Problems

Code4Good 2015 brought together two very important things: hackers and programmers – and CSOs (Community Service Organizations) that could provide the insight on problems that need addressing. So these, without further ado, were the problems that were brought up for solving:

A) LirneAsia: Enabling a two-way information channel for farmers. 

In Sri Lanka, a considerable amount of information relevant to farmers involved in the export sector is held within government departments and Ministries. How can we create a solution that enables farmers to receive important information vital to their work and also allow them to share information about disease outbreaks and other issues?

Solution: Create an app that has information related to crop advise, the ability to take geo-tagged photographs and to upload to a platform for identifying and tracking diseases, and a platform where farmers can advertise to exporters. 

B) Oxfam: Increasing awareness of protection and support services for women and children who experience violence. 

According to a 2013 report, a women is raped every 90 minutes in Sri Lanka, and 3 to 5 children are raped every day. There is a lack of awareness among women on what legal protection and support services are available to them. Further, it is difficult to obtain feedback about the quality of support services that are available in remote areas of Sri Lanka due to the lack of feedback.

Solution: Create an SMS / IVR system where beneficiaries can be informed of their rights. Given their location and the type of issue, the system should be able to refer them to a support provider, or even send the service provider the details of the caller for them. After the beneficiary receives the service they can also rate the services through a similar SMS / IVR system or SMS system after one week of the service provision.

C) Rights Now: Receiving and processing complaints from citizens. 

Citizens often don’t report violations or complaints to authorities because they don’t have access to institutions. How can we change this? Can we create an e-complaint center, where citizens can submit violations and complaints, and an organisation can systematically go through them, following up and resolving them by liaising with authorities on behalf of the citizens?

Solution: Create multiple ways (Facebook app, SMS, IVR, app, webform) for citizens to lodge complaints, and follow the progress of the complaint through to resolution.

D) NCEASL: Documenting and detecting hate speech trends.

There has been a significant rise in harmful content published online, and in print and electronic media against religious and ethnic minorities in Sri Lanka. Can we create a platform that systematically monitors and documents hate speech and dangerous speech, to support efforts in identifying and preventing trends of violence and intimidation against religious and ethnic minorities?

Solution: Create an online database for documenting and tracking hate/dangerous speech. If possible, create natural language processing tools to detect hate speech on Twitter and other social media. Create a dashboard that clearly documents hate speech and predicts or makes alerts about increasing trends.

E) Lakehouse / ANCL: Giving a voice to citizens

There is no easy way for citizens to share local stories, problems and issues with newspapers. Can we create a citizen journalism platform that will make it easier for ordinary people to share stories or tips to journalists and publishers?

Solution: An app with Sinhala and Tamil language support that allows citizens to register and submit their stories and photographs. Submissions should be tagged to a list of pre-determined categories. A back-end system needs to enable the verification of the story and sharing with journalists and editors, or direct publication.

F) AFRIEL: Helping Citizens Find Volunteering Opportunities

How can we attract volunteers to get involved with helping to address community level problems? How can we match volunteers with needs?

Solution: Develop a Volunteer Match platform (web/mobile) to connect youth to volunteer opportunities and programs and to provide a sustainable volunteer service to communities and organisations.

G) LEADS: Improving the Way Police Handle Citizen Complaints.

How do we hold police stations accountable towards the complaints made by victims?

Solution: An app-based survey would be made available to the public (via SMS / web) to rate the response received at the Police station and make a record of their complaint. This data would be uploaded to a public website and can be used by the victims, public, media, relevant State agencies, NGOs and the Police themselves to track the nature of complaints and the response given at the Police stations and thereby to advocate for the improvement of the services of the Police and access to justice for citizens who are victims of injustice / crimes.

H) Coalition for Educational Development: Increasing the accuracy of education-related data collection. 

How to collect data related to facilities in rural schools and the quality of their service? Accurate data can be used for policy discussions on enhancing the quality of rural schools and improving the education rural children receive..

Solution: A mobile or tablet app based survey can be built to efficiently create surveys and collect data. The app can be localised to Sinhala and Tamil, and appropriate icons and emojis can be used to make the data collection more effective. Analytics can provide dashboard summaries and the ability to drill down to individual schools.

I) The Good Practice: Providing improved care and support for citizens experiencing mental health and psycho-social problems. 

How can we enable frontline mental health and psycho-social care (ie. counsellors, social workers, child care workers, etc) to connect with each other to better support their clients’ diverse needs? Clients often have problems that cannot be solved by one support worker or service alone, but poor links between the various types of support workers means that they have difficulty identifying and referring their clients to appropriate services in the area. This means that their clients often do not get the support required to address their problems.

Solution: A phone-based solution that allows frontline workers to a) identify other nearby support workers/services relevant to client needs, b) access information about what specific services or supports they offer, and c) communicate with these other workers for referral and follow-up of their clients. The solution could also include some basic capacity to track referrals (for monitoring purposes).

J) Verite Research: Enable citizens to campaign ministers of Parliament.

Can we connect citizens with MPs in parliament and relevant causes using an app and/or web platform? Can citizens create a cause that needs to be addressed by an MP? For example, a university student can report the state of his/her dorm and hostel food and tag the Education Minister and location of the hostel to this cause. He/she can also ask fellow students to support this cause by voting for it on the app. If a cause receives substantial votes it enables the MP to gain support within government to resolve the problem. It provides journalists with information to bring attention to serious issues that have been neglected by government officials.

Solution: An online platform and app that lets citizens create a cause and select the relevant ministry and MP that are related to the cause. Citizens can then promote the cause and attract supporters. Depending on the support, the cause escalates and Manthri will contact the relevant MP for a response, and can become part of the MP’s performance profile. If there is significant support, it may be possible to arrange a meeting with the MP and the supporters of the cause. The cause and the number of supporters will also be distributed to journalists, who can pose questions to the MP.

K) Groundviews: Sharing and celebrating the good we see around us.

How can we capture, share and comment on the good we encounter, see and hear about in our daily lives? How can we celebrate what is good about the country, instead of focussing always around what is not working, breaking down, corrupt or violent?

Solution: An app based on solutions journalism, to capture invention, innovation and resilience, in the face of austerity or violence, in Sri Lanka. The crowd-sourced app would record instances where something had gone right, or someone had gone over and above their responsibility to do something.