Open Innovation Search for Water Quality Solutions
An app for effective water conservation that uses IoT and other new-age digital technologies.
Any problem, no matter how big or pressing, can benefit from open innovation, bringing diverse people together from a broad range of disciplines.
One of today's pressing global issues is declining water quality, which is a threat to human health and causes numerous environmental, social and economic problems.
According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), one in nine people worldwide use drinking water from unimproved or unreliable sources, and 2.4 billion people live without any form of sanitation.
India is one of many countries in the developing world to be challenged by poor water quality, lying in 120th position among 122 countries on the Water Quality Index released by WaterAid.
To find novel solutions, leading consultancy company Capgemini in India launched its Tech Challenge 2019. The sixth edition of the open innovation competition challenged participants to work with emerging digital technologies to improve water quality.
The initiative attracted 160,000 registrations from more than 80 cities across India. Participants had to solve a coding task over three months, and the top 55 moved forward to the finals.
These finalists were then split into ten teams and tasked with addressing the final tech challenge. This was to create a proof of concept for efficient water management and conservation.
The overall winner was Team TechELITES for developing an app for effective water conservation. Their solution made use of IoT (internet of things), artificial intelligence, analytics and other new-age digital technologies such as Cloud to perform several functions: track water consumption, overcome water leakage and enable water treatment across domestic, commercial and industrial usage.
"Designed to identify young programmers and tech enthusiasts to solve real-world challenges using emerging technologies, Tech Challenge has now become a unique platform to engage young and brilliant minds in the industry to find solutions, consistently and successfully, to real-life social challenges." said Arul Kumaran Paramanandam, COO of Capgemini in India.
"The record response this year and the quality of talent is heartening and is a reflection of our conviction that millennials have the power to be the Architects of Positive Futures and revolutionize the way we interact with the society and the world at large."
At the time of writing this article in December 2019, there was no news about whether or not the winning app would be developed. However, there are grounds for optimism that it will progress further.
In the 2017 edition of the open innovation contest, the winners developed a prototype app to address the problem of missing children in India. This app was later turned into ReUnite, a real app, which is available on the Android store.
Members of Team TechELITES shared prize money and qualified for a final round of interviews for potential employment opportunities at Capgemini, illustrating one of the reasons why open innovation competitions can create win-win scenarios all round.
Not only can brilliant ideas come to the fore, but participants are provided with a prominent platform to bring their skills to the attention of organizations looking for new talent. These companies benefit in turn by being introduced to smart people they might not otherwise have met.
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