FLAME in the news

Is your water safe? | February 19, 2022
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The project took shape when the mother of Hrishikesh, our team member, fell ill. The cause was contaminated water from their village’s public groundwater source. This set us thinking. Our research showed that almost 50% of the world’s population depended on groundwater for consumption. We felt that there was a need for a system that would monitor and warn both the authorities and the community about degradation of groundwater. Thus Team Saaf Water was born. The idea was to create a device that not only monitors and forewarns water quality issues, but also suggests purification methods so that people around, consume saaf’ (clean) water.

Apart from the two of us, the team comprised Sanket (AITD Goa), Satyam (IIT Madras), and Hrishikesh (IIT Madras). We first met at an internship at IBM in 2018 through Atal Innovation Mission’s Student Internship Programme, where we became friends and came across the 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge. While we had the vision and skills, we had very little funds. We spent our pocket money, taught classes, and mentored other students to gather the necessary amount.

The next step

The open-source device we developed has to be installed near the source of groundwater and is compatible with community standards. It is low-powered and cellular-enabled device, which monitors crucial water quality parameters such as Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), and PH value. This information is visible on an on-site visual indicator. Through the Saaf Water dashboard, messages can be sent through SMS to people who use a phone or those not connected to the Internet. The way the information is presented is through simple colour indicators ranging from red for contamination, to green for safe, along with easy-to-understand graphs. The machine learning model recommends purification methods along with displaying an interactive map that helps them understand the water quality of the neighbourhood as well. 

Clockwise from top left: Satyam Prakash, Manikanta Chavvakula, Samket Marathe, Hrishikesh Bhandari and Jay Aherkar.

Clockwise from top left: Satyam Prakash, Manikanta Chavvakula, Samket Marathe, Hrishikesh Bhandari and Jay Aherkar. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

We submitted the Saaf Water device at the global challenge and were awarded the grand prize of $200,000. We would like the device to reach every water source and make the information accessible to everyone, thereby averting risk to the community from contaminated water.