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We Shall Overcome: To ‘Ente Keralam’, With Love from the IT World

Thiruvananthapuram: Even as God’s Own Country is struggling to overcome a crisis of a magnitude never seen before that displaced thousands, including infants and the elderly, Kerala has sure proven the statement ‘United We Stand’. Toms, Dicks and Harrys from all backgrounds – the poor and the rich – came together to rise to the

Thiruvananthapuram: Even as God’s Own Country is struggling to overcome a crisis of a magnitude never seen before that displaced thousands, including infants and the elderly, Kerala has sure proven the statement ‘United We Stand’. Toms, Dicks and Harrys from all backgrounds – the poor and the rich – came together to rise to the occasion and help each other, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion. Their idea was simple: ‘We shall overcome’.

As the State grapples with the aftermath of an unprecedented natural calamity, IT stalwarts and community in general are doing their bit #ForKerala.

Deepu Aby Varghese & Hema Sreekumar check out

And among those who volunteered in the relief operations was Anthony Thomas, Chief Information Officer, Nissan Motor Corporation. Popularly known as Tony Thomas in IT circles, he was camping in the capital city, which functioned as the nerve centre for coordination of all rescue and relief operations. Nissan’s top man was present at the co-working space B’Hub that functioned as a major collection centre during the flood situation.

“I believe there shouldn’t be any hierarchy when you talk about who did what because it is the responsibility of all to do for Kerala. All volunteers, the fisherfolk and the Central forces are the true heroes. We also did our bit to help the government in the relief operations…that is expected out of every one,” said Tony Thomas.

The State government, he said, “was at a juncture where it obviously needed help with a lot of things, mainly because of the gravity of the issue. Collaboration of IT community was really necessary.”

technopolis learned that Tony was among a lot of other IT Industry movers and shakers with roots in Kerala who made significant contributions in enabling many relief services. “So many IT professionals from Kerala worked in conjunction when the crisis was at its peak,” he adds

Meanwhile, the rescue operations were in full swing in the State, collection points for relief materials were opened parallelly, especially in districts like Thiruvananthapuram, one of the least affected areas. The major IT Parks – Technopark, Infopark and Cyberpark – also became collection points in the respective cities.

Prathidhwani, the socio-cultural forum of Technopark, opened their collection centre at Technopark Club House on August 17. “We sent a total of 22 trucks from Technopark to different parts of the State, including three vehicles to Chengannur,” said Aswin M C, an executive member of Prathidhwani.

“A team of techies accompanied the trucks to various destinations,” he added. Along with the food items, a truck carrying materials for air-dropping like sanitary napkins, diapers and water bottles was also dispatched from the Park.

Aswin said the Indian Air Force helped the techies in delivering goods from the air in places like Idukki. Prathidhwani, in association with LabGlo Technologies, also opened an IT cell for effective coordination of rescue and relief activities between the citizens, government, NGOs, social media and volunteers. People and collection centres can add items that are needed on the site: keralaneeds.com “There will be a mix of verified and non-verified info on the site which will be segregated gradually,” said Aswin. This helps in reducing wastage of essential items and also timely dispatch.

The activities of Prathidhwani did not end there. The team has decided to select a local ward to carry out cleaning activities – a major task post the calamity. The techies were provided training by ‘Suchitwa Mission’ for the purpose.

Tejus, the blood donation forum in Technopark, also conducted a flood-related emergency blood donation camp at the Nila building on August 17. This was in response to the increased demand for blood as many patients were shifted from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram. Out of the 84 registrations, there were 65 successful donations.

‘RICE BUCKET CHALLENGE’ AT IT PARKS

In view of the natural calamity, the IT Parks in Kerala have extended their helping hand to the flood victims with a ‘Rice Bucket Challenge.’ Prathidhwani, the socio-cultural forum of Technopark, has been organising the Rice Bucket Challenge over the last four years for the benefit of non-IT employees at the Park.

The fourth edition of its Rice Bucket Challenge – Rice Bucket Challenge 2018 was inaugurated by V K Prasanth, Mayor, Thiruvananthapuram. The Mayor challenged the techies to collect 10 tonnes of rice from the IT Park.
“I welcome all the employees at Technopark to be part of this challenge, by contributing a minimum of 5 kg of rice and celebrating Onam imbibing all its virtues,” said Prasanth.

