During the weekend of the 10th and 11th of January, we organised the first ever Aadhaar Hackathon. The response was tremendous, validating our belief that many individuals and companies are interested in building applications using Aadhaar. We got questions about what we did, and while I don’t know what combination made it work, I thought that it would be worthwhile documenting it and putting it out there.
We knew that we could manage only about a 100 participants, and expected to receive a larger response - so we had planned an online test as a filtering criteria. By the time the registration period ended, we had over 1800 registrations, including teams and individuals! However, due to the filtering, we could set a bar that would give us the desired number. However, we discovered that many registrants were from out of town - so we used a mix of phone calls and RSVP mails to make sure that we could get close to 100 people. At the end of this, we invited about 150 participants, and 114 showed up for the hackathon. They were divided into 37 teams. They came from far and wide - Dehradun, New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kochi, Trichy, Vellore, ...
The youngest participant was a 12th grader, and we had many engineering college students as well!
Focus on Aadhaar
Aadhaar APIs are publicly documented, and available to developers from the UIDAI. There is also a staging setup against which developers can test their applications. However, these APIs tend to be accessed only by people who are already serious about building applications. Further, biometric devices are not really commonly available in retail - leading to another reason for developers not using these.
So, we started the program with a brief session on the Aadhaar program, introduction to Authentication APIs, and a tutorial to building Aadhaar applications. Being a licensed AUA / KUA, we have also built some additional libraries and APIs which make it easier to build these applications. We used them for the tutorial and also made them available for the participants through the session. We also made fingerprint sensors available to the participants.
Mentorship and Outcome
We had also invited many mentors to the event - this included members of the TDU who were a part of the initial design process, along with the lead architects from the development team. In addition to this, we had a handful of members from Khosla Labs and Novopay. The mentors helped the team during the ideation phase, guiding them to build practical applications that could be completed within the 24 hour period and be ready for a demo. During the 24 hour period, a very small number of participants (4 to 5 people) dropped out. The mentors continued to support the teams through the event - ensuring that, eventually 36 of the teams were ready for the demo and presentation.
We then provided about 3 minutes per team to present their idea to a panel of 8 judges - who judged the teams on 5 unique criteria. The results were tallied, and the top 6 teams were invited for a second round of 5 minutes. At the end of this - the 3 winning teams were declared to great applause.
So, there you have it - the running of our Aadhaar hackathon!
Stay tuned for more...
Sanjay Jain is a technologist by passion and an EIR at Khosla Labs. Get in touch with him for any questions on the Aadhaar Hackathon.