by Vaishnavi J Desai

How NextDrop is solving urban India’s water woes

Aug 26, 2015

NextDropu2019s smart solution informs users of water supply in their area and takes water management to the next level.

Urban India is a perfect example of extremes. On one hand, it is praised for being tech-savvy and going digital, but on the contrary struggles for a basic amenity: Water.

NextDrop, started in 2011, and now a team of 20 employees, came up with an idea to build technology that changes how the world experiences water. Water supply in most cities is irregular and inefficient. People have to wait hours and days to get for water. The engineers too aren’t always aware of the problem areas in the city to provide solution. It’s only when a citizen comes up with a complaint, do they end up fixing the issue.

NextDrop came up with a simple yet intelligent solution to the problem. The company provides four products: SMS water alert for offline users, ‘Waattr’ app on Android platform, crowd sourced water online community which has real time information on the quality, quantity and duration of water supply, and SmartGrids.

Users give a missed call to the specified number and register on NextDrop. The address details are collected over SMS to find out the locality of the user.

“For the utility product, we train the government employees—the valvemen and the engineers—to use our platform to input data. This is where the two-way communication happens. When a valveman, inputs information about water supply to a particular area, using the NextDrop platform, the users get a text message with the time. The data is aggregated and then sent to the right person at the right time,” says Quijano Flores, chief technology officer, NextDrop.

This is not all that the startup offers. There is more to the solution. By bringing in engineers and using SmartGrid, the system addresses water infrastructure issues too.

“As we started sending water supply information to people, we noticed that people sent quality information back. Users sent messages like water is dirty, haven’t received water, etcetera. The SmartGrid solution allows people to communicate if there is pipe problem or contamination of water supply, and then the engineer gets information, through the platform, about the disruption of water supply from citizens, and tries to fix it,” Flores says.

And the loop is closed by receiving positive feedback from people about the solution.

The SMS water alerts solution alone has 60,000 users across four cities in Karnataka- Hubli, Dhrwad, Bangalore and Mysore. Another 45,000 registered for its marketing channel, Water Marketplace. The solution has benefited in a way that people now wait less for water. Engineers are now able to spend more time on water distribution system than firefighting issues to complaint management system.

“We’ve seen so far, increased ability of water distribution and as a result we see more stable supply distribution over time as utilities have used the smartgrid solution,” says Flores.

But the success came with its own share of challenges. Signing up and registering offline customers, getting the right company culture and attracting talented people were just some of them.

“One of the challenges of working with the local government that they are used to working with service companies, being a product company it is a challenge to be a part of the whole purchasing and selling process,” Flores says.

NextDrop also plans to expand to other cities in India and abroad, and get 100 million people across the globe on its network by 2020.

 Vaishnavi J Desai is a correspondent. Send your feedback to