Haitians Receive Clean Water Thanks to RFID & NFC

Deep Springs International (DSI), a nonpropfit located in Pennsylvania, has been providing water-treatment kits to Haitians, consisting of a five-gallon plastic bucket with a lid and spigot, chlorine solution and written instructions on how to use the kit.

DSI also sends water technicians to the homes of those who use its kits in order to check that households are using them properly, and provide them with additional chlorine solution if necessary. In order to manage these technicians, DSI uses RFID technology, specifically, Near Field Communication (NFC) passive 13.56 MHz RFID tags attached to buckets, in addition to NFC- enabled phones to collect data and forward it back to a back-end system.

A typical water technician manages approximately 250 households, most of which are visited on at least a monthly basis. When the technician arrives at a client’s home, a technician tests the water, then simply taps his or her phone against the NFC tag on the water bucket and captures a unique ID number. Prompts then proceed to pop up on the phone, asking various questions about the chlorine. The technician responds and the information is sent as an SMS text message to the back-end server.

Currently, DSI’s system consists of 35,000 RFID-enabled buckets for drinking water, and more NFC enabled phones are planned on being added to the mix.

Unlike the manual paper method that was used before, the NFC solution is able to provide information reliably and extremely close to real-time. DSI plans to use their now more reliable data for analytics to determine such issues as which families might not be using the chlorine properly and need more education.

Through DSI’s NFC solution, countless Haitians are able to access safe drinking water. DSI hopes to expand its solution to other parts of the world and is currently seeking a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.