Citizens + IT + Chennai Rains 2015

We can sit closely and enjoy the moments, when nature Sings.. But when nature shouts, it makes the situation very tough and sad.
Across Chennai rain fiasco, my mind started to review assumptions on technology like whether power is  available around clock and how good is mobile technology solution enabler in times of emergency.

While we see positive benefits of sharing  information using Facebook and WhatsApp to enable better in  rescue  and relief operations and also see that social media & mobile helped to know happening in Chennai, collect relief in Bangalore and send across to Chennai, first hand experience Chennai Come December led me to “What are challenges faced by people?

Mobiles did not work in Chennai at need of hour. Parents and children have cultivated habit of talking every day on mobile. When they could not talk during uncertain times, it created anxiety and fear. My wife’s face reflected this and also parents coming to Chennai as they did not talk for 4 days to their daughters. In reality, Chennai folks were safe. Expand beyond mobile only dependency to keep in touch with loved ones.

Cellular companies shared unavailability of power and/or diesel generators as reason for cellular towers not work and hence mobile calls were not reliable. Seems that without power infrastructure in India, we should not put trust and belief in  mobile reliability. Work places in Bangalore faced  internet connectivity failure as NOC center of internet provider located at Chennai failed due to reasons. I do not want to ask why things failed. My question is how far to believe technology solves society’s problems? Remember  power of mobile depends on electricity and take care to ensure that mobile outage does not impact your life.

My friends in Chennai talked of getting  pump to remove water from second basements. They were unfortunate to not have power and neither diesel generator working to power pumps. Be prepared and always be used to perform human labor. Even robots stop working without power.

Bank ATMs failed to work in Chennai.Some worked and had no cash.  More at ” people have little cash, need to rely on generous shopkeepers“. ATM working is more important in  emergency times compared to normal times. Same issue also exists in normal days. Would banks look for creating reliability & resilience  in ATM operations? Does bank branches open on weekend being aware of Chennai floods impact on ATMs? ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, SBI unveil slew of initiatives for rain hit clients  Keep some cash sufficient for basic survival  for at-least one week. One

Lot  make use of Ola and Uber for transport. You order food from online grocery. Folks did not get Ola/ Uber cabs in flooded areas of Chennai. Not sure of grocery apps status. Some of us have developed habit to buy groceries and vegetables on-demand and maintain less stock  at home. Please  read  Left in the lurch and  Rains Keep Taxis Off Roads; Auto Drivers Make a Killing.Continue to hold your car. Continue to maintain extra stock of  10 kg flour bag or 25 kg rice bag at home. Ensure presence of alternate sources to procure groceries in addition to on-demand providers .

Coming to IT organizations ,  media news made me wonder how much IT firms value the employee & their family welfare  in emergency when  there is also challenge for business continuity.

Though I restrain  to make quick judgement, I see emergence of two different opinions. IT companies took care of  employee welfare . Families failed to get support of IT employee as the IT employee was stuck at office and the house got flooded with water.  Which one is true?

Another learning was about the impact of sacrifice of  Pallikaranai marshlands  to accommodate the IT corridor.  When I studied in Chennai, i have observed large green cover during my travel on east Tambaram to  Velachery , which has reduced significantly today.

IT_at_Pallikaranai

While we start with question how the government approved , I transition to the basic question “Did intellectual IT industry perform feasibility study on IT corridor prior to moving?  Did they assume that rainwater to offers exemption to elite industry, similar to Indian govt?”.  Rainwater does not care  of  work in software parks in its own habit to occupy its old places and brought back-office work of American banks to a grinding halt.

Ending my blog post with image with Tamil Wordings, from Facebook. Rice is not present on internet