For Nashik city in the Indian state of Maharashtra, 2015 was a significant year. With the district hosting a Kumbh Mela (periodic religious gatherings organized around rivers), the administration had been on its toes trying to anticipate and defuse crowd management issues. But despite an attendance of over 30 million people, the event ended without a single fatality.
How did the local municipal and law enforcement authorities pull off this feat? In a nutshell: by combining their exhaustive knowledge of the city with the power of social innovation. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) joined hands with the ‘Kumbhathon’ team to mentor and encourage bottom-up innovation through a series of tech camps in the run-up to the event. This effort led to 12 innovations being deployed during the month-long Kumbh Mela to address challenges associated with large crowds.
An Innovation Connection
To keep this ground-up ideation and execution process going, TCS set up Digital Impact Square (DISQ), an open innovation center based out of Nashik to create social impact through the use of inclusive design and digital technologies. Here, young to-be graduates work in teams to tackle challenges across seven themes: health and hygiene; education and skills; financial and personal security; energy, water, and the environment; food and agriculture; housing and transportation; and citizen empowerment and transparency.