New mobile apps are aimed at tackling continual water supply problems arising from leaks, drought, poor sanitation and wastage of water.
It is a known fact that problems related to water supply affect a large section of the global population. Water Utilities and the governments of different countries spend a large amount of money yearly for installation of new infrastructure and repairing of old ones; but still water problems persist. Currently, the water industry is increasingly looking forward to rope in the potential of mobile phone technology in order to come up with smarter solutions for continual water problems.
The number of mobile phone subscribers in India cross the 940 million bar, yet only one-fourth of the population is able to access clean drinking water. Public water pumps witness long queues which often continue for hours at a stretch owing to faulty faucets or damaged pipes. To tackle this problem, Anu Sridharan of Bangalore has come up with NextDrop, which is in fact a messaging service that provides information regarding unexpected alterations or planned delays in service. Citizens are also allowed to text in updates regarding faults, which is forwarded to the concerned water utility by NextDrop. Currently the service plans to cover more than 75,000 mobile users.
In a similar fashion, IBM brings forth the Creek Watch app which gathers information pertaining to the flow speed and height of local watercourses along with evident amount of rubbish. The data is then poured into a central database to be used by the water control boards for tracking pollution and improve water supply. This app was first launched in California, and now finds use in more than 25 countries.
Due to supply of contaminated water, about 76000 children die yearly before the age of five, from diarrhea. To tackle the spread of water-related diseases such as diarrhea there is mWater which aims to engage the citizens in the evaluation of the quality of water supply. The app’s early stage pilot is in Mwanza, the second largest city of Tanzania, where a study reveals appalling amount of fecal contamination in shallow dug springs and wells.
By using a $5 testing kit along with onboard cameras in mobile phones, mWater detects colonies of coliform as well as E coli bacteria automatically. Instantly, analysis of the findings takes place, which is then shared among local communities, with the help of an online map highlighting areas which have safe water sources.
In California, as the population copes up with the persistent drought for the third consecutive year, the Dropcountr app aims to help homeowners cut their water usage so as to evade water supply problems. It incorporates an alarm system which sends across a warning to the customers whenever they are about to reach the peak water usage. The app also renders information regarding leaks.
Smartphone users in UK now have the facility to access latest information related to flood risks in their respective areas. FloodAlerts, developed by Shoothill, the Shrewsbury-based software developer, gathers information from the Environment Agency and then uses a BING map for displaying accurate shapes.