KLL seeks to establish itself as a leading civic tech group in Nepal and the region. We activate, inspire and lead a community of young changemakers who are excited about using high impact technology to transform our societies. We strive to co-create digital tools and information infrastructure so that government, nonprofits and businesses can use 21st century technology to provide everyday citizens the best services.
At KLL, we put problems before solutions, people before technology and data before opinions. Our goal is to bring data, technology and people together. We like to look at problems from unusual angles and get excited to tackle challenges that are deemed ‘impossible’ using traditional tools and methods.
In the Fall of 2012, Nama Budhathoki and Robert Soden met face-to-face for the first time in Kathmandu. Before this, they had met only a couple of times on Skype. Nama was already working to build an Open Mapping community in Nepal whereas Robert was working for the World Bank in Washington D.C. The World Bank was contemplating to start Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI) projects in a few select countries. Robert was in Nepal to identify a local champion who could lead this initiative in Nepal and sensed that this could be Nama. During their hike to Ghandruk village nestled on the lap of the Annapurna Himalayan Range, they were able to exchange their passion on crowd-sourced mapping and open data; and brainstormed ideas to start and advance OpenDRI project in Nepal.
OpenDRI Project was launched in Nepal later that Fall. Nama assembled and led a group of passionate young people: Amrit, Helina, Manoj, Nirab, Sazal along with over a dozen interns from different universities to map all the educational institutions, health facilities, road networks, tangled mesh of gallies, religious sites and other geographic features of Kathmandu Valley. In addition to mapping these important features in OpenStreetMap, the team gave dozens of mapping workshops to university students, government officials, tech community, NGOs and other youth groups.
As it became clear that the OpenDRI project was successful, Robert and Nama began to discuss the longer term opportunities for collaboration. They both did not want to lose the young, passionate and trained team. In the Summer of 2013, they started thinking about creating a new institution and naming it Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL). In Fall 2013, Robert started his doctoral study at University of Colorado, Boulder. After a couple of months, Nama and the team registered KLL as a non-for-profit civic technology company as per the laws of Nepal.