Oshawa / UOIT, Montreal / McGill.

Team Droplets are out to improve the public’s trust in drinking water.

Scattered throughout the city of Montreal are plenty of public fountains, hooked directly into the municipal water supply. But there’s a public perception that bottled water is cleaner and safer.

This isn’t the case, says team member Mohamed Ibrahim. “What we hope to do is increase the trust in the public in to tap water, by actually informing the public tap water is just as good, if not better than bottled water,” Ibrahim said.

To do this, the Droplets team is using the power of data to make information about public fountains more transparent, and give the city new tools to monitor their water infrastructure.

By developing an app available to the public, citizens will be able to find out where the nearest fountain is, how it has performed in water tests and other information. They’ll also be able to report problems with the fountain, which will alert the city as to which fountains need attention.

Using machine learning, Ibrahim said their team will also be able to use the city’s data to model where new water infrastructure should be installed.
“If there is an area where a lot of people are using drinking fountains, we can predict a location for the municipality to place new drinking fountains,” he said.
The data modelling could also give the city the ability to predict things like equipment breakdowns and better schedule maintenance and cleaning schedules.
The ultimate hope for the team is to decrease plastic waste, Ibrahim said. “The overarching goal is to reduce plastic waste, by reducing the use of bottled water.”