Waattr: An app that will ease the water woes in our cities

Waattr is a one of a kind crowdsourcing app that links the private sector, government utilities and citizens to build a water sharing community.


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NextDrop is a civic start-up with a BIG vision founded in 2011 by CEO Anu Sridharan and her team of two from UC Berkeley, California. The Bangalore-based company is a for-profit enterprise with a social mission – to rid the world of its water problems. Their vision is simple – they wish to link the private sector, government utilities and citizens to create an endless loop of timely service provision and feedback collection, and bridge all the gaps in between. And to do this, they try to harness the latest, cutting edge technology.

The company started operations in the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad, rolling out its SMS Water Alert Services to subscribers across the cities. By facilitating communication between the valvesmen (the men who operate the valves- responsible for turning on and off water supply to a particular area), the utility providers and the citizens, NextDrop was able to send its subscribers timely information regarding when their water supply would be turned on, and when they could next expect water. Seems like redundant information? Not in cities where more than a million people receive water only once in three or four days, for about four hours each time. And not for people, most of whom could not afford water storage tanks or wells. These SMSes thus helped people – especially women- to save hundreds of hours of uncertainty waiting for the water to be supplied to their taps.

Four years later, NextDrop has more than 70,000 users registered on their network, across Karnataka. With operations in place in Mysore, and soon to be out in Bangalore, NextDrop has plans to reach 100 million users in 150 cities across India in the next 2-3 years. The company believes in data, and in crowdsourcing information to build what they call a water-knowledge market. They envision a world where a utility engineer and a valvesman can fix problems that matter most. A citizen can spend his/her time more constructively and productively instead of waiting around for water all day. A company can use their data to send water to families that aren’t receiving water on a particular day.

The company currently offers three products – SMS services, the Waattr app and a water smart lite grid. They use real-time data to inform their subscribers about when they’re receiving water, when there’s a delay, when pipe damage is likely to affect them, and when someone in the community has water updates to share.

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The Waattr app is a one-of-a-kind crowdsourcing app, that collects information from users about their water supply. It allow users to log whether they’re getting water or whether they’re waiting for water. This information is then used to generate a hydromap – so that users can see who around their locality are facing the same water problems. The app also asks users to rate the quality of the water that they receive, using three criteria – colour, smell and taste. These are rated on a 0-10 scale, with 0 being the worst quality indicator, and 10 being the best. There is also space for users to enter their own comments about the water supply, so that more personalised information and data can be collected.

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So what can this information be used for? Well, that’s where the splash feature comes in. The Waattr app allows the user to “splash” her friends and acquaintances – people that she knows- so as to find out their water status as well as share her own. In this way she also contributes towards building a water community- sharing and exchanging water thoughts and experiences. The user can also monitor other users who are upstream (basically receiving water before she does) as well as downstream (receiving water after she does) from her own location.

Users can also invite people from their contacts to join the Waattr app, and send out referrals. Nextdrop hopes to have 100 million users registered on the Waattr app by 2020.

Visit http://www.nextdrop.org/ for more details. You can download the app here: Waattr


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