FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.
Shu Choudhary was researching a book in the conflict regions of Central India (Chhattisgarh/Andhra Pradesh/Orissa). While talking to Maoists, tribals and the mainstream population, Shubhranshu realized that the conflict was less because of politics and more because of a gap in communication between people.
Looking for ways to open communication channels, he first explored Community Radio, but realized that restrictive regulations prevented it from being a viable tool for conflict resolution. TV was ruled out, since much of this region barely has electricity. Shu first explored the Internet as an option and started CGNet, an email discussion group that has over 2000 members today. However, this still represented only the areas with Internet penetration. The question was how to get the people not on internet to join the conversation. Shu noticed that even people in the deep interiors carried mobile phones and found ways to use them. On his return to the city, he began talking to technologists about designing a mobile solution. Bill Thies at Microsoft Research and his academic colleagues at MIT stepped up to the task, designed the initial platform and helped Shu set up the pilot.
Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date
Since Feb 2010, we have received 58,000+ calls from 7,000+ unique phone numbers and have published about 900 reports. 71% of our calls are from Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, 11% from Jharkhand and Bihar, the rest from Rajasthan, Delhi etc.
Many of these reports have been picked up by the national and international press, some with credit. Moreover, our follow-up network has been proven capable of tracking stories about one individual or issue by multiple sources. E.g. the case of Mr. Pitbasu Bhoi, a labourer who was not paid by the MNREGA scheme was reported by two independent journalists and later picked up by mainstream media
Swara has also helped empower our citizen journalists, by providing training, support and exposure to mainstream media.
We have also carried out training programmes for citizen journalists and moderators, the last one in collaboration with the Indian Ministry of Culture’s Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti.
What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?
Over the next 5 years we envision connecting communities across the country using a network of phone and web accessible audio channels, allowing users to create and access audio content from their cellphones, creating a “voice-web”. To this end we plan to develop an open technology platform that can be leveraged by communities everywhere to build their own applications and manage their own content.
We also plan to develop a partnership and training program to get communities started with the platform and how to use it to spark and sustain follow up action on issues raised by the community.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Expand reach by starting 3 regional chanels with training for users and moderators in partnership with like-minded organizations
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Design & standardize technology/proceses that comunities can use to conect to a netwrk of linkd voice chanels that share content