As the year is coming towards an end, let’s look back at one of most inspiring events of the year. In July, when Mumbai city was sadly shaken by a series of bomb blasts, citizens resorted on technology to provide and seek help. Phone networks were jammed, and there was no way to reach anyone over phones. So instead, Twitter and Internet became the channel to exchange information.
As police and emergency personnel tried to take stock of the situation, and secure the city, some techies quickly created a google spreadsheet to coordinate help offers. Three hash-tags quickly trended on Twitter- #heretohelp, #needhelp and #mumbaiblasts. These hashtags were later used to populate data for numerous websites set-up to track incidents, help and resources available. Using these hashtages, a google map of tweets around Mumbai following the reports of the three blasts was immediately created (the map was not updated in realtime though). Mid Day, the city’s popular daily newspaper was very helpful in tweeting real-time information about the traffic situation and allowed commuters to make decisions about travel and safety.
When we look back at 2011, many of us may claim the newer Android apps or iPhones are the greatest technological accomplishments this year. Some may even claim the near discovery of Higgs Boson to be the greatest achievement. Well, if you ask me, I find this citizen initiated use of technology a more meaningful implementation of technology. Egyptians had wheels on toys centuries before they built the pyramids. If only they used wheels in the construction of pyramids, thousands of slaves would have lived. Implementation of a technology is not necessarily as immediate as its invention. But certainly much more important! Technology, by definition is meant to make lives better. This wonderful initiative by Mumbaikars did just that.