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Internet of Things
3 Indian Startups That Are Working Towards India’s Water Crisis
Netflix’s new dystopian drama series, Leila is set in 2050 India and, among the many horrifying realities of this world that was first conceptualized by novelist Prayag Akbar, is that clean water is a commodity that only the upper caste and wealthy have access to. But what is scarier than a possible future is an almost-certain present; India is already running out of water and, according to NITI Ayog, more than 40% of the country’s population will not have access to clean drinking water by the year 2030.
Chennai is currently suffering the worst water crisis it has in over thirty years—pipe water supply has reduced to a drip (less than 10% of what it used to be), malls and residential societies are rationing water, companies are asking employees to work from home and, for the city’s nine million parched residents, the availability of the next bottle or pot of water remains uncertain. It’s on its way to becoming the first Zero City, or the first Indian city to run out of water, followed by Delhi and Bengaluru. Akbar’s dystopic world is looming large, and swift action is the need of the hour.
The silver lining to this very bleak cloud, however, is that some Indian startups are addressing this crisis and responding with smart, technologically-advanced products that will help combat it. These include:
A Bengaluru-based startup, Uravu Labs has developed a solar thermal based device called the EVA aquapanel that produces drinking water from thin air! Essentially, what it does is that the device absorbs water vapour at night (as the humidity is higher in many places at this time). Then, during the day, the solar collector heats up the device to around 80-100°C, releasing the saturated water vapour back. The vapours are then passed through an air-cooled condenser and transformed into liquid.
For every square metre, the device can generate around four to five litres of water. Many urban homes rely on reverse osmosis (RO) or UV water purifiers. According to their website, the device will work in areas of 10% – 90% humidity and a micro-grid or network of EVA aquapanels can generate enough water to sustain a community or small industry.
Bengaluru-based company has an Internet of Things (IoT) – enabled smart water purifier essentially checks water quality in real time and sends alerts when the device requires maintenance. While most water purifiers are quite costly, OCEO’s premise is that water purification is a service that they charge for but everything else is free-of-cost. Their USP is that many of these water purifiers that are currently available do not have a system that alerts users when the water quality begins to deteriorate.
To tackle the issue of availability of clean drinking water in public places (like railway stations, metros or malls), Gurugram-based startup Swajal is installing water ATMs in the city. These Swajal water ATMs use internet of things (IoT) sensors to remotely monitor the quality of the water and the performance of the machine. It uses machine learning to run predictive maintenance algorithms to predict system failures before they actually happen. And, of course, it makes access to safe drinking water much easier.
Although the NKD Pod+ is not Indian, it is manufactured in England, the water bottle is a portable alternative to water purifiers and could be extremely useful given the country’s predicament. The NKD Pod+ has an in-built purifier system, which can cleanse up to 99% of bacteria, heavy metals and chemicals from water in any form.