Gridlock Hackathon is a contest initiated by Flipkart for technology workers to find solutions to the snarled roads that cost the economy billions of dollars.
While the prize totals a mere $5,500, it’s attracting teams from global giants Microsoft Corp., Google and Amazon.com. Inc. to local startups including Ola.
The online contest is crowdsourcing solutions for Bangalore, a city of more than 10 million, as it grapples with inadequate roads, unprecedented growth and overpopulation.
The ideas put forward at the hackathon range from using artificial intelligence and big data on traffic flows to true moonshots, such as flying cars.
The gridlock remains a problem for a city dependent on its technology industry and seeking to attract new investment.
“Traffic is the only negative Bangalore has,” Mr Kharge said, “When delegations bring investment proposals to the government, I tell them, ‘The city is fantastic in every way, weather-wise and otherwise.'”
Gridlock Hackathon came about as part of the 10-year celebrations of Flipkart, India’s most valuable startup.
The Bangalore-based company’s 30,000 workers, including hundreds of deliverymen, spend hours stuck in jams.
From IT workers stuck in cars and buses to Flipkart and Amazon workers sweating it out in the dust, the cost of Bangalore’s gridlock is visible everywhere.
Drivers for ride-hailing apps Ola and Uber Technologies Inc., who have incentives to hit a certain number of daily trips, end up working ever-longer hours to meet the company-assigned ride targets.
While much is made of Bangalore’s traffic woes, other Indian cities are no better, said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director of Indian biotechnology company, Bangalore-based Biocon Ltd.
“Gridlock Hackathon is the kind of contest that Indian cities desperately need”, she said.
“Only innovative thinkers can come up with technology solutions for the problems that plague cities nationwide,” said Ms Mazumdar-Shaw. “Age-old solutions will no longer work.”