popularising their joints thro­ugh Google Earth and the corporation will also now brand the canteens, which has been an instant hit among the people ever since it was launched by the chief minister, the official said.    
Enthralled by the success of Amma unavagam, a few techies too have uploaded photos and brief information about the canteens. “We have been doing it for some companies, but for the Amma canteens a few updates have been done freely,” said web developer V. Ramaswamy of Vital Designs.
“The idea is to popularise the Amma canteens. Youngsters and students who throng the Amma unavagam for tiffin can now easily track them through their mobiles. Even the distance between their place and the nearby canteen will be available,” said Chennai mayor Sai­dai S. Duraisamy.
The same process can be used for online web casting though it is too early to pursue the idea. The Go­ogle application will also mention the timings of Amma canteens and the menu served, another corporation official said.

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