A community platform that’s creating a smart footprint
Initiated in early 2011 by a group of forward-thinking techies to bring viable solutions to technical problems faced by developers and programmers, the then Kathmandu Google Technology Users Group has evolved. Bhupal Sapkota, Suresh Ghimire, Sunoj Das Shrestha, Bhuwan Pokharel, Bibek Raj Dhakal, Samrakchhan Ghimire, Hem Shrestha, and Sovita Dahal needs mention because they organized the loosely formed self-help groups under an umbrella. This structure was a go-to platform for tech-related queries for college students that faced hurdles whilst accomplishing complex projects and for professionals that hit snags and could not deliver viable solutions to real-world problems.
I am talking to Dipesh Khanal, one of the executive members of the group that is now called the Google Developers Group (GDG) Kathmandu. GDG has four other such groups in Pokhara, Dang, Biratnagar, and Birgunj. Although the groups are independently formed and operate locally, one of the mandates that needs to be fulfilled in order to be an active GDG is to host at least four Google events in a year, which is then shared with the GDG community worldwide – there are 562 GDGS in 104 countries. The Kathmandu group has been regularly hosting the Google IO – an event held at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California and streamed live worldwide; the Google IO/Extended – that usually consists of a workshop for developers/coders on any Google platform or a hackathon; the DevFest – which is the single largest annual event for tech community across multiple tracks hosting speaker sessions, panel discussions, workshops, trainings, exhibitions; and the Women Tech Makers (WTM) catering to boost the ecosystem for women in technology.
“The current core team of about a dozen active members is working on extending the reach and impact of GDG Kathmandu,’ shares a visibly excited Dipesh. “The annual cycle of events starts in May and continues till November-December. We are currently concentrating on extending our reach into the education sector, primarily in colleges that cater to students of IT and Engineering via multiple events centering on Virtual and Augmented reality and Artificial intelligence. Discussions are on to explore avenues at the school level too. It is our strong belief that the GDG can work equally well for non-tech sectors to increase interest and involvement in technology. Our last event, the Design Sprint Challenge, tried to solve an issue that has garnered immense attention and interest in mainstream society – the poor conditions of our city road network. By bringing technology professionals and students through an open registration process we were able to brainstorm on bringing practical solutions to the woes of city dwellers – developers worked on applications and monitoring mechanisms that would help communities and the government resolve problems faster. This process of ideation and solution-development can easily be brought to students and the teaching community to tackle school-level projects. The opportunities that our platform provides is immense and has myriad applications through careful customization,” elaborates Dipesh.
Two other areas of focus for the GDG are women in technology and business. “The GDG needs to be more women-friendly. Some of our events aren’t. Prevailing social mindset bars women to take part in extended events that do not go by the clock. Increasing women participation is a key growth area for us. We are exploring avenues to negate the time and place variables by organizing events that would be cloud-based. With short-interim consultation meets we can get more women involved from the safety and comfort of their homes and educational institutions. In consultation with Google Business Group (GBG) Kathmandu, we are working on a long-term program that aims to get experts from travel to Nepal and act as advisors to tech companies. The idea is to get international experts to Nepal and bring them close to the Nepali tech ecosystem. Such close connections and advisory roles can open multiple opoortunities for investment and scaling for the industry.
The GDG think tank is expecting exponential growth in activities all over Nepal and is sure-footed in its approach to involve the technology, business, and education sectors for measurable impact.