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Ashwin Mahesh

Ashwin Mahesh, Innovator and Public Policy Researcher, National Institute of Advanced Studies, India; CEO, Mapunity; Editor, India Together

Dr Ashwin Mahesh is a founder of the social technology firm, Mapunity (www.mapunity.in) and editor of the national public affairs magazine, India Together (www.indiatogether.org). He is an adjunct faculty member at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, and the Indian Institute of Information Technology, both in Bangalore, and a member of the Executive Council of the Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transport and Planning at the Indian Institute of Science.

Dr Mahesh’s research and advocacy focus on the principle that in major urban centres, it is no longer possible nor advisable for government officials alone to plan, manage, and direct the future of the city. Instead, through a combination of public information platforms, collaboration between academia and public officials, and community participation, we must build thepublicly managed city.

Between 2008 and 2013, Dr Mahesh was a member of the Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure and Development (ABIDe) Task Force, and co-author of PlanBengaluru 2020, which proposed a new roadmap for planning and development in the region of our capital city. He is a member of various city, state and national committees for urban development issues.

In 2006 Mapunity built the first city transport information system for the city of Bangalore (www.btis.in). This platform was developed as a collaboration between researchers and public officials, and is now a model for replication across other Indian cities. Building further on this work, Dr Mahesh is now building the first citizens’ governance observatory for an Indian city (www.bcity.in). Dr Mahesh was also the principal advisor to the government responsible for the creation of India's first direction oriented bus system in Bangalore, and also helped create India's first integrated traffic management centre.

Working with a team of technologists, designers, other professionals and civic activists, Dr Mahesh put together a number of different initiatives in Bangalore that helped elevate the city to the prime position among Indian metros in tackling public problems. For his work, Dr Mahesh was recognised as an Ashoka Fellow in 2009, and also won the Sustainable Urban Mobility Award, 2011, instituted by Volvo Buses in India.

Dr Mahesh has a PhD in Atmospheric Science, and an MS in Astronomy. After his doctorate, he worked six years at the NASA Goddard Earth Science and Technology Centre studying Antarctic and Arctic clouds, before returning to India in 2004. Since then, he has been working on urban administration and policy issues, as an applied researcher.