Plastic waste is one of the most pressing issues facing the world today. One huge contributor to plastic waste is the use of disposable plastic water bottles. There are many alternatives to disposable bottles, yet they’re still widely used on college campuses. Of the alternatives, water fountains play an important role: they're communal and they're free. Most notably, they're everywhere. But where exactly? And why would someone want to use a water fountain when their taste, temperature and pressure can be so unpredictable? While water fountains are an ideal solution to curb plastic waste, they’re unfortunately not an ideal solution to curb thirst.
When students find themselves thirsty in class or walking through campus and do not know where a water fountain is, our app, Drops, will lead you there. The interactive map will guide users to the closest water fountain. We want to inform people on campus about the conditions of the closest water fountain to them, such as water pressure and temperature. Users can comment on and rate their experiences in a communal feed. Our goal is to reduce overall waste, while improving the water fountain experience for everyone.
Users can sign in through Facebook, Google, or within Drops itself. Creating a profile allows users to record every time they refill their water bottle with a water fountain on campus. The profile also features their name and picture, to make them identifiable by other users. Users will always have the ability to delete their account if they find necessary by simply going onto edit profile.
The search feature on Drops allows users to look up a building and displays the water fountain in that building. This feature is available even if users choose not to share their location. The water fountain will show the floor and room number to help users locate the fountain in greatest convenience to them.
If users choose to share their location with Drops, we will use their location to display nearby water fountains. The user can look at comments and ratings of the nearby water fountains to choose which one suits their needs. Then, the interactive map will guide the user to the water fountain of their choice with the most convenient directions.
As mentioned previously, users can rate and comment on their water experiences. The feed includes their own posts, friends posts and all public posts in chronological order. Users can scroll through the ratings of their feed to help them decide which water fountain is best for their needs.
Drops was created by a group of students at the University of Maryland, College Park in a multimedia journalism class. Kaleena Dwyer, Rachel Kalusin and Jack Wisniewski were inspired when they noticed the sporadic locations of water fountains on campus and the inconvenience of searching for one in a building one doesn’t know well. After some research they found SustainableUMD has a campaign to promote water fountain use, instead of plastic water bottles. SustainableUMD had a map online, but they wanted to take it a step further with an interactive map and so Drops was born.