Every mobile innovation starts with a problem. Ours was garbage.
Our local city civic authorities in India struggle to find the best alternative for efficient garbage collection. Bin pickers constantly make rounds to check how full every garbage bin is, wasting time and resources.
My team (Supritha Nagesha, Alpana Negi and Ponnie Rohith, along with two engineers from Flipkart and NetApp) at the Tech for Good 2015 Hackathon designed BinWatch to solve this problem. Using our mobile application and smart sensors for garbage bins, the city can track the location and fill level of every smart garbage bin. Here’s how it works.
All garbage bins will be fitted with a sensor on the lid. This sensor will be responsible for sending periodic data to the server. This data is fetched by the app based on a bin picker’s current location and then sorted by fill level and visualized via color-coded lists.
The bin pickers will have an option to select the bins based on the fill status. Alternatively, they can select multiple bins to generate a route. They can also raise concerns and submit queries about any issues, such as bin leakage or if a bin has not been emptied. These are then routed to the appropriate person via configured email.
By combining mobility and IoT with ordinary objects, our application can help enhance the places we live through connectivity.
Getting Through a 2-Month Hackathon—and Winning
We developed the BinWatch application for the web and iOS platform during the Tech for Good 2015 Hackathon and presented BinWatch at the grand finale round held at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing India (GHCI) conference, produced by the Anita Borg Institute. Anita Borg Institute has been working for the betterment of women in technology since 1997.
This is the first time VMware AirWatch participated in this important, women-only conference, and we secured second place among 41 successful submissions by finalists from first-round hackathons across five cities. It was no easy feat.
We built our application for Reap Benefit, a non-governmental organization in India that offers innovative, low-cost solutions for environmental and civic issues while involving youngsters in the process. However, we couldn’t interact with the organization during the hackathon. Thankfully, the Ace Hacker community (the hackathon organizers) helped us in refining the use cases.
Additionally, the hackathon took place over two months, and we all were working out of our comfort zone with a newly formed team across multiple time zones and companies. It was also challenge juggling this while still doing our regular work.
Passion propelled the project. It was easy to move forward because we all truly loved the concept of our application. When there’s a will, there’s always a way. And we were all so driven to give back to society and bring about change, because we all believe that we are a reflection of our society.
Some of our greatest resources for social change are developers, and it’s hackathons like these that help us pull our best minds together to make a real difference through mobile transformation.