“A team from Prathidhwani had visited the interior parts of Kuttanad. We learnt that government aid and relief measures launched by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had not reached all remote areas. So, we thought of helping the rain victims with Onam kits this year,” said Arun Das, Convener of Rice Bucket Challenge 2018.

Last year, Prathidhwani had collected around 6.5 tonnes of rice through the challenge and was able to contribute four tonnes to non-IT staff and 20 old-age homes and orphanages in Thiruvananthapuram. Contact person is Arun Das (Mobile: +91 91766 01230)

IN KOCHI

Progressive Techies, one among the most active socio-cultural organizations of Kerala IT employees, launched its second edition of Rice Bucket Challenge in Infopark.

The organisation had collected 3.5 tonnes of rice through the campaign, of which 900 kg was distributed to Infopark housekeeping staff. The rest of the rice was given away to residents of a tribal colony named Thalavechapara in Kuttampuzha. Contact person is Aneesh Panthalani. (Mobile: +91 97444 99661)

TECHIES SURE DO HAVE SOLUTIONS

The immediate action plan after thousands of people were stranded in their houses unable to move outside and access food and water was to locate and rescue them as soon as possible. It was in this context that the employees of Flytxt, a Technopark-based company, developed an app – Zlight, to track the location of the hapless people on a war-footing. Developed in a day, the app enables the user to enter the number of people trapped, their location, whether they need food and other details. Once these data are entered, a person engaged in a rescue mission will find it easier to search for the people trapped in a particular location. People can also update the status as ‘saved’ or ‘unsaved’ to avoid further confusion.

“During this crisis that the State grappled with, WhatsApp was a major tool in rescue operations. Our app was mainly intended to help the rescue operators, to ease their job,” says Antu Joseph Kaitharan of Flytxt, who is also one of the developers of the app. “The credit for developing this app does not go to one person; every employee of Flytxt was involved in it, in one way or the other,” he adds.

A new update has been added to the app, called ‘Help others’. This tab will help track people who are stranded in inaccessible places in the interior.

More features will be included in the app soon. “We believe that this tab would further streamline the process and function in a more effective way,” adds Antu.

QUICK SOLUTION ‘EMPOWERS’ FLOOD VICTIMS TO STAY CONNECTED

The devastation caused by the recent floods is beyond words. However, the people of the State set aside all differences and displayed unprecedented stoicism in their collective effort to overcome the catastrophe. While countless people joined the efforts to rescue flood victims, employees at Troncart – a Thiruvananthapuram-based electronics company – reached out to the suffering people in a unique way.

Thiruvananthapuram-based electronics startup manufactured and despatched 100 power banks to flood-affected areas in less than 20 hours, helping victims to battle power outages

In the chaos following the flooding, one of the main limitations was the non-availability of energy to charge smart mobile devices which could help trace and rescue flood victims. When the obvious power outages drained the battery cells, IT whiz kids at Troncart rose to the occasion by handmaking power banks for mobile devices from ‘A’ size batteries.

Troncart, a joint e-commerce venture of Tachlog and Livares Technologies, manufactured a modest 100 power banks in less than 20 hours.

On August 17 evening, when people were still reeling under severe flood situation at Pathanamthitta, Chalakudy and Irinjalakuda, Troncart co-founded by Pratheesh Nair, CEO, Tachlog decided to make the power banks. On the dawn on August 18, Troncart’s 15-member team and interns from Barton Hill Government Engineering College finished the circuitry design and by evening 100 power banks were ready for pick up.

Each power bank unit is made from five ‘A’ size batteries, a regulator and switch to prevent the drain of the batteries within the circuit. According to Pratheesh, a smart phone with a 3500 mAh battery could be charged up to 30 per cent, sufficient to make a few calls and probably keep it switched off for later use.

“Our team was involved in delivering supplies and volunteering in camps. Whenwe saw the news that so many people were stranded at Chengannur as they did not have charge on their mobile phone batteries to contact the outside world or call for rescue, we thought of making a single use power bank which they could benefit from. As we are an electronics company, we thought that this was the best we could do for the flood victims,” said Pratheesh.

The Troncart team incorporated a regulated power output system in the power bank units to ensure that they worked with all standard phones. When the people of the State are still struggling to piece together their lives, the passion and solidarity displayed by team Troncart are truly inspiring.

“Our team was involved in delivering supplies and volunteering in camps. When we saw the news that so many people were stranded at Chengannur as they did not have charge in their mobile phone batteries to contact the outside world or call for rescue”
– Pratheesh Nair, Co-Founder, Troncart

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