We sought to develop a platform to promote water conservation by changing American’s water-use habits. To discover how to leverage a large user base into a sustainable solution, we explored the three primary categories of freshwater withdrawal: thermoelectric power generation, public use, and agriculture/livestock raising.

Thermoelectric power generation is the largest use of fresh water every year. However, it is the category most distant from the user’s day-to-day habits: the water use in power generation is hardly affected by the length of showers. Rather, it depends on the efficiency of the cooling technology used in the plant.

Public use water withdrawal, on the contrary, is the closest to the user; it is the category most directly affected by user habits. However, it is the smallest of the three categories, and therefore it requires a dramatic improvement to match a small improvement in another category.

The final category is that of agriculture/livestock production. This category is nearly as large as thermoelectric power generation, and it is impacted by people’s habits: we choose whether water conservation is important in the foods we eat. Even more importantly, agriculture is the only of the three major categories with an increase in water use over the past 10 years.

So, we decided to create a platform to incentivize users to reduce water consumption by changing their food habits.

The most fundamental problem facing water conservation efforts is apathy. It is beneficial for the community to reduce water use, but there is little incentive for any one person to reduce their consumption.

We want to encourage an action, but people have little incentive to do it for themselves. However, we observe that when that action is done in public, witnessed by the community that benefits from the action, the action becomes more common. By making it social, we incentivize the action.

This phenomenon, known as The Network Effect, has been utilized successfully by a number of platforms. One of the most notable is Strava, a social platform for runners/bikers to share their workouts. We seek to use this effect for the benefit of water conservation.

What it does

Rippl is a social platform. Users sign up for a profile on rippl, joining a community of their peers to track their water consumption habits through the food they eat. As a social platform, users have a set of followers/friends, and they are able to see the water consciousness of those friends.

Each individual user has two ways to track their water consumption. They can log their food using our built-in QR reader, or they can integrate with myFitnessPal to import existing food habits. We use datasets sourced from a variety of sources to turn that food consumption data into how much water it took to produce that food.

To incentivize community building, we have a set of community leaderboards and challenges celebrating those who successfully reduce water consumption.

How We built it

We created an iOS app using Swift and XCode. Before developing the implementation, we used Sketch and the Adobe CC for design and prototyping.

Our backend is a Python Flask REST API, utilizing Pandas for data parsing/analytics, and it is deployed on Heroku. Finally, we connect with the MyFtinessPal API to connect users with their existing nutritional information.

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