Cape Town - A new app developed at The University of Cape Town (UCT) is helping resident use water responsibly.
The app – Drop Drop - is currently only available to Android users, and available free for all who wish to play their part in responsible water usage. It was created by the Information for Community Services (iCOMMS) interdisciplinary team, based in UCT's Department of Information Systems.
iCOMMS says with a meagre 27.5% of potable water left in Cape Town’s six major dams and the implementation of Level 3B water restrictions, there is an obvious need for South Africans to work together to save water.
SEE: Western Cape Water crisis: 129 days of useable water left as dams dip 1.7%
Project leader as well as app founder and professor in the Department of Information Systems, Ulrike Rivettis, says the team piloted the project in rural communities in 2015 and were to test the apps ability to assist with water management and improve service delivery.
The iCOMMS team then collaborated with the City of Cape Town to assess the impact of Drop Drop on water demand management and water conservation at a household level.
How it works:
- By entering a reading from the municipality's external water meter (connected to your home), DROP DROP will calculate your projected water usage for the month and provide you with an estimate of your water bill.
- This information can then be used to optimize your water usage and with DROP DROP making suggestions on additional water savings in your home, to further reduce water consumption and ultimately lower your water bill.
These include "How to Change a Washer on a Leaky Tap", "Test for Water Leaks" and "How to Save Money with Every Flush".
- You can also log reports that you make about water delivery services and get all the numbers and contact details you need to help do your part in water conservation.
UCT master’s student and iCOMMS spokesperson, Megan McLaren, says the pilot project has demonstrated that making use of the app, even if only briefly, consistently reduced households’ water consumption compared to their own historic usage patterns, as well as compared to individuals that were not given access to the application.
"The plan for 2017 is to expand the user base and test additional mechanisms, which are aimed at making the app more effective at creating lasting change," says McLaren.
SEE: #WaterWednesday: 10+ Super-easy tips to save water
According to Mclaren while the app was piloted with rural communities, its target market is mid- to high-income households because this is where the majority of high residential water consumption occurs.
The iCOMMS team says it has attempted to make the app more accessible by ensuring that the only costs are for data downloads and not for functioning.
Drive behaviour change
“We are currently working on the conversion of the app to make it available for Apple users, and it should be available in the next month or two,” says McLaren.
In addition, the short-term plan for Drop Drop includes enhancing the application to drive behaviour change.
“We hope to see it making a significant contribution to creating awareness of citizens’ water use and shifting people’s practices to be more sustainable," concludes McLaren.
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