If You See Dirty Water, Don’t Just Gripe. Talk To The Cloud!
Increasingly, scientists and activists are enabling citizen observers to collect data and upload it to the cloud with the aim of pushing all stakeholders — government agencies, corporations and citizens — toward change.
"These initiatives are very important for empowering citizens, making more data available — and this helps in strengthening accountability," says Binayak Das, program coordinator of the Water Integrity Network, an NGO in Germany.
So Sankarnarayan launched an app called Climatix to measure climate resilience by crowdsourcing.
And people supporting citizen data gathering say they have seen outside data lead to change.
"The measurements were used as evidence to advocate policy change," she says.
Sometimes, needed information goes beyond simple observations on water levels or color; it can require doing a quick lab test on the go.
The drinking water options in this part of India are limited.
But the local administration and police department of Nalgonda were responsive: The water authorities promised to monitor the filtration plant and close off contaminated wells.
"When data is collected in India, it is not only about water and sanitation but also demographics," says Das of Water Integrity Network.
Chhavi Sachdev is a freelance reporter in India.