Google, UN-Habitat join hands for access to water, sanitation

A screenshot of a map on the h2.0 platform showing the water quality risk in the town of Kisii in Kenya based on UN-HABITAT data. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Handout_E_Mail

If the direr predictions are to be believed, it may soon be a case of “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink,” as the effects of global warming and water use patterns combine to make access to good drinking water an issue, especially in developing countries.

As another of the many measures initiated to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of ensuring environmental sustainability through access to drinking water and sanitation, UN-Habitat and launched the h2.0 initiative ( > at the recently concluded World Water Week in Stockholm.

The initiative provides a common, real-time, online platform for data collected by groups around the world, presenting them in the form of interactive maps (using Google Earth), while providing an opportunity for community participation in data collection.

Among the initiatives supported are the use of Citizen Report Cards (CRC), pioneered by the Public Affairs Centre (PAC), a Bangalore-based non-governmental organisation, and data uploading through mobile devices, with spreadsheets and maps created remotely using the data, as is being done in Zanzibar by the University of Twente.

A report on the UN-Habitat website named German development organisation GTZ, Majidata, WaterAid, the University of Twente and the Hilton Foundation as among the partner organisations in the initiative.

Other organisations, including the World Health Organisation, have expressed interest in contributing to the initiative. Most components in the h2.0 platform are cloud-based and run on Google data centres and “provide the necessary scalability and processing power as more datasets become available, more partners join and integration tools are developed,” according to the h20initiative website.

“Offline synchronisation,” including integration with data collection and updating through mobile technology, “overarching search functionality” which finds patterns, holes and overlaps in data and “flexible power user access” to the platform to enable partners to update their data themselves are being looked into as future developments, the website adds.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 11:46:08 AM |

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