Talented hackers gamify water-saving habits

Pictured at the event are (left to right) Elisabetta Anastrelli, marketing director at Xylem, with WatApp team members Konstantinos Samaras-Tsakiris, Carolina Lindqvist, Jasmin Frei, and Hayati Yarkadas, president at Xylem Europe.

An innovative app that promotes sustainable water consumption was one of the winners of Europe‘s largest and most renowned coding marathon.

Team WatApp won HackZurich 2022’s Xylem Water Challenge with a social gaming app that helps people make smart water choices in their everyday lives, build long-term water-saving habits, and share their results with friends. Having sponsored the event for the last two years, water technology company Xylem continues to challenge teams to solve global water issues with unique, digital approaches.

This year, hackathon participants were asked to develop a multi-faceted approach to change the public’s water habits and increase awareness of water threats through a revolutionary social gaming app that would improve water sustainability. WatApp achieved this during a non-stop 40-hour hackathon event in Zurich, Switzerland.

"If we can make more people aware of sustainable water consumption, we can drive meaningful change.”

Konstantinos Samaras-Tsakiris, Team WatApp

HackZurich is a hybrid event involving over 3,000 participants, which, the organisers say, brings together the best tech talent from European universities. With water scarcity affecting billions of people globally each year, the WatApp team created an app that would improve water consumption habits by suggesting more sustainable choices using educational gaming features.

The recommendations are generated from answers to personalised weekly challenges, taking data on current habits and location into consideration. The app also presents water savings within a local context, for example, if you live in Switzerland the app will compare the amount of water you save to the daily average water consumption of a Swiss person.

“This year, Europe experienced the worst drought in 500 years. It has never been clearer how urgently we need to develop new, innovative, digital solutions to improve water sustainability,” said Hayati Yarkadas, Xylem president for Europe.

“The participants in the annual Xylem Water Challenge are inspiring examples of the potential within the next generation of innovators. Their passion for solving real-world water problems will help make our world more sustainable.”

Konstantinos Samaras-Tsakiris, a member of the WatApp team., said, “I would never have imagined how much water goes into the development of consumer goods, particularly through indirect consumption. If we can make more people aware of sustainable water consumption, we can drive meaningful change.”

Xylem’s partnership with HackZurich is part of the Xylem Ignite programme, a global initiative to build and empower a network of student leaders passionate about water solutions and driving change in the water industry. The programme has already engaged more than 6,600 students in learning about and solving water challenges.