Friday Demos are the one time in the week that the SocialCops team stops executing and sits back to have some fun. On Friday at 6 pm sharp, we put our laptops away and focus our attention on the projector screen that makes its way down for its two hours of glory. Friday Demos are a tradition that we started at SocialCops in January 2015 – as a way to celebrate our product wins, understand our failures and take feedback as a team.
On the whiteboard is chalked out the names of the teams and people who will be presenting on that particular demo. Most of the team loves to show off what they’ve built that week, so demos tend to get maxed out most of the time!
A typical week at SocialCops culminates in a Friday Demo where teams showcase the different things they’ve been working on during the week, the challenges they confronted and how they wiggled out of them. Friday demos are deeply rooted in our culture of cross learning and open communication.
The fast-paced work week can sometimes make you laser focused. Demos are a great time to step out of individual metrics and learn what’s going on across teams. We use this time to give UI/ UX feedback, get answers to our product-related questions, share client feedback etc. It has evolved to be our preferred model of team communication (after Slack, which is our first love!)
New Team Members: Showing off hacks!
At SocialCops we’ve moved on from traditional orientations and welcome weeks to something that we call a hack week. Solving the world’s biggest problems doesn’t need warming up, it needs a deep dive into the challenge at hand.
The majority of a person’s first week at SocialCops will consist of a “hack”, which is a single project with an immediate impact on SocialCops. The hack is created individually for each person who joins, based on what is best suited to their skill set and will help accelerate their work. Previous hacks include scraping voter rolls of the entire country, building an excel plugin for researchers to interface with our data, designing infographics, and even an overhaul of the on-boarding process. Hacks are designed to make sure a new member probably have to crack an all nighter to complete it and will likely require some collaboration and consultation with other people at SocialCops.
Most people say “WHAAT? Thats going to take 3 weeks – how can I do it by Friday?!” on being presented their hack. We say “Welcome to SocialCops!”
In addition, every new member has to create out a visual, fun profile about themselves to introduce themselves to the SocialCops team.
We kicked off our demo with Sahaj, a new member who joined the team as a graphic designer. We were particularly excited about Sahaj’s introduction. He was the first full time graphic designer to join us and we were pretty sure he was going to raise the bar of our visual introductions!
His hack week consisted of building set of posters for a hiring campaign that SocialCops will launch in the top colleges in India next month. From his video game and coding references to the beautiful graphics, it was a hack well done!
As another example, our data engineer Rishabh Raj shipped his first product (an excel plugin that allows users to play around with the universe of data we’ve built from within Excel) for his hack week. He did all of this within 9 days of his start day.
— SocialCops (@Social_Cops) May 22, 2015
Data Parsers: Imagining a google analytics for a city or village
We wanted to be able to visualize granular household level data for a small village in Jayanthipuram district in an intuitive manner that could help identify various issues and their occurrence patterns. The team built a map with custom shape files of the houses that represented the data for each house, thus identifying demographic patterns across various issues ranging from income to education. Check it out in the video below:
BD Team: Showing us the power of our technology stack
The BD team typically kicks off their weekly routine with updates from the week unless the word is out on social media already:
Someone rightly said we are limited by our own imagination as to how technology can change the world. At SocialCops, we like to think that we are building a full-stack data startup – all the way from finding the data, cleaning the data to making sense of the data.
This is a great time for our engineers to understand the power of what they are building – from how their products were being used to collect healthcare data (including genomic information!) using our Collect tool, to measuring water logged spots in Delhi to help plan for rain water harvesting schemes (solving a personal problem for once!) to large multilateral organizations wanting to use our open data exchange to plan where to invest to improve conditions of small and marginal farmers in India!
While engineers are touted to have shorter interest spans for sales pitches & business jargons, this section manages to tickle their imagination and spur that curiosity just right.
Growth Team: Tracking our digital footprint and more
Next up is our Growth team, which gives us a sense of how we’re faring in our SEO game. Staying true to our mission of data-driven decision making, they fill us in on all the important metrics of the week: page views, bounce rates, hits and of course the misses.
This section also happens to be easy on the eyes! We’ve got graphic designers showcasing us the week that was, in visuals – everything from data infographics to social media headers, newsletter artwork and our super cool #dreamteam2015 posters!
One of the most awaited sections every week is our “Week on Intercom” session! We have a response time of under 1 min, which means that we get some incredibly funny, weird & sometimes nice and useful messages. Check out the presentation below for an example of our week on Intercom:
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Search Team: Building a knowledge graph with 8 million nodes of information
“Search” is cool because it goes deep into the data to find the actual data point. It doesn’t just search through the data set name (which is what Google does!).
Data has traditionally been represented through tables, but creative planning often uses mind maps. This week, the engineers built a knowledge graph with 8 million nodes of information! The point of this graph is to create relationships between people and entities through data. The engineers took us down from the national level to state, district, and village levels using the nodes. Truly the future of open data!
— Varun Banka (@bankavarun) August 21, 2015
The coolness doesn’t quite end there, the basic layer of Natural Language Processing (NLP) also gives you answers to specific questions. NLP makes the following type of searches possible!
- schools in Delhi with 32 boys’ toilet
- schools in Delhi with 110040 pin code
- schools in Delhi with less than 4 boys’ toilet
Himsagar Fellow: updates after 6 months & 5 states
Some of our favourite sessions are when our Himsagar Fellows are in office! Stories and anecdotes from their field trips far and wide to visit grassroot NGOs kept us enthralled! The range in the NGOs’ aspirations to expand their existing projects is immense – someone wants to measure and track the absorptive capacity of water bodies in the state whereas another wants to power real time data on the prevalence on tuberculosis across different states.
Not very many people can claim to have travelled through 6 Indian states in 5 months, meeting over 150 non-profit organizations at one go – and solo, at that. As our last Himsagar fellow had to say, “If you step outside and give India a chance, you’ll see how incredible she is!”
Catch her experiences and more here.
If this sounds like your idea of a fun Friday night, we might be interested in speaking to you! Check out our open positions here.