Hubli is indeed growing as hub of new age startups in India with more of social business model and NextDrop is one of them which came up with idea & concept of something that’s not as easy as e-commerce or any B2C based model but it rather requires citizen involvement along government authorities.
NextDrop has raised $450K of funds more of which came from the Knight Foundation as one of a winner of Knight News Challenge which encourage media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Anu Sridharan, who is the founder/CEO of NextDrop started the service first in Hubli-Dharwad twin cities of Karnataka, India and then in Bangalore with the idea – using human observations to track water distribution with the help of available technology tools.
As NextDrop explains – “More than half a billion people in India have access to treated piped water, however the water is available for only a few hours at a time once or twice a week, and residents have no way of knowing when that will be”.
The Solution & the NextDrop Service
NextDrop is trying resolve this daily problem of families by using basic mobile phones to collect real-time water delivery information from water operators/engineers in the field this information is than distributed to the people who need it via SMS at a nominal cost of Rs.10 per month. For an example, SMS arrives – “Water will arrive in your area in 30 to 60 minutes.”
The service sends real-time alerts to families in urban population via mobile SMS about when the civic authorities will turn the water on and in what it will reach to them. The NextDrop system have approx. 5k paying customers in Hublis/Dharwad area and more are coming to opt as people are seeing that benefits and usage of the system is worth at a cost of mere Rs.10 .
NextDrop is running this service in areas of Hubli city and 2 pilots are running in Bangalore area. Moreover, apart from SMS intimating the people when would the water supply come it also helps authorities and stakes to find out the anomalies, irregularities and fetch reports. NextDrop system is also approved water board of Hubli.
The urban residents get benefit from service as it save time and cut the daily stress of uncertainty of water supply, while enabling utilities to become more efficient and more transparent.
As explained – the engineers at water board come to know on time that the water reservoirs are critically low, because of this real time information, they can now reroute water from another reservoir (that has a surplus of water), thereby decreasing disruptions in water delivery to customers. As noticeable without the NextDrop asset management tools, those customers would not have received water that day, or if so, at a much later time than anticipated.
NextDrop is a success which have already received reports of increased efficiency and equitable access in the system from engineers in Hubli, through the use of NextDrop’s low cost SCADA product. People using its service are liking it especially the less privilege people who are amusing to see that their mobile phone get SMS jut before the water supply arrive, a video below of people using the next drop services explain the rest of positive feedbacks.
The NextDrop system envisaged bunch of available technologies very effectively such as open source softwares, Google maps, mobile text, IVR (voice) along with a low cost SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) that monitor and control water treatment and distribution.
The web-based system is primarily developed using Django, a web application development framework for the Python programming language. The system also uses a web-based dashboard that uses google maps to show the status of valves and other system components in real-time, using information provided via voice or SMS.
At very starting time of NextDrop, they setup their own voice based telephony infrastructure using open source software – Asterisk now however NexDrop uses Kookoo, a major IVR service provider in India.
The Startup & future plans –
When IndianWeb2 communicated with Anu Sridharan, CEO NextDrop, she explains – “We are starting our second product line, low cost SCADA, that we are currently creating. We have deployed a beta in Hubli, and are looking into deploying in Bangalore as well. We are trying to be a low cost, high performance player in the asset management service sector. After Bangalore, we plan to deploy not only across India, but globally as well.”
The startup is also looking to raise US $600K of funds to support developing NextDrop asset management tools and low cost SCADA, and also to help in scaling the service to the city of Bangalore.
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