Hydrosystems Group awarded Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Award

Alec Bernstein and Don Park discussing H2Go at the Gates WFP Innovation Bootcamp

The Hydrosystems Group, led by Casey Brown was awarded a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorer grant, round 22.  The team will design and test H2Go, a water supply platform that uses digital technology to integrate vehicular water delivery with existing water infrastructure to provide affordable access to trucked safe drinking water for poor and vulnerable households. Existing public water infrastructure in low- and middle-income areas provides water at lower costs but are often poorly maintained and unable to meet the quality and quantity of water needed by rapidly growing cities. This has led to additional water being supplied directly to households in need by tankers owned by private companies. This is a valuable service but expensive, and water quality is often poor.

Through this award, several members of the team traveled to Munich Germany to incubate H2Go at a UNICEF-Gates-WFP Innovation Bootcamp.  The weeklong Bootcamp helped the team finalize details on implementation, and provided mentor training to advance the idea further.  The week culminated with a pitch to government and industry representatives.


Alec Bernstein pitching H2Go during pitch night of the Gates-WFP Innovation Bootcamp.

The group plans to develop the proof of concept for H2Go in Bangalore, India and Mexico City to leverage existing partnerships with private trucking companies and the city public utility.  In Bangalore, the team has partners on the ground with relevant experience and partnerships with 8 trucking companies, and 133 customers.  In Mexico City, they have a fully integrated digital simulation model of the water system, a system maintenance cost model, road network data, household water use data, and surveys of water vendor cost and pricing data. Using these connections and data, the group will design and develop a proof of concept which will identify priority delivery locations and cost-effective suppliers and supply routes for safe water. This prototype will be evaluated for financial viability, scalability to other regions, and cost effectiveness compared to extending the existing infrastructure.

Check out the Gates Foundation press release here.