UN-HABITAT and Google.org have launched an innovative new h2.0 Initiative to ensure water and sanitation facts are instantly available virtually anywhere in the world.
Demonstrating the h2.0 Initiative in Stockholm. Photo © unhabitat
It is intended to provide an interactive platform for water practitioners to share real-time information about the data they have collected. Once submitted, the information is fed into various databases and templates and is accessible in the public domain. To see it in action, go to http://www.h20initiative.org
UN-HABITAT and Google.org have launched a new h2.0 Initiative to ensure water and sanitation facts are instantly available virtually anywhere in the world.
Users can access the data via impressive interactive maps supplied by Google Earth. They can also compare the data by applying different layers of information, such as water supply, water quality or waste disposal, depending on their field of interest.
The platform was unveiled at the World Water Week in Stockholm. Graham Alabaster of UN-HABITAT said: "UN-HABITAT and many of our partners are already collecting the data. We wanted to make it all available in one place and take it into the public domain."
Representatives of partner organisations – German development organisation, GTZ, Majidata, WaterAid, The University of Twente in the Netherlands and the Hilton Foundation – hailed the project, both as a way to communicate with their associates, and as a means of monitoring progress, and matching donors to investment opportunities in communities around the world.
In addition, organisations in other fields, such as the World Health Organisation, have already expressed an interest in contributing to the initiative, opening up the exciting potential of linking water and sanitation to other related areas of development, such as health, providing a real-time method of looking at how the different sets of data are related.
As well as harnessing traditional methods of data collection, the project is making use of more innovative approaches in hard to reach areas. In Zanzibar, the University of Twente is piloting a scheme whereby users of water points send a message via mobile telephone to find out about the supply before leaving home. They can also then subscribe to an alert system that will let them know whether their nearest water point is functioning.
If it is successful, the system could eliminate the need for long wasted journeys to broken water collection points. In the long term, building up a body of information means that governments, the private sector and others can be pressured to improve water services in a given area. To see it in action click on http:// www.h20initiative.org