Aug 2, 2014

Idea for Better Life - Recharging Ground Water

I live in Mumbai, India. That part of the world which gets heavy to very heavy rains. Where flooding is a norm from June till late August each year. This TIFR page states that the annual cumulative rainfall of about 70 inches or 1800 mm.

Now the paradox of my city is that every year, despite this phenomenal natural gift of pure rainwater, the water supply from the MCGM dwindles after February. People face water shortages, each year, the supply is cut by 10% first, then 20% and so on. One of the example is this report on dependence of rainfall in catchment areas, scarcity of which means water supply cuts.

Now, think about other places, which are not naturally endowed with such monsoon. Aurangabad, an industrial town only about 375 kms from Mumbai, where I studied engineering, faces acute water crisis every year. And this one problem leads to several other crises such industries facing power supply cuts, power plants being shut down, rise in water-borne diseases like dengue, diarrhoea, etc.

These water shortages get acute year over year. Each year the reservoirs, lakes tend to dry earlier than last year. This is an empirical observation. I leave it to the experts to prove me wrong.

I believe that one of the reasons responsible for such water shortages is the drying ground water level. And the reason for receding ground level is that we have cut the connection between the water falling from the sky and that of the ground. How, you ask?

My dear friends, with a very amicable set of chemicals such as concrete and asphalt, we have waterproofed our grounds, forever. And waterproof surfaces do not leak. We all know leakages. It is horrible when our roofs leak. But the really horrible thing is that our grounds no longer leak. The rains fall, we have tea and pakodas in the lovely balconies, and the water flows away in the sewers.

I have a small incremental idea to improve this situation. And it is inexpensive one for sure. Here it is:

1. All apartment complexes have separate pipes to allow water to flow away.
2. These pipes are taken to the ground level and then discharged into sewers.
3. Instead, during monsoons, connect these pipes to another set of pipes that go at least 15-20 feet deep below the ground level.
4. During monsoons connect the terrace pipes to these new pipes and divert rainwater from terraces of  buildings into the soil under the top concrete layer.

Something I have tried to depict in this slide here:


Ground is a large single reservoir. I believe this will reduce the load and dependence on the rainfall in catchment areas. This is similar to rain-water harvesting with a small change that we recharge the ground water.

I invite comments if this idea is correct. We need to reconnect the natural cycle of events, only then can we live in harmony with nature.

I invite all readers to comment. Thanks!

Jul 24, 2014

Ultimate sacrifice -Did Mumbai deserve it?

Why did the man lay down his life? What must have been his thoughts when he knew end was near? It wasn't sudden, that I am sure.  The man remained there with his team.

He probably stayed back to allow someone else live and see another day. The fireman who died knew the end was coming.

But as a city did we deserve his ultimate sacrifice. He did not because that was the only way someone else could live. He did not die because there was nothing else possible. He did not die because his city, his country had tried its best possible yet nature's fury was so fierce that fateful day that nothing else could have happened. No!

The man opted for his dangerous job because he thought all this is something his city, his nation would do.

He died because this city, we all, shortchanged him. Totally, completely,  absolutely.

The Mumbai city, famous for the Mumbai spirit, contributed by giving the permission to the building, not inspecting it from time to time, cheering by allowing sale of space there.

The spirited folks occupying the offices contributed by displaying exemplary foresight in letting things be, fire extinguishers be damned.

And who inspects a 20+ storeyed building when you can just sign off clearances on the ground floor over cup of tea.

If there is something called soul in us all, just feel sorry for the man who died for us. He died in vain for nothing is going to change here. We will continue to live with our famous Mumbai spirit.

Just remember that one day there will be an equally spirited someone refusing to die for you.

Jul 6, 2014

Facebook's Missed Call ads and my post from stone-age

The race to capture the value at bottom of the pyramid brings to us a unique offering from Facebook. For the low-end phones (read as not smartphones), which are still carried by almost two-thirds of Indian subscribers, Facebook is bringing in missed-call ads.

This has the potential to be a game changer. While this article does not speak whether they plan to use internet / data here, I believe the real potential will be tapped if the program is run irrespective of data availability. Despite impressive mobile network reach, countries like India have some time before data is pervasively available.

So there is nothing to boast about here, yet let me point to one of my posts from few years ago where I had discussed on the missed-call innovation. You can read it here - The very interesting "Missed Call".

I had described a few use cases there. The whole concept of missed call is on the basis of what I called "inter personal communication protocol (IPCP)". That is the knowledge of what is to be done is known only to the 2 parties exchanging the missed call - The idea of IPCP is the users decide the meaning of the missed call.

Facebook (and I am sure others will follow soon) are tapping this IPCP with some enhancements. Lets see where this innovation goes.

May 22, 2014

India's competitiveness in broadband

Very interesting infographic here on broadband from http://www.netindex.com/download/allcountries/


This site ranks India 134th on world index of broadband speeds. We are way way behind in when compared globally. While the rank is one thing, our speeds are abysmally low.

One data point that is not given is the penetration level. The answer will be no different. Our country is still grappling in providing electricity supply to all, so broadband is definitely a distant objective in the list of priorities.

As has been argued in several papers, the rise of internet as an important tool, especially for small and medium level businesses. While there continues to be a debate on whether their is a direct correlation between broadband penetration and GDP, I do not think there is any doubt on the importance of broadband per se.

In fact, for countries like India, broadband should be given priority right after electricity. 

Let's hope the new Government ushers in a broadband revolution as well :)

Disclaimer

All the opinions expressed are of the author only. Any action taken by readers on the basis of this blog is entirely at the readers' risk and they are solely responsible for the same.