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Start-ups may hold solutions to India’s age-old infrastructure problems


Start-ups may hold solutions to India’s age-old infrastructure problems

Protests are common in India due to poor governance and infrastructure problems. Such situations often give birth to aggressive clashes between the public and armed forces that lead to harm on both the sides. To solve such problems, Nanyang alumni Varun Banka and Prukalpa Sarkar founded SocialCops – a start-up that structures data that can be used in civic and policing situations, akin to predicting crime hotspots. Today, the company has a revenue rate of Rs. 1 crore that is has earned from partnerships with more than 150 Indian civic authorities, maternity centers and NGOs.

“There is just so much data, disorganised and unstructured, in files, folders, and records. When straitjacketed, (data) becomes easier and clearer for organisations to make use of it better and more successfully.” said Banka. SocialCops has raised Rs. 2 crore from 500 Startups and South East Asian region’s Google VP Rajan Anandan.

While the start-up wave has mostly consisted of consumer-facing companies, a few silent firms have emerged that have aimed at solving India’s administrative and infrastructural problems. Building technologies that are similar to those that predict buyer behaviour, these entrepreneurs have created systems that can predict drought and traffic patterns in a move to improve the life of the common man.

Such start-ups have ventured into the security industry as well. Ankit Mehta, cofounder and CEO of Ideaforge is using drones as its selling point. The company has provided more than 70 drones to police and defence forces. These drones were used effectively in the Nepal earthquake aftermath, the search for drowned students in the Beas River last year, and for crowd surveillance during the Jagannath Rath Yatra in Ahmadabad.

Despite the positive motives, the challenges are present due to the nascent industry and wider perception of such startups. “The for-profit and-social-good segment is still seen with a lot of skepticism in the society. Either you are for-profit company or an NGO – it’s binary as that everything else is perceived as a marketing gimmick,” said Vinod Chandrashekhar, Bengaluru head of DataKind, which assists social organizations in maximising the use of big data.

(With inputs from The Economic Times)

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