Aviral Bansal – Tata Communications Ltd.

I have an opportunity to work on developing a native app for School-in-a-box, project run by Moinee foundation based out of Jaipur, Rajasthan. School-in-a-box is a novel concept which facilitates digital learning experience for students in geographies where there is no internet connectivity. A standalone server holds the content and networking capabilities to facilitate the digital learning experience of school-goers in remote locations of India which are still untouched by the internet connectivity.

The reason for choosing this initiative was multi-fold. One, the fact that this project would be contributing to education of school-goers; second is what I am personally passionate about is that the project was about technology and creation of an application which would act as a bridge between the online/offline worlds.

Right from the start, we were receiving communication from the Tata Engage team which helped me in aligning things at my end. The first thing was to establish the connection with the project coordinator. Although the duration for the project was 6 months with two participants, I realized that I was the one working on the deliverable. Also, reaching out to the project coordinator early, helped me discover that the listed contact was not the right contact and Tata Engage team was prompt to fetch the contact details of the correct coordinator.

As suggested by Tata Engage team, I ensured that we have an early meeting with the coordinator, and it took some time to finally have a call with the coordinator and the leadership, to understand the requirement and establish the mutual expectations. During this discussion, I realized that they had an existing app which was working but was based on a sunset technology, which was making it difficult to distribute the app, especially in a scenario where the users were in remote locations without internet. They were expecting to develop the same functionality in a new native app which could be easily downloaded and used by the teachers in the schools.

The functionality of the app is built in such a way that anybody in the school can download the app on their smartphone while they are in the Internet zone and will become a carrier. Once the app is downloaded in the users phone, thereafter the app gets connected to the server in the school premises and the user does not need any internet connection to use the app. The app information is stored in the carrier’s phone automatically without any intervention from the carrier (other than starting up the app once). Once this process is completed, the app would indicate to the carrier that there is no more data to be collected. The carrier (whenever enters the Internet zone),  would start the app again and this time, the app would start uploading all the usage data collected from the school-in-a-box and gets uploaded in the quiz academy servers where they get processed.

The carrier app, after pushing the information to the quiz academy servers, would also request the server to provide any data that needs to be synced back to the school-in-a-box server. This information would be stored in the carrier’s phone and once they enter the school network, all this information would be pushed to the school server.

The initial calls helped in getting the source code and resources related to the existing application which was analysed and found to have gaps. While I was trying to connect with the coordinator for resolution of these gaps, the coordinator was hospitalized due to COVID. Currently, I am utilizing the time to review the available information, create a scaffolding for the proposed app so that we can move fast once the coordinator recovers.

It has been an enriching experience working on this initiative. It has helped me develop new skill-sets on the Flutter platform. Looking forward to successfully complete this assignment with an app that exceeds the expectation of the NGO.