Created on 2017-01-18 17:06
Published on 2017-01-18 17:29
‘Because so much of the mankind’s finest hours, gets defined by how we stand together during our weakest moments.’
On 18th September 2016, an otherwise peaceful Bangalore city, got caught in the frenzy of a political riot. Roads were blocked, shops were forced shut, protesters were out on streets and for most of us -life came to a stand still.
Rumours became the primary source of information for civilians.City control room started getting information about violence and utility disruption, one phone call at a time. The information asymmetry, on that day,took its toll on everyone. It became apparent that the communication system in even the country’s most vibrant tech city is not designed to tackle crisis situations. As irony had it, on that fateful day, a pizza delivery app on your phone could have sent you a notification or a message, but the city administration had no way of reaching out to you.
This isn’t the first time that Bangalore has witnessed a crisis. Control Room for Chennai flood was set up in Bangalore last year. There was an unprecedented willingness to help,from all parts of the community – civilian groups, NGOs, startups, businesses and city administration. But, the city’s ability to respond was severely bottle necked by the lack of coordination systems designed around community participation during crisis.
In such situations, society pays a significant human and capital cost for its delay in restoring normalcy.
Disasters and Emergency situations disrupts life. It breaks the free flow of – information, services, goods, people and capital. Over last decade, it has costed humanity over $1.4 trillion and impacted 1.7 billion lives. It’s the delay in restoring normalcy, post a crisis – that sums up this cost.
Inability to tap into strategic private sector resources for crisis response, is by far the biggest challenge and opportunity faced ahead of us. There is immense human and financial value in accelerating the advent of resilient smart cities, through a next generation technology framework – that lets the whole city contribute its potential in the face of a crisis.
The foundation of a city’s resilience relies upon its ability to connect civilians and response agencies during crisis. Tapping into the present-day communication channels to establish a proactive two-way information exchange between public and response agencies, is the first step forward towards realising the vision of a unified platform that aggregates the supply and demand of all stakeholders.
In all major incidents in recent past – Bangalore riots (2016), Chennai floods (2015), Mumbai floods (2014) etc. – the local community was not able to contribute to its potential, despite its willingness to help. The lack of coordination systems designed around community participation during crisis puts the complete onus of response and recovery on the government.
So, how best can we leverage the strategic resources of corporates, startups, civilian groups and NGOs during crisis?
- What if response agencies can leverage telecom partners and popular apps (like Google Now, Uber), to establish communication and send out lifesaving instructions to affected public?
- What if we tap into the network of – ambulances, police vehicles, cab hailing startups, paramedics groups etc – to find nearest help during medical emergency crisis?
- What if it’s possible to reliably crowdsource demand and supply of resources like a ‘place to stay’ during floods, by adding a layer of trust to the process (e.x. Aadhaar authentication)?
The next innovative disruption in this space, won’t be a software solution in isolation, but will be an open ecosystem – a platform or a set of frameworks – that lets the community connect and orchestrate a coordinated response.
A Stack of Services for Cities that taps into existing community resources of – civilian groups, startups, businesses, NGOs and city administration – to orchestrate a coordinated response during crisis situations
Success of the large scale collaboration campaign between White House and Tech companies during Hurricane Sandy in 2013, is testament to the potential of such an ecosystem.
Our intent here is to explore and contribute to the growth of this open-ecosystem that is set to bring the next wave of innovations in building community resilience.
Happy to hear your views, ideas and explore potential partnership opportunities.