Tim Burke spent most of his Peace Corps days in Panama working to improve water infrastructure within rural communities. Yet, before he could even begin to consider repairing broken pipelines or hand pumps, he had the difficult task of locating and identifying the individual problem within each water system. Often times, this meant traveling through the rainforest following the pipeline in search of the exact location that had caused the stop of water flow in the first place. Such faults in water infrastructure systems are not uncommon within communities in the developing world. In fact, water projects implemented by international teams are rarely reliable for more than a few years.
Tim, now a doctoral candidate for material sciences at Stanford, developed a device known as the MoMo (mobile monitor) upon his return. MoMo works to counteract the exact problems that Tim encountered while in Panama. MoMo is a small monitoring device that attaches to a water system, either well or pipeline, and can be used to track the flow of water and to detect faults within the infrastructure. If detected, the fault will be sent as an alert via SMS to a repair team. As an added benefit, this technology will help communities decide on future investments as they are better equipped to assess the sustainability of specific infrastructure projects.
Tim works with a team of entrepreneurs at WellDone International, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, to expand the scale and scope of MoMo. This past summer, the WellDone team travelled to Tanzania and formed a partnership with WaterAid Tanzania in order to test the impact of their technology. To fund this pilot project, WellDone has recently launched a campaign on IndieGoGo.