Although more than 70 per cent of the Earth's surface is covered with water, water scarcity is a major problem

XPRIZE to tackle water shortage and women safety

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The XPRIZE foundation is challenging innovators from around the globe to develop technology that would make water from air, and design low-cost devices that would call help for women in danger.

XPRIZE’s new Water Abundance Prize worth $1.75m (about £1.4m), and the $1m (about £819,000) Women’s Safety Prize, have been launched today during a United Nations reception in New Delhi.

The Water Abundance Prize, sponsored by Tata Group and Australian Aid, seeks technology that would be able to extract water from the atmosphere using renewable energy, at a cost of less than two cents per litre. The device, which the foundation hopes could provide safe drinkable water to people in arid areas, should be able to generate at least 2,000 litres per day.

“More than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water and yet water scarcity is an increasingly urgent issue,” said Chris Elstoft, representative of the Australian Government, which is co-sponsoring the competition. “Transforming scarcity into abundance is a significant challenge.”

Gopichand Katragadda, CTO of Tata Group, also providing funding for the prize, added that freshwater only makes up 2.5 per cent of all the water on Earth.

Innovators will now have five months to register for the competition, after which they will be given seven months to develop their solutions.

The Women Safety Prize sponsored by Indian entrepreneurial couple Anu and Naveen Jain, looks for a device that would autonomously trigger an emergency alert if a woman was in danger. The emergency message should be sent within 90 seconds in a way that the attacker wouldn’t notice. Using the device and the required communication technologies should not cost more than $40 (about £33) a year.

“Ensuring women are safe is the foundation for economic prosperity and safer communities,” Anu Jain commented. “When governments fail to keep their people safe, community members and entrepreneurs share a collective responsibility to rapidly respond to those threats.”

The 20-month competition includes four months for team registration, six months for initial solution development and 10 months to develop and test final solutions for judging by expert panels.

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