Plug the Drought With a Picture

June 25, 2015

10:00 am

Have you recently driven or strolled past a water waster? Seen a damaged sprinkler head with faulty valves, spraying geyser-high precious water skyward or onto the street?

As a staunch pro-consumer and business advocate, I’m the guy who took on and won the largest ever, private antitrust litigation in the United States, as lead plaintiff battling the banks and credit card companies. My new mission is conservation and undertaking a new mandate – helping to solve California, other states and country’s drought problem. Using a mix of advocacy, and as a leader in the photo imaging industry, combining both roles has lead to this new nonprofit project.

Beyond using less water during our daily activities, if everyone was engaged to invent creative solutions we can reduce water consumption. This tech project, using magical GPS coordinates on mobile phones, will spawn water vigilantes to spot and forewarn of excessive water leaks and overuse. There are several other similar services, such as the City of Long Beach, California’s manual water violation form.

The ease of technology can court more widespread participation. Using mobile phones, geo-tagging pictures, and social media, it is easy to identify and volunteer wherever water is being poured away. If you see waste by a municipality take a picture. When it is raining and a neighbor’s sprinklers are still set to automatically submerge the yard, take a picture. Excessive residential car washing usage, where water is flowing into the street? Take a picture.

Beyond checking your own monthly water bill, signaling any wasteful usage spikes, a new social media app I am developing will post the GPS coordinates from your smartphone’s camera. Map the location, then distribute the visual infraction to leading social media sites with a #WaterAlert (hash tag). Rather than shaming the transgressive municipality or neighbor, technology can help be vigilant and map the unwitting squanderers. The Amber-like GPS water alert can limit accidental overuse. This can also become a fun scavenger hunt activity to identify and warn people to help solve the drought problem.

As people view #WaterAlert notices nearby, recognizing the pictures and addresses, rather than reprimanding or fining, this is an opportunity to foster helpful awareness and interact with neighbors.

Follow this space for updates, and reach me for more information on this nonprofit exercise as a high tech antidote to the drought.

Image Credit: Flickr/Pictoscribe

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As a graduate from the Marshall School of Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California, Mitch Goldstone is a longtime leader in the photo imaging industry and co-founder of ScanMyPhotos.com, the Ecommerce photo digitization service which has scanned more than a quarter billion pictures

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