PWX Introduces SMS Reporting

Affordable Ubiquitous Technology To Get Frequent Updates On Project Progress and Long-Term Operation and Real Impact

Kolkata, India
17 February 2011

The Peer Water Exchange (PWX) today demonstrated the pilot of its SMS Reporting feature at Infocom 2011. Using an affordable and ubiquitous technology, PWX hopes to crack the opacity surrounding project implementation and long-term monitoring and real impact assessment. Around a billion people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion lack access to hygienic and dignified sanitation facilities. Progress against these global crises has been hard despite several decades of efforts.

Rural water and sanitation projects are plagued by unknowns and the majority do not meet expectations. In addition to tough field conditions computers, computer literacy, and internet connectivity are rare creating a high level of opacity into project progress and adoption. Long-term impact assessment programs are extremely expensive today and virtually non-existent.

Because mobile technology and SMS have penetrated the remotest corners, PWX has implemented an SMS reporting layer on top of the water sector's largest repository and project management system.

Rajesh Shah said, "Today its easy to get SMS messages; the hard part is to make them a meaningful part of a project's history." PWX has created an intelligence layer to process messages along with human controls. SMS messages get converted to project reports and attached to projects. So a weekly SMS can easily show progress to managers and financiers far from the action. Based on its origin, the SMS could be converted into a staff status report, a peer member's observation, or a 3rd party visitor report. "Having peers and 3rd parties visit projects and provide objective insight is very important and an integral part of the Peer Water Exchange," adds Rajesh. A 90 second video shows the potential of PWX's SMS reporting tool.

Participating in the pilot are three organizations: Project Well in Bengal, and Ekoventure and Humana People to People India in Tamil Nadu. PWX hopes to gather feedback and also to get sponsorship to roll out the system across India within a few months and across the world in the coming year.

Dr. Meera Hira-Smith, Executive Director of Project Well, oversees the implementation of hundreds of arsenic-free water sources in her home state of W.Bengal from Berkeley, California. She states: “Our staff now will have no excuse not to report on a weekly, if not daily basis. SMS reporting will help me track progress easily and also in assessing the long-term impacts of the projects. It will also assist in third party cross-checking, thus increasing the credibility of all projects on the PWX platform.”

Rajesh concludes, "In the near future, we see the utilization of SMS by the village beneficiaries themselves to let us know how the projects are doing and if they need help. Providing them simple water quality measuring kits, one can easily visualize getting a weekly report and creating graphs of water quality and quantity to help us track our progress against the global water crisis."
At Infocom, the SMS video proved a big hit and photos from the conference are shown below.

The Telegraph covered the event, and the news article on the panel is reproduced below.
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