How Cell Phones and Google Maps Brings Water to the Poor

Ben Cohen
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mobile phone text message

An organization called NextDrop has developed a brilliant system that allows people in water deprived areas to accurately predict when valves will be turned on, preventing them from having to wait for hours for water. From Fast Company:

Utility employees call NextDrop's interactive voice response system when they manually open neighborhood water valves. The system generates text message updates for local residents (most of whom have cell phones) 30 to 60 minutes before water delivery. Residents are also contacted by the system randomly to verify the accuracy of the information given by the valvemen. Updates from the utility employees are also turned into Google Maps-based streaming visual data so that engineers can track valve status throughout the city in real time.

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This type of information could have a big impact on communities. Freeing up time for people to spend on other activities could dramatically increase productivity and give a greater quality of life by allowing them to plan their days more effectively.