January ’18: Battling ‘Day Zero’

Cape Town – A Case Study in Public Activation

The pressure is on
The Cape Town drought situation entered the news cycle this month with the viral “Day Zero” countdown clock – a website with current dam levels, alternative water supply schedules, and most notably, the day the taps turn off to 4 million Capetonians, and water is distributed in 25 liter per person per day increments (that’s 6.6 gallons) at one of 200 designated police-enforced water collection sites. Whoa.

But not the water pressure
Last week water pressure was lowered citywide to reduce flow and starting today residents will be held to a 50 liters (13 gallons!) per day target. Fines and public shaming have been employed for months and resident’s personal usage is publicly available; drought always has had a fierce relationship with vigilantism. 

A story of carrots and sticks
Suffice it to say, Cape Town city officials have our sympathy; what would you do? Guiding behavior in times of a shared emergency is a tricky game of incentives, disincentives, and increasingly, data and context. The next 12 weeks will be crucial for the South African community and a radical case study in managing drought and citizen behavior. The world is watching. And counting. 

To follow this developing story, we suggest following EWN, the City of Cape TownBrett Walton/Circle of Blue, and Google News.


You have died of dysentery
This isn’t the Oregon Trail, but that’s a good guess. Earlier this month the New York Times ran a story about a ‘startup’ in Oregon that “delivers unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water on demand.” By the way, 2.5 gallons sells for $36.99. When you’ve picked your jaw up, consider the distrust that drove this type of venture. Delivering potable water is hard, no doubt, but poor customer relationships and water quality issues nationwide are leading some customers to lose faith in their retailers.

Se habla español?
Information for your Spanish-speaking community can be: a) hard to find, b) time consuming to produce, but well received and  c) [crudely] translated by Google. We’ve been pulling together original Spanish-language content that focuses on conserving water – you can find that here.  Helpful? Let us know – we’re building a library and are happy to share it.  

Haven’t seen numbers like these since…ever
The cellphone ownership report published by Pew Research shows that 92% of 18 to 29 year-old and 88% of 30-49 year-old Americans own a smartphone. Also, 42% of Americans older than 65 years old use a cell phone. Surprising? Yes, particularly that last stat. But also…not totally? It’s the reason Dropcountr focuses its resources on offering a native mobile app, which is easy to download and navigate for people of all ages.


What’s happening at Dropcountr
Things have been flying. Earlier this month we published a new Android app for Dropcountr HOME, presented at Distributech in San Antonio, added a few bells and whistles to the back-end Dropcountr CLEAR platform, and made some improvements to our leak alert algorithm. We also made some tweaks that make it easier for utility customers to find and register their account.

Until next month,
Team Dropcountr

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