Civic News
Pitches / Technology

City gov is looking for tech-enabled solutions to promote tap water use

The winning company will receive up to $34,000 to pilot its proposed solution through June 2020.

Tap water. (Photo by Flickr user Steve Johnson, used under a Creative Commons license)

The City of Philadelphia is again looking to partner with private sector businesses to tackle a civic issue: promoting tap water usage.

The callout for applications is part of its Pitch & Pilot program, a part of the City’s IT Strategic Plan, which is looking for ways for tech to support the economic, social and environmental goals of the City.

Back in December, the Office of Innovation and Technology put out its first call for submissions from companies in the tech space of all sizes for solutions or projects that support the goal of zero waste.

“The program is aiming to spur partnerships and create an environment in which the government can collaborate with the private sector,” said Emily Yates, Philly’s smart city director.

Now, the department is asking companies that may have solutions to get more residents using tap water to pitch their ideas.

“Philadelphia’s tap water, which meets (and in some cases, even exceeds) federal safety standards, is cheaper than bottled water and doesn’t rely on disposable plastic,” the department said in a statement. “The bad news? Tap water may be Philadelphia’s most underutilized resource. Approximately forty percent of residents say they choose bottled water — many Philadelphians perceive it as safer, prefer the taste, or find it more convenient.”

The goal of this round of Pitch & Pilot is to increase tap water’s access and appeal to city residents by working with companies that could provide the department with data, sensors, applications and other technical solutions that could help motivate and track behavior change.

Applicants are encouraged to consider questions such as, “How can technology help Philadelphians choose tap water over bottled water?” or “Are there existing solutions that can be adapted or modified to closely target our goals?”

The application cycle closes on Feb. 27, and the company chosen will receive up to $34,000 to pilot the solution. OIT and partnering departments will work with the chosen solution through June 2020, the department said.

A city spokesperson said that the previous round of the Pitch & Pilot program, focusing on a zero waste solution, “got a number of applicants” and is in its final stages of choosing a winner. The chosen solution will likely be announced at the end of the month.

Companies: City of Philadelphia / Office of Innovation and Technology

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