Non-profit and non-government organisations strive to protect and create awareness about the rights of the distressed and deserted sections of the society. Their initiatives usually try to strengthen the minorities and enhance the responsiveness and accountability of the authorities. But unfortunately, many fall short of this altruistic yet ambitious goal owing to lack of funds or concrete solutions.
Today’s world creates and has access to an unthinkably large amount of data, which can be harnessed to gain new insights. This is the time where the usage of data analytics powered by machine learning has gained traction on a large scale. The sudden surge in applied artificial intelligence presents the innovators with endless possibilities.
Non-profit organisations have historically been suffering from the lack of tools to tackle this amount of data. But things are changing now, even in India.
Here we will list a few Indian NPOs and NGOs who offer and deploy data-driven solutions:
- Akshaya Patra: This is a Bengaluru-based NPO which strives to eliminate classroom hunger by organizing mid-day meal schemes in government schools. As of now, they serve about 2 million children from over 14,000 schools across 12 states. With growing numbers, the Akshaya Patra is using data analytics efficiently to serve the children and make productive use of their funds. Data analytics is helping them in solving logistic problems like figuring out the optimum route to deliver food.
- Data Kind: This is a one-of-a-kind NPO which focuses on data collection. UK-based Data Kind conducts events which are volunteered by the data scientists who not only address the impending issues but also offer solutions. Their Bengaluru chapter had recently come up with ideas like using Anganwadi data along with NASER data to develop a thematic map for achievement across all the districts in Karnataka, and the correlation of availability of drinking water and toilets to the dropout rate among students.
- Operation Red Alert: This Hyderabad-based NGO works around the clock to curb human trafficking. Operation Red Alert began their research back in 2014. After the initial data collection, they collaborated with Australian analytics firm Quantium to work along with data scientists to gain insights into human trafficking. This partnership alleviates the latencies on the tech side and offers in-time grievance reporting.Quantium’s data scientists design complex queries that run against multi-terabyte data sets and get more accurate results with great agility and accuracy. Their custom-built service MapR adds performance security and the ability to segregate multiple data sets from multiple data partners for Operation Red Alert. This allows the authorities to take a prompt action which is crucial in avoiding trafficking.
- Save Life Foundation: Road accidents led to the death of more than 10 lakh Indians in the last decade. Save Life Foundation, therefore, commissions nation-wide surveys to gauge the public perception about road safety in India. These surveys serve as blueprints for initial diagnosis and the data collected will be used to analyse, predict and eradicate the risk-prone areas. SLF categorises the vulnerable category within the road accidents spectrum and addresses the need to change laws and in a way, demands accountability from the local players.
- Digitalgreen: This NGO is a global development organization which works on uplifting the livelihoods of small farmers. They began as a project at Microsoft Research and evolved into an independent NPO which partners with global tech leaders and uses data analytics to improve the condition of unskilled farmers below the poverty line. They use a customized data collecting service COCO (connect online and connect offline) method. This eliminates the hurdles which come with lack of connectivity in rural areas. The data can be updated and used offline as well. They have built an analytics dashboard on CoCo database. This is an open source platform and can be used by anyone interested in making an impact with tech. With a database of over 5000 videos, Digital Green plans on implementing recommendation engines based predictive analytics models.
- Video Volunteers: VV, reportedly India’s only NGO which exclusively works on providing broad coverage to the underprivileged, uses visual media extensively. This level of extensive coverage offers a database rich with opportunities for better governance and building problem-specific models. Their flagship initiative India Unheard reaches the remote and the despondent sections of the society.
For a developing nation like India, it is crucial to be innovative and consistently aim to customize solutions from successful global models. This is possible only when right people or organisations with proper resources are equipped with technologies on a large scale. Data analytics is one such tool which can be used for discovering, diagnosing and deploying models which can facilitate growth and nation-building.
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