Microsoft Research India launched the Whodunit? Challenge: a nationwide social gaming competition that awards 1 Lakh Rupees to the winner. The goal of the contest? To use your mobile phone to crack a fictional mystery case! The winner must discover five clues -- Who, What, Where, When and Why -- surrounding a mysterious event which were sent to five different people across the country.
A similar competition was organized by DARPA in US which was won by MIT. A news article on this : cnn.com
The objective of the challenge was to see how people in developing countries use technology such as mobile phones to collaborate across long distances and in time-critical situations. Read a related news report in New Scientist: newscientist.com
How we did it?
30th January 2013:
Our team (2 PhD students + 6 UG students) got together and thought of participating in the competition not for money but to bring glory to our institute "IIIT-Delhi"
The team was motivated from the fact that similar competition was won by MIT in USA
The goal was set and we started the campaign with the punchline : "Victory is never achieved alone" and we need to recruit large set of volunteers/participants to help us in finding clues
To ensure a good participation we needed to have effective incentives for the participants. We kept our incentive strategies very inclusive.
50% of prize money to collect clues (essentially 10 K for each new clue)
All the relay participants gets 20% of the first award, if one of their referrals send us a new clue
For attracting masses, we announced 200 recharges worth 50 rupees each for the people who send us 200 clues (not necessarily unique)
We decided to donate rest of the money to a charitable foundation.
31st January 2013:
By seeing the active presence of young generation over social media, we created a Facebook group, a website and an online form to recruit volunteers.
Fellow IIITDians helped us in spreading the word by sharing it on social networks, sending SMSes to other people etc
We needed a SMS server system where all the "clues SMSes" can be collected and thankfully, Siddhartha setup this system in no time.
Different part of India from where people registered with us
1st Feb 2013:
The next punchline for this challenge should be "Time is Money", we did not want to wait participants to send us clues after someone else's victory
We sent reminder SMS to everyone registered using online form so that they can do miss call and forward us clues, following set of GSM modems did the cool work!
SMS server with 4 usb modems
Siddhartha and Kuldeep hooked to their computer screen to see all incoming SMSes and clues embedded into it. Also, subsequently submitting clues using SMS server to MSR
Rest of the team did the hard job of being in field and convinced people to call and got clues from their friends/relatives from all over India.
@2:05 PM: We got all 5 clues and submitted to verify them.
@2:07 PM: All our 5 clues were verified and challenge was over for us.
Around 5:30 PM : Bill Thies called us and told us that IIIT-Delhi have done it! It was a collective victory of all the participants, fellow IIITDians and the core team.
Different part of India from where we recieved SMSs
"We started with only one motivation to bring glory to IIIT-D and I am glad, we did it! Thanks and congratulations to whole IIIT-D family"Kuldeep Yadav PhD scholar
"The idea was to make our campaign go viral in quick time. I am amazed to see the impact of technologies (Facebook, SMS reminders) with traditional way of word of mouth. It was quicker than my expectation!!"Siddhartha Asthana PhD scholar
"Absolutely awesome! We came up with the entire plan in about 2-3 days, and 5 hours after the competition kicked off, we were bathing in glory"AKSHIT NANDAB.Tech (CSE)
"It took me two hours to realize that we have really won the whodunit challenge!" Aman SinghalB.Tech (ECE)
"This challenge proved the team effort IIIT-Delhi can show in a competition like Whodunit."CHIRAG GUPTAB.Tech (CSE)
"I just feel amazed. The fact that we were able to get a campaign up and also viral in less than 2 days is pretty amazing. Kudos to everybody for helping us out"LAKSHAY PANDEYB.Tech (CSE)
"We IIIT-Dians can do what we want to do and can be what we want to be."Sanchit AgarwalB.Tech (ECE)
"It was great fun Organizing this event in such a short time and persuading people that we will actually pay them Rs 10,000 just for miss call"Umang AroraB.Tech (ECE)