Challenging water and technology experts to work together and create innovative solutions to today's global water problems

Snap a Picture, Save a Stream

August 10, 2011

According to the United Nations, contaminated water kills more people than all wars, crimes and terrorism combined.[1] But how can I help?  How about taking a stab at mapping the water quality near you and letting some scientist turn that information into something useful.

This is where IBM is hoping to tap into the same citizen mindset that has made reporting applications, such as SeeClickFix, so powerful. Citizen involvement can help solve the mapping through sheer volume.

Creek Watch is a free application for the iPhone that allows users to take pictures of local water resources and report on key water data.

Most people, myself included, will most likely never think to stop for a moment and take a picture of a stream.  Knowledge about the issues behind this need is key for the success of this application.

The application is designed to allow users to report on nearby waterways using the iPhone’s built-in GPS. Whether you’re jogging, walking the dog or heading to the grocery store, it is extremely easy to quickly snap a picture of a stream and answer questions on the below three data points regarding.

  • Water level (dry, some or full)
  • Flow rate (still, slow or fast)
  • Trash (none, some, a lot)

Click here to view sample water data



IBM is developing an Android version of Creek Watch as well to reach an even larger audience. This application should help spur IBM and others to continually find similar applications that can be used on inexpensive phones that make up the bulk of the marketplace.

Creek Watch is a perfect example of the emerging ability of technology to link governments with citizens and put the power of change and accountability into everyone’s’ hands.

Check out Creek Watch on YouTube!

[1], Smarter Planet Initiative

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