What is NextGen Drops?
NextGen Drops is an initiative by UC Berkeley School of Information, Goldman School of Public Policy and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. It solves a very basic problem related to the water supply to our homes.
NextDrop aims to address India’s piped water problem. The main issue with our towns and villages is that there is a piped water supply network but water only comes for a few hours a day.
This results in countless hours wasted in waiting for water. Think about how many otherwise productive man hours are wasted everyday. Hey, even housewives’ time is time!
The solution is NextDrop. Nextdrop leverages the extensive mobile coverage in South Asia to link the water utility suppliers with the end consumers. The idea is simple, the Valvemen ( Employees who start the water supply) use an Interactive response system to file a report when they open the neighborhood valves. The system then process the report and send it as a text message to the consumers about half an hour to an hour before the water reaches their homes.
This way the people no longer have to wait for water supply and thus, save a lot of time.
The system also uses the incoming data to make a collective map using Google Maps which enables the engineers to track the status of water supply valves all across the city in real time. The system can also automatically notify the utility servicemen about any deviation from the set schedule. Thus reducing the response time in case of any failure in the supply network.
Crowd Sourcing Feedback
The system is also designed to randomly check with the residents for consistency of data. An interactive Voice response system is used to contact some random people to see whether the water is reaching the households or not. All this crowd sourced data is collected and used to address any problems in the system.
What do I think about it?
It certainly is a great idea and the concept most definitely works. It solves the problem and does what it promises. Although the problem of wasted time can also be solved by using automatic timer pump systems which is more like an Indian invention as I have only seen locally made ones and am yet to find a standardized product. But do they get the job done. Having said that, Next Drop achieves something more. It makes the whole water distribution system a lot more efficient. And is definitely needed in a place like Delhi, a city that wastes 40% of its water during distribution.