Flint Water Crisis: Google-Backed App Made Available To Help Residents Find Drinking Water, Filters

Though it’s no longer a major news story in national papers, the water crisis in Flint, Mich. is an ongoing struggle for its citizens. A Google-funded app is now helping citizens of the city find clean water to supplement for what their pipes can’t provide.

The app and website Mywater-Flint was created by researchers at the Flint and Ann Arbor campuses of the University of Michigan and backed by funding from Google.org. Accessible through any browser or via app on Android devices, the service debuted on Dec. 8 with the goal of distributing vital information to the city’s residents.

Mywater-Flint displays a map of the city, which users can navigate to find any number of important details. It displays where lead has been found in the water, where service line workers are replacing infrastructure, and what areas have safe piping.

Most vital, the app will point users to water distribution centers so they can collect clean drinking water. It also directs them to places where they can get a water testing kit and filter. Only about one-third of Flint residents have had their water tested according to researchers.

The app aims to address one of the most difficult challenges with the Flint water crisis, outside of fixing the piping—garnering trust with the city’s residence following the crisis. Many of its 98,000 citizens feel betrayed by their elected officials since learning they have been poisoned by the decision of Michigan’s governor.

According to Politifact, University of Michigan-Flint political scientist Peggy Kahn said water quality has improved but “there is concern that there is still lead in the system, and it is unclear whether every residence has safe water.”

In addition to keeping residents up to date with information about water safety, it also aims to provide predictive information that may help residents decide just how safe their water is. Mywater-Flint looks at the age of property, its location, value and size to determine the likelihood it has elevated lead levels.

The app came to be in part thanks to a $150,000 grant from Google.org, the charitable arm of the search giant. Google also lent the help of its engineers, user experience designers and strategists on a volunteer basis to help the university and its students create Mywater-Flint.

Retrieved from International Business Times