An App That Rewards You If You Save Water

, by Davide Ripamonti
Three students of the BSc in Economics, Management and Computer Science (BEMACS) win the first prize in a competition organized by IBM, thanks to an app they designed that provides incentives and penalties for the correct use of water

Conserving water, or at least not wasting it, since it is not an unlimited resource, should be a gesture of responsibility to which each one of us are called. But when civic sense and interest in the future of the planet are not enough, there is an app which, through the collaboration of the utilities that manage this precious asset, provides incentive and disincentive mechanisms to regulate water consumption. This is, in summary, the project that enabled three students of the Bocconi Bachelor of Science in Economics, Management and Computer Science (BEMACS), Vittorio Costa, Enrico Giannelli and Aldin Traljic, to win the first prize of the EMEA IBM Call for "Code 2020: Students vs Climate Change Challenge", in the Water Sustainability category.

"The project had to be developed in the short span of a week", explains Enrico Giannelli who, like his fellow companions, is a third-year student of BEMACS, "and the basic idea was to do something, in order for water utilities to find a way to regulate the water supply in periods of drought. What we have designed is an IoT device, a sort of electronic meter", continues the student, "which can connect to the water provider's app to see current consumption levels and establish a target to be achieved through incentives and penalties, also considering weather data and therefore giving the possibility to plan water use timely in cases of forecasts of droughts".

In just a few days, by working remotely and sharing tasks, the three students did the job. In addition to meeting the tight deadline, there was the requirement that development take place on an IBM platform, and the company made consultants available for the purpose. "We have developed an algorithm that predicts drought events starting from a database reporting dry spells in California in 2014", says Enrico Giannelli, "which we combined with weather forecasts. In this work, in particular, our notions of computer science and machine learning proved to be an asset, as was thinking up a business application for all this".

"We have been collaborating with IBM for years", explains the Director of BEMACS, Emanuele Borgonovo, "and every year they invite our students to participate in their innovation competitions. The source of greatest satisfaction for me and the University was seeing how Vittorio, Enrico and Aldin managed to translate into practice what they have learned in the program". The awards ceremony took place on Youtube and the three winners received a prize of $1,500 each.