Learn about the fight for clean drinking water with Gitanjali Rao



Transcript

GITANJALI RAO: Water is a huge problem around the world. And that breaks up into two different segments. And that's scarcity and that's contamination of our drinking water.

A lot of times, contamination of our drinking water leads to scarcity. And sometimes contamination also leads to water overuse. When water is overused, land is usually depleted, which changes the climate in the area. So it's all basically this ripple effect, which eventually leads to water scarcity, and people don't have drinking water.

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A lot of my work has been revolved around using science and technology as a catalyst for social change. And really, that started at the age of 4 or 5. My uncle got me this science kit, which obviously changed my life forever. And now it's almost like a habit, right? I look at this world in a different perspective and attempt to solve problems that I see in my community.

After going to Flint, Michigan a couple of times and seeing that firsthand, evidently not having access to clean drinking water results in a lot of different health crises. But beyond, that it actually impacts the education system, it impacts the community, impacts the government in only negative ways.

And I saw that cascading impact happen in real life. Their whole economy deteriorated. And it proves to show that water is a fundamental thing that we all need to quite literally live our daily lives.

From a community or individual level, the biggest way to tackle water scarcity is doing simple things in your daily life-- watering the lawn for five minutes less, or taking a shorter shower for a couple of days. And if we're looking at state level, it's talking about replacing our pipes often. A lot of times the pipes leading from the water facility to your house is where most of the contamination happens.

So we have to make sure our water quality facility has all the resources that they need to make sure that we have clean drinking water. Ensuring that we're preventing that climate change crisis from occurring too much by helping out with solar panel installation, looking at how we can make filters in homes a state wide regulation, and within that national level, making sure that people are testing their water on a regular basis and testing for water in schools and homes is a federal regulation.

Really, what I've seen all over the news and in some of the work that I've done is actually looking at the applications of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data and analytics in predicting the future of our water. looking at how we can use our past information about water scarcity to predict the future of it as well, and at the same time looking at how artificial intelligence can learn from itself and create even better environmental conservation techniques in the future of our world.

It's going to create a lot of different solutions that even humans might not be able to come up. With the climate strikes occurring, with more activists being out there and talking about the importance of climate change and water scarcity, I'm only looking forward towards a positive future. But I think it's definitely an issue we should tackle within the next 10 years.

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