- The team created a device to monitor water quality in rural areas.
- They will receive $200,000.
- Four other finalists were awarded cash prizes.
An innovative water-quality monitoring device called Saaf Water is winner of the 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge.
The annual Call for Code competition, now in its fourth year, is a partnership between the David Clark Cause, United Nations Human Rights, the Linux Foundation and IBM, the parent company of weather.com and The Weather Company.
Winners were announced at a ceremony Tuesday night in New York.
Saaf Water will receive $200,000 and support to incubate, test, and deploy their solution from the IBM Service Corps and expert partners in the Call for Code ecosystem, and assistance from The Linux Foundation to open source their application.
Saaf Water is a cellular-enabled water-quality monitoring device designed to be universally compatible with various types of community water pumps. It tracks characteristics such as dissolved solids, turbidity, temperature and pH and uses artificial intelligence to predict when water quality can go bad.
If problems are detected, an onsite visual indicator is triggered to alert those using the system. There is also a dashboard that can be viewed in a web browser and sent through SMS messaging to subscribed users.
“The groundwater quality monitoring tool developed by Saaf Water is promising, timely, and appears to have great potential for use by communities relying on groundwater for domestic use,” Annapurna Vancheswaran, managing director of The Nature Conservancy – India, said in a news release. “This open-source technology could help avoid water-related health risks by indicating unsafe water quality. We certainly look forward to the tool being scaled up for the benefit of communities.”
Contaminated drinking water is estimated to contribute to at least 480,000 deaths a year worldwide and at least 2 billion people use a contaminated water source, according to the World Health Organization.
“Saaf” is a Hindi word for “clean” and the team behind it took inspiration from their native India and their own lives. Team member Hrishikesh Bhandari’s mother became ill after drinking water from her village’s groundwater supply, which was assumed to be safe. The other Saaf team members all have friends or family members impacted by contaminated water.
Fittingly, this year’s Call for Code Global Challenge was launched on World Water Day.
Saaf Water was one of five finalists in the competition. Green Farm, a platform designed to connect small farmers with consumers and help solve problems faced by community supported agricultural organizations, was awarded second place and $25,000; Project Scavenger, an app that helps users safely dispose of e-waste, received third place and $25,000; Honestly, an online browser extension that will alert users to things like bad press on a brand they are shopping, provide relevant ratings aggregated from outside sources and list carbon footprint and supply chain data, took fourth place and earned $10,000; Plenti, an app to help prevent food waste at home was awarded fifth place and $10,000.
Trashtag, a technology to verify, track, and reward waste removal in outdoor areas, took the top prize in the university category and will receive $10,000 as well as an invitation for team members to interview for potential roles at IBM.
To date, more than 20,000 Call for Code applications have been built using open source-powered software, with more than 500,000 developers and problem solvers participating across 180 nations.
“What makes Call for Code unique is the impact it is making on the ground through our deployments in communities around the world,” Bob Lord, senior vice president of worldwide ecosystems for IBM, said in a news release. “The potential of these technologies, like Saaf Water, are vast and have the potential help save lives.”
Visit IBM Developer to learn more about Call for Code.
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