We set to tackle the problem of affordability of drinking water, and study its impact on the water system infrastructure, and the communities using it.

The water rate utility pricing is often used to define affordability. But this limited approach may not be sensitive to the hidden relationships behind the complex and often counterintuitive realities of water distribution operations.

In addition, existing data on this topic is missing a crucially overlooked component: expenses and hardships, both economic and not, that the communities using the water must bear as a consequence of poor water quality or availability.

During our exploratory design, we caught a glimpse of the challenges that lie beyond the clean, tidy data often used in the classroom, and towards the realities that the state institutions face when coordinating data collection, management and consumption across hundreds of different providers, ecosystems and approaches.

We propose a preliminary study, building on recent efforts by public water organizations active on the open source and data liberation forms, and illustrating a proof-of-concept implementation for a simple, integrated system to streamline and simplify the creation, management and consumption for enriching and complementing existing data, while at the same time providing a more direct line between the public and the issues faced by them, and the policy makers.

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