Global engineering firm SRK Consulting has released a new web app to help clients help clients manage their water in a fun and competitive way.

The WaterWar App, which is the brainchild of two young SRK colleagues – environmental and civil engineer Xanthe Adams in Cape Town and civil engineer Whelan Naidoo in Johannesburg, goes beyond just calculating water use and uses peer pressure as a motivator for saving water.

It allows people and companies to compete with each other, while keeping the interface simple and easy-to-use.

A combination of science, psychology and programming

“The idea was to get people interested and engaged by playing a game – so our concept is really a combination of water sciences, programming and psychology,” said Adams. “To work as a game, the output needed to be comparable between users; we settled on the calculation of litres used per person per day, based on the household water bill.”

They also realised that the data input needed to be quick and easy, and therefore based the calculation on how many people live in the household. If users want to get into more detail a few other simple variables – such duration of showers, half-flush toilets and dishwasher cycles can be input.

“Input of information takes the user less than five minutes, and can all be seen on one page with an immediate result,” she said.

The app was chosen as a finalist in the 2016 Hack4Water ‘hackathon’ – an initiative by the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Open Government Partnership South Africa to encourage efforts to address the country’s water challenges.

It was then taken further by an SRK partner, Graham Mayer, who helped convert it to WordPress pHp. By the end of 2016, it had evolved to a standard where it was given the firms’ Chairman’s Award for Innovation.

Kick-starting water savings in organisations

Adams noted the potential of the app to galvanise action within companies and organisations which are looking for innovative and effective ways of kick-starting or revitalising their water-saving efforts

“Large businesses can arrange competitions between its branches or regions, or even challenge its suppliers to compete; the possibilities are endless,” she concluded.

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