mWater is an Android app that tracks water quality results, could save plenty of lives

by: Mike AndriciSeptember 4, 2012

mWater Android Darwin Bell/Flickr While supplies of clean water might not be something that Westerners worry about, the reality is that in some parts of the world, millions of people die every single year due to contaminated water and unfit sanitation equipment. But what does this have anything to do with the Android OS? Apparently a lot, as a former NASA engineer by the name of John Feighery has developed an Android app that allows health workers from Bangladesh to record water quality test results in real time and map them accordingly.

The app, named mWater, was first envisioned by John Feighery, a former NASA employee that helped design the Space Station’s US bathroom. After the Columbia Space Shuttle accident, Feighery turned his focus on managing water issues on Earth, instead of designing water systems that help people outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.

This is what John Feighery stated in an interview with AlterNet: “I’d been working on supplying clean water to three or four people in space, and meanwhile there are a billion here on earth that don’t have it […] The world that my kids are going to grow up in has this huge problem that I felt like I could work on.”

mWater enables health workers to track water quality tests in real time, by centralizing all the results in a single database. In addition, users are able to write comments on how the water looks, smells, and flows from the source, as well as add photos of the water source (photos that are automatically pinned to a map via GPS coordinates transmitted by the smartphone). Basically, all you have to do is pull up your Android smartphone, and the app will give you detailed results on the water quality tests in the area.

At the moment, the app only centralizes water quality results in Bangladesh, but I’m sure more governments and humanitarian organizations will adopt similar apps in the future. According to Lars Onsager Stordal, from UN Habitat’s water, sanitation and infrastructure department, the mWater app might be the most affordable method of tracking water quality in financially challenged countries : “It’s a very novel approach to water quality monitoring […] it makes it possible, affordable and manageable at the local level”.

To me, apps like mWater really teach us how important smartphone apps could become in the future, especially when it comes to centralizing such vital data and making it instantly accessible to anyone that can make use of it. The mWater app might not become as popular as Where’s My Water for Android, but it will definitely save more lives. Feel free to drop us a comment in the section below and let us know what you make of this new app!

  • Hi Mike! Thanks so much for noticing mWater and writing about the app. I think your comment about smartphone apps centralizing vital data at the end of the post is very insightful. We envision that developing countries will follow a different path toward national data systems that will be much more driven by mobile data collection and instant sharing. Our goal is to put local data into the hands of health workers and community leaders, where it is most likely to be used to save lives and reduce illness. Keep in touch– we have some exciting things coming out over the next year!