India’s fourth most populous city, Hyderabad, has a booming economy. IT companies are springing up everywhere, and people are flocking from the rural countryside in search of new opportunities. Unfortunately, the area does not have the available water or infrastructure to support such a burgeoning population. With my partner, Jessica Letaw, we set out to look at possible solutions. Since this was for a course, Networked Computing, our solution was required to include urban computing in one form or another.
Service Area of HWSSB
The majority of water is delivered by the Hyderabad Water Supply and Sewage Board. It’s hard for me to judge the quality of service they provide, as I’m not a citizen of Hyderabad, but after looking at messages posted on their Facebook page, and service time tables, I can’t imagine the frustration people are experiencing.
Realizing we could do very little to solve the corruption that plagues Indian governments, or improve the infrastructure, we came up with a plan to motivate local citizens.
Our solution: a Water ATM, or Rain Share
We started to think about ways to incentivize rain water collection. We arrived at the idea of a water ATM. A machine that sits in the middle of each neighborhood attached to a cistern. Citizens gather rainwater and the water they don’t use they take to the ATM-like device. The number of credits you receive depends on how much quality rain water you deposit. In addition, since service times are inconvenient for many (see table), the water ATM would also be a place to withdrawal safe, healthy, filtered water. The credits can be used towards withdrawing extra water from the cistern, or as mobile phone time. The device also provides citizens with personal and community data.
After our initial drawings, we realized a text based interface would not be suitable for the entire population, as literacy rates are rather low. A picture based interface was developed:
When a citizen approaches the screen they have three options: Deposit, Withdrawal, and Personal/Community Information.
Rather than asking for users to type a password, or account number, they simply scan their thumbs as identification.
If they choose deposit, they must acknowledge that only rainwater is to be deposited.
A short animation plays instructing users how to deposit wa
Lastly, citizens see their account information and how much water they have deposited.
When citizens withdrawal water, they are given the option of redeeming rupees towards more water (or their water bill), or mobile phone credit.
Citizens can look at visualized data. Of course this is not something everyone will understand or comprehend, but the option is available.
It is difficult (some say impossible) to solve the complex problems our planet faces, especially when you’re a mere graduate student on the other side of the world. There are plenty of problems and holes within this project, and it is in no way the single solution to the water shortages that face Hyderabad. It is simply a brain exercise and an example of how computing could potentially improve the lives of its citizens. The internet, data, sensors, etc. provide a new set of tools and methods to help solve the real world problems people wrestle.
PROJECT BY: JESSICA LETAW & CORY WEAVER, FOR: ARCH 531 - NETWORKED COMPUTING