School of Information master's students Thejo Kote and Niranjan Krishnamurthi were awarded a $6000 grant this week by the Clinton Global Initiative to fund their social enterprise NextDrop.
NextDrop addresses the challenge of unreliable piped water in developing countries. When water arrives intermittently and unpredictably, households lose hours waiting by the tap for the water to arrive. "In India, mothers have told me stories of having to stay home from funerals — or even from voting — in order to wait for the water to arrive," according to team member Emily Kumpel, a Ph.D. student in civil engineering.
NextDrop is a social enterprise to provide households with reliable, near real-time information about water arrival via the mobile phone infrastructure. NextDrop will also generate water delivery data for utilities to improve services and efficiency.
In addition to Kote and Krishnamurthi (both MIMS '11) and Kumpel, the project team includes Berkeley civil engineering master's student Anu Sridharan, Ari Olmos (a Berkeley public policy master's student), and Ashish Jhina (a Stanford MBA student). They are advised by I School assistant professor Tapan Parikh, a leader of the school's program in ICTD (Information and Communication Technologies and Development).
"The real advantage of the NextDrop approach is its simplicity," explains Parikh, "in particular, the use of SMS [text messaging] as a low-cost tool to both inform and empower." Krishnamurthi adds, "I am confident that NextDrop will provide a solution that is informative, intuitive, and easy to use."
The team is currently conducting a pilot test of NextDrop in Hubli, India; Sridharan and Olmos are on-site facilitating the pilot test, while the rest of the team continues development of the underlying infrastructure. "We hope to validate the NextDrop model of providing water availability information over the summer," says Kote.
The award will support the initial set-up of NextDrop, and is funded by Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) and made possible by Walmart.
The CGI U Outstanding Commitment Awards are grants given to exceptional student projects aimed at improving communities and lives around the world.
The Clinton Global Initiative was founded in 2005 to promote collaboration between governmental and non-governmental organizations to effectively confront the world's most pressing problems. The Clinton Global Initiative University engages the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world.