Dedication and inspiration mark the people and spirit of the Kumbhathon.
Ramakrishna R., Google
The dedication of talented mentors with unique skillsets is one of the key things that makes the model work. Ramakrishna R, a Stanford-educated Software Engineer currently employed at Google, found himself caught up in the excitement of the Kumbhathon in Nashik. After visiting the Kumbhathon in July 2015, he and his wife (who’s a software engineer at Yahoo!) took leaves of absence from their respective jobs. They volunteered their time and significant software expertise – in areas such as analysis and visualization, search indexing, Google Mapmaker, and developer infrastructure – to the Kumbhathon effort. They advised and mentored several innovators, and prepared them for a successful launch at the Kumbh Mela in August and September 2015.
Lavanya Addepalli and Nilay Kulkarni, Crowd Management
In anticipation of 30 million visitors to Nashik for the Kumbh Mela, there was a huge need for crowd management. Utilizing modern technology such as mobile phones and Big Data, two innovation teams worked on separate crowd management solutions, both of which were invaluable to the government administrators at the Kumbh. And both solutions could be applied to other massive gatherings around the world – from religious pilgrimages, concerts and sporting events to rush hour in highly populated cities.
The leader of the Crowd Steering team, Lavanya Addepalli is a PhD candidate who developed a sophisticated solution for tracking crowds throughout the city of Nashik. Working with Google mentor Ramakrishna, she and her team created and presented a heat map with detailed visualizations showing crowd locations, density and movement. They used data from mobile phone towers. The information was shared with administrative and government officials to anticipate and abate any problems related to large crowds. This solution continues to mature, as Lavanya and her team consider other places and ways to deploy it.
Lavanya is a PhD candidate at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. Her research is about Architecture design and deployment of an online social network that uses data classification to provide relations built on trust. She holds an M.S. in Medical Software from Manipal University, a B.A. in IT from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, and a Diploma in IT from Mumbai Technical Board, India. She performed her master’s thesis and project in Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. She has over 20 publications in various fields of research, and serves as a reviewer of multiple journals. Learn more about Lavanya, and about Crowd Steering.
ASHIOTO Foot Tracker
The lead innovator of ASHIOTO is only 15 years old. Nilay Kulkarni is a computer programming prodigy. He has a passion for creating and making products for the good of the world at large. Even at his young age, he understands the larger impact that technology can have on people and society. He coded ASHIOTO, a solution to prevent stampedes in large crowd-dense events such as the Kumbh Mela.
At the Kumbh Mela, the ASHIOTO “crowd management by footcount” prototype was installed near the Godavari River to track the number of people exiting after taking a dip. The mat was able to register large numbers of people and accurately track those numbers. A centralized dashboard on mobile phones displayed data from multiple mats located around the city. On three auspicious days of the Kumbh Mela, ASHIOTO counted more than 500,000 people at five exit routes out of 20. The police were able to use the data to reroute crowds to other exits and avoid issues. ASHIOTO mats are reusable and portable. Nilay and his team are looking at opportunities to use them in other venues, such as malls, concerts, temples, and other crowded venues in order to avoid bottlenecks and stampedes. Watch Nilay’s TEDx talk and an interview with Nilay.
Sampath Reddy, Pop-up Housing
Sampath Reddy is an Aerospace Systems Engineer turned Urban Systems Designer. At the Kumbhathon in Nashik, he developed the Pop-up Housing solution as a low cost, modular, eco-friendly structure that could be used for affordable or temporary housing and office space. It utilizes reusable industrial racking systems which are readily available. The structure can be erected in less than three days. Prior to the Kumbh Mela, Sampath secured a space in the government housing area for one of his structures.
Sampath is looking into opportunities to deploy Pop-up Housing in other settings, such as emergency and transitional shelters, low-cost durable housing and hostels. At the Kumbhathon in July 2015, Sampath's Pop-up Housing was recognized as one of the top 10 projects to make an impact at the Kumbh Mela. For more information, see Sampath's introductory presentation and the Pop-up Housing website.