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Tech hacks by Indian teams to combat global water crisis

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Ahmedabad-based incubator International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (iCreate) collaborated with EarthX, a US-based international environmental non-profit organization, to bring its flagship hackathon ‘EarthxHack’ to India.
EarthxHack, a 32-hour hackathon was held concurrently in Dallas, USA and in Ahmedabad, India, on April 27, 2019 until April 28, 2019, at the iCreate campus in Dev Dholera in Ahmedabad. A live streaming of the EarthxHack in Dallas was screened at the iCreate campus for the participants in India, to interact with and witness the talks by global experts and leaders in the US.
Inaugurating the EarthxHack in India, A.R. Khan, General Manager, National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD), said “At NABARD, we are always looking to collaborate with organisations and individuals who are building solutions that address challenges related to water, agriculture and development. EarthxHack is a wonderful initiative to enable young minds to build better water conservation technologies, recharge systems, harnessing of rain water, amongst other solutions, and centres like iCreate help channelize the energies of these young innovators to in the right direction.”
The hackathon saw 14 teams from diverse backgrounds and age groups, such as college students, entrepreneurs, professionals, startups and projects working on environmental innovation and technology. These participants brought in knowledge and competencies in areas such as electronics, IoT, embedded systems, sociology, broad science and technology and environmentalists.

Problem statement and innovations

This year, EarthxHack 2019 focused on creating solutions to address the global water crisis. iCreate posed 2 broad problem statements to conceptualize solutions and prototypes around:
1) production of water from the atmosphere (saline water and wastewater);
2) detection and prevention of loss of water through transmission.
Some of the innovations that emerged from the hackathon included aluminum-based water condensation system, use of solar heat for water generation from humid air, developing drones and internet of things (IoT)-based system to detect breach and leakage in canals, use of Vapour Compression Refrigeration (VCR) system to get water from the atmosphere and detection of water loss in water bodies by infra-red (IR) satellite imaging.
The winning team comprised of Dr. Vanita Prasad, Pranay Shah, Rajneesh Prasad and Nitin Jain for their innovation of an infrared satellite imaging to detect water leakage during transmission. The team won INR 50,000 and a chance of acceleration at Climate Launchpad, the world’s largest green business idea competition.
The first runner-up innovation was the real-time detection of water loss in transmission channels using a sensory device to test soil moisture for joints at multiple transmission nodes and a solar flow meter detecting water loss between 2 points. The second was condensation of air moisture in humid areas through geothermal energy. Both runner-up teams received INR 25,000 each.
Anupam Jalote
At the concluding ceremony, Anupam Jalote, CEO, iCreate, said, “Many international organisations are thriving and solving global problems and they have bright Indian minds powering their solutions. We in India too, we have the capability of solving large scale problems. All we need is a slight nudge in the right direction, and iCreate is working to create such an environment that encourages world class innovations to be developed right here.At the end of the hackathon, if we are able to even address one small challenge, it is a small step towards a big change.”