Indian data company helps change makers collect on-the-ground information to assess communities' needs

Social Cops has grown from a Facebook campaign to a burgeoning social enterprise by giving citizens a voice through its information technology platform.

From the Series

Indian enterprise Social Cops gives citizens a voice by collecting, aggregating, interpreting and visualising crowd-sourced data for various non-profits, charities and public networks that want to spearhead change in their communities.

From a small Facebook campaign in 2012 to a burgeoning business for change in 2015, Social Cops’ 140-plus client list now includes UNICEF, Unilever and Oxfam, as its work receives recognition and awards from companies like Forbes, Fortune, Microsoft and the United Nations.

Varun Banka and Prukalpa Sankar founded Social Cops when they were just students in their final year at Singapore’s Nayang Technological University. The idea was motivated by the social unrest and protests happening in Singapore at the time and the public’s frustration at not having their voices heard or their needs met.  

Banka and Sankar came up with Collect – an app used as a tool to collect and manage real-time data from citizens on the ground. The android app works with low-cost phones and low-resource settings like no internet or poor electricity, to optimise data collection processes such as surveying, monitoring and mapping.

From this data, Social Cops’ data processing platform is able to deliver understandable reports based on various factors like health, education, income and demographics. The digital programme then allows clients to apply meaning to the processed information by creating their own maps, interactive charts and dynamic dashboards.

Through this technology, Social Cops has been able to help change makers such as Delhi-based NGO Goonj start a disaster-relief campaign after the Nepal earthquake; and Vodafone and the Pratham Education Foundation bring low-cost learning solutions to 1000 low-income schools across India.