Project GEODHA – Crowdsourced Maps for Community Challenges

Posted on December 31, 2023. By Pratul Venkatesh

Elevator pitch: GEODHA is a tool that lets the public report locations of various community challenges – littering sites, delayed civil construction projects, electricity outages, dirty water, and more. The crowdsourced data will be a useful tool where the data analysis and maps generated can help guide and implement solutions effectively.


Who? Currently just me, Pratul, working on it as a potential startup. It is intended to be a non-profit however potential revenue and development costs could be covered through sponsored surveys and people who want to pay for further data analysis.

What? People contribute to create maps of community challenges by reporting locations of different problems and these maps will also be viewable by everyone. Some intended community challenges to be tracked are: Open dumps and littering. Power outages (blackouts and brownouts.) Water outages (including dirty water.) Road potholes. Delayed construction projects.

When? In the early stage right now, I am working on the technology aspect of it as my undergraduate final year project (such as how to efficiently handle large amounts of data, and designing easy to use user interfaces.)

Where? It’s targeted towards India and when launching it I will personally implement and start it in Bengaluru, India. I hope to find others who are interested in starting up GEODHA in their cities. And from surveys, this tool is actually quite useful in many places across the world. Hope one day I can achieve this reach!

How? Imagine Google Maps but instead of it being used for navigation and restaurant recommendations it instead showed the location, frequency, size, etc of different problems in different localities. With a mobile application people can submit this data and this data when aggregated can help identify vulnerable communities.

Why? There are many problems that need comprehensive solutions but are challenging to implement because of how large, complex, and dynamic some societies are! This makes independent research into problems quite time consuming and resource intensive. Why not crowdsource this data instead? It won’t be the solution. However, this data is the first step towards any effective solution. Data analysis benefits in being able to identify bottlenecks, priorities, and correlations – thus useful for researchers and policy makers. It will also help provide data to keep local authorities more accountable and responsible.


Here are some hand-drawn sketches of how I envision the user interface of the application to be:

GEODHA UI1

MAP PAGE – The home screen of the mobile application. Users can view the maps generated from the aggregated data of reports submitted by everyone and understand the district/locality wise extent of these problems in an easy to read manner.

GEODHA UI2

REPORT PAGE – Users can report locations of different challenges, and also optionally answer some more qualitative questions (for e.g.: when reporting the location of the open dump, people can answer how accessible it is to stray animals.)

GEODHA UI3

BLOG PAGE – The application will feature a blog educating on various practices, problems, and possible solutions.


Is this really needed?

It’s definitely needed. I have A WHOLE BUNCH of information, references, guides and more that I have been collecting since the initiation of this project. I ended up learning so much, that I just hadn’t been aware of at all or even thought of as a problem until I learnt about it. The extent of these problems and lack of awareness on it has honestly been quite disheartening. So, at the bare minimum such a platform will raise awareness and shed light on these issues. Honestly there has been a lot of information that I haven’t been able to process entirely, just documenting it bit by bit for now. I will slowly work on publishing this research out more.


How was I motivated for this, and how did I come up with this project?

There was a flyover (highway) being constructed right in front of my school. It should have taken only one year at max; however, it ended up taking over five years. All that time there was so much traffic and congestion that could have been averted with better planning. Imagine having to hear constant road noises, the constant blaring of the horns and honks, and having to breathe the smoke from vehicles while trying to study at school. Anyways I realized that I hadn’t know the extent of this problem. I hadn’t known who to go to, or how to handle it. I didn’t even realize it as a big problem until later on. So, I felt if there was a platform where people can contribute to track such construction projects – it could help identify some delayed ones that should be prioritised to tackle! Over time the idea expanded to helping track a plethora of community challenges – that may already be improving in some Tier 1 cities but will continue to plague any other up and coming city.


What have I completed so far?

I have completed the primary market research – where I surveyed 12 participants in live 1 on 1 interviews. The participants were from varying backgrounds and demographics. The summary of the survey is that – the problems are very much existent, and even more severe than I imagined. The project, and the product value proposition were also validated through the surveys.


What am I working on currently?

Coding for the mobile application that people will use to report locations of different challenges, and also optionally answer some more qualitative questions (for e.g.: when reporting the location of the open dump, people can answer how accessible it is to stray animals.) The mobile application will also allow the user to see the maps generated from the aggregated data of user’s reports and understand the district/locality wise extent of these problems in an easy to read manner. Additionally, the application will feature a blog educating on various practices, problems, and possible solutions.


How can I contribute?

I want to build a community. People who are passionate about solving community challenges, discussing solutions, and brainstorming ideas. It’s a large collaborative project needing the efforts of writers, bloggers, activists, programmers, data analysts, legal, government, public policy researchers, and really just anyone interested in solving society problems. If you’ve read to this point and are interested, then do contact me! Vote for a communication channel – Discord, Telegram, Slack, etc that we could potentially use to start up this community where your insights and contributions can help shape the future of community empowerment.


Roadmap for the future.

I have a future-proof long term vision for this project as a well – a reason for me to stay motivated to work towards this. It’s on the lines of being a general purpose application for effective and optimum governance, powered by advanced data analytics, all targeted towards tackling community challenges and improving the quality of life for EVERYONE.