Sharon lin USA, 19
Project: White Water
Basic Human Needs: Environment, Health, Safety, Water
While participating in a service project in Fujian, China, Sharon learned about an outbreak of schistosomiasis that had recently occurred there. She was curious to know if the incident could have been prevented, and decided to conduct a research project. She discovered that more than 60% of all preventable deaths are caused by water-borne diseases, like malaria and schistosomiasis. Sharon developed White Water, a mobile app that allows users to determine the microbial content of their water. The app currently has a 95% accuracy rate and delivers results in a fraction of a second, compared to the industry standard of 2 – 3 weeks. Local organizations in the Fujian province are already using the app to test water sources, and Sharon is working with the United Nations and the World Oceans Day Organization to expand her work globally. The app will officially launch on all Android and iOS platforms next year, free of cost to users, along with a website that will collect and use water samples from millions of users worldwide to help determine the location of microbes. Sharon anticipates that the app will spearhead a movement towards image-recognition of a wide range of diseases, beyond water-borne bacteria. She also hopes that in addition to saving countless lives from disease, her app will help to prevent conflicts that often arises from lack of clean water. In the near future, White Water will become a larger organization designed to crowd-source environmental data and provide further insight into the world water crisis.