Non-profit tech startup mWater in collaboration with Water.org have designed a platform that will make mobile monitoring and evaluation of water available to anyone in the world at no cost.
Designed to be as easy to use as Facebook or Google docs, but powerful enough to meet the needs of large water organizations and low-income communities alike, mWaterSurveyor increases the capacity of local and global actors to gather water data, monitor their work and collaborate for greater impact.
mWaterSurveyor is designed to open up digital data collection and analysis to local governments and NGOs around the world. It is a central platform that requires no setup; anyone can use it for free by signing up with an email. Thanks to the investment by Water.org and other partners, there are no monthly costs for using the technology and no computer experts are needed to install or run the software.
mWater Surveyor lets users map important sites, including water sources, sanitation facilities, schools, communities, health clinics, and households—and monitor them over time with updatable fields and surveys. All of this from a mobile app on smartphones and tablets on and offline.
Surveyor’s management portal allows users to design and deploy surveys and to see graphic visualizations of their data as it comes in real time. The result: no more paper-based data collection, so data becomes immediately actionable and sharable with management and funding audiences. Surveyor does not require any coding or technical expertise to use, allowing for easy take-up for users. This open access software will give small municipal governments and local private and public sectors access to the same cutting edge data collection tools that Water.org uses in their own work.
“At mWater, we like to say paper is where data goes to die. Moving governments – whether small cities or at the national level – into digital data collection helps turn data into action…with smart, data-driven policies. Plus, if anyone can access the data, that translates to better collaboration and transparency,” Annie Feighery Co-founder and CEO, mWater told HumanIPO.
“mWater Surveyor is a new software tool that could provide the biggest change in the aid world since Microsoft Word. Surveyor makes data collection a simple app, creating data in real time to be managed and shared in an online Portal. And, most importantly, it’s all free, so governments don’t need prohibitive loans or grants. Instead, they can thank an innovative investment from Water.org,” she added.
By making their software budget an investment in innovation, Water.org
has made what would have been a one-time cost into an investment in social good with many returns. Water.org has since encouraged new partners to come onto this project, including WaterAid and The Water Trust, who have made investments in new advances in the platform including indicator tracking and SMS notifications.
“This is the new, dynamic aid model. mWater’s financial strategy is takes its cue from the software industry. Users don’t pay for their Facebook or Twitter. Instead those who benefit from it most do. And like Facebook and Twitter, we’ve made this software free to the world while the large organizations – who would have used their own budgets to pay significant amounts to create in-house software tools – instead pay for this open access, innovative platform.”
“ By modeling ourselves as a tech start-up, mWater is a small, nimble organization that can attract world-class tech talent and produce high quality results quickly,” said Feighery
“We’re confident that the investment will encourage more efficient and transparent management strategies,” she added.
In December 2013, mWater and Water.org began collaborating on the design of a full-featured open access mobile survey platform. mWater’s research found that most organizations collect much more data than they are able to analyze because it is locked in paper forms and multiple spreadsheets. The time between collecting data and actually using it to make decisions can stretch from months to years, missing the opportunity to make the data actionable.
In only 6 short months of innovating together with Water.org, mWater delivered mWater Surveyor – a platform that includes a survey management portal (http://portal.mwater.co) and a mobile app capable of running surveys on and offline using smartphones and tablets (http://app.mwater.co).
mWater will publicly announce and demonstrate mWater Surveyor at World Water Week in Stockholm.