Go-Ahead – have fun and show us what you can do that will transform India

This is a Guest Post by Sanjay Swamy, Managing Partner, Angel Prime. He also played a prominent role in the Aadhaar Project under the leadership of Nandan Nilekani.

As an early full-time volunteer for nearly 18 months at the UIDAI’s Aadhaar program, I had the privilege of working alongside several thought leaders in helping define what is a one-of-a-kind platform – and now the envy of every government around the world.

From the very beginning, Aadhaar had been envisioned as an online identity platform – one that changes the paradigm in identity to be about the person being identified rather than the card or identity token. It fundamentally also only focuses on Identity, not on any form of entitlement – unlike a Drivers License or a Voters Registration Card or a Passport which are a right to drive, vote, or proof of citizenship. Aadhaar proves Identity – nothing more, nothing less.

The second big decision was to make it an open platform and something which turns into a utility, a public good for everyone to make use of. While the initial focus from a government perspective was to transform the administration of government benefits, the private sector itself has hundreds of use cases that can improve the efficiency/cost of delivery of services while improving the customer experience. It's no wonder that whenever I discuss Aadhaar with experts around the world, their eyes light up in envy – people cannot believe that the “Government has put up an online biometric authentication platform.”

And so let’s fast-forward to this weekend’s Online Aadhaar Hackathon that is being conducted by AngelPrime & Nasscom, PayTM, Ezetap & Microsoft Ventures (offline venues), Khosla Labs who is providing the Aadhaar API access, Morpho who is providing the biometrics and SDK’s, and HackerEarth the overall platform.

I’m delighted to see nearly 5000 developers have registered and formed more than 1000 teams to build applications. We expect to see applications of various kinds – but to be honest I have no idea how you will surprise us, and the excitement and suspense is truly building up.

This is the world’s first and by far the biggest online hackathon conducted with a government API, and you are all part of an elite few.

Congratulations – and all the best. Make India Proud! 

Judging Criteria and Presentation Format

The hackathon is free form, and we intend to try and be fair and transparent. However, judging an online hackathon is always going to be a challenge – and while we have an expert committee who will review all the submissions, here are the criteria we will be using to determine the winners:

Use of Aadhaar APIs (40%)

It is essential that the Aadhaar APIs are used, and this part of your application has got to be working; this is non-negotiable. You will also get extra points for using the API in multiple parts of your application – and the sophistication with which you use the API will be a key judging criterion. For example, if you are doing eKYC API, how you use the data you get from UIDAI inside your application will (e.g. Gender eligibility or PIN-Code based eligibility) will give you extra points rather than just saying I did a KYC of the user.

Uniqueness and Value of Idea (20%)

We would like to see new use cases of Aadhaar – some will be cool, some will be fun, some will be utilities, some will simplify life for Indians, some will make it safer to hire your next cook – doesn’t matter – they are all valuable and interesting. Show us your originality and we will value it – but help us by telling us why the idea is unique.

Degree of Implementation (20%)

The hackathon is time-bound and while we sincerely hope you and your team will get so passionate about it that you want to start a company and continue working on the idea, the harsh reality is we need to judge you based on the work done IN the hackathon, exclusively. The degree of implementation of your idea – especially the part that leverages Aadhaar is important to us.

Usability (10%)

Most ideas start small – but if they do one thing really well, and are solving a real problem, are easy to understand and use, they take off. Usability isn’t an afterthought – we want to see it as a core part of the solution you develop and will value it.

Presentation (10%)

At the end of the day, the best ideas are the ones that are presented well; this is often ignored but we will value it in this hackathon.

We will be putting out a standard 1-slide PowerPoint template for presentation using Google Docs and a short YouTube Video that we will require you to make and submit along with your code. It shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes at the very end of the hackathon, but it will help us judge your work in a fair manner.

We have more than 1000 teams participating – and I couldn’t be more excited to see all of you participate to win the great prizes we have – not to mention the terrific experience of building something on top of a unique national infrastructure!

Next Milestone – sample submission/presentation format will be put out by EOD on June 6th – and shared online.

About the Author

I am the co-founder and CEO of HackerEarth, I mostly do Business development for HackerEarth but I started my career as a programmer. I also have a passion for writing.