A water ATM for slum dwellers

Aug 30, 2013, 01:51 IST | Kanika Sharma

Step in at the Godrej India Culture Lab today to attend a significant lecture, titled Journeys for Water: Design thinking and connectivity, to bring water for all, by Jan Chipchase

“Technology is overhyped,” remarks Jan Chipchase, Creative Director of Global Insights, who has dedicated himself to research in 150 projects that deliver innovative results to numerous Fortune 500 companies. Yet, today in Mumbai, Chipchase will not only tackle the question of availability of potable water but also how through design thinking and technology, an imperative concern like this can be resolved. Turning his radar on to urban slums where most would congregate in the near future due to migration, he turns around the question, “why not slums?”, when asked.

Chipcha-se has plans for Dharavi. File Pic.

His key focus of the talk will be on how connectivity as well as cloud services can facilitate clean drinking water in a place like Dharavi. At the mention of the erstwhile largest Asian slum, he informs that he has spent three to four years to study the dynamics of the place. As a sneak peek, Chipchase shares, “Recently, a venture funded by the Piramal Foundation introduced a for-profit pilot to sell clean drinking water in slums through a novel ‘water ATM’ supplying water at a fraction of the current market costs.”

Jan Chipchase
Jan Chipchase

Interjecting how researchers such as these ought to be given their due, he continues, “It has great potential to be a force for good not least through providing a consistent service at a far more affordable price, located in proximity to the people it serves, remote monitoring of water quality and usage, and considered use of mobile technology.” Chipchase would be relating technology with the many practices an average slum dweller carries out in his / her daily life such as looking out for neighbours, offering bribes and votes for water and so on. Treading on optimistic grounds, he shares that a faith in technology and the fact that it will change the future is paramount.

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