Indian SMS driven NGO wins $375K
By Bala Shah
US based Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. It believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. Since 2007, Knight has invested about $100 million in new technologies and techniques, including online news and info requirements.
The Knight Foundation media innovation contest has announced its 2011 winners and an India based NGO run largely by an Indian origin team (one of whom is from IIT) has won $375,000.
Sixteen ideas that push the future of news and information will receive $4.7 million in funding as winners of the Knight News Challenge, an international media innovation contest funding digital news experiments that inform and engage communities.
The Project Nextdrop, which won $375,000, is managed from both California and Hubli-Dharwad, India. The Project Lead is Anu Sridharan
According to their website, NextDrop provides households with accurate and timely information about local piped water delivery, over cell phones already widely in use in India. This information comes from water utility employees who call our interactive voice response system when they open valves to distribute water. These reports are used to generate real-time water availability updates and notifications 30-60 minutes in advance of water delivery. In addition, NextDrop uses crowd-sourcing to verify the accuracy of utility reports and create a feedback loop, introducing much needed visibility for engineers in the water utility.
NextDrop team members include at least 2 who have studied technology in India.
Ashish Jhina is a second year MBA student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has a Bachelor's and a Master's in Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. Ashish worked as a management consultant for The Boston Consulting Group for 4 years in India and in the US. He has developed market entry strategies for a number of companies entering the Indian market and also has experience designing systems for the provision of public services through public-private partnerships in India.
Thejovardhana Kote is a second year Masters student at the School of Information, University of California at Berkeley. Thejo has a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical and Electronics engineering from Visveswaraiah Technological University. Prior to his education at Berkeley, Thejo worked on one of the largest SMS based information delivery systems in the world which had around 14 million users. He brings to the team knowledge of the technology and economics of businesses targeting information delivery to mobile phones in India.