Hack the Crisisis India- prototyping to ease the COVID-19 crisis in a country of 1.3 Billion

When Garage48 first began the quick discussions with Ficci Flo Pune to pull together an online hackathon for the #hackthecrisis movement with India (just one day after Hack the Crisis event in Estonia!), we had really no idea on how it will turn out to be, because the numbers were straight out scary. How will you bring your regular hackathon format of approximately 20-30 teams and stretch it to fit the needs of the country of 1.3 billion people?

India’s whole population is bigger than the number of people living in Africa. The country has 3 times more people living in it than in the United States. And the last comparison- not that it matters, but this is where we are coming from- India is the size of thousand Estonias when it comes to population. Other than the ungraspable number of people living in India, the country is also the second-largest tech/startup hub of the world and has the third-highest number of unicorns in a single country in the world.

So in full honesty, we had absolutely no idea of what we are getting ourselves into, but we were excited to find out.

Hack the Crisis India got initiated by an all-women led team, Ms. Payal Rajpal and Ms. Gayatri Chhabria, supported by FICCI FLO Pune Chapter. The purpose of this movement was to connect the people at the time of the isolation through science and technology and make them work together on the solutions that would fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and deal with its aftermath.

The event got together incredibly quick and got the strong support of Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India (MEITY), Ministry of State for Human Resource Development, Communications, Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India; Digital India; MyGov; Make in India; MEITY Startup Hub (MSH) (Govt of India); Ministry of Skill and Entrepreneurship; Maharashtra State Innovation Society (MSIS); Hack A Cause; Science & Technology Park, India (Scitech Park Government of India) and Robotex International (India Initiative)

Hack the Crisis India launched on the 22-nd of March and saw hundreds of idea submissions, within hours of opening the portals. Altogether the event saw more than 15 000 applicants and 2500 team submissions, out of which, 300 best teams and ideas entered the competition.

For Garage48, the whole event looked exactly like running 10 hackathons in parallel. To get the results we are used to seeing in 48 hours, it took us exactly 10 times more mentors, project managers and volunteers to coordinate the whole army of teams. We are truly grateful and happy for all the community support- for folks who jumped on board with this crazy adventure in a heartbeat.

Even though it is hard to steer the work over distance and push the teams towards the maximum results, the quality of the final prototypes and the demos were impressive.

The TOP10 ideas that got selected by the honorable jury, where the following- check the prototypes they built in the links below!

10th place- Dispatcher for Hyperlocal Pickup and Delivery of Medicines

9th place: R-TNT, rapidly test & contain


8th place: 3d printing solutions for protectives against COVID-19

7th place: MedIoTek Health Systems

5th place: AI-powered Digital Hospital and Laboratory for COVID-19


4th place: Falcon - virus tracking and surveillance system

3rd place: Humans AI
Data labeling application, as a means to a steady source of income in unsteady times for the lowest and worst hit economical classes.

2nd place: Autonomous UV Disinfectant Robot

The wards, hospitals, and public places- need to be disinfected often to fight the virus. The robotic system will involve a motorized platform that carries a UV germicidal Lamp of variable intensity, that can move around in a given environment. The robot is programmed to autonomously navigate in a closed room, ensuring that the UV Light reaches every part of the room. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation(UVGI) is a disinfection method that uses short-wavelength ultraviolet(UV-C) light to kill or inactivate microorganisms by destroying nucleic acid and disrupting their DNA.

Winners: Big Bang Boom Solutions- Mechanical ventilator for COVID-19 crisis
The ventilators that are in use at the health care infrastructure currently are designed to handle one patient and they offer several modes of operation for its use in various situations, and 3 to 5 will be at a hospital. When 100's of patients come with respiratory issues, the outcome is negative. The proposed device will be effectively replacing the use of the existing ventilators in case that requires 'CPAP and PEEP' mode, also provide the ability to assist up to 2 critical patients at a time.

TOP10 team photos. By Maido Parv.

Long days, lots of communication over Slack and tons of screentime over Zoom made it feel like a real-life hackathon. Even though the online experience doesn’t fully compete with the real-life, the emotions it gave to the organizers, mentors, and participants were as close as can get! Everyone got together- physically isolated, but connected online and united to find solutions for the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath in India.

Following the experience and success of Hack the Crisis India online hackathon, India is onboard the global movement to hack against the COVID-19 crisis online, and leading the tracks for Crisis Response, Health & Wellness and Mental Health at The Global Hack, inviting people all over the world to create solutions to battle the current crisis in these fields, globally.

Watch the final of Hack the Crisis India with TOP30 teams demos.

Watch the award ceremony of TOP10 teams.

Although online, we do have a PHOTO ALBUM of the event, made by the participants, mentors & organizers and our design mentor Maido Parv. 

See you at the Global Hack!

About the author

mari hanikat

Mari is the CEO at Garage48. She is a very strong and mission-driven leader not afraid to go places no one has been before and help people. 🚀

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