The project, called “WaterWatchers,” is driven by a new mobile phone application and SMS capability that will enable South African citizens to report water leaks, faulty water pipes and general conditions of water canals.
Every update will provide vital data points to an aggregated “WaterWatchers” report to create a single view of the issues challenging South Africa’s water distribution system.
Recently, President Bill Clinton announced that legendary artist Smokey Robinson is aggregating celebrity social media feeds into a global Smoke Alarm. The aim is to raise funds and share clean drinking water through the Procter & Gamble (P&G) Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program. (Read: Bill Clinton to Use Social Media for P&G Water Program)
IBM’s free app, which is currently available for Android and available for download at www.ibmwaterwatchers.co.za, and the SMS capability together provide an easy way for anyone to collect and report issues on local waterways and pipes to a centralized portal, says the company.
After taking a photo and answering three simple questions about the particular water canal or pipe, the data is uploaded in real-time to a central database. After 30 days, the data will be analyzed and aggregated into a meaningful “leak hot spot” map for South Africa.
“This project is about analyzing use, predicting demand and managing the future of our country’s water,” said IBM South Africa Smarter Planet executive Ahmed Simjee.
IBM began exploring crowdsourcing to address water related issues in the city of San Jose, California, with its CreekWatch mobile app, which is still available and currently being used in more than 25 countries.
WaterWatchers was adapted from the CreekWatch concept to include additional capabilities such as SMS and the ability to share photos on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
According to IBM, a WaterWatchers report will be made available to local municipalities, water control boards and other water system stakeholders once the data is filtered appropriately. This could help local municipalities vizualise and prioritize improvements to city water infrastructure.